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Let's Hope So

Is John McCain ready for a flip on ANWR?

For years, McCain has opposed drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).


But McCain said he'd be willing to reconsider that stance as well.

"I would be more than happy to examine it again," McCain said.

A perfect way for him to do it would be to actually go there (as he's rightfully demanded that Senator Obama go to Iraq), and then standing there, in the barren wasteland, cameras rolling, point out the area that would be affected, how far away the beautiful mountains are, how tiny a percentage of the area would be impacted, etc., and say "I have always been in favor of the environment, and have opposed drilling up here for that reason. But with gas at four dollars a gallon, much of the price being driven by speculation that Congress will continue to oppose opening up new supplies, and now that I've seen how minimal the impact will be on the refuge as a whole, I agree that it's perfectly reasonable and appropriate to tap this huge resource for the American people, and the world."

It would be a huge win for him politically, and it has the additional virtue of being good policy.

By the way, this wouldn't be a "flip flop," which is a term that applies to changing one's position multiple times depending on the political winds. This would be a single flip, based on dramatically changing economic circumstances, rather than politics. As Keynes once said, "when confronted with new facts, sir, I change my opinion. What do you do?"

One other point--this would also be a perfectly reasonable justification for Obama to change his position on Iraq, given the progress in the last year. But unlike a McCain flip on ANWR, it might kill him politically, by sending the nutroots to Ralph Nader.

 
 

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24 Comments

Dennis Wingo wrote:

Mr. Newt's Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, campaign is starting to pay off. Over 1 million have signed the petition.

Anonymous wrote:

I bet there is a bunch of speculation driven by a price change of 75 cents a barrel in 2025.

The irony is that the North Slope is being destroyed right now by climate change, and will be useless to both moose and oilman by the time any production could begin.

Paul F. Dietz wrote:

How does climate change make the north slope useless to oil men?

Karl Hallowell wrote:

And 2025 is pretty close. Climate isn't going to change that much.

Josh Reiter wrote:

Dennis Wingo wrote:

"Mr. Newt's Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, campaign is starting to pay off. Over 1 million have signed the petition."

Thanks for pointing that out Dennis. I threw my name into the hat.

Duncan Young wrote:

It's all swamp in the summer. Major industrial work is only practical when the tundra is frozen in the deep winter. And that time is rapidly shortening, along with the Arctic sea ice. It will be a different place in ten years. There might be a technical fix, but that will cost money, and erase the marginal economic benefit.

As noted here.

Big parts of the deep permafrost are also collapsing, causing massive coastal erosion.

Karl: 75 cents per barrel of crude. Think about what that means per gallon of gas.


Bill Maron wrote:

Duncan and anon are wrong. The ability to develop is not hampered by conditions, it's the current rules. We've been drilling in swamps for a hundred years. The warmer it is, the less damage to equipment, less insulation needed, a whole list of things become easier and cheaper. 75 cents a barrel is less than 2 cents a gallon

Duncan Young wrote:

75 cents a barrel is less than 2 cents a gallon of crude.

ANWR will have no significant effect on prices at the pump, and the idea that current prices are in part due to speculation on ANWR presumes that commodities market is composed of drooling morons. Which admittedly cant be completely ruled out.

And you can't drive in the swamp. The oil industy had free rein in the Louisiana bayou, cutting it up with canals, and the result was massive coastal retreat and exposure of New Orleans to storm surges. While the North Slope is not going to be hit by a hurricane anytime soon, drilling in the summer would utterly destory it faster than climate change, at no economic benefit to the end consumer.

anon was I.

Leland wrote:

The oil industy had free rein in the Louisiana bayou, cutting it up with canals, and the result was massive coastal retreat and exposure of New Orleans to storm surges.

Please, provide some information that supports that the oil industry has a significant impact to coastal retreat in Louisiana.

Sigivald wrote:

You can't drive in the ocean either, and yet deep-sea drilling seems to work.

(And "global warming will make the tundra into swamp in ten years"? Sources? That's a pretty impressive claim even by climate-PSH standards.)

The logic, further, that since any given reserve won't have a "significant" effect, we should not exploit any of them, does not work - then again, where'd this "75 cents a barrel in 2025" number come from?

You'd have to know an awful lot about what prices will be like in 2025 to predict a specific number... and last I checked there are no serious long-term oil futures to even use as a basis for a guess.

(NYNEX runs as far as 2015 for December futures, but the volume is so low that the information contained is trivial - and doesn't suggest any increase OR decrease in price over now, oddly enough, which is a double reason to discount it.)

Duncan Young wrote:

Leland,
Here.

Duncan Young wrote:

Sigivald,
The tundra is swamp right now, and a year ago, and a year before that...

But the work season has dropped by about a hundred days since the seventies, much of may be attributed to climate:
Here.

Extensive thermokasting is going on right now:
Here.

And the 75 cents analysis came from the feds:
Here.

Carl Pham wrote:

Geez, Duncan, did you even read the article you linked? Here, let me quote from it:

Wetlands were drained for agriculture, levees were constructed for flood protection, canals were dredged for ease of navigation, wetland forests were harvested for building materials, and in the early to mid-20th century, oil and gas exploration activities increased the dredging of canals.

Sure, oil and gas exploration is on that list, but it's not alone. Furthermore, it's placement (dead last) kinda suggests it isn't the main culprit. A lick of common sense would strongly confirm that suspicion: wetlands have been disappearing all up and down the Missippi Valley for centuries, since long before oil was even known to be a useful commodity, and in places (Missouri, Illinois) that have never seen an oil well.

The reason is simple: wetlands are, well, wet. A less hip 'n' cool word for them is mosquito-infested swamp. They come about mostly because of flooding. People don't like flooding. They don't like swamps and mosquitoes. They like dry land, for farming and for living on. So for the past two centuries they have been channelling and diking and damming all the rivers in the Missippi Valley, including the mighty Miss herself, to prevent flooding, channel the water, and dry out the land.

Carl Pham wrote:

One more time, Duncan. You say:

the work season has dropped by about a hundred days since the seventies, much of may be attributed to climate

Now let's quote directly from your link:

Now I can't stand up here and say that that was all global warming, that was all climate change. I think that was three things. Between 1970 and today we certainly have much stricter environmental standards. So that's part of the closing. Second of the reason that the season got shorter was in part due to an unsophisticated way that we measured it. A lack of understanding of the tundra so we were unable to measure it to figure out exactly when to let people go out. And the third is of course changing weather patterns. And I think the warming climate on the tundra has been documented by the University of Alaska, Professor Romanovksy and others. And it's clear that that is a problem too. But I can't tease out which portion of this is directly related to climate change. Others that have think that it's about the 30 to 45 days.

What strange kind of mathematics do you use where 30-45 is "much" of 100? According to my 6th grade math, that would be a maximum of 45%, meaning most of the shortened work season has other causes. And this, mind you, using estimates from a source (an academic studying global warming effects on the tundra) that we can pretty much expect to maximize the perceived influence of warming, if not for his own political bias than to protect his grant money for next year. ("Thanks for the research money, turns out there's no problem, but send me some more...uh...so I can triple-check.")

You might as well not include these links. They are not helping your argument.

Duncan Young wrote:

Carl,
My link was from the LA state government, who might be a little biased toward the oil industry. But even they found they had to mention it.

Here is the definitive report:
National acadamies.

I'm pretty sure Romanovksy has tenure. Bob Loeffler was the former head of Alaska Department of Natural Resources´┐Ż Division of Mining, Land and Water, and is now listed as a business consultant.


Bill Maron wrote:

The whole point is 75 cents won't have a large affect. Of course futures forecasting is like weather forecasting, all you have to do is sound believable and people take it as gospel. So we can drill in ANWR and send 180 billion to American companies or not drill and send 180 billion to other countries, many not our friends. I choose option A whether it helps the price or not. I think if we drill where we can, the price will be significantly lower that it otherwise would be. Plus the added benefit of keeping those dollars at home. Nancy, Barry and Harry just don't get it.

Swooning Over Obama Like A Schoolgirl wrote:

Barack Obama said Friday that presidential rival John McCain's proposal to allow offshore drilling "makes absolutely no sense at all" as he headed to Florida to put the Republican on the spot over the issue.

Obama said opening up the U.S. coastline to oil exploration would not give Americans any appreciable savings until 2030.

"Even then you're looking at cents on a gallon of gas," Obama told Democratic governors at a meeting in his hometown. "Who knows 22 years from now, what would gas be at the pace that we're going right now?"

Obama is absolutely right. Make me wonder what the Phuck Simberg and his cronies here are wailing about. Usual right wing sewer traffic from NRO no doubt.

Anonymous wrote:

Read this Pham:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/20/opinion/20krugman.html?hp

Krugman may be a lib, but he's no idiot. You on the other hand, things are so clear.

Duncan Young wrote:

Bill,

So we can drill in ANWR and send 180 billion to American companies...

Last I checked the North Slope was being worked by British Petroleum.

Obama is an unelectable idiot wrote:

The energy issue will destroy Obama's run for the White House.

The Dhims simply have no credibility on domestic drilling or energy policy. Their plans and protestations sound like something from a fifth grade playground.

"Krugman may be a lib, but he's no idiot. "

No, he is not an idiot, he is a retard, much like you.


Karl Hallowell wrote:

Last I checked the North Slope was being worked by British Petroleum.

So a fraction of that oil goes to allied countries. Doesn't change that this is a tremendous boost to Alaska's and the US's economies.

Carl Pham wrote:

Duncan, no one doubts that oil and gas exploration, just like any industrial activity, just like building houses for people, or shopping centers, or highways -- in short, anything humans do to survive -- has had an effect on Louisiana wetlands. If your only point is that mankind by virtue of his existence has an effect on the environment, you can quit arguing now. Duh.

But what I thought was your point was that oil and gas exploration had a far larger effect on Louisiana wetlands than, say, two centuries worth of levee-making and swamp-draining for the purpose of agriculture and reining in the Mississippi's routine flooding.

I believe your exact words were: The oil industy had free rein in the Louisiana bayou...and the result was massive coastal retreat and exposure of New Orleans to storm surges That is, your point seems to be that the oil industry by itself (or at least in the main) is responsible for LA wetlands loss. That is, by the evidence you yourself cite (including your latest "definitive" link), not true.

So what is your point? That industrial development influences the environment? As I said, duh. That oil and gas exploration more than any other kind of development ruins the environment? Even your own expert sources say you're wrong.

Anonymous, it's not that Paul Krugman is an idiot (he's not), nor that he's a liberal (which doesn't matter to the facts), it's that his intellect is totally enslaved by his ideology. He's sold his soul to the Devil, and will say anything to advance his political cause. He's simply not trustworthy. Were he to assert the Sun rises in the East, I would have to go check for myself. That doesn't mean anything he says in his column is wrong. It just says that you'd have to fact-check every line to know, one way or the other. For which I, personally, haven't the time or inclination.

If you want to present someone else's opinions and arguments as a bolster to your own, you need to pick someone who has a broad reputation for intellectual integrity and a remorseless devotion to the truth no matter where it leads. Not a political whore.

Carl Pham wrote:

Incidentally, on the general dumbass commentary by Mr. Sunshine's apostles that domestic oil and gas exploration would have no or very little effect on the price of gasoline, I think Hugh Hewitt had an amusing and cogent comment, viz.:

In the course of a single speech Obama asserted that offshore oil exploration would --in the very best scenario-- take five years to drive down the cost of gas 3 or 4 cents, but that an investment of 250 billion dollars five years ago would have produced an engine that didn't require fossil fuels.

Obama asserted that we could move to 40 MPG fuel standards for cars, and at another point asserted that the technology existed for 100 MPG cars, even as he asserted that exploration on the outer continental shelf and Alaska would cause permanent environmental damage.

Get that? Your guy thinks solving a shortage of gasoline by exploring for oil in the usual way is doomed to marginal and painfully slow partial success but if you put the same effort into developing magic George Jetson cars that leapfrog a few centuries of technological development, why, that's right around the corner! Easy! And, while our technology is good enough to quintuple the gas mileage of today's cars, it's not good enough to drill a hole in the ground (maybe under water) without routinely letting 50,000 barrels of crude slip out whoopsie and despoiling the environment for hundreds of square miles.

It's like some alt.space fruitcake asserting that getting to orbit by, say, designing and building rockets is very difficult and expensive and probably won't work well for the next 150 years but if we put the same money into developing a magic Star Trek transporter instead, so we can just beam ourselves into orbit, that will work fine, cost peanuts, and only take 6 months to boot. It's like technology in the hands of Forces For Good is a superbly honed computer-controlled surgical scalpel that anyone can drive by point 'n' click, but in the hands of Forces For Bad turns into a dull axe on a loose handle that only an idiot would swing. A little schizophrenic, huh?

I'm OK with technological pessimism or optimism, but your guy is a weird -- and, I suspect cynically politically convenient -- admixture of both.

Bill Maron wrote:

BP bought Amoco which was the company drilling there and they aren't the only one drilling in AK. Those are Americans working there. They earn salaries that pay taxes and buy things that pay more taxes.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 19, 2008 2:37 PM.

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