Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal has an article comparing Brazil and the US in their approaches to drilling for oil off their coasts. He points out that the Brazilian oil company Petrobas has just discovered around 8 billion barrels of oil of its coast and it has become a national bonanza with no-one seriously suggesting that drilling shouldn’t begin immediately. Coincidentally, that is around the same amount which we believe to be available in the various places off the US coast where drilling is not currently allowed. As a result, Henninger suggests, contrary to Charles de Gaulle’s famous comment that “Brazil is not a serious country,” current US energy policy suggests that Brazil is perfectly serious, but the US may not be. There’s also a video interview with Henninger embedded in the article, which summarizes it nicely.

I also recently read / re-read the transcript of the fictional presidential debate which occurred on one of the later seasons of the West Wing (I’m not a fan generally but had read about it in a Peggy Noonan column a while back). In it, the Republican nominee Vinick (played by Alan Alda) has a wonderful little bit about ANWR which I thought worth re-posting here (Santos is the Democrat, Sawyer is the moderator):

That wilderness is much more valuable than the oil that’s underneath it. I think that the pathway to a better, more sustainable future does not go through the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

Excuse me, Senator.

A year’s worth of oil? That sounds like a lot to me and there could be more. There could be much more down there. We’ll never know until we start drilling. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place. Have you ever been there?


I haven’t either. Have you? Anyone? Clap if you’ve been to the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

There is silence.

Uh-huh. And that’s about as many people who will ever go to ANWR. None. I mean, maybe a few very rich people will go up there with private planes and snap some pictures in the summertime. I mean, this ain’t the Grand Canyon we’re talking about. How many of you have been to the Grand Canyon?

A great number of people in the audience applaud. Vinick again grabs his wireless microphone and comes around to the front of his podium.

If they discovered big oil reserves in the Grand Canyon, I’d never let them drill there because it’s our most magnificent natural monument and because real people get to go there. They get to see it, they get to taste it, to touch it, to experience it in all its glory. Now, you know, we’re talking about a country that has oil wells within site of the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara; oil wells within site of every Texas beach; thousands of operating oil wells in the city of Los Angeles. I just saw an oil well in the parking lot of a McDonalds in Long Beach the other day. And now Democrats are saying we can’t put oil wells in a place so remote that only the animals will see them? I wish we could put all our oil wells up there, where no one could see them.

The audience applauds.

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