The Beacon

Blog Tags: Offshore Drilling

The Real Reason for High Gas Prices

Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana; this post also appeared on Politico.

Why do we take terrible risks to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere along our coasts?

Most people would say we drill to protect ourselves from big fluctuations in the price of a gallon of gas that are caused by the major upheavals in the Middle East. Look at this chart (data from the Energy Information Administration):

Their argument is that the more oil we can produce domestically, the lower the price we’ll pay at the pump. It’s not that they like the sight of oil wells off our beaches. The main reason they are doing so is they think it will save them money – especially as gas prices approached $4 a gallon recently.

This idea is not only intuitively appealing, it is repeatedly, and unambiguously, promoted by important government officials from both parties. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La) defended new legislation that would expand offshore oil drilling, saying “this bill would do more to lower gas prices at the pump than any other plan.” Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama, “His war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump.”


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Subsidize the Solutions, Not the Problem

Editor's note: This post originally appeared at The National Journal. If you agree with Jackie, go to the article and click “agree”!

For decades, the oil and gas industry has benefited from a long list of financial boons totaling billions of dollars each year. In an economy where we have to make tough choices about continuing important programs – whether its paying down the debt, protecting social security or providing for a national defense – we simply can’t keep letting Big Oil, possibly the biggest player in our economy, off the hook. They should have to pay taxes just like we do.

The industry is quibbling over semantic arguments about whether a tax break is a subsidy, or whether they are being singled out. In fact, the President has not singled the oil industry out. Many of the President’s proposed changes are economy-wide, and those that aren’t pertain to oil and gas industry activities that simply don’t apply to other industries. In fact, it’s the petroleum industry that has singled itself out by building a network of tax loopholes, and then gaming them in a way that allows benefits that few, if any, other industries could even imagine. And whether the funds come in a check after taxes, or as a break on taxes, the result is the same. More money in the oil industry’s pockets and less funds in the Treasury.


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As Profits Surge, BP Plans to Resume Drilling

With the anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill still fresh in our minds, the first quarter of 2011 could turn out to be one of the oil industry’s most profitable ever. BP said yesterday it expects to resume drilling in the gulf in the second half of this year.

And that’s not all. As a result of soaring oil prices, the company also said that its net profits rose 17 percent in the first quarter to $7.1 billion. (In a slight consolation, BP’s profit fell 2 percent when compared with the first quarter of 2010, not counting a surge in the value of the company’s inventory.)

As Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in response to this news:

“When BP makes billions in profits, even after the year they just had, you know it’s time to cap the gusher of tax breaks that have been subsidizing the biggest oil companies for decades.”

We couldn’t agree more. Tell Congress to support clean energy legislation, not more dirty drilling.


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Kate Walsh on Offshore Drilling

Check out Kate Walsh explaining her support of Oceana's campaign to end offshore drilling at yesterday's event. Kate has been a fantastic spokeswoman for us and we can't thank her enough for joining us at the Capitol.

 


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Ted Danson on His New Book, ‘Oceana’

I’ve been involved in ocean conservation for decades, and in that time, a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. Last year I decided it was time to write it all down before I get too old to tell the difference.

With the talented Michael D’Orso as my co-author, I wrote “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them,” and it hits the street on March 15. We set out to write a book that describes -- in an entertaining and informative way -- the most critical threats to the oceans, and how we can turn them around.  I think we did a pretty darn good job, if I do say so myself. I thought you might like a preview.

The book opens with a chapter on the issue that propelled me into ocean conservation -- offshore drilling. I joined a local protest in the mid-1980s to oppose offshore oil drilling near my Southern California neighborhood. Fast forward to 2010, when I testified before Congress on the dangers of expanded offshore drilling. Like I said, things change, but they remain the same.


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Offshore Drilling in Belize Will Go to Referendum

English Caye in Belize. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Oceana made great strides last week in our fight to stop offshore oil drilling in Belize’s crystal blue waters.

First, last week the Belizean government decided not to re-issue the offshore drilling concessions previously held by the Taiwan-based Overseas Petroleum Investment Corp. (OPIC), an offshore oil exploration company. In October, OPIC relinquished its permits to approximately 1.14 million acres off Belize’s coast.  

And second, in response to a letter from Vice President of Oceana Belize, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Prime Minister Dean Barrow agreed to put the matter of offshore drilling to a public referendum.


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Victory! Shell Drops 2011 Arctic Drilling Plans

The Beaufort Sea. [Image credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons.]

In a huge triumph for the U.S. Arctic today, Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Peter Voser announced that Shell's 2011 plans to drill exploratory wells offshore in Alaska are canceled due to continued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits.

Shell had hoped to drill exploratory wells in 2010 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but its plans were put on hold by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Susan Murray, Oceana’s Pacific Director, said of the announcement, “We hope this decision by Shell will also bring a commitment from them and others in the oil industry to fully review the mistakes that led to the Deepwater Horizon blowout with local communities, the public and the government.  We need a truly open discussion about how to determine if we should move forward with oil and gas activities in the Arctic, and if so, when, where and how.”

Oceana has been instrumental in monitoring the permitting process and holding policymakers accountable for upholding the law. The slew of faulty environmental analyses and permit applications make it clear that we are not ready to move forward with oil and gas activities in the Arctic, especially in light of last summer’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.


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Tell Congress: Support Tomorrow's Energy

Last night in his State of the Union address President Obama said, "instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's." Now it's time for Congress to heed that call and do its part.

Big Oil rakes in obscene profits each year as a result of billions in taxpayer subsidies. It's time to stop this.

President Obama's stated goal is for 80% of America's electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035. Our oceans can be part of the solution.

A recent Oceana report showed that offshore wind can provide domestic energy that is cleaner and more sustainable than offshore drilling, while creating permanent jobs and strengthening our economy. The report shows that offshore wind developments off the U.S. Atlantic coastline could create between 133,000 and 212,000 jobs per year right here in the United States. That's more than three times the jobs estimated to be created by expanding offshore oil and gas.

Contact Congress TODAY and urge them to support tomorrow's energy!


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Ted Danson: A Return to Common Sense for Our Coasts

The eastern Gulf of Mexico, near St. Petersburg, FL. [Image via Wikimedia Commons]

Ted Danson is a member of Oceana's board of directors, and has been active in the fight against offshore drilling for decades. This guest post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

I haven't heard news this good in a long time. The Obama administration's announcement to protect the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and both U.S. coasts from offshore drilling as part of the next five-year plan is a massive win for our oceans and every living thing that relies on them.

What's more, the administration said it would reconsider Shell's proposal to drill in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea, a sign that the president's commitment to science and preparedness were not just lip service.

The decision is a reversal of the plans President Obama announced in March -- before the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history began staining the Gulf of Mexico black.


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Victory! Drilling Halted in Eastern Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts

In a huge victory for the oceans and Oceana, this afternoon Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that in the new five-year drilling plan, no new offshore drilling would be allowed in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Eastern Gulf of Mexico will be protected from offshore oil and gas exploration for the next seven years.

These areas were being considered for oil and gas development, and the Administration had previously indicated support for exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as in the Eastern Gulf, though Congressional action would be needed in that area. They also announced the start of a new process to reconsider drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea. This is a step in the right direction, but there is still more on the table and more that must be done to protect the Arctic Ocean.

Oceana has been working for many years to ban offshore drilling, and this victory provides an important step in the right direction towards protecting our oceans from the dangers of offshore drilling, and moving towards cleaner and safer alternative sources of energy.

 


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