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March 14, 2005

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I'd say let her drill as long as she gets to be the lone man. She can start now, if she likes.

It's gonna be hard for Congress to say no to drilling for more oil when, come summertime, their constituents start looking to blame somebody for $3.00 a gallon gas.

Norton is such a hack.

It's gonna be hard for Congress to say no to drilling for more oil when, come summertime, their constituents start looking to blame somebody for $3.00 a gallon gas.

Their constituents should look to their own consumption habits before they assert that accelerating the inevitable exhaustion of a limited resource is the only responsible response to climbing prices.

Norton is such a hack.

She's like bottled anti-charm.

With existing refineries in the U.S. at 98% capacity even if they suck the entire reserve out in one summer gas prices aren't going to move. (Not that they won't claim that)

Their constituents should look to their own consumption habits before they assert that accelerating the inevitable exhaustion of a limited resource is the only responsible response to climbing prices.

I don't think this works the way you seem to think it does. After all, not one person I know that's passionate about Global Warming has renounced their vehicle in favor of...other transportation. And if you truly think the Earth is on the edge of climatological catastrophe, the only responsible response is minimizing your contribution to it.

With existing refineries in the U.S. at 98% capacity even if they suck the entire reserve out in one summer gas prices aren't going to move.

Hmm...interesting. Not that I don't trust you (just that I'm not well-informed on refinery-to-pricing models), is there somewhere you would recommend for more info?

Of course, the price of gas is not part of Norton's argument...she's focused on this comically paradoxical rationale:

As part of a comprehensive energy strategy of promoting conservation and reducing dependence on foreign oil, we must increase our energy production here at home.

How does drilling in ANWR promote conservation? In either sense of that term?

I don't think this works the way you seem to think it does.

I'm not so sure it doesn't. Norton is insisting that the Administration is promoting conservation. I see no signs of that whatsoever.

Let's start with how they're promoting conservation before we argue that it won't work.

" not one person I know that's passionate about Global Warming has renounced their vehicle in favor of...other transportation."

You know what they say about the plural of anecdote. Everyone I know that's passionate about Global Warming has renounced regular use (or ownership) of their vehicle. It likely has a lot to do with the quality of public transit in your area.

Anyway, there's some recent evidence that the primary contributor is agriculture and deforestation, neither of which are much affected if you take a bus. There's an interesting article in a recent Scientific American about a team that studied Antarctic ice cores to plot global CO2 and temperature levels for a hundred thousand years, and they found a very regular oscillation pattern of ice ages and warming. The only break in that pattern was not in the Industrial Age, but a few thousand years ago when human agriculture (particularly rice cultivation in Asia) began in earnest. If the pattern had followed regularly, we would now be in an Ice Age.

Which is not to say 'rah, rah for global warming, it saved us from an Ice Age' since it's now gone well beyond saving, and deforestation is neither going to slow nor be repaired any time soon. Respect the Amazon rain forest. It's keeping you alive.

And if you truly think the Earth is on the edge of climatological catastrophe, the only responsible response is minimizing your contribution to it

You don't understand what the tragedy of the commons is, do you? The root of the tragedy is that those involved are acting rationally given the circumstances.

I see no signs of that whatsoever.

Neither do I. I'm just saying that the response of the general public to external stimuli frequently goes counter to what one would expect, assuming they were rational.

If you want to look at the data, go to

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/info_glance/refineryops.html

Over the last four weeks, the refinery utilization has run about 90%. By the summer, this should be close to 98% as the gasoline production ramps up.

It likely has a lot to do with the quality of public transit in your area.

Right back at you. Seriously.

Anyway, there's some recent evidence that the primary contributor is agriculture and deforestation, neither of which are much affected if you take a bus

And to think it was only yesterday that Hummers were going to drive us straight into extinction.

not one person I know that's passionate about Global Warming has renounced their vehicle in favor of...other transportation.

I also don't know anyone who has renounced their vehicle utterly. I do know people who have been influenced to buy hybrid cars, or just smaller ones, or to increase their use of public transportation. These are marginal changes, of course, but I don't think it's fair to say that people concerned about this have not changed their habits at all in response.

Of course the problem is with the incentive system here, as it so often is when social costs exceed private costs - that is, when prices do not reflect the actual cost of a resource.

"As part of a comprehensive energy strategy of promoting conservation and reducing dependence on foreign oil, we must increase our energy production here at home."

How does drilling in ANWR promote conservation? In either sense of that term?

Maybe, Edward, the answer is simply that this is all semantic bullshittery: that observations like this look good when excerpted for quotation purposes, but aren't otherwise meant to mean anything substantive.
Most likely, some White House-funded focus groups showed positive responses to the statements "promoting conservation" (since the word also has the connotation of "saving wildlife/wilderness"), and "reducing dependence on foreign oil" (greedy Arab oil-sheiks, et.al.) and decided to make the combination an official buzz-phrase, so as to deflect potential criticism of the Adminstration's actions.
I was going to close with a comment along the lines of "What do you expect from these clowns?" but then realized that this is nothing new from Bush 43's crowd - it's an OLD story.

"While we cannot promise that there will be no impact on the wildlife and habitat of the 1002 area, we can promise no significant impact."

I would be interested (tho I would prefer ANWR not be touched) in an empirical contract. Migratory patterns and distances, replacement rates of species can be quantified...drilling can go on as long as there is a less than 10% change. Should there be a more than 10% change, all activity stops until status quo ante, with a billion dollar fine.

Put their money where their mouth is.

"And if you truly think the Earth is on the edge of climatological catastrophe, the only responsible response is minimizing your contribution to it."

I've never owned a car in my life, nor, come to think of it, any motor vehicle of any sort, or internal combustion engine. Nor have I ever obtained a driver's license. Does that help?

I do admit to emitting a bit of waste gas on my own now and again. But it's organically produced!

Better stop, Gary. Methane is worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

And by the way....

"It's gonna be hard for Congress to say no to drilling for more oil when, come summertime, their constituents start looking to blame somebody for $3.00 a gallon gas."

IIJM, or has nobody been seeking to "blame" anyone for high retail gas prices in a long time? I remember, not too long ago, when a 30-or-40-cent-a-gallon jump in pump prices would engender outraged editorials in the papers, howls of anguish from fuel-dependent industries, and bitter critiques from consumer-advocacy groups - not to mention tut-tutting from the Government about the perils of inflation, and various threats to our prosperity. But for the last 18 months or so, fossil-fuel products (from wellhead to retail pump) have experienced a steady upward price-climb with scarcely a peep of protest. What's wrong with this picture?

"Right back at you. Seriously."

Since the 'you' in 'your area' was the universal 'you', I don't know how to parse that. Actually, I wouldn't know how to parse it if I did mean your area specifically.

"And to think it was only yesterday that Hummers were going to drive us straight into extinction."

They are what you'd call a secondary contributor. If the subject at all interests you (above and beyond as an ideological club, I mean), the article was very cool. Here's the abstract.

There's a nice graph that boils it down.

With existing refineries in the U.S. at 98% capacity even if they suck the entire reserve out in one summer gas prices aren't going to move. (Not that they won't claim that)

They may even claim that ANWR oil will only be made available to the domestic market, but we'll remember that they said the same thing about Northslope oil back when they needed support for the Alaska pipeline. (The export ban on Northslope oil was eventually lifted during the Clinton Administration). The rationalisation (ie, consolidation, shuttering of 'excess capacity') of US refineries during the 90's is one of the energy industry's dirty little secrets.

Edward, the Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency website overflows (gushes, really) with all sorts of energy industry data, both domestic and international.

What's wrong with this picture?

Nothing at all. It's the result of a craftily-run war for oil.

I would be interested (tho I would prefer ANWR not be touched) in an empirical contract. Migratory patterns and distances, replacement rates of species can be quantified...drilling can go on as long as there is a less than 10% change. Should there be a more than 10% change, all activity stops until status quo ante, with a billion dollar fine.

Should the cretons ram this breach of faith through Congress, I would support a billion dollar fine. If they're committed to this new technology like they say they are, that should be no hair off their chin anyway, right?

More or less anecdotally, a weekend review of the Edmunds.com forums leads me to believe that demand for hybrid vehicles is rising. Commenters several months ago reported hybrid vehicle (specifically the Honda Civic Hybrid) prices within a few hundred dollars of invoice. More recent commenters report prices within a few hundred dollars of MSRP.

Actually, I wouldn't know how to parse it if I did mean your area specifically.

No need at all to parse. If you meant it to apply to everyone, everywhere, then I haven't added anything, and you can ignore the comment.

If the subject at all interests you (above and beyond as an ideological club, I mean)

I don't know what you mean about ideology. If you see the desire to see good science done and bad science exposed as such as a sort of ideology, guilty. As for the article being cool, I hope so. I'm still waiting for the link to open.

Well, good science also says Hummers are Bad(tm). (Climate science, I mean. The science of psychology probably has something to say about the soothing effects of cruising around in a cosmopolitan tank so wide it's completely inappropriate for driving anywhere but on the freeway). So I took the Hummer crack to be less about science and more about The Eternal Struggle.

Not sure why that link doesn't work. It doesn't for me either, but that's the right URL. Maybe they're gating on referers. This one maybe?

Ah, I see it now. But the abstract pretty much says that the first effect was agriculture and deforestation, which is not the same as saying those things are the primary effect.

so wide it's completely inappropriate for driving anywhere but on the freeway

Odd, I'd always thought it was mostly completely inappropriate for driving anywhere except to and from the survivalist retreat. Well, I'm sure there's many, many different manifestations of Hummer-disapproval. Me, I'm much more annoyed by Winnebagos.

Well, if we're into single data points, I bought a hybrid four years ago for environmental reasons (global warming plus air pollution.) Serious savings on gas are just a fringe benefit. I agree with sidereal that a lot depends on whether one has access to decent public transportation: in lots of cities, I either wouldn't own a car or would drive it maybe once a month. Unfortunately, the city I live in is not among them. I also replaced my old AC with a much more efficient unit, and while the reason for replacing it was that the ol one broke, the reason for my pestering the AC guy about finding the most efficient unit ("but it costs more; you wouldn't save enough on the energy bills for years." -- "That's not the point...") was, again, a combination of global warming and environmental concerns.

Edward -- you missed out on a great career as a literary critic ;)

Drilling in the ANWAR isn't about providing for our oil needs. it's just a power play. The oil companies aren't hot to drill there anymore because there isn't much there. Bush Co. wants to open the ANWAR just because they can and because they would like to open all of our protected natural areas to exploitation by someone. They are mammon worshipers. It's a tragedy.
I've never been up the Dalton Highway but I've been to the Canadian high Arctic three times. One of the carabou herds from the ANWAR, the Porcupine herd, travels into Canada every summer. The First nations groups of the Arctic Circle depend on them for subsistance hunting. If the herd changes route, the villages will be without one of their most important food sources. Also native people who have retained their tradions are healthier as measured by social indicators such as suicide rates, drug addiction, etc. Subsitance hunting is essential for the mental health, social cohesion, and morale of the Arctic villges, as well as being a source of food. Porcupine village has a website (sorry, i don't know how to provide links). They've been fighting the drilling for years and years. I don't expect anyone in the Bush administratin to care about this. No cash for them in maintaining traditional values in Canadian native villages. It will be a tragedy if the shallow materialistic selfish values of the Bush ad. are allowed to triumph.

it's just a power play

That's right, we're just in a tussle for that ever-valuable block of votes represented by ANWR residents.

The oil companies aren't hot to drill there anymore because there isn't much there.

Truly? They told you that? Then opening up ANWR to exploration will accomplish exactly nothing, and damage exactly nothing.

The power play isn't for a block of voters. It's to show they don't have to have any respect for environmental considerations. Yes, they have told me and everyone else that they want to open all public lands to exploitation. It is obvious in their actions. That's why there is a determined desire to violate a wildlfe refuge even though the amount of oil isn't significant.That's why the drilling has started all over the West, even up to the boundaries of Canyonlands national Park. That's why the desire to put judges like Myers in, who define profits as rights and say that all enviromental regulations that limit the profits of a private business operating on public land are unconstitutional.
Our wildlands are your daughters' heritage.

It's to show they don't have to have any respect for environmental considerations.

Which gets them what, exactly? Maybe both of us are overestimating the amount (and quality) of thought that goes through the minds of politicians, though.

they have told me and everyone else that they want to open all public lands to exploitation.

Really? All? And here I thought it was just a teeny little corner of ANWR. Here I thought the entire proposal hinged on the modest footprint of the project.

Our wildlands are your daughters' heritage.

I wouldn't say it that narrowly, even. But I am all for passing legislation (notice: kidding, but this is to make a point, here) to keep any more people from moving into Florida, for example, because they're ruining things at breakneck pace down here. You think ANWR is in danger because a little speck of pretty much featureless land is going to have some machinery sitting on it, you ought to see what's happened to Florida over the last twenty years or so.

Slarti, it isn't a little speck of featureless land. The land is covered with miniturized ancient plants. A willow six hundred years old might be less than a foot tall. The dense matt of mosses, lichen, berries, willows, and wildflowers overlay a thin layer of ground over permafrost. Anything that distrubs the plant layer and ground layer creates a wound that widens and spreads over years. In order to get to the drilling sites roads must be made. Carabou have,in the past changed their migration routes to avoid roads and road building projects. The effects up the food change to the native people is devastating. The Refuge is the breeding area for hundreds of species of migratory birds. The birds flying through Washington now are on their way up to procreate. An oilspill, noise, the increased access which cold be abused by poachers, all are dangers to the birds (and other creatures) up there. It isn't empty. The high arctic is a gar
den of eden. I am aware of what has been happening toFlorida and I a a strong proponent of land use regulations. The point is that our resources should be managed with a view of the long term good of us all. It violates that principle to open an area that has been left in the shape God made it for short term proftits.

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