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America Without Offshore Drilling?

Could the United States live without offshore drilling for oil? As the Gulf Coast disaster unfolds, we ask the question. Plus, Al Gore speaks to the class of 2010.

In this 2005 picture, British Petroleum’s Thunder Horse oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is seen damaged following Hurricane Dennis. The platform was located 150 miles southeast of New Orleans. (AP)

A little tube, four-inch diameter, finally slipped into the gushing spill in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, with the hope of siphoning up some of the oil pouring for three and a half weeks now into the sea. 

No one says it’s the end of the spill. It may be slowed. But the damage has already been so vast – even before things really hit the shore – that calls are rising for a moratorium on offshore drilling. 

Could we live without more offshore oil? That’s the question we pick up this hour. 

This Hour, On Point: as the spill goes on, offshore oil and America’s energy future. Plus, we listen as Al Gore addresses the class of 2010, on the Gulf spill and more.


Mark Schleifstein, environment reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Read his recent take on the difficulties of balancing energy and environmental priorities in the Gulf.

Robert Bryce, managing editor of Energy Tribune and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His new book is Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy, and the Real Fuels of the Future. You can read an excerpt.

Dan Lashof, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center. You can read his thoughts on the Gulf oil spill.

Matthew Kotchen, professor of environmental economics and policy at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Closing segment:

This graduation season, we’ve been broadcasting excerpts from notable commencement speakers from around the country. On Friday, former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore addressed the 1,030 graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We listen to a piece of the address where Gore talks about “the climate crisis,” as it relates to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent flooding in Nashville.

Watch Gore’s full address:

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  • Todd

    Considering the ongoing BP oil-rig disaster, perhaps the question should be: “Can the U.S. live WITH offshore drilling for oil?”

  • JP

    It would be nice to know that the profits of a few well-connected oil companies didn’t supercede the risks to so many other industries, animal life, the environment, and our children’s planetary legacy.

    The toll on the economy may be massive:

    -Countless heavy industries will ultimately pay dearly as a consequence of the Gulf oil spill, and some may be obliterated… from fishing to aquaculture to real estate sales and development

    -Sport revenues of all kinds will be affected, from sport fishing to scuba to boating and surfing… all of the businesses that support these pastimes will suffer

    -Tourism will be hard hit… from hotels and restaurants to the retail and service industries.

    All of the commerce delineated above will suffer for the benefit of a single sector of the economy… and U.S. offshore drilling just doesn’t net a very significant benefit for the country.

    If one Googles images for “Gulf drilling platforms,” then Googles images for “Gulf dead zone,” one finds that these areas overlay perfectly, as if a single map… Gulf drilling is killing the Gulf of Mexico… one of the planet’s most fertile oceanic breeding grounds.

    This will be the worst man-made environmental disaster in history, having occurred in an ecologically critical and sensitive area at a time when the biodiversity of the region is already stressed to its limits.

    “Catastrophe” barely describes the ultimate damage to the ecology of Gulf waters, but the toll on life in the delta marshlands, and to the American hemisphere’s migratory fowl moving through and nesting in the region will be irredeemable.

    The birds killed directly by contact with oil will be overwhelming, but only the tip of the iceberg.

    This spill will decimate some of the most important nesting and feeding grounds along the most important migratory route in the Americas.

    Not only will some already endangered species be severely affected, but also the contaminated feeding grounds will poison and/or outright starve the vast majority of species that utilize these most important wetlands.

    Nesting and mating will also be severely affected, and the consequences will last for generations.

    Add to the problem the fact that Gulf fish species are going to be decimated, which despite being a tragedy in itself, will further exacerbate the problems facing Gulf fowl populations that feed on the fish and fry.

    Also add in the ecological problems that will result from some species being so decimated that the ecology of interspecies competition will also be dramatically altered, cascading all through the food chain and the environments in which these bird and animal populations live and migrate throughout the delta, the Gulf, and the Americas.

    America needs to take energy conservation seriously, demand that alternative to carbon fuels be encouraged and subsidized, demand that countless other industries not be put at risk for the benefit of one sector of the economy, and demand an end to the detrimental patronage of Big Energy and Oil.

  • wavre


    Nice dreams my friend, maybe in another country or another planet.remember the dinausors? Mother Earth will find a way to get rid of us and our foolish beliefs that some “God” gave her to us humans to exploit and abuse at will.

    We are destroying our environment, accumulating things that can blow us up ten times over.I often question the humans’ sense of superiority.

  • Erik

    Our over-reliance on oil is the single largest threat to peace, civilization, and life over the next hundred years.

    I’ve been living in a big European city for 18 months, and here just like in the US, so many people live in bubbles: “Oh, I know how bad the oil situation is, but I’m still flying to Egypt for a 3-day vacation, and I’m still driving like crazy…”

    Will the Deepwater Horizon disaster get more people to reassess their lifestyles and start getting on their bikes, car-pooling, walking, taking pedicabs, demanding better transit options? I doubt it.

  • Gary

    Despite all attempts to spray the truth with dispersant, or capture it with booms, the dysfunctional and recklessness of deep water drilling is leaking out.

    Once again its not the corporations that are forthcoming, but the survivors…so far the republican political concept of market and corporate “self regulation” has proven itself a total lie.

    60 Minutes has one such survivor telling his tale: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/16/60minutes/main6490197.shtml?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel

    From the story: “Williams says, during a test, they closed the gasket. But while it was shut tight, a crewman on deck accidentally nudged a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force, and moving 15 feet of drill pipe through the closed blowout preventer. Later, a man monitoring drilling fluid rising to the top made a troubling find.

    “He discovered chunks of rubber in the drilling fluid. He thought it was important enough to gather this double handful of chunks of rubber and bring them into the driller shack. I recall asking the supervisor if this was out of the ordinary. And he says, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal.’ And I thought, ‘How can it be not a big deal? There’s chunks of our seal is now missing,’” Williams told Pelley. ”

    Sounds kinda familiar…like…like: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Colombia, Wall St., Massey Energy (coal mining), etc.

  • Stacked

    It’s not oil, but overpopulation. We must reduce the human population, so that our oil reserves are in harmony with our resources. A reduction in the Chinese, Indian, and African population centers would go a long way to removing these emerging markets as a threat to our American way of life. No, we must have oil. There is simply no substitute for it. And I can only speak for myself, but I will not give up one iota of my comfortable modern lifestyle, just so some emerging market can become powerful enough to take what my forefather worked so hard for. Drill baby drill, and bring on WWIII. It’s the only way.

  • Gary

    @ Stacked : Such big bait? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sIrMBey8zw

  • Janet

    It’s easy to say “no more oil”, but in reality it’s not going to happen.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    If any one of these guests says, “We can go for shale oil,” I’ll scream.

  • jeffe

    Why is it that we can’t seem to things right?

    The Norwegians have been drilling in the North Sea without any incidents like we just had in the Gulf.

    The question should not be “America Without Offshore Drilling?’ It should be can we not get our regulatory house in order so disasters of this magnitude do not happen. All the corporations involved in this are at fault. I watched the 60 minutes segment as well and it seemed to me that safety was not a top priority.

    One thing people should think about is the cost.
    2.2 Billion a year is what the fishing fleets in Louisiana alone make from the Gulf. Add up tourism, the other fishing fleets of Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas and it’s boggles the mind how such incompetence can running these oil rigs.

    One thing is for certain, the Gulf as we know it is finished for decades to come.

  • Tatiana

    Tom, could you ask your guests is they think the US could follow Brazil’s example with sugarcane ethanol and flexible-fuel capable cars? More than half of all cars sold here can run in 100% gasoline OR ethanol, and since ethanol is so much cheaper, lots of people prefer ethanol all the time. I don’t think corn-based biofuels are the answer (since people and livestock need it for food) but why not sugarcane? And if the US cannot produce it, why not import it from us instead of buying middle-eastern oil?

    Tatiana, from São Paulo, Brazil

  • Jason

    If we don’t continue tapping into each and every fuel source we have, we will be forced to buy more middle eastern oil which in turn funds Islamic extremest. The only thing worse than this is the depression that would result from skyrocketing energy prices.

  • BHA

    jeffe: “The Norwegians have been drilling in the North Sea without any incidents like we just had in the Gulf. ”

    They are a LOT shallower – like < 500 feet. The well in the gulf is over 5,000 feet down.

  • yar

    Did you ever stop to think we have not yet paid for much of the oil we already use. Our economic growth has largely been on the back of cheap energy. Those dollars spent on oil are going out much faster than the services and products we produce at home for the foreign markets. Our trade deficit masks the real cost of energy. When we start paying the true cost for energy we are in for some severe pain. If Oil is priced in a currency other than dollars our economic standing becomes shaky. Oil is a replacement for the Gold standard. We must find a new energy source to move off the carbon standard. Until then we are an addict with a monkey on our back.

  • frances

    Can we use controlled detonations to collapse the well? I read that Russia has used small nuclear explosives to destroy leaking oil wells several times in the last century, why is that not on the table for us? If the government was in charge of the effort, would we already have tried this? I’m suspicious that BP is just trying to protect their investment instead of trying things that will actually work.

  • Stuart

    Will this affect the Hurricane season? Maybe increasing the water temperature in the Gulf? (more chemicals/oil in the water?) could their be a oil/chemical rain?

  • Dean

    The answer to our energy future is not more energy production.

    Americans simply must come to understand that the only answer is less energy use.

    Technologies exist now to make all of our energy usage vastly more efficient, and more technologies appear year after year.

    Stop subsidizing destructive energy production, let oil cost what is actually costs, including the cost of our military presence in the Middle East and our foreign aid to those countries. Then add the burden of environmental protection and cleanup that is inevitable with dirty energy sources. The market will then generate alternatives.

  • Rachel

    Proving the President’s recert off shore statement was a hollow jesture, at best.

  • tr

    BP is either utterly stupid or extremely corrupt, maybe both.
    Their efforts have never been, many weeks later, to SEAL THE WELL which should have been their TOP PRIORITY.
    Why have they been allowed to continue in this feeble trajectory enabling them to KEEP TAKING OIL OUT OF THE WELL instead of TAKING THE OIL OUT OF THE SEA?
    They should be forced now, by court order to SEAL THE WELL IMMEDIATELY, not ten days from now, and then they can VACUUM the oil out of the water.
    Their priority has always been their own benefit, NOT THE PUBLIC GOOD.
    Please have your guests debate these details thoroughly.

  • Harry

    Tom, please remind your listeners that the crude oil obtained from our offshore drilling essentially goes into a world-wide market. It’s a tiny contribution that benefits us in an indirect fashion. So although our contribution to this pool might be diminished if we halted new drilling, the total size of the crude oil pool would not be changed significantly.

  • Tamara

    As an environmentalist, I must join in on the “Drill, baby, drill!” chant. It is not as if we stop off shore drilling on US coasts, drilling will stop around the world. We just transplant these disasters to other less regulated, less “valued” countries such as Nigeria. Why should other countries pay for America’s addiction to oil? Furthermore, the only way people change their behavior regarding oil addiction is if these disasters happen at home and we see the true cost of drilling…

  • Wool

    Although important, the oil and the drilling is far less dangerous as those who have the ultimate responsibility for securing the safety of everything and everyone that can be harmed. The top three executives proved this. Oil doesn’t kill wildlife, irresponsibility kills wildlife.

  • Don McKenna

    It surprises me that there has been so little comment on the issue of using dispersal chemicals to make the oil “dissapear”. Why is it so easy to sell this counterintuitive “out of sight out of mind” idea as a viable alternative? Volitile organic compounds (VOC’s)are considered toxic, carcinogenic, and deadly in the environment, and most of the compounds we are familiar with come from OIL! What is not going into the atmosphere is dissolving into the ocean. Parafins, tars, and heavier oils are smothering the oceanlife on the bottom. In time, that too will dissolve into the water. What marinelife will tolerate that toxicity? Not to mention that, rather than a containable puddle of oil that might be collected or contained, this diffuse cloud cannot be recovered. I want to hear more about this.

  • Jason


    Your guest seems to think that alternative energy is a perfect, or even a good solution. Please ask him how our conversion to alternative energy will be any different than Spain’s attempt that researchers have found resulted in 2.2 jobs lost for every single job created in the alternative energy industry.

  • scott

    Why don’t we convert all cars to natural gas? We recently learned how to extract massive amounts which has driven the cost down to 1/5th the price of oil. It costs only $1,000 to covnert gasoline engines to natural gas.

  • pw

    The worst of it is that decisions about our energy future need to be made now — no more delays. Our “no-drama” president was driven off the rails upon learning how bad federal oversight has been in the energy sector for at least a decade.

    That’s good. We need some anger! But he’s facing the real possibility that Congress will take a hard right in November. If so, which do you think we’ll see? A real effort to find alternative energy sources or “drill baby drill”?

  • Dan

    I read about Tritium as a nuclear fuel source in Wired Magazine. It has far fewer negative ramifications and lots of countries are looking into it. Why don’t we hear more about this?

  • Julian Cole

    Please, please, for the sake of our grandchildren, read Lester Brown’s “Plan B 3.0″ which outlines precisely how we can make the change. Even if it were true that it’ll take ten years, it’s criminally irresponsible that we’re not putting everything we have into changing over to carbon-free energy, starting with efficiency and conservation.

    I’m bitterly disappointed in the president – I thought he was going to restore science to its rightful place.

  • Susan Roche

    Why don’t we here more about conservation? I recently returned from a road trip from MA to IL. I got 40 miles to the gallon because I drive between 55-65 mph in my 10-year-old Saturn small station wagon. Almost everyone passes me and they’re driving much bigger cars. Why not reduce the speed limit to 55 mph. The states all need revenue. If they strickly enforced a lower speed limit there’d be no state budget problems.

  • Rick Evans

    Sign … shows on energy policy always bring out the kooks, loons and thermodynamics deniers. Zero point energy is a physics/chemistry term to describe the energy against which a measured energy value is referenced. There’s no free lunch.

    Yes we can succeed with our brain power.

    However, brain power starts with the consumer. The consumer used her brain power to buy those 15 mpg SUVs she uses to haul her three blocks to school and five blocks to soccer practice. The consumer used his brain to buy a house 50% bigger than in 1960 to house a family 50% smaller.

    And it is the brain power of 2 billion new power hungry consumers that are deciding what energy choices are being made going into the future.

  • mike

    As a country, we decided long ago to trade the lives of young US soldiers for cheap oil. This represents a huge cost, externalized by international oil companies.

    Want to restrict the radical militant activities in the Middle East and give a boost to the domestic energy industry? The US should immediately impose a ten percent oil tax on every barrel of imported oil. Every year, this tax should increase by an additional ten percent until it reaches at least 100 percent.

  • Marc

    I’m for aggressive conservation and the use of alternate sources. I drive a hybrid myself and use a bike. My guess is these measures, unfortunately, are a drop in the bucket (sorry), but will pay off in the very long term. However, one of the quickest ways to reduce the growth in energy use is to reduce immigration into this country. We use many times the energy per person of the countries the bulk of immigrants come from. Don’t have this in front of me now, but think it was between 8 and 10 times (obviously depends on the country). And when they’re here, they drive, use plastics, etc. just like everyone else.

    But my guess is this measure runs counter to the philosophy of most who are pro-conservation. Interesting how enthused people are about these conservation measures, until it runs in conflict with one of their cherished beliefs.

  • Richard

    One. For three weeks I’ve been hearing and reading chatter about the absence of an acoustic blowout preventer on the BP well. Will someone please tell me what good that would be if the transducer on the rig is inoperable, for example as a result of an explosion such as occurred on the Deepwater Horizon?

    Two. All the moratoriums, bans and state vetos of drilling projects in American waters won’t stop Cuba from drilling in the Strait of Florida, or Mexico from drilling in the roughly 50% of the Gulf it borders.

  • BHA

    “Why not reduce the speed limit to 55 mph. ”

    I’ve tried. Really. I’ve contacted my DC representatives. The ultimate answer is always “the western states won’t go for it”. So, basically, until the populace demands it (HA!) it isn’t going to happen.

    As regards enforcement, or lack thereof – I was told by a police officer “It isn’t cost effective”. Until you get the fines high enough to make people drive the limit, it isn’t going to happen.

  • davidk

    Can we define exactly where imported oil comes from in the US? Every time someone mentions foreign oil the implication is it comes from the middle east and other countries that one of your guests stated ‘hate us’. What amount of US imported oil comes from Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc.?

  • Matt


    I have my degree in nuclear engineering, and one of our largest struggles is continuing to attempt to overcome negative public sentiment about nuclear power, which is based solely upon our only two incidents, both about 30 years old: Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. The US incident at Three Mile Island released negligible fission products and fission product gases to the environment, which posed essentially zero hazard to the environment or public.

    Although the release at Chernobyl was more significant, it is nowhere near the scope of many conventional coal-fire plants and conventional fuel related accidents. This release into the Gulf of Mexico already has much further reaching consequences.

    Nuclear power plants do not release radiation into the environment during normal operation. Fossil fuel plants release radioactive carbon-14 during the combustion process, and ALL of it is released into the atmosphere (whose half-life is almost 6,000 years).

    With nuclear power as the only currently viable clean energy option (able to produce significant energy transfer while using a very small amount of nuclear fuel), I continue to be shocked and amazed with the public’s inability to progress and understand that the hazards of nuclear power are small, and completely overshadowed by the hazards to the environment and public health of fossil fuel energy plants.

  • Rachel

    Robert Bryce is such a refreshing breath of fresh air in this whole tiresome debate. Thanks for having him on.

  • yar

    Civil change may tend to be slow. Once we run out of oil we will change quickly. Maybe with great gnashing of teeth but change is not always slow. With big outside forces change may be quite quick as well as painful. Not making good decisions now gives us some time to make it less painful.

  • Paul Deyo

    We need to be proactive in the elimination of the need for oil, starting with blatant waste. Do we really NEED to buy 10,000 pound troop carriers for our skinny blonde wives? Jet skis, ATV’s and other receational vehicles including RV’s- do we NEED them?

    The government can start by tying the federal gas tax to per capita consumption by state. Set a more stringent benchmark for a gas guzzler tax, say a V6 family sedan, and add a tax that grows for each mpg below that. Crack down on oil companies who think it’s cheaper to buy politicians than operate safely.

    It is clear that BP has worked in a new environment and did so while cutting corners. It is sad that these clowns will never spend a day in jail while someone shoplifting a candy bar would face a judge. The punishment should start to suit the crime, and the Deepwater Horizon fiasco is a major crime.

    If any good comes from this it is showing the mainstream public that oil has to go, even if it takes fifty years. Blacksmiths, phone operators, and more recently factory workers have been obsoleted in our evolving economy. Surely we can live with the concept of dishonest oil executives facing the same fate.

  • Rick Evans

    Well not quite. While it’s true that hydrogen is an energy carrier must be produced and that it takes more energy to spit hydrogen from water than it carries, it can be generated with renewable solar electric or non CO2 generating nuclear electric power.

    It’s a physics and engineering problem.

    That said the bigger problem for using hydrogen in internal combustion engines is storage. It’s hard to keep liquid thus must be stored under pressure or on an super absorbent material.

  • David Henry

    What about changing our zoning laws so that people live a little closer together? we need to design our cities away from cars. I saw people change their habits towards mass transit very quickly when gas neared $5 a gallon.

  • patricia

    I would like to know who owns all the rigs which are already out in the gulf,whether or not we, ourselves, are actually benefitting from that oil, and given that we ourselves get only 12% of our own oil use from the gulf how can we possibly justify the risks and actualities of drilling? Or are we, anyway, just supporting a bunch of foreign quadrillionaire old boys in the unbelievable lifestyles and never seeing that oil at our own pumps, unless sold back to us at outrageous cost?

    It seems to me that a lot of these companies are making the already fabulously rich even richer and killing off the rest of us, indirectly, at least, through loss of livelihoods, toxics in our water and soil…This is truly King Midas gone berserk!

  • Geoff Kornfeld

    Dan Nocera and his team at MIT have discovered a catalyst that makes the creation of hydrogen far easier than ever and have been creating solar-powered converters. CHeck out this very enlightening 20-minute video. And there are many others on the web:

    Tom, you MUST interview this guy!

  • http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/CancerVictory/ Alan Kreglow

    Anyone who wants to explore viable alternatives to petroleum as fuel should not overlook BlackLight Power at http://www.blacklightpower.com. This is a company that already has contracts with utilities to provide energy production that uses NO UNRENEWABLE FUEL because the materials used to produce heat can be reprocessed –> using HEAT PRODUCED IN THE PROCESS <– and then those materials can be reused.

    This is truly a breakthrough technology that produces "hydrinos" – high energy particles from hydrogen.

    Details are at http://www.blacklightpower.com/applications.shtml, where the lead paragraph says the following:

    BlackLight Power Process

    BlackLight Power, Inc. has created a potentially commercially competitive, nonpolluting new primary source of energy that forms a prior undiscovered form of hydrogen call "hydrino". The net energy released as hydrogen forms hydrino may be two hundred times that of combustion of the hydrogen fuel with power densities comparable to those of fossil fuel combustion and nuclear power plants. As hydrogen atoms and catalyst atoms are normally found bound together as molecules or are bound in other compositions of matter, BlackLight has invented a solid fuel that uses conventional chemical reactions to generate the catalyst and atomic hydrogen at high reactant densities that in turn controllably generate significant energy in the form of heat. Moreover, molecular hydrino gas and novel hydrogen compounds with potential commercial applications are the by-products. The former is very stable and self-vents from the atmosphere to space due to its high buoyancy and mobility. The BlackLight Process offers a potentially efficient, clean, and versatile energy source. Initial applications of its technology are in heating, electric power production, and cogeneration (electricity production with waste heat recovery and utilization).

    Read more at http://www.blacklightpower.com/applications.shtml

  • Mike

    We will never run out of oil.

    What will be the price of the last barrel? How about the second-to-last barrel? The point is, as price rises, we will figure out alternatives.

  • harvey wallace

    As you contemplate the words of Al Gore that were broadcast at the end of the first hour of today’s show, you should also think about Al’s second home in Montecito. Two giant homes. One in Tennesee and one in California. Can you say humongous carbon footprints?

    Al Gore, Tipper Gore snap up Montecito-area villa
    The Italian-style home has an ocean view, fountains, six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms. April 28, 2010|Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
    Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, have added a Montecito-area property to their real estate holdings, reports the Montecito Journal.

    The couple spent $8,875,000 on an ocean-view villa on 1.5 acres with a swimming pool, spa and fountains, a real estate source familiar with the deal confirms. The Italian-style house has six fireplaces, six bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

  • Kathy White

    What is it with a country, the US, that is so much in denial about our over-consumption — of EVERYTHING!! In Vermont, we have conserved power and done all of the things(insulate, cut back, utilize the sun in appropriate ways even passively, ie. close up in the summer and open up in the winter), wear a sweater or 2, exercise, eat well, buy locally, grow organic food, recycle, on and on and on ad infinitum. Yet, today I hear you saying that we need to START insulating properly! Great that you are coming around: check with the different VT rural development and energy commissions on how to change your ways– the wheel does not need to be re-invented. And PLEASE! Turn off your lights!!

    We built a retirement house in SC and wanted it to be energy efficient, but the builders fought us tooth and nail, as it were– don’t need to do that down here, ma’am cuz it’t just so cheap, gas or electricity. Well, it AIN’T that cheap, just like Walmart AIN’T that cheap when you look at the big picture and listen to an intelligent guy like Bill McKibbon and understand that we HAVE to consume less, recycle, and change our lifestyles. Hooray for the LEED building program– imagine, siting for maximum benefits from the sun!! Now that’s a novel idea. Where have you people BEEN?!!! If we don’t do these things, we will continue to fight stupid, illegal wars, be unhealthy and we will continue to care more about guns, gays and whatever and listen to Mark Sanford and Jim Demint and continue screwing the poor(not to mention the Argentinians) by lowering property taxes and raising sales taxes so we are unable to educate our children and protect our environment.
    I’m moving back to VT, and I just might join the secession movement to escape this insane nation of uninformed, reckless gluttons– it really feels like Rome is US, and we are burning, starting in the Gulf.

  • http://greenworkssolarstore.com Brad Vietje

    We do not need to find more oil — we need to use less.

    While I am a designer and installer of renewable energy systems, I submit that while RE is a part of the solution, it is not THE solution. We need massive conservation and efficiency efforts first, and renewable energy should follow.

    Our gluttonous lifestyle is the problem, and often in ways that are invisible. Here’s an example: When we build new buildings, spending just 10% more on the project, and putting those resources into the thermal envelope of the structure, will lower heating and cooling loads by 70% — forever.

    We can use a LOT less energy in our lives, while enhancing quality of life, the experience of community, and the health of our food systems. We just need to work together — right now– to make it happen.

  • Ben

    We have a whole range of extremely viable renewable energy technologies, including concentrating solar, photovoltaics, wind, etc. Existing concentrating solar covering an area equivalent to 1% of the Sahara could power the world. Up that to 2 or 3% to cover transportation and heating loads, along with a very large increase in energy efficiency. We just don’t have the political will to do this. Our political system is flooded with money and the undue influence of conventional energy interests. What a sad way for the human race to lose its beautiful home: The solution is clearly in sight, but probably not achievable in time due to greed.

  • http://www.earthgood.org ObiWon

    How about insert a very strong balloon cather deep in and then inflate it – then cement it above that?

    Or a fabic-like tarp or chute positioned over to funnell oil up (sides rise much higher than previous)

    Please forward this to others, scientists and/or NOAA, Homeland Security, BP – the Prez?

  • Stacked

    You hippies just think Oil is in your cars. It’s NOT! It’s in almost every product or tool you buy or use on a daily basis, and it’s used in the construction of every product or tool that doesn’t have it directly in it! We can not replace OIL! Get that through your thick skulls! What we have to do is take all the oil left for ourselves and screw the other nations! I’m not cutting back. I never lived large. And my comfort is worth as many lives as it takes, so long as they aren’t American ones! There is no other material on Planet Earth that provides so many uses, and contains as much energy per square foot as the surface of the SUN! NOTHING, even comes remotely close!

  • Mattie

    There are many options for efficiency, some of which are already here:



    “This is an important project for California,” said Maldonado, speaking May 14 at Gills Onions, where a waste recycling project uses methane gas to power fuel cells. “This is what can happen when business and government can work together.”

    Gills Onions’ fuel cell project recently won the nation’s top engineering honor, beating the new Dallas Cowboys stadium and other multimillion-dollar projects. The facility, built by HDR Engineering of Omaha, Neb., processes onion peels and other waste to power two fuel cells that provide most of the plant’s power needs.

  • John Howard

    During the 2008 campaign candidate Obama suggested topping up our tires, a measure that the DOE estimates would improve fuel economy by 3%. This translates to 100,000 barrels per day, fully one-third of the figure cited on the program for the potential of offshore drilling. Republicans mocked Obama by handing out pressure gauges, and he backed off the idea. The crucial differences between this and other efficiency measures are that: the money stays in our pockets rather than filling the coffers of oil companies, and the oil saved will never foul our shorline or add to global warming.

  • W. Scott Allen

    Let’s just say that we increase oil production within the US. What happens? The law of supply and demand say that as supply increases, then price goes down with the same demand, right? Well, there are a few problems with that.

    First, demand won’t go down. It will continue to go up, and we won’t see any cost decreases.

    Second, as long as people are paying what they are paying, why does anyone think that a handful of oil companies will actually compete among themselves to sell us oil at lower prices? Especially considering the expense that they will claim for drilling in such difficult conditions where the oil is left?

    Thirdly, what’s to say that, as we ramp us drilling and oil production within the US, that OPEC will not reduce output to maintain high prices? Their supply of oil will outlast ours so they can simply wait us out. Then what? We’ve used up all of our available resources, destroyed our environment in the process, paid as much as we would have anyway, and then they will hold all the oil cards.

    Just leave the oil where it is, people. Find other ways to produce our energy needs and use less energy. That was, when we find that the rest of the world uses up the oil, we are set, because we’ll still have some, and we won’t need it. That’s a great position to be in.

    Unfortunately, it will never happen. It’s always about short term (monetary) gain, never long term strategy. It all about the oil companies just wanting money now. Period.

  • Mike

    We are getting killed by China in the trade dept. and need to really boost our nuke power and provide very very cheap energy to our manufacturing industry. We can’t beat China on labor costs but we could beat them on energy costs.

  • Deb Bulleit

    See new movie “Carbon Nation” – by Peter Byck (from Louisville, KY) – shows solutions already in place that could be expanded and create new jobs, $$ – he does the math for us in this film, showing that even for those not interested in environment issues, this STILL saves them $$. AND creates jobs. Very solution-oriented, and optimistic!
    VERY worth seeing – entertaining and not long (100 min)

  • jeffe

    It’s obvious that drilling deep sea wells is not a good idea. 5000 feet is very deep indeed.

    For those who cry for more natural gas there is a heavy price to pay for that as well, such as ground water pollution in some cases.

    Stacked notice how not one person is responding to your diatribes. I wonder what you would have said when the main source for energy was whale oil and we use to use baleen for what we now use plastics for.

  • Bush’s fault

    Stacked: you are 100% correct. Petro-economy is the foundation of the commercial world and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Anyone who thinks this spill will change anything other than government getting in your wallet is delusional.

  • Liz B.

    It looks like, that the oil companies are heavily involved in alternative energy development BUT at the same time they are not willing to give up the hefty profits from oil production in the world’s energy markets. They also have an edge, bcs the current economic calculations do not include the cost of natural disasters in the cost-benefit analysis. At the same time oil companies skimp on safety measures and they seem to be getting away with it. If a disaster happens, taxpayer funds are used for cleaning up by private companies who charge exorbitant prices. The political elite is heavily supported by oil companies (including Obama). We pay higher and higher prices for gasoline and energy and products that involve oil derivatives. At the end of the day the oil companies go to the bank with gigantic profits. It is preposterous!!!

    If anyone looks at the current oil spill situation in the Gulf, we know that the local economies will be destroyed and most likely we’ll never hear the costs to individuals in that region. Ooops, it’s not included in the cost-benefit analysis. why not? Because the power groups do not want to include it. Suffering individuals don’t matter.

    There must be a better way to deal with the energy situation of the world, but the world’s political elite lacks the incentives, the energy companies are in power and the public continues fussing over electric cars and conservation. The answer to these energy problems would be to stop fighting with each other and to realize that we need to intelligently solve the energy problems of the world.

  • Joyce Maxwell

    As long as we use oil, we have an obligation to continue off-shore drilling. That is, we must be willing to take the consequences of drilling practices, and work to minimize them. If we minimize off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and in other U.S. waters, companies will take their drilling elsewhere where oversight is not so stringent and where disasters are not brought to light. This is what is happening in places like Nigeria right now. We need to be willing to take the consequences here rather than foisting them off on other countries less well-equipped to deal with disastrous consequences.

  • A.Citizen

    I’m turning this broadcast off now and will not be returning. I’ve had more than enough propaganda from Ol’ Tom & Co.

    Day after day he has some tool of Big Oil, Big Pharma or whomever spewing lies, misstatements of fact and plain old stupidity like a fire hose in the audience’s face.


    No more for me.

  • cory

    Get Real. We won’t stop drilling until it is no longer PROFITABLE!!!

  • http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/CancerVictory/ Alan Kreglow

    If one searches through Google for [technologies secreted by intelligence agencies] one finds a lot of search results that are uninformative on this subject. This is natural enough, since the these technologies are literally hidden away by the secret agencies that may be referred to generally as “the intelligence power”.

    One of the most informative search results on this subject is a YouTube recording of a computer voice reading one of Sheldan Nidle’s January updates from http://www.paoweb.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KfNoXYih8s

  • Bill Foster

    I feel that in these discussions the important points often don’t get made.

    1. BP was drilling using a defective blowout device which was leaking hydraulic fluid. Obviously poor maintenance.
    2. BP does not have the technology in place to support their drilling activitys. When the blowout preventor failed they had no proven backup equipment invented or available. They were inventing a solution. We need to not be drilling until the technology is invented and proven. BP is obviously in the business of drilling for oil for profit and not in the business of preparing for oil spills.
    3. We should not be drilling if the technology is in place to support it.
    4. We are led to believe that the oil in the gulf helps America to reduce it foreign dependence on oil. False, false, false. Oil is sold on the international market for a global price per barrel. Oil is bought and sold on the international market. To effect the global price of oil the oil in the gulf would have to be such a quanity as to impact the global supply of oil. My understanding is that this is not the case. If that is the case why would we allow the oil from Alaskan oil fields to be sold off to Japan? So I don’t think this is necessarily American oil, but it probably makes sense for BP to ship it here to reduce shipping costs.

    5. Since I just mentioned that the gulf supply would need to impact the global supply of oil to drive down price we need to understand that there is a huge glut of oil in the world at this time but it is not reflected in our price at the pump. Perhaps that is because there are oil tankers full of oil all over the world being used for oil storage. These tankers, from what I have read, hold more than enough oil to meet world demands for over a year and that this oil is being held to keep oil prices high and so that his oil will be brought to market when prices are favorable. What I am suggesting is that the price of oil is being held artificially high by the major producers.

    6. Given the above information it is clear to me at least that the oil in the gulf is not all that important. I do not suggest we stop it entirely but we need to stop deep water drilling entirely and we don’t need any more drillings, period. We next need to review the operating proceedures and assure that their is adequate technology and equipment in place to support current oil rig operations. Possibly the oil industry needs some help with their priorities and engineering capabilitys.

    6. Comments were made on the program that we have never had a comprehensive energy program. That is really true. We seem to fail to give nuclear electric power plants the credit they deserve. The electricity is cheap and clean witht he exception that no-one wants the spent nuclear rods stored in their state. If that problem were solved this is a wonderful source of energy and we run most of our transportation on electricity or batterys which is the same thing.

    7. I never hear anything about gasification of coal. Can it be that difficult? The world has an enormous abundance of coal and it is cheap. All we need to do is to be able to turn this carbon fuel into another form of carbon fuel, gas. Why is this government not working to promote that technology? It has a lot more potentiol than solar or wind power but it may not be as fashionable.


  • Mike

    The largest amount of natural gas in the world is located in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s there for the taking and we had better take it before the Chinese do.

  • justanother

    ****It’s not oil, but overpopulation. We must reduce the human population, so that our oil reserves are in harmony with our resources. A reduction in the Chinese, Indian, and African population centers would go a long way to removing these emerging markets as a threat to our American way of life. No, we must have oil. There is simply no substitute for it. And I can only speak for myself, but I will not give up one iota of my comfortable modern lifestyle, just so some emerging market can become powerful enough to take what my forefather worked so hard for. Drill baby drill, and bring on WWIII. It’s the only way.****

    This comment so real that some people do think with that mentality, and it almost sounds like a PRANK! I know it’s not even funny someone really thinks like that.

  • justanother

    For people who believe it is impossible to rid dependency of oil, it sounded like “it’s impossible to live without addiction of any drug”.

    Think again, if we start to shift subsidy/tax credit from oil to investment/development of sustainable energies, I can guarantee sustainable energies will quickly become competitive and will out compete oil and gas. Don’t let people or some articles tell you it is not possible, those demotion of sustainable energies might indirectly come from oil industries or others depending on oil , do your own study and research, you will realize sustainable energies are totally doable, and not depending on oil is totally possible.

    Guess what, if we all use solar energy, there won’t be much monopolized energy companies exist, we will be independent on energy, do you think energy companies like that idea? Of course NOT.

  • http://environmentalgeography.blogspot.com James Hayes-Bohanan

    We will have to find alternatives to petroleum. The question is whether or not we extract it from all the worst places before we come to that realization. Oil fields — at any scale — follow the same bell curve: rapid expansion of production, leveling off, then decline. It happens to each well, each field, each region, and the planet as a whole.

    The question is whether we have the discipline to leave any in the ground as we look for alternatives, or whether we will take every affordable drop, and only then go back to the proverbial drawing board. The choice is really ours.

    I am astonished, by the way, at the attitude of those who think that a wasteful way of life is somehow an inherent right of US residents, whatever the consequences for the rest of the world.

  • Kathleen Eales

    I am trying to track down a comment made by a caller to On Point – not this show, but on another? The caller stated that the insurance company was paying out 2 cents for every 1 cent lost by the oil companies?

    I remember he was asked to stay on the phone so a guest/the host? could speak with him further.

    Anyone out there remember this? I am pretty sure it was during an On Point episode, as this is usually what I listen to on the way home from work.

    Thank you!

  • justanother

    ***It’s easy to say “no more oil”, but in reality it’s not going to happen.***

    It is this kind of rhetoric bas put us behind 30 years. It’s like “oh well, since it’s not going to happen, I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing”.

    One word for you “Laziness”.

  • David Barrett

    I was a little disappointed in the discussion not including a more fullsome look at the US sources of oil and in particular the definition of ‘foreign oil’ not including the Canadian oil sands. It’s easily forgotten that Canada is the top source of ‘imported’ oil for the US but is not included in the definition or discussion of weaning the US off of ‘foreign oil’. Until that changes, the US will continue to take a lukewarm approach to cleaner sources of energy, and the world will continue to not move either based on the example this sets and the lack of market direction.

Sep 17, 2014
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Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

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