After spending 5 years and nearly $4B on planning, exploration, and leases, Shell Oil has announced that it will have to scrap plans to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Circle, off the northern coast of Alaska. The EPA has withheld the required air permits because the emissions from one single ice-breaking vessel were not included in the environmental impact calculations. More here.
In Texas and New Mexico, no icebreakers are required for oil & gas exploration…but there is danger that activity will be shut down across a wide area to avoid any possible inconvenience to this cute little guy, the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. (Bookworm is right–the lizard does have a rather Churchill-esque expression.) If the Dunes Lizard goes on the endangered species list, then both agriculture and energy would be affected:
“We are very concerned about the Fish and Wildlife Service listing,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, noting the service also has proposed listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken next year. “The wolf at the door is the lizard; we’re concerned listing it would shut down drilling activity for a minimum of two years and as many as five years while the service determines what habitat is needed for the lizard. That means no drilling, no seismic surveys, no roads built, no electric lines.”
Shepperd says that while the industry is perfectly willing to undertake conservation measures to protect the lizard’s habitat, he said, naming it an endangered species “would shut down activity and be devastating not only to Permian Basin economies but to the national economy. We are the one bright spot month after month; in our economic turnaround, the main driver is the oil and gas industry.”
The United States Government is currently not being run by adults. And even when/if adult leadership is put in place, it will be very difficult to control the complaining-regulating-litigating machine that has been created over the last several decades. Tens of thousands of people–lawyers, government employees, “nonprofit” executives, “community activists” of various types–make their livings by working to stop productive activity, especially in the energy industry. Even if he wanted to–and he clearly does not–Obama would have difficulty in reining in the excesses of the environmental movement and those who profit from it.
I’m reminded of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in the old Disney movie Fantasia, involving Mickey, the brooms, and the buckets.
(Alaska link via Little Miss Attila)