15 June 2010

No, Mr. President, we are not "running out of places to drill"

It's hard to know where to begin critiquing the president's Oval Office Address on the BP oil spill. It was, as is typical for Obama, self aggrandizing, patronizing, shallow and dishonest.

For now, let's just take a look at one of the biggest lies - his claim that "oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean -- because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water."

The United States imports a lot of oil, but the two largest exporters to us are Mexico and Canada. We further import from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and even the Bahamas. So, of all these nations on the North American continent, we are to believe that the United States alone is running out of oil to drill, while everybody else drills enough to sell some to us? Canada exports 2-3 times as much oil to us as does Saudi Arabia.

The United States has 20 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and an estimated 134 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Those estimates do not even include U.S. oil shale deposits, which are estimated to be the richest in the world, containing approximately 2,175 gigabarrels of recoverable oil.

We are not "running out of places to drill," we have chosen to place most of those areas off limits.

In fact, the very deposit BP was attempting to tap is estimated to be the second largest deposit in the world, covering "an estimated 25,000 square miles, extending from the inlands of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Texas." In other words, the very deposit now spewing into Gulf waters could have been reached from dry land.

Nearly all of America is placed off limits, by law, to exploration and drilling, and a combination of environmentalists and NIMBY governors of both parties have combined to push drilling farther and farther offshore.

In short, we're not running out of places to drill, we're getting run out of them, and now Obama wants to accelerate that by shutting down drilling in the Gulf.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg adds more info about "known reserves," and argues that oil is the green fuel.

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