Watch Stephanopoulos Grill Pelosi

George Stephanopoulos was relentless with Nancy Pelosi on ABC News regarding the question of allowing a vote on opening up more areas for drilling. In between repeated questions of “Why won’t you allow a vote?”, she repeated the canard about oil companies sitting on all of this undeveloped land (there already is a ‘use it or lose it’ provision), said that we need ‘real solutions’ like tapping the SPR, and said that allowing drilling wouldn’t make any difference anyway and was a gimmick. (Why not then extract money from the oil companies for the right to look?) She spoke out against the threat of global warming, and just as passionately called for oil to be released from the SPR, completely undermining her position on global warming.

See the video for yourself: Stephanopoulos Grills Pelosi

My hat is off to Stephanopoulos, as he didn’t let up. He kept asking the question, and she would throw all of these reasons out, and he would come back with “Why not allow that debate to play out?” He also pointed out her hypocrisy in refusing to allow the vote.

The Washington Post went after her as well in a Friday editorial:

No Drilling, No Vote

Instead of dealing with the issue on the merits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a staunch opponent of offshore drilling, has simply decreed that she will not allow a drilling vote to take place on the House floor. Why not? “What the president would like to do is to have validation for his failed policy,” she said yesterday when asked that very question. “What we’re saying is, ‘Exhaust other remedies, Mr. President.’ . . . It is the economic life of America’s families, and to suggest that drilling offshore is going to make a difference to them paycheck to paycheck now is a frivolous contention. The president has even admitted that. So what we’re saying is, ‘What can we do that is constructive?’ “

If there is an explanation buried in there about why that makes offshore drilling off-limits for a vote, we missed it. Ms. Pelosi is correct that drilling is no panacea for the nation’s energy woes. The short-term effect of lifting the moratorium, if there were any, would be minimal. That doesn’t mean the country shouldn’t consider expanded drilling as one of many alternatives. There are legitimate concerns about the environmental impact of such drilling — environmental concerns that, we would note, exist in other regions whose oil Americans are perfectly happy to consume. But have technological improvements made such drilling less risky? Why not have that debate?

The money quote, and the theme that Stephanopoulos kept coming back to: “If drilling opponents really have the better of this argument, why are they so worried about letting it come to a vote?

I will reiterate my position. I think that by the time this oil would come online – perhaps 10 years from now – the country will be in desperate need of it. We could sell the leases now and dedicate that money to moving away from oil. This addresses both the supply and demand issues. I don’t support drilling without these kinds of conditions, because we will just burn that oil up and then we will be back where we started from – or more likely worse off. If we fail to do anything, then we will continue to send more and more money out of the country to feed our dependence.

My position is explained here – The Drilling Debate: Narrowing the Chasm.

28 thoughts on “Watch Stephanopoulos Grill Pelosi”

  1. Pelosi is a true ideologue when it comes to energy. She believes most forms of energy are bad, and that Big Oil is evil — except when she is being chauffeured somewhere in her SUV.

  2. I don’t think we’d really use the money to get off oil yet. I think we’ll drill — and I don’t think the environmental damage will be minor, or more justified off the California coast than any other — but I think we need to be a lot more certain that that’s the oil we’ll use to build the infrastructure that gets us off oil. We sure don’t have that plan yet.

  3. We can drill or not drill. It doesn’t matter much. US demand down 1 mbd from a year ago. We have 9 mbd to go down. A lot more oil in decreasing demand than in drilling anew. But go ahead and drill.

  4. I also live in the Bay Area and she doesn’t represent my views either.

    Also, we’re talking about a federal ban here. Lift it, then if the voters in any state (like California) don’t want drilling, that’s up to them. Surprise surprise, according to recent polls here a narrow majority of Californian’s support drilling.

    The democrats have been getting away with this just-say-no-to-everything position for decades, and as I’ve predicted numerous times the public won’t stand for it once there’s a crisis. The GOP’s lassez-faire position is just as untenable. The only good news, if there is any, is that the crisis has been precipitated by “peak lite” and not true “peak oil”.

  5. Good for Stephanopoulos. Drilling can be done safely even in environmentally sensitive areas.

    Anon – we are talking about drilling in FEDERAL WATERS, so it isn’t up to the states. Those resources belong to ALL Americans, not just Californians.

    BTW – I was on vacation last week. We had a pleasant surprise at our vacation rental. There was an offshore gas drilling rid working here . We got up one morning to watch the sun come up over the bay and the drilling rig. It was a beautiful and inspiring sight. While we were out fishing it served as a good landmark.

  6. King-
    and those rigs make great marine habitats. That said, we will never have oil drilling in sight of rich people’s mansions along the coast, whether in Florida, California, or the Carolinas. I have heard that Virgina has potential, but has never even been drilled. And it ain’t going to be.
    Sheesh, Newport Beach, CA, an R-Party stronghold, recently passed a town law that no building more than 250,000 square feet could be built without approval of voters.
    Eevry building larger than that has to go on the ballot.
    Like I always say, everybody becomes a greenie-weenie when the rendering plant is proposed for their neighborhood.
    As for federal lands belonging to everybody — right-wingers in Western states hate that notion.

  7. If the subject were not so serious, it would be funny to see all those super-rich Democrat leaders rushing around looking for a piece of sand to stick their heads in.

    But the idea of trusting politicians like Pelosi to take any additional revenues from drilling & spend them wisely on developing a post-fossil energy infrastructure? Get Real!

    Who got us into this mess? That's right — politicians like Teddie Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid.

    The (political) system is broken. A few extra revenue dollars would just be giving the cocaine-snorter some crack.

  8. We couldn’t fish the drilling rig, but we did fish a couple of meter platforms. The bay averages around 9′ deep so offshore platorms don’t create much habitat other than providing a hiding place for the fish. The rig we saw was within 1 mile of multi-million dollar vacation homes and primary residences. They are drilling gas wells in our neighborhood in west Houstonn greenbelt areas set aside for future drilling, which will become parks once the wells are connected.

    We don’t mind drilling, pipelines, and other infrastructure in Texas.

    In California, they may start arresting people if they don’t correctly recycle their garbage.

    Environmentalism = socialism & totalitarianism

  9. Katy,

    You have posted some interesting things from time to time, but this one:

    Environmentalism = socialism & totalitarianism

    takes the cake. Of course, most human beings have a deep need to be part of SOMETHING. Some choose a football team, some choose religion, some choose a movement that coincides with what they think are their values. The environmental movement, to a degree , has been like this. There are a ton of people in it, with little understanding(or patience) of how complex nature really is. How many times have I been lectured by a vegetarian who drive off in an SUV wearing leather shoes? Conversely, I have also been lectured by a logger who forcefully indicated that the 'real' problem was the envirowackos, and if they would just let his company 'care' for the forests of N. AZ that wood would be able to be harvested sustainably for generations. Two years later the last sawmill shut down in Flagstaff because virtually every bit of old growth had been cut, often illegally. What is my point?
    The fact that you can go fishing and come home with something that won't set off a metal detector really started in about the middle of the century, by those damned environmentalists. That you have clean water, clean air, (mostly) edible food usually has its roots in that same damnable movement. The nice thing about your posts is that they show your depth of critical thinking, and your grasp of history all in one shot.

    have a nice day!

  10. The argument I have heard in regards to releasing some of the SPR is that it makes speculation more difficult and often results in the prices lowering more then supply and demand would intrinsically dictate. Though I don’t really understand or believe that anyone really understands what is going on with the speculation issue, I think that this is a play at trying to bring it down some.
    You tell everyone that you are going to increase the supply. Speculators betting that the price of oil will raise drop back, and the price decreases – more then simple supply and demand…
    What do you guys think?
    The obvious confound is that when you close up the supply the price will jump again, so I think the typical argument is you can’t tell anyone when you are closing the supply

  11. Winelover – I stand by my comments. Environmentalism has become both a new age religion and the home for modern socialism. Did you forget that last year the state of California tried to mandate thermostats that could be controlled by some government agency? Now we find out the city of Seattle forces people to have composters and that San Francisco will fine you if you don’t sort your trash for recycling.

    Or we have the recent story from the UK where a cartoon campaign asked kids to report their parents for “environmental crimes”.

    Are not “windfall profits taxes” nothing more than socialist redistribution of wealth?

    My grasp of history is clear. It is excessive government which does more damage to humankind and the environment than capitalism. The environmental movement calls for more government control of our lives and less freedom under the guise of saving the planet. The Bolshoviks called for more government under the guise of saving the worker from capitalism.

    Pelosi, by not alowing a vote she knows she will lose, is a petty tyrant.

  12. King,
    Unfortunately, unfettered capitalism is also a religion and home for socialism since we live in the era of socialized risks and privatized profits (Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae, et all). And I am personally thankful for government intervention since I once worked for a company that made us peons use industrial solvents with no protection and OSHA made that practice illegal. You must be too young to remember “The Fox” from Chicago who invented environmental direct action when he intervened against companies who were dumping pollutants into the local estuaries. The issue is to find the middle way between too much and not enough government interaction.

  13. Here’s Gov. Crist, R-Fla. equivocating on drilling, in his backyard — plus he advocates cap-and-trades. McCain does too, and also has said he does not support drilling on the Florida coast if it bothers anybody. And he said he wants 10 percent ethanol in Florida’s gasoline. By my view, that is three strikes. Yeah, blame the Democrats.

    Tampa Bay Business Journal, June 2008:

    Gov. Charlie Crist signed an energy bill approved by the Legislature in April during his opening remarks at the second annual climate summit in Miami Wednesday.

    Calling HB 7135 the “most comprehensive energy and economic development policy in the history of our state,” Crist said it will reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, support renewable resources, protect natural resources and stimulate the economy. He added that the bill aims to have ethanol make up 10 percent of Florida’s total fuel supply by 2010, and that the Public Service Commission is to develop a renewable portfolio standard to increase the use of wind, solar and other renewable energy.

    “Based on the unanimous vote in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, our state is now a leader within the Southeast in advancing the development of a cap-and-trade program,” Crist said in a news release. “New buildings will be up to 50 percent more efficient by 2019 — like the veteran’s nursing home that breaks ground on Saturday. A Florida Energy Systems Consortium among our state universities will leverage the expertise of Florida’s research community to grow Florida’s green tech industry.”

    Crist also repeated his stance on drilling for oil off Florida’s coast, which he first stated last week, saying he would support it if it is “far enough, safe enough and clean enough.”

    “Comprehensive policy must include — in my view — a study of how to enhance our domestic oil supply,” Crist said in a news release. “However, we must have an open discussion — without compromising Florida’s sensitive ecosystems and natural beauty. As I stated last week, only when we are able to do so far enough from Florida’s coast, safe enough for our people and clean enough for our beaches, should we consider increasing our oil supply by drilling off Florida’s shores.”

  14. What do real socialists have to say about the environment:

    By taking the global economy out of the ownership and control of capitalist elites, the vital decisions of society would no longer be determined by the drive for profit. Decisions about how resources are distributed and what and how products are made, could be made democratically rather than behind closed doors in corporate boardrooms.

    The use of our resources could be planned rationally, in the interests of society as a whole, rather than being subject to the anarchy of the market. This is what is called socialism.

    This would clear the way to urgently convert society from an oil based economy to renewable energy and carry out a huge research program to expand upon existing technology. The $1 trillion spent globally on the military each year (over half of which goes to the U.S. military) owing to the hostility between rival capitalist countries could be used to fund this conversion, as well as to lift billions out of poverty.

    Gee, sounds like it could have been written by environmentalists, or it could be a Democrat Party platform plank.

  15. If capitalism were so bad for workers health and the environment, then we would expect that socialist and communist countries would be the safest and most environmentally responsible places on earth. China must be some kind of paradise then . . . well maybe not.

    If capitalism suffers from externalities, socialism is subject to the tragedy of the commons .

  16. RR, your man Obama now favors release of oil from SPR. Worth a column?

    He had been opposed, but this seems to be fast-becoming a plank in the Democratic Party platform. I have engaged some influential Democrats on this, and they can’t defend the idea for long before confronting the inconsistency between this position and their position on global warming.

    I also obviously don’t like Obama’s rhetoric over the windfall profits tax he is proposing. Just how is that supposed to help consumers? It’s an example of pandering, in my opinion.


  17. The Repubs found some leverage with offshore. Obama already caved but Pelosi’s home district would roast her alive. She’s tried to deflect attention toward SPR, but it really hasn’t worked.

    Obama probably figures this light/heavy SPR two-step gives him cover to support Pelosi without looking too dumb. I doubt he’d actually release much oil. The risk is extreme — he’d look like an utter fool if he drained SPR and we then had a real emergency.

    I’d be against windfall profits tax if Big Oil was reinvesting to increase output. But they’re not.

  18. Doggydogworld,

    Oil industry is not reinvesting to increase output?(windfall taxes would not just apply to “Big Oil”)
    Then please explain the following:

    Exploration and Production Capital Investment ($bn):
    That’s an 85% increase in investment by Big Oil in 5 years. And the list could go on like this.

    Crude Oil Exploratory and Development Wells Drilled, US:
    2003: 7,465
    2007: 14,477

    Crude Oil Rotary Rigs in Operation:
    2003: 157
    2007: 297

    Crude Oil Wells, Costs per Well….Costs per Foot (latest 5 yr period available):
    2000: $593,400 ……. $125.96
    2004: $1,441,800 …… $298.45
    And costs have risen sharply since 2004

    Schlumberger Revenues:
    Oilfield Services
    2003: $8.8 mm
    2007: $20.3 mm
    Seismic Data Services
    2003: $1.183 mm
    2007: $2.963
    Schlumberger is the leading oilfield service company.

    Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale High Bonus Bids:
    2003: $315 mm
    2007: $3.8 billion

    Bonus bids and seismic expenditures are leading indicators for drilling activity.

    I hear this complaint alleging underinvestment often. Where does it originate from? What is the basis for it? If oil and gas production is what has made Big Oil rich, why would they not want to do more of it? Does someone have a secret project book full of overlooked and accessible prospects that they can point to?

    I see share buybacks as an acknowledgement that the big oil companies have limited investment opportunities at the scale that’s material to them. If you need to replace a billion barrels per year, you’re not going to do it by drilling hundreds of wells in places like Kentucky or onshore Texas. You need access to projects with homerun potential. It would be interesting to see rates of share buybacks for smaller oil companies, who because of their scales of operation are more likely to have access to projects that can impact their booked reserves and production.

  19. It is excessive government which does more damage to humankind and the environment than capitalism.

    I’ll grant that you can make a case about excessive government being bad for humankind (I’m just re-reading “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” in honor of A.S.’s passing.)

    But Big Government being worse for the environment than unfettered robber-baron capitalism? Just off the top of my head spring to mind names like Berkeley Pit, Bhopal, and (your favorite) Prince William Sound. For the sake of debate, can you provide some counter-examples where a democratically-elected government created messes of equal magnitude? (looking for examples from the post-WWII era)
    The ones you’ve already cited (Bolsheviks/Soviet Union; China) aren’t useful examples, to my mind; they were/are despotic totalitarian states dressed up in communist/socialist trappings.

    Communism may be nice in theory, but unworkable on any large scale with us flawed humans as its constituents. But the other extreme of complete laissez-faire libertarianism is equally pie-in-the-sky, IMHO…

  20. I hear this complaint alleging underinvestment often.

    Armchair, I do not allege underinvestment. I said Big Oil was not investing to increase output.

    The OPEC cartel violates free market principles (and US law). Their actions created a windfall for Big Oil. Should oil companies get to keep this windfall? In general people do not get to keep windfalls from illegal activity. If you invest early in a Ponzi scheme and withdraw your money before it collapses you may make a handsome profit. But law enforcement will compel you to return this money to a restitution fund even if you had no idea it was a Ponzi. Same thing when a shopowner buys a discounted painting or antique which laters turns out to be stolen. He doesn’t get to keep it just because he bought in good faith. He not only loses the profit he stood to make but also the money he paid to buy it.

    If oil companies invested their windfall to grow production I’d support giving them a free pass. The money might be dirty, but they didn’t actively participate in market-rigging and their resulting increased production serves our national interest. Since they are unable (or unwilling) to increase production, however, I don’t really see why their windfall deserves special treatment. Why handle it differently than the early Ponzi investor or the shopowner?

  21. doggydogworld,

    Well, OPEC is not in the US so I think it’s unclear whether they are breaking any laws, even if they are violating market principles. Do you want them to compete for market share then? If OPEC could turn on the taps and make do with $5 oil, would that necessarily be a good thing? For the environment? For western energy security? It seems to me that flooding the market with OPEC oil is also not a good thing, and the only way to prevent that is by agreement within the cartel. Unless the west is prepared to give OPEC almost complete control of world oil supply, it seems that some kind of quota system has to exist.

    If you’re going to take the upside away from Big Oil, then are you going to help them out on the downside? If not, why not? If you take an inherently risky business and put an arbitrary margin cap on it, then then you’re going to scare away a lot of investors. Who decides what the acceptable margin is? Do you decide based on ROS? ROI? Do you adjust for rising costs? Will reinvested capital allow a deduction from the penalty? If so, how much? What projects would qualify (LNG?)? What size company will need to pay the tax, and how will you define size?

    I also think it’s hard to argue that a windfall profit tax wouldn’t be counterproductive in terms of oil supply. Every company will have a project book. Some projects will fly no matter what. But every company will have a set of projects at or near the margin. It’s inevitable that at the national scale, some of these projects will be deferred. The high profits exist because of supply problems. How will taxing those profits help, exactly?

    It all seems to me that a windfall profits tax is something more like a punishment for imagined wrongdoing, a way to “get even.” But as you say, western oil companies operate in an environment that includes OPEC. It is what it is. What could they do differently?

    I am still absolutely mystified by the notion that Big Oil does not want to grow production. How could that be possible? All of them have increased capex. Drilling and leasing activity is up across the board. Higher production and reserves booking will in general reward shareholders, not least executives with option plans. It’s historical production growth that has made Big Oil rich today. They were booking reserves and adding production when prices were lower. Now prices are higher. What in your view would be a rationale to sit back and do nothing? I am in the exploration business, and I can tell you for a fact that every company is scrounging for drilling rigs, acreage, seismic data, and people. The idea that Big Oil isn’t…. is just plain wrong.

    It’s very difficult in today’s exploration and production environment to find the 100 million barrel plus projects that Big Oil needs. Competition for these kinds of projects is fierce. When an Exxon is projecting flat production, its largely because they’re acknowledging this.

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