Drill! Drill! Drill!

Offshore Oil PlatformBy DANIEL HENNINGER

Charles de Gaulle once wrote off the nation of Brazil in six words: “Brazil is not a serious country.” How much time is left before someone says the same of the United States?

One thing Brazil and the U.S. have in common is the price of oil: It is priced in dollars, and everyone in the world now knows what the price is. Another commonality is that each country has vast oil reserves in waters off their coastlines.

Here we may draw a line in the waves between the serious and the unserious.

Brazil discovered only yesterday (November) that billions of barrels of oil sit in difficult water beneath a swath of the Santos Basin, 180 miles offshore from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The U.S. has known for decades that at least 8.5 billion proven barrels of oil sit off its Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, with the Interior Department estimating 86 billion barrels of undiscovered oil resources.

When Brazil made this find last November, did its legislature announce that, for fear of oil spills hitting Rio’s beaches or altering the climate, it would forgo exploiting these fields?

Of course it didn’t. Guilherme Estrella, director of exploration and production for the Brazilian oil company Petrobras, said, “It’s an extraordinary position for Brazil to be in.” Indeed it is.

At this point in time, is there another country on the face of the earth that would possess the oil and gas reserves held by the United States and refuse to exploit them? Only technical incompetence, as in Mexico, would hold anyone back.

But not us. We won’t drill.

California won’t drill for the estimated 1.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil off its coast because of bad memories of the Santa Barbara oil spill – in 1969.

We won’t drill for the estimated 5.6 billion to 16 billion barrels of oil in the moonscape known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) because of – the caribou.

In 1990, George H.W. Bush, calling himself “the environmental president,” signed an order putting virtually all the U.S. outer continental shelf’s oil and gas reserves in the deep freeze. Bill Clinton extended that lockup until 2013. A Clinton veto also threw away the key to ANWR’s oil 13 years ago.

Our waters may hold 60 trillion untapped cubic feet of natural gas. As in Brazil, these are surely conservative estimates.

While Brazilians proudly embrace Petrobras, yelling “We’re Going to Be No. 1,” the U.S.’s Democratic nominee for president, Barack Obama, promises to impose an “excess profits tax” on American oil producers.

We live in a world in which Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez use their vast oil and gas reserves as instruments of state power. Here, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid use their control of Congress to spend a week debating a “climate-change” bill. This they did fresh off their subsidized (and bipartisan) ethanol fiasco.

One may assume that Mr. Putin and the Chinese have noticed the policy obsessions of our political class. While other nations use their oil reserves to attain world status, we give ours up. Why shouldn’t they conclude that, long term, these people can be taken? Nikita Khrushchev said, “We will bury you.” Forget that. We’ll do it ourselves.

Read the rest of this commentary, and see Daniel Henninger’s video at the Wall Street Journal.

  • Rob N. Hood

    That should tell you something. What exactly? The power elite (those folks who are really running the world, and it ain’t your average long-haired Birkenstock-wearing environmentalist) are using the environmentalists to their own advantage. How is keeping America’s oil off the market an advantage? I don’t know, but obviously it is or it would be getting pumped out RIGHT NOW. Could it have anything to do with Saudi Arabia, and Isreal wanting our presence in the Middle East? What better reason than oil? What better way to get rich at the same time? Both parties use people and special interests to the elites advantage. And I’m sorry to tell you this but simply voting Republican doesn’t and isn’t going to ever make you part of that Elite!

  • And just as well. I thoroughly dislike elitism. You’re right about one thing. The true believers in the environmental movement are just hapless pawns, but the mechanism of the modern green movement is designed to push us into socialism. I’ve always found it remarkable that all the “green” solutions for the environment are the same as the tired old “red” solutions for society. What an incredible coincidence.

  • cbenson

    Yep! Let’s drill… and get an additional 2-3 years of oil, TOTAL, out of these places. That makes a ton of sense. According to the US Government’s Energy Information Administration, the United States consumes about 400 million gallons (1.51 billion litres) of gasoline every day. That figure equates to about 20 million barrels of oil every day.

    Suddenly, destroying some of the last pristine US soil doesn’t seem so valuable, does it?

  • Larry Barr

    Ah, I was waiting for someone to make the usual environmentally challenged arguement. Only 2-3 years of oil?

    First that assumes that we will start drilling and then stop all imports for 2-3 years. If that’s not one of the most ridiculous assumpstions I have ever heard, I do not know what is.

    We already drill in the West-Central Gulf of Mexico. Remeber Hurricane Katrina? How many oil spills resulted from that?

    Norway drills in the North Sea. How many oil spills have they had?

    And as far as “destroying some of the last pristine US soil” is concerned, well that is totally laughable. ANWR is approximately the size of South Carolina. Where they want to drill is about the size of a major metropolitan airport! Think about it?

  • the oil spill in Mexico would surely be one of the greatest environmental disasters for this year.”“

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