Republicans are often credited with their ability to stay on message. Their capacity for presenting a united front is unmatched by the Democratic Party. This is hardly surprising though when you consider the fact that when unconstrained by reason or reality the only requirement for agreement is loyalty to the party, something Republicans possess in abundance. This is no better exemplified than in a recent Charles Krauthammer column, “Pelosi: Save the Planet, Let Someone Else Drill.” Krauthammer repeats several recent Republican talking points despite the fact that they’ve all been thoroughly discredited. To start with, Krauthammer points out the decline in domestic oil production as if it’s a Democratic plot, without actually attributing its cause,
Consider: 25 years ago, nearly 60 percent of U.S. petroleum was produced domestically. Today it’s 25 percent. From its peak in 1970, U.S. production has declined a staggering 47 percent.
The innuendo of course is that moratorium against offshore drilling as well as drilling in other protected habitats such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) region of Alaska is the cause. The reality however is that peak oil production in the United States-the tipping point where it is no longer possible to increase the annual amount of oil produced–was accurately predicted in the mid fifties by oil analyst M. King Hubbert, hardly a leftist, tree-hugging activist. Hubbert’s model continues to be used today to predict the peak and decline of limited resource commodities like oil.
The next debunked talking point concerns the safety of modern offshore drilling. Several people from the right, including John McCain, have made the wildly inaccurate statement that hurricane Katrina caused no oil spills, a point Krauthammer faithfully repeats,
Compare the Niger Delta to the Gulf of Mexico, where deep-sea U.S. oil rigs withstood Hurricanes Katrina and Rita without a single undersea well suffering a significant spill.
The reality is that Katrina caused extensive damage resulting in millions of gallons of spilled oil. The oil slicks were so large they could be seen from space. This myth has been widely repeated and thoroughly repudiated but as previously mentioned, it’s easy to repeat lies when one has little use for the truth.
Finally, Krauthammer accuses Democrats of NIMBYism (not in my backyard), by claiming calls for OPEC to increase oil production amounted to the same thing as drilling in the protected areas of the U.S.,
Democrats want no oil from the American OCS or ANWR. But of course they do want more oil. From OPEC. From where Americans don’t vote. From places Democratic legislators can’t see. On May 13 Sen. Chuck Schumer — deeply committed to saving just those pieces of the planet that might have huge reserves of American oil — demanded that the Saudis increase production by a million barrels a day. It doesn’t occur to him that by eschewing the slightest disturbance of the mating habits of the Arctic caribou, he is calling for the further exploitation of the pristine deserts of Arabia. In the name of the planet, mind you.
The flaws in this reasoning are several. Comparing the increase in production from already producing oil fields to drilling in a pristine wilderness is disingenuous to the extreme, as is comparing that to offshore drilling where a relatively minor accident can cause devastating results as we’ve already witnessed. Additionally, while it’s no longer clear that OPEC has the ability to increase their production to the levels we would desire, whatever increase in output that could be achieved could happen relatively soon, as opposed to the seven years or longer it would take to ramp up new production nationally.
But the most dishonest part of this argument is in the suggestion that increasing foreign oil imports represents the core of the Democratic plan to supply America with the energy we require. In fact, Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama’s energy plan combines several factors from alternative energy sources to conservation. Obama’s suggestion that every American check and adjust the tire pressure of their vehicles produced ridicule from John McCain, that is until he was forced to admit Obama’s proposal made sense,