Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bob Murphy on obstacles to drilling in the Arctic

UPDATE: Very strange - I got this link by accessing Bob's publication list at IER yesterday, but now the by-line is gone and Bob informs me it's not his. It's still worth a read.

Here. This is the sort of thing that gets obscured in the hand-wringing after a disaster:

"Shell spent $2.1 billion for its tracts in the Chukchi Sea in a 2008 lease sale, and was prepared to start drilling during the summer of 2010.[v] But the oil spill accident in the Gulf of Mexico that April resulted in a moratorium on all offshore drilling, in both shallow and deep waters, by the Obama Administration.  According to Shell, there is less of a risk of a blow out in Arctic waters for two important reasons. First, drilling in the Arctic is in only 150 feet of water compared to 5,000 feet at BP’s Macondo well.  Second, the Arctic wells will tap into reservoirs that are under less pressure.[vi] This means that a blowout is much less likely and if there is a blowout, it is much easier to control in 150 feet of water than under the crushing pressure at 5,000 feet."

There is good reason to have a fossil fuel policy, but you do that with things that don't require planning production and allocation decisions for the market (like a carbon tax), not with ham-fisted regulation.


  1. 1. How will a carbon tax tax reduce the environmental dangers of Shell's propose drilling?

    2. How much of this is a problem of having an unaccountable Congress with too much power? The current Hamilton Plan is to move most Federal Powers to the President would would serve 10 years, with a retention election after 5 years (if the population calls for an election, then the two parties would nominate a candidate and an election would be held in 30 days). During the 30 days, the candidates would be required to debate 20 times, 3 hours for each session, under Lincoln/Douglas rules

    Senators and Congressmen would be elected every four years, their principal power being subpoena and oversight. Any 3 or more Senators or Congressman could notice a hearing on any subject and subpoena and compel production of documents and testimony, with practical limits on how frequently a federal officer could be compelled to appear. In effect, like the question period in the British Parliament with teeth.

    My point is that we have lots of tools never considered by the Founding Fathers to make gov't work. Instead of being flustered, think a little and realize that we have lots of potentially good, never tried solutions.

  2. The Gulf of Mexico is a warm, resilient, environment where chemical and biological processes have a sporting chance of cleaning up an oil spill naturally. The Arctic is a much colder environment with much slower processes and natural remediation would probably take much longer. Restrictions on drilling may make perfect sense.


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