Mie Dunford at The Questionable Authority, has a post up about a joint hearing of the Energy and Mineral Resources and Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittees of the House Committee on Natural Resources (there’s a mouthful). Apparently, one of the captains from the Discovery Channel’s The Deadliest Catch testified that provided…
…an extremely good overview of not just the environmental and fishery effects of massive oil spills, but of the range of problems that oil and gas exploration can create for sea life even when everything goes right.
In his testimony he notes the problem of relying on ‘resource extraction’ (“drill baby drill”):
Today’s energy crisis has not abated due to recent global economic events, but it has just been over shadowed. Fuel prices for diesel eclipsed $5.00 per gallon less than 6 months ago for Alaska’s fishing fleet. This was not a localized event, but a worldwide crisis. The blissful ignorance of “drill baby drill” resounds in my ears, and reminds me that the solutions to our energy crisis should look beyond resource extraction. We are at a crossroads in our nation’s history where difficult choices need to be made to achieve energy independence. Quoting from President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, “Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries, and threaten our planet.” Based on the president’s recent statements, I am confident that the choices we will make in the months and years to come are now backed by scientific evidence, and will lead to energy policies based on science. These intelligent choices will allow us to develop the resources that are viable, and to protect and preserve sustainable resources for future generations.
Mike goes on to explain how his testimony also provides some much needed perspective of just how ill-thought-out the whole ‘drill baby drill’ meme is:
One of the points that he raised very clearly illustrated just how completely insane the whole “drill, baby, drill” thing really is. As he pointed out to the Congresscritters on the panel, the entire predicted output of the Bering Sea area in question is estimated to be worth about $8 billion, most of the production will come in the form of natural gas, and most of the natural gas will be exported and will have no effect on our own energy needs. Meanwhile, the fisheries in the area are currently bringing in well over $2 billion per year, and with good management that seems to be a sustainable level.
To my mind, this really illustrates the problem when policy can be reduced to a mere meme. The further tragedy is that such memes are all too often given a thin patina of legitimacy and scholarship by think tanks interested more in policy advocacy than actual policy research. Cato and AEI definitely operate differently than Brookings in this way.