Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Walberg: Drill for Oil in Great Lakes

I appreciate it when Congressman Tim Walberg talks about the need to develop alternative, renewable sources of energy. But this should not be a part of our energy policy.
LANSING – Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer criticized Republican Representative Tim Walberg for his comments supporting oil drilling in the Great Lakes. Walberg told a group of Lansing area constituents on Friday “ I don’t understand” why the United States does not drill the Great Lakes.

“I don’t know how many of you realize that here in this state in the United States, we do not allow even the slant directional drilling under the Great Lakes... Our environmental lobby has done so well in lobbying efforts from keeping us from doing that, that we don’t drill in ANWR, we don’t drill under the Great Lakes... I don’t understand that.Listen>

“So I say let’s get away from being held by the markets so tightly on petroleum sources… unless we are willing to use what we have and provide competition to the world market because we can say to OPEC then ‘to hell with them’ we got our own Alaskan oil, we have our own Great Lakes oil and we got our own intercontinental shelf oil... That’s how I look at it.” Listen>
(Emphasis added.)

That's right. Tim Walberg wants to drill for oil under the Great Lakes. He wants to extract oil from beneath the world's largest fresh water supply-- our fresh water supply.

The MDP press release above also includes this:
According to Public Interest Research Group In Michigan, oil drilling in the Great Lakes “would have significant long-term and short-term negative impacts on the lake's watershed, regardless of the drilling method employed.” Their analysis demonstrates oil drilling in the Great Lakes has potential negative impacts on human health, the environment and Michigan’s economy.
If you listen to the audio linked with the quotes, you'll notice that within the ellipses of the Walberg quotes provided by the MDP are references to Canadian oil projects in the Great Lakes. Walberg's main argument is, basically, "The Canadians do it, so why can't we?" Well, the PIRGIM study looks at that. Walberg is wrong about that, too.

The Canadian experience of drilling for natural gas and oil on the Canadian side of Lake Erie serves as a cautionary example for Michigan. Spills associated with the petroleum industry are both widespread and highly significant environmental threats to the Canadian Great Lakes. Fifty-one natural gas spills directly associated with gas drilling in Canada's portion of Lake Erie were documented between 1997 and 2001 - an average of almost one spill a month. The volume of natural gas released and the full duration of the leaks were not reported to or by the Canadian government.

The Canadian side of Lake Erie was also impacted by 83 petroleum spills from all sectors between 1990 and 1995 (the last year for which data was made available for this report). The volume spilled was not known for at least one-third of the spills. In addition, only 45% of the contaminants were cleaned up, on average.

The routine, long-term discharge of drilling wastes from drilling in Canada's portion of Lake Erie represents a significant environmental hazard. These direct discharges into Lake Erie have subjected aquatic organisms to immediate and long-term health risks, ranging from localized fish kills to aquatic organism developmental impairment. These risks are exacerbated by the routine usage of toxic chemicals during oil and gas drilling.

Read the entire study. It's worth the time.

This is, quite simply, a bad idea. In 2002, Republican gubernatorial nominee Dick Posthumous even came out against drilling in the Great Lakes.
In a split from Engler's policy, the No. 2 man in his administration, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, came out against drilling in July, telling Michigan reporters, "The risks [of drilling] are relatively few, but the benefits are even fewer."
(Emphasis added.)

And, from the same article, residents of Michigan haven't been too wild about the idea, either.
Oil and gas extraction from the Great Lakes does not poll well with Michigan voters. In a statewide survey conducted in February, opposition to drilling ran as high as 59 percent. Support was as low as 27 percent. Opposition was fairly consistent across the state and among all kinds of voters.
Congressman Walberg, listen to your colleague, Bart Stupak:
"There are just some places on Earth you shouldn't drill for oil and gas," said U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, who pushed for the permanent ban. "There's only about enough energy there to supply eight hours of energy for this country."
Contact Tim Walberg, and tell him to keep his hands off our Great Lakes.

UPDATE: I forgot to include this the first time around, but I thought I'd mention it.
Earlier this year, with Walberg's efforts on Great Lakes preservation, I wrote this:
If Walberg's work benefits the Great Lakes, I'll almost, for a moment, be proud to have him as my representative. Almost. But there's so much more that can and needs to be done to protect our environment, and I hope he'll consider doing more. There are plenty of issues he could get involved with.
(Emphasis added.)

I'd like to apologize to all of you. I should have never been fooled into thinking that Tim Walberg cares about the Great Lakes, and I should have seen through his empty political rhetoric.

For a politician that claims to be an environmentalist and claims to support renewable, alternative energy, he's looking more and more like a puppet of the oil companies.

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I guess Timmy lied about being a conservationist too. I remember during the campaign he made quite an issue of being a hunter and fisherman (which was also a lie) and painted himself as a true Michigander who respected the outdoors and stood up for sportsmen.

The fact he's advocating drilling in the Great Lakes which EVERYBODY on both sides of the aisle opposes, doesn't suprise me, the guy is so disingenuous it's sickening.

This guy will do and say anything to pander to whichever audience he might win favor with for the moment.

Fortunately, 2008 is just around the corner and can't come soon enough. Anybody but Walberg!
Wow! Timmy said "hell"--and he wasn't even preaching.

Wonder what Mrs. Merillat will think about pure-as-the-driven-snow Rev. Walberg now?
Walberg's earlier support of those Great Lakes bills was a set up for this. He knew he'd need to do something good (which has plenty of votes to pass anyway, with or without him) so he could go after the 1/3 of a day's worth of oil under our Great Lakes. (Don't forget, he has only lived in Michigan for a small part of his life, so he might not be as attached to our State Treasure as the rest of us.)

His argument continues to spread the great lie about our domestic oil supply. ANWR is only 6-9 months of US consumption and would not be online for use for about ten years due to the fact that they don't really know where it is yet nor is there any infrastructure there. So, in Walberg's mind, we can tell OPEC to "go to hell" and then what? We go crawling back within a year, on our knees, shivering, cars parked--out of gas, and beg them to start selling us oil again?

He is using the issue to trash enviromentalists and pander to the big business interests which funded his slash and burn campaign against Joe Schwarz.

So, either Walberg knows the oil under the Great Lakes is tiny and is merely playing politics with an issue many here in Michigan don't take lightly, or he is a moron and really thinks by simply tapping into that vast oil field sitting under those ponds around the edge of Michigan that we will be right back to $1/ gallon of gas and freedom from those economic terrorists in the Middle East.

Hey Tim, if they need to be told to go to hell, why not vote to use our economic power and break their cartel?

Can you imagine if Bush could hire members of the media to work for him, and then give "exclusive" interviews to them at their "part-time" reproter gig? Imagine what POTUS's aprroval would be then.

If anyone can get me a copy of the audio or a transcript, I would really, really appreciate it.
I had a chance to listen to the show for awhile. It was entirely softball and fluff. Walberg extolled how much of an environmentalist he is, but the question of Great Lakes drilling never came up, unless I missed it. Lot's of callers heaped praise on him which leads me to believe it was pretty much orchestrated. Nothing of any relevance came out of it. I'd expect nothing less from Wally.
I cannot believe that radio station is willing to let that type of journalism go out under their name.

I guess when you are regulated by the FCC, it might help to have a Congressman on your side.

I read the PIRGIM report and belive it is well documented. I was especially mindful of what they said about Canada's experience with drilling on the North side of Lake Erie. We should look no further then thier experiences to know it's a very bad idea.

Nonetheless, I also wanted to see what the Mackinac Center had to say about it. They had an article written in 2002 entitled: "Great Lakes Drilling: Environmental Threat or Phantom Menace?" The link is above. It was written just after the bill to ban it was passed.

An interesting angle they took was to look at insurance data which conflicts with what PIRGIM said about Canadian drilling.

The article states:

"Insurance data provide a dependable assessment of the risks associated with directional drilling. Those risks are reflected in the cost of coverage. Premium rates essentially transmit information about hazards and safety. In this instance, underwriters are willing to insure slant drilling operations at an affordable cost—proof positive that such excavation methods are not fraught with environmental peril.

Indeed, according to insurance industry data, only 12 claims nationwide involving drilling to depths of 5,000 feet have been recorded between 1981 and 2000, and none of those were in Michigan. (The Mackinac Center for Public Policy was granted access to these data by Marsh, Inc., a global insurance firm.)

In fact, control-of-well insurance, which covers environmental damages, is available in Michigan for as little as $33 per well per year, depending on the number of wells being covered. This low cost reflects the fact that more than 3,800 directional well bores have been drilled in Michigan without incident, including 13 beneath the Great Lakes. Moreover, Canadian firms have safely drilled 2,200 wells under Lake Erie since 1913, and two pipelines have carried oil and natural gas across the straits near the Mackinac Bridge for more than three decades."

Interesting take. I assume both organizations are correct in thier data but both organizations have selective perception.

Bottom line is science and statistics are open to debate depending on who's doing the study, but the Great Lakes deserve protection and we should err on the side of preservation. There are no second chances here and nobody really knows how much, if any, oil is there.

Read both articles and draw your own conclusions.

My conclusion is that any politician who supports or promotes drilling in the world's largest body of fresh water is not only a fool, but a damn fool.
The same arguments exist for ANWR on both sides. The fundamental question is whether you truly value a pristene environment. If you do, banning exploration in a tiny portion of the world is worth the cost of limiting oil supply.

If you do not, you are free to drill anywhere in pursuit of profit. Walberg does not, at his core, really believe the environment is worth protecting. He will continue to jump on some simple issues to proclaim he cares, but all he is doing is building wall so he can defend himself when he makes wild statements like supporting drilling in the Great Lakes.
the largest fresh water supply that there is and a republican wants to drill for oil in it...if you let people like him & his money hungry party go.. they would ruin the great lakes in short order....NO TO SLANT DRILLING IN THE GREAT LAKES...
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