Bush’s oil search

If Col. Sanders was president and things suddenly got veryfavorable to the fried chicken industry, we would be a littlesuspicious too.

Bush the oil man has given his all-clear to plumb for that sweet, sweet stuff off our coasts, despite overwhelming evidence that this is a bad idea. We have capped wells in Alaska, yes, and there are millions of acres of unexplored coastal territory already under lease by the big oil companies. There are alternatives: solar and wind power; nuclear, coal, oil shale and natural gas; biodiesel in all its myriad forms. And the numbers are tough to reconcile. We’re using one quarter of all the oil produced in the world, and we’re only sitting on 3 percent of the supply. Still, President Bush wants to get those drills running off a coast near you. What he did was lift an executive moratorium on offshore drilling for sites 100 miles off the US coast, on the Outer Continental Shelf. The ban was put in place after a major oil spill off Santa Barbara, Calif. in 1969 — 200,000 gallons of crude in an 800-square mile swath, which ignited the environmental movement on the West Coast.

But not all of us believe that offshore drilling will ecologically destroy our treasured coastline, though California did indeed get trashed after that big spill. And we’re not against it because we love high gas prices. We just think it’s a bad idea, especially when theDepartment of Energy says that the oil would not affect gas prices for at least 10 years and that it would take 30 years before that oil could be introduced into the market. The DOE also estimated that there are maybe 18 billion barrels off our coasts. We go through 20 million in the US every 24 hours. Assuming that oil gets sold domestically — no guarantees there — it would last us 900 days, less than three years, and that’s at our present rate of consumption. It grows every year. Bush has been making ill-advised moves for years now (Harriett Miers, anyone?), so we’re sort of used to it. But when the blunders involve Big Oil, we just can’t brush it off. We all remember the Big Guy’s connection to the oil industry, right? Sure… he’s been in the oil business since 1977, when he formed Arbusto Energy (with a 5 percent stake — $50,000 —given by the sole US business representative of Salem bin Laden, whose brother is sort of famous). After his dad became VP, Bush traded on the family name to form Bush Exploration, which would look funny on a company softball uniform, and began a long string of upward failures that included stops as CEO of Spectrum 7 Energy and a slot on Harken Energy’s board of directors. Taking this recent decision in context, we are forced to ask the question: Is it possible that Bush is in the tank for Big Oil? To paraphrase Bill Maher, if Col. Sanders was president and things suddenly got very favorable to the fried-chicken industry, we would be a little suspicious too.

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