Monday, July 10, 2006

Declare Energy Independence!

Hi Janice,

Despite phone calls from over 2,000 Californians, the House of
Representatives voted last week to end the 25-year moratorium on off-shore
drilling. We will have another opportunity to stop the legislation when it
is heard in the Senate later this year.

Before that happens, we need to drive home one very important point: we
cannot drill our way into energy independence. Only increased energy
conservation, energy efficiency and more renewables will bring us true
energy independence.

Help us disseminate this Independence Day message by writing a letter
to be printed in your local paper. Follow the link below and our online
tool will help you write a letter and send it to your local paper. Then
ask your friends and family to do the same by forwarding this message
to them.

To take action, click here or paste this link in your Web browser:

http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/action/oceans/lte?id4=ES


Background:

From the LA Times, June 30, 2006:
"House Offers States Incentives for Offshore Oil, Gas Drilling: The
bill, which in effect rescinds a decades-old moratorium, would allow
states that agree to leases in their waters to share in the royalties."
By Maura Reynolds
Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Spurred in part by higher energy prices, the House of
Representatives voted Thursday to in effect rescind a decades-old federal
moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and gas, a move proponents hope
will be the first step toward opening the outer continental shelf to
more fuel exploration.

The bill, passed by a vote of 232 to 187, would permit states that
agree to offshore drilling to share in the royalties from the leases,
thereby creating a financial incentive to spur development.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed strong opposition to the House
measure, saying that the "impacts of new offshore oil and gas leasing
and development off the California coast are unacceptable."

Supporters said the measure would give states control over their
shorelines and an opportunity to debate the balance between energy needs and
coastal protection.

"Any state will be able to stop production from occurring within 100
miles of its shores should it choose to do so," said Rep. Shelley Moore
Capito (R-W.Va.), a co-sponsor of the bill. "If state officials decide
to allow production, they will share in the royalties."

Opponents argued that sending royalties to states that permit drilling
would rob the federal government of billions of dollars in revenue, and
would in effect transfer billions out of the federal budget to four
Gulf states that already permit offshore drilling.

"This legislation tempts states to sell off their natural heritage by
presenting a false choice between federal dollars and their coastlines,"
said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), who voted against the bill.
"Even worse, the closer to shore a cash-strapped state allows drilling, the
more money it stands to receive. In other words, the more intrusive the
drilling, the larger the payoff."

It is not clear how much support the legislation may receive in the
Senate, where a more modest bill - permitting drilling in just one area
more than 100 miles off the Florida coast - has been stalled because of
the threat of a filibuster from coastal-state senators.

Energy issues tend to align coastal lawmakers against those from inland
and oil-producing states, regardless of party affiliation.

Generally, California and Florida lawmakers have opposed offshore
drilling. However, that alignment has begun to crumble under the pressure of
high oil prices.

For example, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) had previously opposed
drilling, but he has changed his stance because of high pump prices.

"In the past, he had felt it has not been economically feasible or
necessary and he saw no reason to create this potential environmental
problem," said Lewis spokesman Jim Specht. "Now, in our current situation,
he feels it's time to take a look at this situation."

California lawmakers voted largely along party lines, with Republicans
in favor and Democrats opposed. Only two Republicans voted against the
bill - Reps. Mary Bono of Palm Springs and John Campbell of Irvine.
Just one Democrat, Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno, voted for it.

Overall, 40 Democrats joined with 192 Republicans to pass the bill; 31
Republicans joined 155 Democrats and one independent in voting against
it. Fourteen lawmakers were absent or did not vote.

The legislation - written largely by Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy),
chairman of the House Resources Committee - received strong support from
Gulf state lawmakers, especially those from Louisiana, who argued that
the royalties would assist them in rebuilding coastline and wetlands
destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and years of mismanagement.

"I wish we had the beaches that you have. We don't," complained Rep.
Charlie Melancon (D-La.), who supported the bill. "We've lost our
beaches."

Supporters also suggested that coastal drilling would help lower
consumer prices for natural gas and other fuels.

"This legislation will impact the price consumers pay at the pump,"
Capito said. "Natural gas prices are set on a local, not a global, market.
The United States pays the highest natural gas prices in the world, and
it is no surprise that countries that make use of their own natural gas
reserves pay the lowest prices."

But opponents said that a better long-term strategy for addressing
energy prices was not to increase supply, but reduce demand.

"We should be seizing this opportunity to address our energy crisis
responsibly by reducing consumption, improving efficiency and embracing
alternative energy sources," said Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara),
whose district was the site of a devastating 1969 coastal oil spill.
"Instead, the majority has voted to enable our country's oil addiction and
rely on 19th century energy sources to fuel a 21st century economy."

In a letter sent this week to Pombo, Schwarzenegger boasted that energy
conservation efforts had kept California's per-capita electricity use
nearly flat, whereas demand has increased nationwide by 50%.

"If California's approach to energy conservation and efficiency
standards were adopted nationwide, we might not be having this debate over the
exploitation of the oil and gas resources off our coast,"
Schwarzenegger said.

The Bush administration, while generally supporting opening up coastal
waters to drilling, has not pressed the issue. In a statement of policy
issued while the House was debating, the Office of Management and
Budget expressed reservations about the effect of the House measure on the
federal budget.

"Increased revenue sharing for existing leases creates no additional
production incentive," the statement said. "The administration strongly
opposes the bill's revenue-sharing provisions because of their adverse
long-term consequences on the federal deficit."

The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
Republican Pete Domenici of New Mexico, issued a statement welcoming the
House action, but it fell short of endorsing the bill's approach.

"Given the international situation right now, I think we should take
all responsible steps to increase our own energy production," he said.

If Domenici's more limited bill passes the Senate, the two chambers
would meet to negotiate a compromise.

*****

This pro-drilling bill is now on its way to the U.S. Senate. Before
that happens, we need to drive home one very important point: we cannot
drill our way into energy independence. Only increased energy
conservation, energy efficiency and more renewables will bring us true energy
independence.

Help us disseminate this Independence Day message by writing a letter
to be printed in your local paper. Follow the link below and our online
tool will help you write a letter and send it to your local paper. Then
asked your friends and family to do the same by forwarding this message
to them.

To take action, click here or paste this link in your Web browser:

http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/action/oceans/lte?id4=ES

Sincerely,

Dan Jacobson
Environment California Legislative Director
DanJ@environmentcalifornia.org
http://www.EnvironmentCalifornia.org

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this
e-mail with your family and friends.

2 comments:

Merle said...

Hi Janice ~~ What a lot of work you have put into this blog.
Thanks for your kind words, glad you get a laugh at the jokes. Take care, Merle.

Janice said...

Hi Merle,

Thank you, yeah it's a work in progress.

Love all your jokes!

Lady Jan~