Thursday, August 21, 2008


My friend Ned Farquhar sent me this writeup on The Club for Growth. He was writing a regular column for the Albuquerque Journal that was recently discontinued because Ned is named in the lawsuit by three legislators about their primary loss - Ned chairs the Conservation Voters in New Mexico which has met all the registration, reporting and other requirements for its political activity. The lawsuit is obviously an attempt to chill and harass the Conservation Voters. Their activities were not conducted under general nonprofit law but under the political and election laws. It is an abuse of the legal process for these legislators to file against the Conservation Voters and say to the courts that they didn't file and report and register - when they did. You can contact Ned at

Here is the column you didn't see in the newspaper this morning.

The broadcast of the XXIXth Games of the Olympiad has been rudely interrupted by political commercials stating that offshore drilling will “get us off foreign oil.” The ads were placed by a Washington, D.C., organization opposing a New Mexico candidate for the United States Senate who hasn’t supported massive new offshore drilling.

That organization - the Club for Growth - features an article titled “Drill, Drill, Drill is Working” on its website. Here’s a quote: As Sen. John McCain and the GOP leadership nationalize the drill, drill, drill message, the Republican party might conceivably be riding a summer political rally. The question of offshore drilling, along with expanded domestic energy production, has suddenly become the biggest political and economic wedge issue of this election.”

Great! In ten years when offshore drilling still hasn’t dented our foreign oil dependence, barely replacing the domestic oil we are already using up, what are they going to do? Explain it all away and blame the Democrats? There couldn’t be a clearer indication that the drill, drill, drill message is about politics, not about solving America’s oil addiction or its energy crisis.

Here’s what I have to say to the Club for Growth:

“Offshore drilling won’t ‘get us off foreign oil.’ It won’t even produce much oil, at least compared to our demand. A huge investment in offshore oil would produce 5% of our projected demand - way less than the 60-65% we import today.

“Offshore drilling isn’t just a massively incomplete solution, it’s also a temporary solution. Maybe it buys us a few more years of energy insecurity and high prices and economic uncertainty. But U.S. oil production peaked in the early 1970’s. We don’t have limitless oil resources. They WILL run out.

“Offshore drilling won’t reduce gasoline prices. It will take ten or fifteen years to get offshore oil into the marketplace. Offshore oil will be expensive oil. The platforms cost billions and billions of dollars, the drilling is more and more expensive. This is no solution to high energy prices.

“Offshore drilling is a ridiculous answer to a serious question: What are we going to do about our nation’s overdependence on oil? We need to diversify our energy supply and transportation technology, not concentrate more on oil.”

Now I will quit addressing the faceless moneybags in Washington and industry boardrooms who paid for this ad campaign in New Mexico. Back to the reader!

Your eyes deceive you. Gasoline isn’t really $3.75 per gallon right now. It’s much more expensive than that. A true accounting would include the taxpayer-paid costs of defending world oil fields and transportation routes, as well as the costs of multiple military interventions in the oil-rich Middle East, and the human and economic costs of enriching oil despots from Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Sudan’s Bashir Al Assad. These costs will rise as we stay dependent on oil.

I don’t oppose offshore drilling as a matter of ideology. What I oppose is political gamesmanship obviously oriented at preventing needed energy dialogue and investment in energy alternatives. We need to undo our addiction. Congress and presidential candidates should discuss the alternatives that could “produce” oil equivalents much faster, from energy efficiency to electric cars to renewable energy.

I also don’t hate “Big Oil.” What I hate is that the United States has set its energy policies in the interests of this particular industry rather than in its own national interest. Even the biggest oil companies are now straws in the wind of world energy demand. They brought us oil for 100 years often at an affordable price, but they can’t do it anymore. We need to push forcefully for affordable, sensible alternatives.

The folks who are dragging energy policy into a ditch - offshore oil as the solution to our energy problems - are doing this nation a major disservice. National interest, and national security, clearly demand that the United States immediately and purposefully enact policies to cut back on our oil addiction, which is so costly to people and businesses around the country. Competition and choice in energy markets and technology, such as the electric car, are going to “produce” vastly more oil than all the offshore drilling the Club for Growth could ever dream up.

The nation is 97% dependent on petroleum to run an inefficient transportation system. That must change. It won’t as long as the energy dialogue is focused on offshore drilling.


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