You are also a moron. 3

And by “you,” I mean Sarah Palin, which I suppose shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that hasn’t been living in a cave since John McCain made his shark-jumping choice for vice president in 2008.

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.

Sarah? Sarah, let’s sit down for a minute. Pull up a seat. I’ve got some fresh banana bread I just made. Do you prefer milk or coffee?

So let’s chat. Look, I know that you’ve got an agenda, and that you don’t like environmentalists. But you’re really going off the deep end here. Maybe no one bothered to tell you this, so I’ll let you in on a little secret: oil companies want to drill in deep water because it’s a way to gain access to a shitload of oil. Full stop. I mean, I’m sure we’d be happily drilling in ANWR too, since there’s a nice untapped oil field up there. But that’s kind of the point; what any oil company that does exploration wants is to gain access to a field that ideally hasn’t been drilled before. Which means there’s a lot of oil there for the taking, and the reservoir is still nice and pressurized, and you’re not having to wrack your brain to figure out how to squeeze a little more oil out of rocks.

If ANWR had been opened for drilling, this disaster still could have happened, and easily. Why? Because there’s a lot of oil on the continental shelf, and the farther you go out and the deeper you drill, the more likely you are to hit something your competitors haven’t really tapped in to yet. And I think my point is handily proven by the underwater oil volcano – we’re talking a flow of over 20 million barrels in about 40 days, from a single well. That’s fairly significant. No oil company in its right mind would leave that kind of potential alone, ANWR or no ANWR.

Let’s just consider estimated reserves, shall we?

The USGS did an assessment of ANWR in 2002. If you look at the whole enchilada of land – national land, native lands, and the nearby shallow offshore area – the mean estimate for reserves they came up with was 10.6 billion barrels of oil and 61.4 trillion cubic feet of gas. Let’s be generous and say the mean they came up with is right, and eventually that amount of reserves could be proved.

The latest reserves estimate of the Gulf of Mexico I could find on the MMS site was from 2006; the reserve numbers may well be the same today, or possibly larger due to continued exploration. But just with the 2006 numbers, the estimated reserves were:
Proved: 5.22 billion barrels of oil, 16.9 trillion cubic feet of gas (this left after those fields had already produced 15.1 billion barrels of oil and 166.8 trillion cubic feet of gas)
Unproved: 4.44 billion barrels of oil, 8.3 trillion cubic feet of gas
Not available for lease yet: 1.32 billion barrels of oil, 7.7 trillion cubic feet of gas

Looking at those numbers, ANWR is certainly impressive if you count all available land; it may have close to as much oil as the Gulf of Mexico, and a lot more natural gas. (Though considering how ridiculously cheap natural gas is these days, one has to wonder about the benefits to the companies of producing even more of it.) But more importantly, if you think the oil companies would drop their ~10 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico so they could have ~10 billion barrels of oil in Alaska instead, I’d like to know what color the sky is on your planet. This is not an either/or situation. I guarantee you that if “safer” (which is very, very debatable) places for drilling like ANWR were opened up tomorrow, there would still be rigs in the Gulf of Mexico unless deepwater drilling was subsequently banned. These are oil companies. They go where the oil is. It’s what they do.

Please see also: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (a cautionary tale)

There are a lot of people to blame for this disaster: BP for its gross negligence, the government for its lack of regulation, the general American public for its unceasing demand for cheap petroleum products. But hippies on bicycles? Get a grip, Sarah. Have some more banana bread.

3 thoughts on “You are also a moron.

  1. Reply Heather Jun 6,2010 08:34

    Thoughtful post, and a good read.

    As consumers, it’s so easy to point our fingers. But we elect the governments that regulate (or don’t) and we consume the products, and we choose whether to recycle plastics in recoverable ways or to transform them into usable heat – either way very slightly relieving the need for additional oil production.

    We are all to blame, but particularly those of us conscious of this consumer-production equation; we should all take action where we can.

    I’m not sure BP is particularly more negligent than Total or Exxon-Mobil; they were just more unlucky, earlier.

  2. Reply Rachael Jun 6,2010 14:49

    My hope is that enough people get the fact that it’s not just BP’s fault and put pressure on the government to do something. I’m really hoping for better regulations (with more enforcement) and a real push toward “green” technologies and stricter fuel economy. So far I’m feeling somewhat encouraged… outside of Sarah Palin’s comment page, there seems to be a lot of sentiment that we do share responsibility. So we’ll see.

  3. Reply Steve Gough Jun 6,2010 16:32

    Thanks for this post and analysis; speaking as a conservation advocate and scientist, we need information like this on the web–Palin and her ilk do so much damage, and so few refute her.

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