Licensed to Drill

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My friends, our long national nightmare is over.

The House voted Tuesday to lift the federal moratorium that has blocked drilling along most of the U.S. coastline for three decades and give states a greater role in choosing whether to have oil rigs off their shores.

What say you, John Boehner, having run an historically aggressive campaign against Democrats for dragging their heels on this?

When a bill gets filed at 9:45 the night before and then it's announced it's going to come to the floor the next morning as the first bill up, a bill that no one has read, written in the dark of night that won't do a damn thing about American energy.

Boehner's point is that the bill, which did end the 26-year old ban on offshore drilling, was sweetened with $18 billion of oil company tax hikes, tax credits for alternative energy development, a requirement that utilities generate 15 percent of energy from non oil-sources, and a ban on gifts from oil companies to federal employees. The Democrats caved on drilling, but not on any other item in their agenda. And they have, apparently, taken the air out of a key Republican issue less than 50 days before the election, when the nation is focused on something else entirely.

UPDATE: As commenters point out, this legalization doesn't include the 50 miles closest to the shores.

Republicans called the bill a ruse, saying that's well beyond where most of the estimated 18 billion barrels of oil is located.

The White House threatened a veto, saying the bill doesn't go far enough to generate new domestic supplies of oil and natural gas.

Nonetheless, I think the Republicans are losing the wedge issue: Now Democrats are saying "drill here," and Republicans are saying "no, drill here." And, again, it's happening as prices at the pump drop and a Republican administration nationalizes AIG.

NEXT: R U Driving Rite Now?

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  1. Let’s bail out alternative energy research. 85 billion will do. And then we can let AIG sleep with the fishes.

  2. Dems definitely got the better of the Republicans this round–as David notes, “taken the air out of a key Republican issue less than 50 days before the election”.

    I would say it was the only issue R’s had to hammer the Democrats with. And now it’s gone.

  3. And it will make no difference as Californians and Floridians will still tell the rigs to go to hell.

  4. This bill effectively forever bans offshore drilling within 50 miles of the coast, where it is estimated that more than 80% of deposits exist. The bill does virtually nothing to increase potential oil supplies. That’s why it’s worthless. I know that Reason and its minions and fanboys are relentlessly opposed to Republicans, but you might at least want to get this story right.

  5. The House majority typically does not compromise much with the minority.

    The Senate may block it, though, and Bush has hinted at a veto.

  6. give states a greater role in choosing whether to have oil rigs off their shores.

    sweetened with $18 billion of oil company tax hikes

    Ah, federalism as done by Democrats. If we were to raise taxes on oil companies to 100%, we could apparently have 50 independent labratories of democracy.

  7. a ban on gifts from oil companies to federal employees

    I hope this doesn’t include a ban on sexual gifts. If it does, I’m yanking my resume from consideration with the mining agency headquarters in Colorado.

  8. The increased supply will have no effect on prices. It’s a scam.

  9. So, Boehner is pissed off because the Republicans just got whore-served. Good to know.

  10. See JohnL’s comment:

    Reason, specifically David Weigel has been duped. The Bill is a hoax and Bush has announced his intent to veto it.

    Now, what say you back?

  11. meh. After the DOW goes to zero (I’m predicting two hours after Obama takes the oath of office) the demand for oil is going to be next to nothing.

  12. Is this the same bill that has no chance of becoming law, Mr. Weigel? The one House Democrats knew beforehand had no chance of becoming law? The cynic in me has to know.

  13. Actually, with the 50-mile limit thing, the Republicans can beat the Democrats with this a bit. With prices going down, it may not be effective, but people are still focused on energy prices.

  14. Actually, with the 50-mile limit thing, the Republicans can beat the Democrats with this a bit.

    Nah. Which one of you kids is so fond of saying “if you have to explain, you lose”? The Dems say “we passed a bill to allow drilling, but the Republicans said no!” to which the Reps respond “well, it was because blah blah 50 miles blah pork-laden blah blibbity blah.” Meanwhile, everyone who might have been swayed turned the chanel back to American Idol, and the only ones still listening are the ones who wouldn’t have voted Dem anyway.

  15. … and a Republican administration nationalizes AIG.

    Fucking socialists

  16. It’s as cynical a piece of legislation as anything Idiot Pelosi has yet put forth. Barely a month ago she was steadfast in her opposition to anything resembling this sham of a bill. If only we American hayseeds were astute enough to notice. I know. That’s asking a lot. It’s football season.

  17. The bill does virtually nothing to increase potential oil supplies.

    Neither would drilling within fifty miles. No amount of offshore drilling is gonna make a real difference to potential oil supplies.

    The GOP decided to make an issue out nothing, and for once it backfired.

  18. doom
    Dooom
    DOOOOM

  19. Actually, with the 50-mile limit thing, the Republicans can beat the Democrats with this a bit. With prices going down, it may not be effective, but people are still focused on energy prices.

    Actually, I think the Republicans lose in two ways with this bill. The democrats can claim to be bipartisan and to have protected the environment at the same time. But like ChicagoTom points out…this is a non-issue that the Republicans were using to distract people…reality seems to have asserted itself recently…btw, latest polls indicate a shift back to Obama.

  20. ” Barely a month ago she was steadfast in her opposition to anything resembling this sham of a bill”

    But a month ago the only thing being debated was lifting the ban, and nothing else. So if Pelosi was going to give in and allow for a vote on drilling, she was going to include in that bill things that she wanted as well (i.e. higher taxes on oil companies, tac credits, etc.) That’s kinda how legislating works whwn you’re in the majority.

  21. This bill effectively forever bans offshore drilling within 50 miles of the coast,

    Can someone explain something to me?

    On a vacation to California earlier this summer I took a drive down the Pacific Coast Islands. And I could see oil rigs around the channel islands from the highway.

    Were they really oil rigs? Or are they grandfathered? Or inactive?

  22. It would be nice if the media would tell the truth once in a while. At least Reason ought to tell the truth. This bill is terrible and just the kind of thing that Reason as an allegedly independent publication ought to be calling bullshit on. It is nothing but a tax hike and bunch of pork wearing the fig leaf of allowing drillin in like 1% of the available area. If the Reason staff would take Obama’s cock out of their mouth for a couple of minutes and pay attention, they would be appalled by this bill.

  23. The increased supply will have no effect on prices. It’s a scam.

    So oil is the only commodity on earth that doesn’t follow the law of supply and demand?

  24. bleh, that should be “Pacific Coast Highway”

  25. I think he was refering to the inelasticity of oil. I think anyway.

  26. So oil is the only commodity on earth that doesn’t follow the law of supply and demand?

    Not at all.

    The excess oil that would come from offshore drilling isn’t enough to really affect prices all that much. And what little effect it would have wouldn’t be seen for quite some time.

  27. “So oil is the only commodity on earth that doesn’t follow the law of supply and demand?”

    Well when the supply and price of oil is essentially controlled by a cartel like OPEC, then yes, it doesn’t follow the iron-clad law of supply and demand. Why would anyone expect the OPEC countries, that rely almost entirely on oil profits to keep their regimes afloat, would just sit idly by while something is done that may decrease their coffers?

  28. No amount of offshore drilling is gonna make a real difference to potential oil supplies

    It isn’t your risk. You won’t be putting any cash into research and exploration and drilling and production and delivery costs. You won’t have to put up one thin dime. And yet you’ll reap all the benefits. Private industry wishes to drill for petroleum, and you’ll have gas to put in your car if you choose to get around that way. Why does this simple enterprise frighten the left so? That’s a rhetorical question. Libertarians know the answer.

  29. Actually, it was a sarcastic comment parroting a regular liberal commenter on this board.

    No amount of offshore drilling is gonna make a real difference to potential oil supplies.

    I realize you can’t prove a negative, but the estimates I’ve seen are in the area of 18 billion (with a “b”) barrels of oil. How, exactly will that NOT make a difference in supplies?

  30. I realize you can’t prove a negative, but the estimates I’ve seen are in the area of 18 billion (with a “b”) barrels of oil. How, exactly will that NOT make a difference in supplies?

    Earlier this month, OPEC cut their production because oil prices were going down too much. If offshore drilling adds a million barrels, OPEC and Russia can counteract that.

  31. btw, latest polls indicate a shift back to Obama.

    The Republican October Iran strike surprise is going down the drain as well, as Kadima is likely to vote for a female peacenik tonight.

  32. I have to agree with John on this post. I hate McCain as much as the next guy, and Palin too, but Reason has missed the boat on this bill – and it looks like it’s because they want a change in the regime.

  33. Which one of you kids is so fond of saying “if you have to explain, you lose”?

    Me. I think it may be RC’s Fourth Iron Law – “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

    Its all about framing the issue. The Repubs can easily get back on the offensive here if they have half a brain, just by asking why the Democrats are still refusing to lift the moratorium on 80% of the offshore reserves.

  34. Actually, it was a sarcastic comment parroting a regular liberal commenter on this board.

    My apologies, sage.

    Earlier this month, OPEC cut their production because oil prices were going down too much. If offshore drilling adds a million barrels, OPEC and Russia can counteract that.

    OPEC isn’t as powerful as many think. Like any cartel, the members cheat. There is quite a bit of oil that goes out under the table. At best OPEC meetings produce temporary spikes in prices as the members act like they are abiding by the quotas. But prices soon end up where they would be anyway as they sneak out as much as they can.

  35. “And it will make no difference as Californians and Floridians will still tell the rigs to go to hell.”

    Californians will, most definitely. In Florida, there may be a chance they won’t. Florida’s gulf coast is a very southern, conservative place, so there is probably at least a small minority of people who are for drilling. Plus our economy is sucking right now and property taxes are going up. If oil revenues could lower taxes that would help too.

  36. Earlier this month, OPEC cut their production because oil prices were going down too much

    For the record, OPEC members account for less than half of total U.S. oil imports. And OPEC Big Kahuna Saudi Arabia recently thumbed its nose at suggested production cuts. The all-omnipotent cartel is not as powerful as many think (or wish?) it is. Free markets have a way of counterbalancing those entities that would attempt to corner them.

  37. How is it partisan for the Reasonoids to say they think the Dems won this round of the endless poker game? Weigel never said he liked the bill, just that it’s smart politics.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve seen generous amounts of hostility towards both candidates, and that’s just how a libertarian blog should be IMHO.

  38. Oil prices are already falling, well before this. This issue was a wedge issue in July, but not anymore.

  39. “For the record, OPEC members account for less than half of total U.S. oil imports”

    But they still have influence over the price of oil, regardless of how much oil from OPEC countries actually end up in our cars.

    “The all-omnipotent cartel is not as powerful as many think (or wish?) it is.”

    They produce 1/3 of the worlds oil, that makes them kinda powerful.

  40. At least our Brazilian friends told the Saudis to fuck off when they invited them into OPEC this week.

  41. One other point. I doubt this bill contains any waivers for NEPA and the ESA. Without those, it doesn’t matter if the bill opened up all of the area, the shitbag environmental groups will just sue and tie up the drilling for years.

    I think it is time to face the reality that a good portion of our society is too ignorant and suppositious to have a functioning advanced civilization. We have actually gotten to the point where we are too dumb to drill for our own oil and energy. I guess man’s natural state is to live in squalor and ignorance.

  42. John | September 17, 2008, 2:49pm | #

    “It would be nice if the media would tell the truth once in a while. At least Reason ought to tell the truth. This bill is terrible and just the kind of thing that Reason as an allegedly independent publication ought to be calling bullshit on. It is nothing but a tax hike and bunch of pork wearing the fig leaf of allowing drillin in like 1% of the available area. If the Reason staff would take Obama’s cock out of their mouth for a couple of minutes and pay attention, they would be appalled by this bill.”

    Yep, I’ve never been embarrassed to be a reason subscriber until today.

  43. The excess oil that would come from offshore drilling isn’t enough to really affect prices all that much. And what little effect it would have wouldn’t be seen for quite some time.

    I agree that no individual well, no individual field will affect prices “all that much”.
    No individual factory will affect production “all that much”.
    No indivdual farm will affect food prices “all that much”.
    No individual housing developement will affect homeownership rates “all that much”.
    I could go on. But it’s too obvious for those with triple digit IQs.

  44. I don’t know much about this issue to be honest. What is the concern that those who oppose the drilling have? I doubt it’s just they are crypto-commies who want to destroy America. Is it that more drilling means more chance of some kind of ecological disaster near the coasts? That would concern me a bit. I kind of like the coast with the water more blue-green than black. If however it’s just some concern that it will “keep people addicted to oil” I have less sympathy.

  45. They produce 1/3 of the world’s oil

    And they’re not about to kill their #1 client.

  46. “They produce 1/3 of the world’s oil

    And they’re not about to kill their #1 client.”

    Like during the embargo during the 1970’s? Yeah, that had no impact on us at all…

  47. “The excess oil that would come from offshore drilling isn’t enough to really affect prices all that much. And what little effect it would have wouldn’t be seen for quite some time.

    I agree that no individual well, no individual field will affect prices “all that much”. ”

    C’mon J sub D, be fair, the contention is that ALL of the proposed wells opened up by this together would have only a marginal effect on prices.

    I don’t know if that is true, but if it is true then that is a smaller benefit to balanced against any potential costs flowing from this.

  48. “They produce 1/3 of the world’s oil

    And they’re not about to kill their #1 client.”

    Like during the embargo during the 1970’s? Yeah, that had no impact on us at all…

    And it hand even more of an impact on them. Which is why they will never do it again.

  49. The GOP decided to make an issue out nothing, and for once it backfired.

    And now they’re going to try to make an issue of a fraction of nothing. Please, Mr. President, use the same pen you used to veto SCHIP.

    But…but…but…don’t you understand? The Democrats are going to let them drill for some oil (America: Yay!), but they’re also going to tax oil companies (America: Yay!), fund alternative energy (America: Yay!) and keep the oil platforms at least 50 miles off shore (Americai: Yay!).

    No, you people don’t understand! This isn’t a drill-here-drill-now bill, it’s a drill a little, but protect the environment, compromise bill! (America: Yay!)

  50. Yeah, nations like the ones that make up OPEC would never do something potentially harmful to their own bottom line for some petty nutty reason. That would be irrational….

  51. When a bill gets filed at 9:45 the night before and then it’s announced it’s going to come to the floor the next morning as the first bill up, a bill that no one has read, written in the dark of night…

    I’d call that “business as usual”.

  52. And they’re not about to kill their #1 client.”

    Like during the embargo during the 1970’s? Yeah, that had no impact on us at all…

    Hypothesis:

    While we (the developped and developping world) are as dependent on oil as we were in the ’70’s (if not more, the difference between now and then is that they (the petrostates both inside and outside the cartel) are more dependent on the money they receive then they were in the 70’s.

  53. I’d say the ignoramuses who want to live in squalor are those who want to burn dirt and suck down the fumes for another couple hundreds of years, John.

  54. “But…but…but…don’t you understand? The Democrats are going to let them drill for some oil (America: Yay!), but they’re also going to tax oil companies (America: Yay!), fund alternative energy (America: Yay!) and keep the oil platforms at least 50 miles off shore (Americai: Yay!).”

    1. No one will ever drill even one well as a result of this bill. The decisions to allow drilling will be tied up in NEPA and ESA litigation for years. The Dems know this and that is why they are willing to allow any drilling.

    2. “Funding Alternative Energy” is a euphemism for robbing the treasury to pay off lefty and business allies. None of the government funding will ever produce any alternative energy or do anything beyond line the pockets of connected political grandees. The Democrats are not talking about that part of the bill because it is nothing but a pork laden pile of steaming crap and they know it.

    This bill effectively stops all offshore drilling forever. It makes it into statute that most of the nation’s offshore resource henceforth and shall forever be off limits to the people of this country. At the same time, it also manages to steal more money from the tax payer while depriving him of the use of the resources of the country. You may think that is a great thing Joe. But stop blowing smoke up people’s ass and trying to pretend that the bill does anything that it says it does.

  55. This just in: wingnut hates compromise.

    That’s why they can’t govern in a democracy.

  56. They used to have the position of “Royal Forrester”. What the Royal forester did was make sure that no one made use of the King’s forest. Taking even one stick of firewood out of the King’s forest was punishable by death. We used to have a system were a few rich elites controlled a huge portion of the land and kept it out of productive use for their own personal pleasure. It was called feudalism. We really have that same system now. In the past, they kept the land out of production so the king could hunt. Now we do the same thing so a few rich environmentalists can feel good about themselves and stare out of their beech front houses and not have to see a windmill or an oil well. The rest of us are left to suffer and pay higher energy prices and eventually if things continue live in the dark.

  57. Yeah Joe. When a bill is said to “allow off shore drilling” I would expect it to actually allow such drilling. This bill does no such thing. As I said, any drilling attempted under this bill will be tied up in court for decades and never actually happen. It is not a compromise when one side lies and steals and the bill changes nothing.

  58. What do you, the people who get a hard-on from drilling hate environmentalism on principle.

    There’s a shocker.

  59. “American Theocracy” by Kevin Phillips

    Get it. Read it. You’ll like it.

    I guarantee it

  60. Joe,

    If this is a compromise, please explain exactly how and when any drilling will ever get done? It won’t and you know it. All this bill is the environmentalists saying fuck you to the rest of the country and telling us we are so dumb we will believe anything.

  61. Months of wailing about lifting the federal moratorium being the most importantest thing evah, and guess what? Now, they whine about lifting the federal moratorium not meaning anything.

    Best way to find out what a man’s holding is to call.

  62. Don’t the oil companies already have leases on about a gadjillion acres on and offshore for drilling? That they aren’t drilling on?
    When a company is posting record profits in a sagging economy, I don’t see a whole lot of incentive to produce more product and drive the price down.

  63. A twenty-year-old person wishes to buy beer. Once he turns twenty-one, he is told, “you can buy beer, but only beyond fifty miles from your house”, where there’s practically no beer to be bought.

    So basically, he still can’t buy beer.

  64. If we attached magnets to joe and placed inductors around him we could generate shitloads of electricity.

  65. Holy shit, the market just had another Monday.

  66. Who peed in joe’s cornflakes this morning?

    Given the current unpopularity of the Dem Congress (when you’re polling south of Bush, you’re frickin’ unpopular), I think the Repubs have a decent chance of continuing to shame the Dems and get a decent bill passed.

    Of course, these are the same Repubs who aren’t jumping up and down on Dem ethical issues, so I’m not betting they’ll refrain from blowing it, either.

  67. If we attached magnets to joe and placed inductors around him we could generate shitloads of electricity.

    He would have to spin for that to work.

    Oh, wait…

  68. Remember when you used to try to formulate arguments to demonstrate that I was wrong, J sub?

    Man, those were the days.

  69. Who peed in joe’s cornflakes this morning?

    What are you, high?

    Nancy Pelosi just drank your milkshake, and you think I’m angry about it?

  70. Like during the embargo during the 1970’s? Yeah, that had no impact on us at all…

    It had a minimal, temporary impact. The world didn’t end. And this ain’t the 70s.

  71. Nancy Pelosi seems to have bigger balls than Harry Reid.

  72. “Nancy Pelosi just drank your milkshake”

    She can do that anytime she likes.

  73. awwwwwwww Crap

    did I say that out loud?

  74. Brotherben has the hots for Speaker Botox?

  75. joe, I’d point out it’s all poison pill shit, you’d say no it’s not.
    I’d be right, you’d be spinning.
    I just skipped what everbody knew would transpire to save therm the tedium of your Dem bootlicking.

    Let’s do it anyway.

    joe, this legislation contains poison pills that will kill it and allow the dems to facetiously contend that they wanted to open up off shore drilling but the Republicans shot it down.

    Your turn.

  76. If the Reason staff would take Obama’s cock out of their mouth for a couple of minutes and pay attention, they would be appalled by this bill.

    That calls for a drink. Of… something.

  77. “While we (the developped and developping world) are as dependent on oil as we were in the ’70’s (if not more, the difference between now and then is that they (the petrostates both inside and outside the cartel) are more dependent on the money they receive then they were in the 70’s”

    I tried to fight thru all those parentheses to figure out what you’re trying to say and I think that you’re implying that while we still need their oil, they still need our $ so we’re both holding each other by the short and curlies. I don’t think that this is the case at all. Sure they need our $, but it’s not as if we have an alternative to their product – even if we drill offshore. They could just cut production enough to offset any gains we might get by drilling offshore, or just increase production so it becomes too expensive for us to drill offshore. Either way, they have the upper hand so long as we continue to use oil.
    It’s a pretty shitty situation we’re in.

  78. “And they’re not about to kill their #1 client”

    But they could wound us. And they still basically control the price of oil.

    It’s not as if we have a viable alternative.

  79. Is this when we get a headline like the one upstairs? But this time it’s about oil.

    Jimmy Carter was right!

  80. Brotherben has the hots for Speaker Botox?

    Personally, I think it’s all done with pneumatics. She goes home at night, flips a valve, and it all goes “PPPPPSSSSSSSSSSSSsssssssssssss….”

  81. Now we do the same thing so a few rich environmentalists can feel good about themselves and stare out of their beech front houses and not have to see a windmill or an oil well. The rest of us are left to suffer and pay higher energy prices and eventually if things continue live in the dark.

    Actually, tourism is big bucks for CA and Florida. California gets $68.23B/year
    and Florida gets $54.54B/year. California opened up drilling in the Port of LB because tourism doesn’t have an effect there. Considering that CA has about 10 bbl of oil offshore, worth about $1 trillion. Though less once you account for the fact that getting any of it out is going to take a decade, not all of it is going to be drilled and the state and its citizens will see a small proportion of it. By contrast, tourism is a largely local industry.

    However, they’re not going not going to kill their golden gooses of tourism to pump relatively piddling amounts of oil and an even more piddly proportion of it. It’s called the free market. While Florida is pretty conservative, they don’t want to hurt their tourism industry either. It’s not just about enviros, it’s about money.

  82. Don’t the oil companies already have leases on about a gadjillion acres on and offshore for drilling? That they aren’t drilling on?

    brotherben, is that a serious question? Is that how you think it works? Oil wells can just be stuck anywhere, give or take 500 miles from where you think there MIGHT be oil and are willing to pay a lease?

    http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/are_the_democrats_correct_in_stating_that.html

    But you already knew that, right? You were just playin with us.

  83. I bet the Dems are already running ads against the House Republicans who voted against this.

    “Congressman Horsefly says he’s ‘for the people’, but when Congress voted to open up offshore drilling, he said no! Horsefly: wrong on energy, wrong for America.”

    I don’t get why folks like John are getting so wound up about this — the majority party in the House always forces these kinds of votes on the minority. That’s how the game is played.

  84. Ya, the republicans really want to drill here… Maybe that’s how they plan to lose the state of Florida.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvNgjTOFhv4

  85. bbs,

    That link hardly overturns the charge. It says that not all the 68 million acres are lying fallow, but quite a few are. Also, it really shows how full of shit the reds were when they said we’d have oil coming in from new offshore wells in under a year.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=178663&title=Indecision-2008—To-Drill-or-Not-to-Drill

    Look at 2:40 on.

  86. “Nonetheless, I think the Republicans are losing the wedge issue: Now Democrats are saying “drill here,” and Republicans are saying “no, drill here.”

    No, what the Republicans are saying (quite correctly) is that this is a fraud. As usual the “compromise” is that the leftists unconditionally get the new taxes, etc that they want and the new drilling is chock full of contingiencies and restrictions.

    There is no reason for the Republicans to take this deal. The legislative ban on offshore drilling expires automatically at the end of this month. All they have to do is wait and ALL the offshores areas are no longer off limits with no giveaways to the liberal democrats.

    The Republicans should just wait for the ban to expire and then dare the Dems to try and reinstate it. They don’t have the veto proof number of votes to do it.

  87. Licensed to Drill? Oh, man, that was the greatest album ever! If the Republicans are reissuing it, they’ve got my vote . . .

    Wait, oops, never mind.

  88. … and a Republican administration nationalizes AIG.

    Fucking socialists,

    you are a socialist…does this mean you agree with the republicans?

  89. There is no reason for the Republicans to take this deal. The legislative ban on offshore drilling expires automatically at the end of this month. All they have to do is wait and ALL the offshores areas are no longer off limits with no giveaways to the liberal democrats.

    The Republicans should just wait for the ban to expire and then dare the Dems to try and reinstate it. They don’t have the veto proof number of votes to do it.

    I like the sound of that.

  90. The increased supply will not a change a thing at all!

  91. …a requirement that utilities generate 15 percent of energy from non oil-sources…

    Thanks assholes. I don’t mind if my electric bill starts to resemble my rent bill. No sir, not at all.

  92. apparently, taken the air out of a key Republican issue less than 50 days before the election, when the nation is focused on something else entirely.

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