The mid-Atlantic may be getting back into the game

This is one of those posts it took me a few days to write as life intervened, but it turns out to be a happy accident in this case.

While I’m certainly not been the biggest fan of Donald Trump as President overall, he has had his moments. Today he’s given Radical Green a conniption fit just by announcing he will make a formal declaration on whether we will remain in the Paris Climate Agreement tomorrow afternoon. It’s expected he will decide to withdraw, but there’s also a school of thought that believes it’s just a negotiating ploy to give America a better bargain than Barack Obama negotiated.

In the meantime, it looks like another of those moments may be the rebirth of something that was strangled in the crib during the last administration when they overreacted to the comparatively rare Deepwater Horizon disaster by eliminating the prospect of oil exploration off the mid-Atlantic coast.

In order to get to that point, though, a necessary step is to do seismic surveying. Remember when the environmentalists had a cow awhile back because they were talking about doing this for oil exploration, and it got everyone’s knickers in a wad all up and down the coast? Well, it turns out doing this can serve a lot of other interests as well, at least according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke:

“Seismic surveying helps a variety of federal and state partners better understand our nation’s offshore areas, including locating offshore hazards, siting of wind turbines, as well as offshore energy development,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Allowing this scientific pursuit enables us to safely identify and evaluate resources that belong to the American people. This will play an important role in the President’s strategy to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign energy resources.”

The last G&G seismic data for the Mid- and South-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OSC) were gathered more than 30 years ago when technology was not as advanced as today. Aside from providing data on potential offshore oil and gas resources, seismic surveys are also used to site offshore wind structures, locate potential seafloor hazards, locate potential sand and gravel resources for beach replenishment activities, and locate potential archaeological resources. Data from seismic surveys also assists the Department in determining Fair Market Value of offshore resources.

It was also over 30 years ago that a series of exploratory oil wells were drilled and capped off the New Jersey and Delmarva coastline, with the closest to us being about 80 miles ESE of Ocean City. At the time it was determined this was essentially a dry hole, but the exercise was useful as a study of the ocean floor and substrate below. So if the same is true now, I wonder why the environmentalists are so afraid of exploratory drilling and seismic surveying? Maybe because they know as well as I do that there’s a significant amount of oil out there, and it would keep the price of oil affordable enough to undercut the subsidies needed to keep renewables competitive?

And last week’s update from Energy Tomorrow was doubly interesting because not only did it have the release regarding the seismic surveying, it also had a small news item that pointed to a new, soon-to-be-released (and peer-reviewed) three-year study that concluded fracking has no effect on groundwater. (Are you listening, Larry Hogan? There’s still time to reconsider your foolish ban on fracking in this state before your election next year.)

Of course, the study authors did have a caveat to their findings:

In contrast to groundwater samples that showed no evidence of anthropogenic contamination, the chemistry and isotope ratios of surface waters (n = 8) near known spills or leaks occurring at disposal sites mimicked the composition of Marcellus flowback fluids, and show direct evidence for impact on surface water by fluids accidentally released from nearby shale-gas well pads and oil and gas wastewater disposal sites.

Now I know the Radical Green folks will be going “SEE! SEE! I BET YOU CAN LIGHT THAT WATER ON FIRE!!!” However, it seems to me one could easily have the same contaminating type of effect from a sanitary sewer overflow, underground tank leak, or EPA incident. The key words are “accidentally released,” and companies that want to stay in the business have a duty and legal obligation to be as careful as possible.

But this blows away one key argument from fracking opponents, not that they are much for using logic anyway.

With the right mindset and private-sector infrastructure investment, this region of the country could finally be energy self-sufficient on its own. The job created could be yours.

Scandal fatigue?

This William Warren cartoon seems to sum it up, doesn’t it? Between Benghazi, the IRS TEA Party targeting, the AP phones being tapped, the FOIA preferences at the EPA, questions on campaign finance in both 2008 and 2012, the Enroll America protection racket – the list can go on and on and on if you revert back to earlier activities like Operation Fast and Furious, Solyndra, or the handling of the Deepwater Horizon accident. And I’m not counting what goes on in Maryland, like the inmates taking over the prisons or having a governor who’s more concerned about presidential prospects than running the state. I suppose if power is the ultimate aphrodisiac then that must be why Democrats are pro-abortion; otherwise they would have a dozen or so children running around, by nearly as many mothers.

Now I’m certain the minuscule number of progressives and leftists who dare to read here would beg to differ and can probably point out all the scandals, conflicts of interest, and foibles of the Bush years, but really, guys, come on – what happened to the most transparent administration ever? I suppose in a perverse sort of way finding out about all these scandals is a type of transparency – too bad we were stonewalled every step of the way in finding out.

But are the American people and their notoriously short attention spans in danger of scandal fatigue in May of 2013, 18 months before the midterm elections? Sometimes the pre-emptive strike is the best thing in the long run, and there’s little chance of the rabidly partisan Democrats in the Senate turning on their leader and convicting him in the unlikely event we ever get to an impeachment trial. Moreover, Barack Obama doesn’t exactly strike me as a fall-on-the-sword kind of guy, so don’t bet on him resigning to save the country the agony of an impeachment trial like Richard Nixon did. Democrats know well what sort of electoral fate may await – the Republicans who placed country over party were “rewarded” by losing 48 House seats and 3 Senate seats in the 1974 elections, which were held just three months after Nixon left in disgrace.

Meanwhile, focusing on the scandals of the past will blind us to the issues of the present. Even if the GOP gains control of the Senate in 2014 – a likely possibility even without scandals as the sixth year of a presidency is traditionally unkind to the president’s party – the nation will simply revert back to the inverse of the situation we had back in 2007-2008, where a Republican president was crippled by a Democratic Congressional majority in both houses. Much of the damage was done in the two years the Democrats held absolute control of government, as the massive entitlement program dubbed Obamacare came into being and Barack Obama’s re-election means at least some of it will be in place by 2014. Once established, we haven’t killed an entitlement program yet. And there’s still the aspect of governing by executive order: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”

Perhaps the one silver lining in all of this is the emergence of the new media as a force for uncovering these and other issues with the government in Washington. No longer do we have a small group of periodicals, newspapers, and television networks determining what is news and what remains on the cutting room floor. Certainly, there is a huge majority of the American public still in an celebrity gossip-induced slumber, but slowly people are beginning to see the light and it only takes an irate, tireless minority to effect real change.

In the meantime, though, there is plenty to write about for those obsessed with Obama scandals. That really is a shame because it makes it more difficult to argue with the other side on why their ideas are such a failure – I can hear it now: “Well, if you Republicans wouldn’t have made the Obama years such a partisan witch hunt he may have succeeded with his good ideas.”

But I suppose it comes back to the old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely, doesn’t it? Do you see why the nation’s founders wanted a limited government yet?

Friday night videos – episode 37

Once again it’s time for the interesting stuff I run across in the course of a week. Let’s begin with a video you may have already seen. I’m putting it up because it’s a case of a Congressman who thinks he’s above everyone else.

Let’s hope he’s not above his opponent after the votes are counted Election Day. Let’s also hope that the subject of the next video has to turn over her Speaker’s gavel in January. Human Events is moving quickly into the realm of video – this is the first of two I use from them and it features one of my favorite Congressmen, Rep. Mike Pence.

Speaking of slimy and dishonest politicians, the subject of the next video is our very own governor, Martin O’Malley. Bob Ehrlich calls him out on a radio ad the O’Malley campaign recently produced.

The slime theme continues as I turn your attention to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its handling. First is the assessment of Obama’s performance from a man I respect (and would have voted for had he survived long enough in his Presidential primaries,) Steve Forbes.

That was the second Human Events video. Another video from Americans for Limited Government details the first 45 days after the accident.

I vote for the second option myself. The next one is something a little different, and considering it was forwarded to me from political gadfly Daniel “the Wig Man” Vovak, isn’t something I would have looked for. But this could be a nice little comedy.

Last but not least is the local band Vivid Season and their take on Seether’s ‘Remedy.’ I throw it in because I like the song.

Once again, thanks for following this week’s edition of FNV and it should be back next week!

Cleaning up politically

It goes without saying that thousands of people who depend on Gulf tourism or aquaculture have suffered an economic impact in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They may suffer for months or years due to the loss of income during this period when these industries would normally be producing.

But there is another group which has been thrown out of work at a time when they, too, would normally be producing – those who ply their trade in helping to provide America’s energy needs. As the group Freedom Action notes:

Freedom Action calls on President Obama to immediately lift the damaging, counterproductive ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The six-month ban, which has closed down dozens of safe, productive operations, is doing nothing to help clean up the spill…but is keeping thousands of oil and gas workers from making a living and having a far larger economic impact throughout the region.

“In a knee-jerk move with perverse consequences, the President’s total ban on drilling in the Gulf has created further hardship for communities already reeling from the impact of the BP spill,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Freedom Action. “Now in addition to the tourism and fishing sectors – which together account for about 5% of Louisiana’s economy – the oil and gas sector – which accounts for 16% – is also being knocked down at exactly a time when its high-paying jobs could be helping to support families in the region.”

Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu have already spoken out strongly against the White House’s blanket ban, urging the President to allow offshore platforms to re-open and begin providing energy again to the American people. Sen. Landrieu has even proposed a list of several possible alternatives to the ban, including increased safety inspections, while at the same time pointing out that continuing with the current policy could cost as many as 38,000 jobs.

“The empathy and concern from around the country for the affected residents of the Gulf Coast has been tremendous, and it is understandable that Americans would want to see a policy that protects the area from further harm,” said Ebell. “But keeping locals from making a living and sabotaging their economic recovery so that a handful of environmentalists and Washington politicians can congratulate each other on their concern for wildlife is an arrogant and immoral policy. President Obama needs to remove the drilling ban now.”

Allow me to restate one factoid mentioned in the Freedom Action release for you. We see the pictures and interviews of shrimpers idled by the oil spill, and yes they do contribute to the economy of the state of Louisiana. But the energy industry contributes over three times as much and, as I have pointed out, had a long unblemished safety record even through some of the nastiest Mother Nature could throw at them – including Hurricane Katrina.

Even thousands of miles away, our Governor O’Malley and Senator Cardin smirk and gladly dismiss the prospect of offshore oil drilling off Maryland’s coast, regardless of the number of jobs which could be created. To be honest, it’s only a guess to this point whether there’s enough oil and natural gas offshore this far north to be commercially viable for collection, and it would take exploratory wells just to find out.

Instead, O’Malley believes that offshore wind power is the way to go despite the effects that could have on marine life and ocean currents, not to mention the precious ocean view off Ocean City.

To me, it’s shortsighted to dismiss out of hand energy sources proven to be successful at powering our nation’s prosperity. The Gulf shores will eventually be cleaned up just as Alaska’s Prince William Sound has been after the Exxon Valdez accident, hopefully without completely bankrupting British Petroleum (a company which obviously has capping the well as its best interest too since otherwise millions of dollars’ worth of oil gushes forth on a daily basis.)

The answer is not in banning deepwater offshore drilling, but encouraging energy production in shallower waters and in areas where reserves are proven to be but overzealous environmentalism prohibits production. We have plenty of oil within our borders – what we need are the stones (and the courts) to tell the environmentalist wackos to go pound sand.

By the way, I’ve caught wind of a local effort to help out with the cleanup – a number of area musicians are putting together plans for a benefit concert to raise funds for the cleanup. Obviously I’ll see what I can find out and pass it along.

The results are in…

You may recall that back on Wednesday I took Fedzilla to task for soliciting additional public comment on whether to build barrier islands off Louisiana to mitigate the damage done by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

In the 24 hour period they received only about 700 comments, many anonymously. I’ll grant I’m no scientist or geologist but the point I made in my comment (see page 166 here) was that the process is reversible. Given enough time and inattention, the islands would likely disappear on their own.

Look, every few years we pay millions to replenish the beaches in Ocean City and the Delaware resorts because the sand eventually leaches out to sea, so why not be expedient and try this solution? Barrier islands need not be permanent, and the failure of multiple efforts along the bottom of the Gulf to stem the tide means we’re learning about all this by trial and error anyway.

One last thing. Those on the left who want to punish BP and the rig operators for their transgressions against Gaia need to consider that containing and cleaning up this gusher is not just costing BP and the taxpayers directly in terms of the actual spill, but that thousands of barrels of oil won’t be sold by BP because they’re instead leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. At a conservative estimate of 12,000 barrels of oil per day multiplied by the going price (about $75 a barrel) each day the well remains uncapped costs BP nearly a million dollars – obviously the figure is much more if the 100,000 barrel a day leakage number bandied about at the high end of estimates is accurate.

Moreover, their market capitalization has taken about a 1/3 hit as stock which was trading above $60 per share before the incident now lies south of $40 per share. Add to that the implied threat from Washington – “we will keep our boot on the throat” of BP – and the question may become one of BP’s continuing to function as a business.

Obviously there’s a lot of ecological damage, but the economic damage may eventually be more widespread. Making oil into the villain and giving in to the desire for punitive measures may eventually cost us over a million jobs, and no one else is making the break from oil exploration. Perhaps they know something we don’t?

Ambulance chasers of the deep

You knew it had to come, and among the junk e-mail I got this afternoon was a link to this gem of a site. I can hardly wait for the obnoxious TV commercials on the scale of the law firms constantly harping for victims of mesothelioma.

Thousands of businesses, property owners and cleanup workers are at risk of devastating financial harm and physical injury. These include those involved in the Commercial Fishing, Tourism, Hotel and Vacation, Condominium/Time Share, Fish Processing, Cannery Operating, Seafood Restaurant Industries.

Talk about casting a wide net! Wait until they find a thin slick off Ocean City (which may happen but well offshore.)

Obviously trial lawyers are free to drum up business any way they can, and there are a number of people who should be compensated for their loss. But it just seems so tawdry to have these people believe they can win life’s legal lottery without informing them up front that any settlement will likely be years in the making and a large share of the proceeds won’t be fattening the coffers of those who were afflicted but instead benefit the trial lawyers. (I doubt they’re taking these cases on a pro bono basis.)

Perhaps a dose of “loser pays” would help to address this problem? These 2% of bad apples are ruining the other 98% of the legal system which works on a regular basis to address legitimate legal issues.

A ridiculous waste of time

If this doesn’t show you how government works, I don’t know what will. I was tipped off on this by a release from Americans for Limited Government, which noted in part:

Governor Jindal  was joined by local Louisiana officials in submitting the barrier island containment plan and discussing it directly with the President on May 2, gaining what seemed like Presidential approval for an expedited approval process to contain the oil.  One month later, President’s man on the ground is taking an Internet survey.

The question is whether to build a set of barrier islands off the coast to protect the more delicate areas from the effects of the continuing oil spill. Who knows, had this been done a couple weeks back there may have been containment already in place.

There’s no doubt we are swimming in uncharted waters regarding the entire Deepwater Horizon incident since the safety record of these rigs was previously exemplary.

In the government’s defense, comments are only being accepted until 7:00 p.m. our time so if you have something to say do so quickly. I say, “be like Nike and just do it!”

The industry side

As you likely know, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy President Obama placed a halt on proposed oil exploration off the Virginia coast, among other places. While some shortsighted elected officials in Washington cheered the news, the actual producers of society were not as pleased. One example is Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute:

“We understand the concerns many people have about offshore drilling in the wake of this incident, and the frustration many feel toward oil companies. But this issue is much larger than the oil industry, since access to affordable energy impacts every sector of our economy, every state in our nation and every American family. Further, thousands of products – from toothpaste to iPods, cell phones to computers, and vitamins to vegetables – use oil and natural gas as a feedstock in the manufacturing process.

An extended moratorium on safely producing our oil and natural gas resources from the Gulf of Mexico would create a moratorium on economic growth and job creation – especially in the Gulf States whose people and economies have already been most affected by the oil spill – by undercutting our nation’s access to affordable, reliable, domestic sources of oil and natural gas.

Deepwater development is a key component of domestic energy security. In 2007, deepwater provided 70 percent of the oil and 36 percent of the natural gas from overall federal Gulf of Mexico production. The 20 most prolific producing blocks in the Gulf are located in deepwater.

Additional moves to curtail domestic production by postponing exploration and development off the coasts of Alaska and Virginia, as well as areas in the Gulf, have the potential to significantly erode our energy and economic security.

Decisions that impact the industry’s ability to produce the oil and natural gas this country needs in every sector of our economy and in every household in this country will affect the lives of every citizen, every day. We will encourage the administration and Congress to reconsider any decisions that would place previously available lease areas off limits, and to ensure that there is a process and a timeline for revisiting decisions that impact our energy and economic future.” (All emphasis in original.)

There’s no question that what happened to the Deepwater Horizon was unprecedented (not to mention tragic, as the 11 people who perished in the explosion seem to have become but collateral damage to the overall cause of killing the energy industry) and will be catastrophic for some time to the Gulf region. But on balance, the region has been helped more than hurt by the oil and natural gas industry for decades, and thousands of rigs have and continue to work safely despite the onset of hurricanes and shutdowns for routine maintenance for years. There’s 3,500 rigs out there in the Gulf.

In my view, this ban is akin to not rebuilding the city of Salisbury after the Great Fire of 1886 or abandoning the space program after the Challenger disaster. In both instances, we took a short pause to learn from the mistakes but redoubled our efforts for improvement. We didn’t simply throw in the towel and persuade ourselves that it can’t be done.

Yet, because the environmentalists want to preserve their precious ocean view and push drilling 50 miles or more offshore, the vast majority of the areas they allow oil exploration within will have these same issues of deepwater drilling. Two-thirds of the area off Virginia where Lease Sale 220 was to occur has ocean depths of 5,000 feet or more, similar to the Deepwater Horizon’s wellhead. (But they don’t complain as much about windmills which would be much closer to shore and tower close to 150 feet over the waterline as well – never mind their real threat to bird life.)

If President Obama and his minions use the Deepwater Horizon incident for a complete stoppage of oil exploration, not only would gasoline suddenly become more expensive but thousands of workers would be placed on the unemployment line. There’s no way we have nearly enough “green” jobs online for these specialized workers to take, but no one feels sorry for those future unemployed – especially in comparison to the sympathy being drummed up for the watermen along the Gulf coast. Certainly this is a tough row to hoe for those who make their living harvesting shrimp, but in many respects they are having the sort of year a farmer does when the skies don’t open up and pour rain on the crops.

One has to wonder what the true motivation is behind the reaction to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and ponder what other leaders would do in such a situation. If offshore drilling is such a bad deal, then perhaps it’s time to look at other methods of getting oil and natural gas like taking advantage of oil shale out west or even the natural gas from the nearby Marcellus formation which crosses the western edge of our very state. Streamline the processes for getting that done instead of putting up roadblocks.

Perhaps the most bitter irony about a Gulf drilling moratorium (should one occur) is that it won’t stop other players like Mexico or Cuba from exploring in their waters. In fact, they may exploit our hesitation to increase their efforts and they’re truly not going to care about the risk of environmental damage to nearly the extent we take care to prevent it.

Until April 20, the American oil industry in the Gulf had a stellar record of safety. Let’s allow them to get back on the horse and do what’s best for our economy.