Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Democrats Cave on Oil Drilling, Not Really

The Washington Post recently reported the Democrats allegedly caving on bringing freedom to drill for oil to a vote.

I say "allegedly" because, even without reading the entire proposal, we already know enough to see that it's just a feint. Pelosi, Reid, and their supporters do not want oil drilling to take place off the shores of America. That much, even they acknowledge. Consistent with that desire — but under extreme pressure to prevent a Republican blowout in the upcoming elections — they've devised a plan to make it appear that they're willing to compromise.

One way to create that illusion is to declare they are willing to bring the issue to a vote. But it's only an illusion because both the House and Senate bills contain several poison pills to nearly guarantee there will be no actual drilling.

They refuse to allow the states to share in any revenues from oil drilling, for example, making it unlikely any state will get onboard anytime soon. Any that did is much more likely, under this scheme, to have been bribed to sign up by oil companies. Thank you, Congressional leaders, for contributing to the corruption of both business and government in one fell swoop.

Further, they propose limiting offshore access to waters farther than 50 miles off the coast. According to the WaPo news story,
[F]ederal studies show that more than 80 percent of known oil reserves are inside the 50-mile limit and therefore unavailable. Very little is known about oil reserves beyond 100 miles. Waters off almost the entire Pacific coast — where all three governors oppose drilling at the 50-mile barrier — is considered too deep for drilling 100 miles offshore.
But neither the reporters nor Congress consider the most important question of all: why is the Federal Government deciding the issue at all?

Pelosi and Reid act as if they own the resources, and therefore have the right to set the terms under which it will be extracted. They don't. Nor do they represent anyone who does. When the Federal Government 'owns' land, all that means is that no one owns it, and therefore property rights have not been established in the resource one way or the other.

Nor are they acting to protect the property rights of anyone who might, in a downstream fashion, be adversely impacted by drilling activity. The environmentalists, who have put Pelosi and Reid in their back pockets by forking over money from their front ones, have never shown that contemporary oil drilling practices harm the environment. Nor could they, since it doesn't, beyond the normal risks associated with any resource extraction activity.

And the zero-tolerance-for-risk-of-spilling-a-drop policy is irrational and not legally enforceable, even with the viro-friendly judiciary. (If it were, there would be no drilling at all anywhere under Federal or State jurisdiction. Every resource-extraction activity carries some risk of harm to persons and property.)

But fear of oil spills is only a cover. The viros and their political puppets simply do not want humans to use oil to power civilization. Many don't want civilization at all. The Democrats' latest pseudo-bills are geared to ensure they get their wish.

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