Drill, Baby, Drill! (Especially off Nancy Pelosi’s California Coast)

Humberto Fontova
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Posted: Apr 06, 2010 12:01 AM
Drill, Baby, Drill! (Especially off Nancy Pelosi’s California Coast)

President Obama just opened some U.S. offshore areas for offshore oil drilling. But don’t hold your breath for a 2010 “Offshore Drilling Rush!” by the oil companies like the 1893 “Oklahoma Land Rush” by the Sooners.

".... keeping the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense," says House Minority Leader John Boehner.

Lest we forget, that California Pacific Coast is hard-core Nancy Pelosi country. No sooner had President Bush lifted the executive ban on oil exploration in the outer Continental Shelf back in summer of 2008 than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi put the kibosh to its prospects.

Sean Hannity FREE

"(In California) we learned the hard way that oil and water do not mix on our coast," she said back in 1996. Ms Pelosi was referring, of course, to the famous Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, an event that serves as the Alamo of the anti-drilling cause.

Webster's defines a "provincial" as: "a person of local or restricted interests or outlook.” This is not a term the MSM generally uses for a San Franciscan millionaire feminist legislator who owns vineyards and a French-monikered resort.

Then what else to call Nancy Pelosi (and most of her wealthy constituents)? A freakish, long-ago and very localized accident with no fatalities, and involving (by today's standards) primitive technology finds them ridden with superstitions against offshore oil drilling surpassing those of a Papuan savage against a volcano that once erupted, as recalled by village elders. Worse, given the vagaries of legislative politics, the superstitions of these San Franciscan yokels (one who happens to be speaker of the House) put a chokehold on the fuel for America's economy.

Imagine the liberal caterwauling if the views of a legislator from rural Mississippi determined the status of gay marriage in San Francisco! But San Franciscans' views on procuring energy affect practically every facet of a Mississippian's (and the rest of Americans') lives.

Today's drilling technology compares to the one used only 20 years ago about like the Kitty Hawk compares to a jumbo jet. The one that gave us the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 compares to today's like a fossil. Market forces, not meddlesome bureaucrats, account for cleaner, safer oil drilling. Today, a deep-water drilling rig costs half a million dollars a day to rent. A blowout and spill would negate such a gigantic investment. No oil company could long stay in business that way.

As it happened, no people died during that extremely freakish accident off Santa Barbara while an oil company procured the very lifeblood of America's economy. But some beachfront homeowners were discomfited (and fully compensated by oil firm UNOCAL), and the aesthetic sensibilities of many California greenies were temporarily traumatized. Supposedly, 3,600 seabirds also perished.

OK, so what? The log at our duck-hunting lodge shows my chums, my family and myself responsible for many more dead birds (i.e. Gumbo ‘fixins.)

If bona-fide science has crowned Global Warmists with ten foot dunce caps, then half a century of scientific evidence has crowned anti-offshore drilling activists with fifty foot dunce caps. That offshore oil drilling—far from an environmental disaster, is empirically an environmental bonanza—has been pounded home with a vengeance. To wit:

With 3,203 of the 3,729 offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico off her coast, Louisiana provides almost a third of North America’s commercial fisheries. A study by LSU’s sea grant college shows that 85 percent of Louisiana’s offshore fishing trips target these structures. “Oil platforms as artificial reefs support fish densities 10 to 1000 times that of adjacent sand and mud bottom, and almost always exceed fish densities found at both adjacent artificial reefs of other types and natural hard bottom,” says a study by Dr Bob Shipp, professor at the Marine Sciences department of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama, and currently, the vice-chair of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. “Evidence indicates that massive areas of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico

were essentially empty of Red Snapper stocks for the first hundred years of the fishery. Subsequently, areas in the western Gulf have become the major source of red snapper, concurrent with the appearance of thousands of petroleum platforms.”

That this proliferation of seafood came because – rather than in spite – of the oil production rattled many environmental cages and provoked a legion of scoffers.

Amongst the scoffers were some Travel Channel producers, fashionably greenish in their views. They read these claims in a book titled “The Helldiver’s Rodeo.” (And Ted Nugent’s blurb sure didn’t help against their scoffing!) The book described an undersea panorama that (if true) could make an interesting show for the network, they concluded, while still scoffing.

They scoffed as we rode in from the airport. They scoffed over raw oysters, grilled redfish and seafood gumbo that night. More scoffing through the Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s. They scoffed even while suiting up in dive gear and checking the cameras as we tied up to an oil platform 20 miles in the Gulf.

But they came out of the water bug-eyed and indeed produced and broadcast a Travel Channel program showcasing a panorama that turned on its head every environmental superstition against offshore oil drilling. Schools of fish filled the water column from top to bottom – from 6-inch blennies to 12-foot sharks. Fish by the thousands. Fish by the ton.

The cameras were going crazy. Do I focus on the shoals of barracuda? Or that cloud of jacks? On the immense schools of snapper below, or on the fleet of tarpon above? How ’bout this – WHOOOAA – hammerhead! We had some close-ups; too, of coral and sponges, the very things disappearing off Florida’s (that bans offshore oil drilling) pampered reefs. Off Louisiana, they sprout in colorful profusion from the huge steel beams – acres of them. You’d never guess this was part of that unsightly structure above. The panorama of marine life around an offshore oil platform staggers anyone who puts on goggles and takes a peek, even (especially!) the most worldly scuba divers. Here’s a video peek at this seafood bonanza.

And oh!…as a fanatical fisherman/scuba-diver I almost forgot to mention this trivial detail: the oil production platforms off Louisiana’s coast also produce 80 percent of the oil and 72 percent of the natural gas produced in the U.S.—and without causing a single major oil spill in half a century of this process. This record stands despite dozens of hurricanes – including the two most destructive in North American history, Camille and Katrina – repeatedly battering the drilling and production structures.