Friday, July 25, 2008

McCain Staff: Oil Drilling 'The Right Thing for the Environment'

From the White House to Congress, Republicans are pushing to open more of America's public lands and waters to Big Oil, letting them drill for more fossil fuels to help keep America addicted.

I've heard lots of outlandish arguments from drilling proponents, particularly Rep. Michele Bachmann. She's falsely claimed that drilling would cut gas prices in half (even the Bush administration admits it would cut prices a few cents at most) and that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is as lifeless as the surface of the Moon (the threatened polar bears that live there would beg to differ).

But John McCain's senior policy advisers Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Nancy Pfotenhauer might take the cake:
"This [offshore drilling] is the right thing for the economy, it is the right thing for national security. And, as [McCain] is always committed to pursuing these endeavors in an environmentally friendly way, it's the right thing for the environment in the long run as well," said Holtz-Eakin. [...]

Pfotenhauer argued that yesterday's [Mississippi River oil] spill wasn't at all related to drilling -- even though one would assume the 420,000 gallons of fuel oil that were dumped into the river had to come out of the ground somehow.
Drilling comes with enormous risk of spills (like this week's) and disturbs surrounding wildlife. And what does Holtz-Eakin think we're going to do with that oil once it's out of the ground? Use it to grease our bike wheels as we toot around town in a carbon-free manner? Every gallon of gas produced will turn into 20 pounds of global warming pollution when burned.

Of course, if we'd raised gas taxes as economists like Robert Samuelson has been arguing for years, the money we're paying at the pump could be going to fix our failing roads and bridges. But instead, friends of oil companies fought to keep gas taxes low as prices climbed. Doesn't it looks silly now that people were claiming at $2 a gallon we couldn't raise gas taxes because it would break the backs of working people? Now we're at $4+ and still rising. Great plan, guys.

So now we have the worst of both worlds -- high prices at the pump and virtually all of our money going straight to Big Oil. Isn't it time to abandon our drill-and-burn policies and start encouraging some alternatives?
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