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John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Monday 23 June 2008
by: Dean Baker, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

That is not true, as far I know, but it makes about as much sense as McCain's plans to drill off the coast of Florida and in other environmentally sensitive areas.

This is McCain's response to the pain of millions of families hit by $4 a gallon of gas. While the pain is real, the former straight-talker's plan will not help, and he knows it.

The facts on this one are clear: There is just not that much oil in these restricted offshore areas. Furthermore, we will not see any oil for close to a decade. This means drilling for oil in these restricted areas will do absolutely nothing for people struggling to pay their bills now and, in fact, it will provide zero relief throughout the next two presidential terms of office.

Furthermore, even when oil from these fields starts hitting the markets and reaches peak production levels, the flow will still be too weak to have a visible impact. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects that if we go the drilling route, we could hit peak production of 200,000 barrels a day by 2030.

Perhaps, John McCain and his team will sing the praises of the 200,000 barrels of oil per day that his policies will unleash in 22 years, but the reality is that this amount of oil will have too little impact on world oil prices for anyone to notice. The potential production from these environmentally sensitive areas is equal to approximately 0.2 percent of projected world production at that time. As the EIA comments, "any impact on average wellhead price is expected to be insignificant."

The media have portrayed the disagreement between Senators Obama and McCain as to whether to allow drilling in the currently protected offshore areas as a question of values. Senator Obama values the environment, while Senator McCain wants to bring down energy prices and promote economic growth.

However, the facts do not support this distinction. Obama advocates protecting the environment, but the evidence suggests that McCain's plan will have no measurable impact on the price of oil or on economic growth. In other words, Senator McCain is willing to jeopardize the environment in these protected areas for nothing.

Perhaps, Senator McCain has a geological study that shows the Florida coast has enough oil to be the next Saudi Arabia. However, his campaign has not produced this evidence to date, which means that the EIA analysis provides the only projections that we have on which to assess the merits of drilling in these restricted areas.

Instead of trying to caricature the campaigns to fit their predetermined stereotypes, the media would better serve the public if they simply presented the facts. And the facts as we know them are that one candidate is prepared to maintain a ban on drilling that dates from the first President Bush in order to protect the environment. The other candidate, Senator McCain, is prepared to risk serious environmental damage for almost no measurable benefit in terms of increased energy production or lower energy prices. Pitting the environment versus the economy can obviously be a useful frame for a political candidate. No doubt Senator McCain's focus groups showed that this one scored well or he would not be advocating such a nonsensical position. However, to get away with this position, McCain has to count on the media not bothering to point out that there is no economic issue here, only an environmental one.

There are alternatives to drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas that can produce real results. Conservation is the most obvious. Suppose that we increased the average mileage of the fleet of cars in the United States to just 30 MPG in 2030, compared to its current level of around 20 MPG gallon. This would save more than 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, 17 times as much oil as we would get from Senator McCain's drilling plan.

Suppose we raised average fuel efficiency to 40 MPG by 2030; this would save us more than 5 million barrels of oil per day, 25 times as much as we would get from Senator McCain's offshore drilling. Since many cars sold today already get more than 40 MPG, this is hardly an unrealistic target. Wherever we set our targets, the simple arithmetic shows that it is far easier to have an impact on oil markets through conservation than drilling in environmentally sensitive areas.

The media have to recognize that reporting the facts is not biased reporting, even if the facts paint a candidate in a very bad light. Risking serious environmental damage for faith-based drilling, is bad policy pure and simple. The media have an obligation to clearly inform the public about what is at stake.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Now just who is this Dean baker ? Has he ever worked on an oil rig ? Has he ever produced anything at all. More than likely he is one of these self appointed experts for tv. How can he or any one else know what is down there under the surface of the ocean bottom or for that matter on the mainland. when companys pay a lot of money and it is an awful lot of money to have seismographing done. They dont just throw that information out to the winds because if they did other companys would jump on it and benefit without actually expending anything. Information like that has to be guarded in the same way information vital to the life of this country has to cannot be just thrown out in the open for if democrats obtain that information. Before you can say jack robinson, the enemies of the united states would have it.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Quano refuses to admit even the tiniest bit of truth. Speaking truth would probably hurt his mouth.

The reality is that if drilling permits were opened on every inch of likely sea bottom on every foot of American coastline, there would be no actual drilling for years.

Beyond all of the other high profit reasons that the oil companies want production limited,there are simply are no drilling ships available for new sea-based wells.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Duane I finally see what you problem is, President Bush has been extremely successful in brain washing you with terror.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Jacqui if the offshore areas were opened up you would see just how fast those drill ships could be built. remmeber this is still the country that in ww 2 turned its manufacturing base from civilian to war products in a matter of months.
Now i know that in your anti free enterprise communist loving mind . the United states is the most evil country that was ever on the face of the earth. And when it got rid of saddam Hussien you must have been knashing your teeth. Thats why you dont want americans to have gasoline food or any other things required to live. Well i have news for you when baracckHUSSIEN obama and the Iranian Mullahs take this country you will be like the rest of americans . Your throat will be cut and you will willing take yourself your family to the masked man with the knife. i on the other hand will fight to the death and at least take some of Osamaobama's henchmen with me.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Mike Ivy if being brainwashed means having faith in the ability of the american people and the united states to solve the problems that face this nation.
Having faith in this nation as the best country that god ever created. The united states and the american people have freed millions of people in Iraq and afghanistan from despotism and terrorism.
I know you guys here do not like that. You want to do just exactly what Osamaobama and the iranian Mullahs will have you do. So as i said if being brainwashed means believeing in the right of every human being to have freedom and the right to live in peace . Then i am guilty.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Expecting the American people to produce oil where it doesn't exist is not faith - It is wishful thinking. Face it, the world's supply is dwindling. High gas prices are with us to stay. At the rate the world is consuming oil, even new discoveries won't last that long. Anything that can be done by Congress, concerning gas prices, will be nothing more than a bandaid. Both parties need to stop playing the blame game, and find alternative energy sources.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Actually, Duane, the companies that build those ships say that it will take at least four years to fill current orders. And the ships are costing $600 million each.

Better by far, I think, to spend the billions required that deep water drilling requires to start moving the United States off of the oil standard.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet


"the best country that god ever created"

Whoa! Where did God sign on to the Declaration of Independence? Our country was formed by men and was based on laws not divine intervention. You are confusing the U.S. with the Muslim nations who in fact do beleive their countries are created by God.

You and Bin Laden have a lot in common. Sacrey, isn't it.

John R...

P.S. A great many of our founding fathers were Deist.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

John R did you remove from the Declaration of independence the words " we hold these truths that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by THEIR CREATOR certain inaleinable rights".
Did you? Now just who or what was Thomas Jefferson talking about when he used those words "endowed by their Creator"? If that doesnt mean he was refering to God tell me just what he was refering to?
Was it Karl marx Lenin Stalin Saddam Hussien. The ones i believe you follow. you take it upon yourself to be the final authority on everything and assune that all people will automaticly fall down to their knees just as almopst all liberals fall down and faint when barackHUSSIENobams materializes.
Well i dont i think for myself . There likely will come a day when Hussien and you will be able to stop me from doing my own thinking , but that day has not arrived.

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

Jack B you speak of moving this country off the oil standard . Just how are you going to do that> Be specific. Is it wind for generating electricity is it nuclear? Nuclear is probaly the best for generating electricity. France has been doing it for decades with no problems at all. Wind in places like cape cod and other shoreline locatins is good too. But will liberal democrats allow either of those two to be done . So far they havent, and probably never will. Now liquid fuels ethanol can be used for additives for gasoline . Up here we used to mix 10% ethonal to 90 % gasoline . It made a very good fuel.
But it was no cheaper.
Now i am in communication with a farmer in Kansas who makes his own diesel fuel. From sunflowers. He gets about a hundred gallons of oil from an acre. It is a better fuel . Plus he gets the meal to feed to his cattle. He does this on his own . No govt tax money no nothing. It can be done but the bureaucarats so called lawmakers have to get out of the way. As with the drilling ships Americans can do it if the likes of the democrats just go to iran and collect their money .

Re: John McCain Wants to Drill in Your Toilet

The oil industry's estimate is that it is 6-10 years to get a new producing well online in the Gulf of Mexico.

As for alternatives, nuclear is a definite possibility. But you did not even mention solar. We have the technology right now to build a solar field in Death Valley capable of supplying electricity for the entire country. We also have the technology to store sufficient electricity to handle nights, emergencies, and maintenance.

The problem is transmission/distribution. The current power lines are too inefficient for the distances that would have to be covered. We need to put several hundred million into developing an effective electricity transmission system.

As for transportation, I favor electric vehicles and I think that is where we are going in the long term.