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Drill off someone else's condo
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service


June 22, 2005

The Senate has voted 52 to 44 to add a provision to the energy bill that would require the government to inventory all of the nation's offshore oil and gas reserves.

Coastal-state lawmakers fear this could lead to a resumption of offshore drilling that with a few exceptions - Alaska and parts of the Gulf of Mexico - has been under a moratorium since 1981. It is not totally an idle fear.

Political attention has largely been focused on permitting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but if - a big if - the national goal is greatly increased oil and gas production and the elusive "energy independence," then the remote and frigid north coast of Alaska is not the first place you would look. The more accessible coasts of the Lower 48 would be the more likely place to start.

Backers of the amendment, which is not in the House version of the energy bill, say it is only for informational purposes. But opponent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., says, "It's the proverbial camel's nose under the tent."

The moratorium on coastal drilling came about because of a form of NIMBYism that might be called NOMBYD - Not Off My Beach You Don't. That's understandable. Oil production, transportation and refining are not scenic and not always clean, but the oil has to come from somewhere.

But as long as Americans insist on their freedom to travel by automobile and the internal combustion engine remains the most efficient means of moving the automobile and no one wants a drilling platform outside the front window, it only makes sense to pay foreigners to produce the oil we can't or won't.

Proponents of so-called "energy independence" should be careful what they wish for.


Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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