Obama leasing millions of Gulf acres for offshore oil & gas drilling

More and more it’s looking like Obama’s global warming and climate change “initiative” is just a legacy play. He says the right words, then does the wrong deeds.

I can’t think of another way to describe what we’re watching. Would a man who believed these words do those deeds? Let’s look at each, the words and the deeds.

Words first

First the fine words. Here’s Obama speaking to the bright-eyed grads at UC Irvine just this summer:

[S]ince this is a very educated group, you already know the science.  Burning fossil fuels release carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years. …

We know the trends.  The 18 warmest years on record have all happened since you graduates were born.  We know what we see with our own eyes.  Out West, firefighters brave longer, harsher wildfire seasons; states have to budget for that.  Mountain towns worry about what smaller snowpacks mean for tourism.  Farmers and families at the bottom worry about what it will mean for their water.  In cities like Norfolk and Miami, streets now flood frequently at high tide.  Shrinking icecaps have National Geographic making the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart.

So the question is not whether we need to act.  The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed over decades, has put that question to rest.  The question is whether we have the will to act before it’s too late.  For if we fail to protect the world we leave not just to my children, but to your children and your children’s children, we will fail one of our primary reasons for being on this world in the first place.

That’s pretty definite, right? The problem isn’t “North American” carbon vs. “foreign” carbon. The problem is (again):

“Burning fossil fuels release carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years.”

Let’s now look at just the most recent deeds.

Now deeds

On the deeds side of the ledger, Obama has just opened millions of acres of Gulf of Mexico to oil exploration. Here’s Steve Horn writing at the invaluable DeSmogBlog:

Not Just the Atlantic: Obama Leasing Millions of Gulf [of Mexico] Acres for Offshore Drilling

Deploying the age-old “Friday news dump,” President Barack Obama’s Interior Department gave the green light on Friday, July 18 to companies to deploy seismic air guns to examine the scope of Atlantic Coast offshore oil-and-gas reserves.

It is the first time in over 30 years that the oil and gas industry is permitted to do geophysical data collection along the Atlantic coast. Though decried by environmentalists, another offshore oil and gas announcement made the same week has flown under the radar: over 21 million acres of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas reserves will be up for lease on August 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Superdome.

On July 17, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)  announced the lease in the name of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy.

“As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, BOEM…today announced that the bureau will offer more than 21 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development in a lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area,”proclaimed a July 17 BOEM press release.

The release says this equates to upwards of 116-200 million barrels of oil and 538-938 billion cubic feet of natural gas and falls under the banner of the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement.  [...]

Here’s what’s being “leased” (sorry, given away for a pittance … sorry, monetized by the billionaire oil and gas kings):

Millions of acres off the Texas coast to be leased for oil and gas exploration (click to enlarge)

Millions of acres off the Texas coast to be leased for oil and gas exploration (click to enlarge)

Could this endanger tourism (not to mention livability) in the Texas coast towns of Port Isabel and South Padre Island? Horn again:

According to BOEM‘s Proposed Notice of Sale Package, dozens of blocks sitting in close proximity to both Port Isabel and South Padre Island will be auctioned off during the August 20 [2014] lease. Both Port Isabel and South Padre Island are vacation and tourist hot spots[.]

How should we think of this?

Does Obama think none of that oil and gas will be burned?

The question one almost has to ask is this — What does President Obama think will happen to the oil and gas extracted from under the Gulf?

That’s a serious question. Does he think it will not be monetized and burned, or that it will be monetized and burned? If it won’t be monetized, is he scamming the bidders? (But if so, where’s his plan for preventing what’s extracted from ending up in our air and some billionaire’s pocket?)

And if it will be monetized, what of his words, that “Burning fossil fuels release carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide traps heat.  Levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years”?

I honestly don’t know what to make of this drastic (and tragic, at least for us) disconnect, except to call it, as I did above, a “legacy play.” I did not want the first Black president in U.S. history to be one more sordid bringer of billionaire screwage — and world-historical screwage at that. But there it is.

The Obama Legacy Library

By the way, here’s what that screwage is buying. Bidding is now going on for Obama’s Legacy Library, with Chicago (natch) in the running. Here’s one proposal, by the Chicago architectural firm HOK (formerly Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum):

Obama's Presidential Library as envisaged by the Chicago firm HOK (view 1)

Obama’s Presidential Library as envisaged by the Chicago firm HOK (view 1)

So forward-looking, it could be Starfleet Academy (do click; you’ll be surprised). Here’s another view:

Obama's Presidential Library as envisaged by the Chicago firm HOK (view 2)

Obama’s Presidential Library as envisaged by the Chicago firm HOK (view 2)

See the peaceful happy people, playing in the Obama Legacy Library Park? You won’t see those faces on South Padre Island. And 20 years down the road, if Obama gets his way and Exxon gets its Obama-provided billions, those faces will look a tad bit more concerned than they do here. Here’s a hint of what’s in store for us if Obama and Exxon succeed.

Our Devolution Scenarios

Just a taste of where the descent from civilization, that gift of the narrow and stable Holocene climate, may take us. We start with our current civilizational state and work backwards:

The electronic age of wireless communication.

The electric age of power generation and transmission, including by coal and oil consumption.

The mechanical age of power generation, including by coal and oil consumption.

The animal age (beasts and slaves) of power generation.

The age of agriculture and small towns and cities.

The age of hunters and gatherers, our tribal past.

Extinction, as the planet sloughs us off.

As the social, economic and political stability of the planet degrades (if it does), where does our devolution stop? If carbon-burning never stops — and that’s clearly one of the choices on the menu — it’s hard to see our devolution stopping before we’re generating most of our power with our beasts and our backs.

Now consider, when the human world was young and we were coming from the Stone Age to the Iron Age and beyond, all the goods of the earth were close to the surface — iron, copper, tin. As we descend (if we do) to stone age living, where will we find these precious things again, to begin that long climb back? Perhaps only in landfills.

Time for Obama to take Obama seriously

All of which is meant to say — please, this really is a turning point and a tipping point in the economic, social and political world. Mr. Obama, take your words seriously and act as though you believe them. You can yourself stop many of those nasty carbon emissions from ever seeing the light of day.

▪ Stop selling coal leases on federal lands.

▪ Stop selling oil and gas leases off U.S. shores.

▪ Do these deeds now to demonstrate real commitment to limiting CO2 emissions. Control what you can control by your own unilateral action.

That’s the ask. Care to join me? Obama will have power for just a few years, and we have just a few years to use our power to influence him. In order to prevent him from destroying his legacy (and our American futures), he needs to know we’re watching.

Tell him we’re watching.

GP

Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
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Gaius Publi

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Also remember, more than two thirds of the offshore areas that oil companies already have leased are sitting idle, and haven’t actually been developed for oil drilling yet. Half of the onshore leases sit idle as well. The oil industry doesn’t actually need more acreage open for exploration, they’ve barely even touched the areas they already have… but this lobbying effort isn’t really about running out of places to drill for oil at all. It’s about ceding control of the public’s assets to private interests. Many of which will sit idle, just as existing areas already do. Having the option to drill wherever they want is what matters. Not actually doing it.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The lesson here is clear.

    Both parties scam voters on every major questions and all the time.

    Both parties are led by politicians in the pay of corporations and the rich.

    The solution, as always is break with the Democrats and Republicans and support the formation of a Labor Party.

  • jomicur

    Hey, anybody who criticizes Obama is a racist! He’s playing ten-dimensional chess, and you’re all just too dumb to understand it! Wait till his second term and you’ll see what a true progressive he is! He has a full plate! He inherited a mess from the guy who was in the White House 2008-2012! (isn’t it funny how all the Obamabots have fallen silent? But of course they’re gearing up to use those same tired lines for Hillary.)

    Barry promised to change the way things are done in Washington. That was a bigger job than any one man could do, granted. But at least he himself might have started doing things a new way, no?

  • cambridgemac

    You see, corporations are “real” people. “Real” “Americans.” Poor people are not real and they probably aren’t really Americans, either. Why, many of their great grandparents were officially recognized by the US Constitution as only worth 3/5 of a person!

  • cambridgemac

    I’m guessing that he wants a job with the energy lords once his lowpaid government job is over.

  • TheOriginalLiz

    He will go down in history as the first black president – perhaps that is really all that ever mattered to him.

  • nicho

    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

  • lynchie

    Obama of the anthem speeches, lots of false hope and promises but comes up drastically short in substance. He is cementing his future, all the directorships sit waiting for him to deliver prizes to the various sectors. Congress and the President only care about their futures and the repetitive delivery of tax breaks, leases and profits to the 1%. Even the illusion of protecting the lesser of us is now gone. When you can shut off the water to people while continuing to allow it to flow to corporations should tell us corporations aren’t people, they are superior to people.

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