When President Obama announced last week the plan to open new areas of the Atlantic and Arctic to offshore oil drilling, I vowed to refrain from posting a venomous and despairing blog. But that all changed when I saw that Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, (R-MD) is calling for federal revenues from the drilling to be earmarked for renewable energy R&D.
Congressman Bartlett is considered one of the most conservative members of Congress. But a few years ago, Bartlett awoke to the prospect of peak oil (the point at which the world produces more oil than it ever has before or ever will again) and was born again as a feverishly ardent supporter of renewable energy.
Bartlett’s proposal raises a political and moral dilemma in that it creates among renewable energy proponents an incentive to go along with with what is in all other ways a truly Bad Idea. The oceans, battered as they already are, should not be further despoiled to generate revenue that could and should be generated from other sources. But, given that the Department of Interior is giving the green light to new offshore lease anyway, we might as well got some benefit from the environmental disaster-in-the-making. Otherwise, that money will no doubt be spent on just the kind of endless Middle East conquests that VoteVets so deplores.
If there is any chance of killing these new oil leases, count me in for the fight. But if oil companies are allowed to drill baby, drilll, I say tax baby, tax.