Friday, August 01, 2008

The Times They Are A 'Changin...

"...[I]t's a little hypocritical for California to continue consuming more than a billion gallons of gasoline a month while placing potentially large pools of oil off-limits to exploration, thereby exporting those negative impacts to some other locale."

So says Dan Walters in the conclusion of his column in today's Sacramento Bee. This courageous statement from a respected columnist like Walters seems to signal a change in the popular attitude toward offshore drilling.

Walters cites a litany of public opinion research that makes a case for softening opposition to calls for more domestic oil production along the California coast:

  • "...a new statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, which found that a slim majority now supports offshore oil, up sharply from the 39 percent support measured in 2003 in the first PPIC poll on the issue."

  • "To make the new political equation on energy even more interesting, support for nuclear energy appears to be rising, not quite to the halfway mark yet, but definitely higher than in the past. Opposition to new nuclear reactors had been another hallmark of California's energy politics, but it now appears to be fading."

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto...

If all of this isn't surprising enough, prepare to get bowled over by the editorial in today's Los Angeles Times that....

Are you ready?

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Defends Exxon and criticizes the idea of a windfall profits tax.

Yeah, I thought I was hallucinating too, but there it was, right on the screen. The last two paragraphs sum it up:

"We hate spending $60 on a fill-up as much as the next person, but we don't think Exxon or its outsized profits should be the impetus for bad policy. As we've said before, it's a bad idea to pile more taxes onto oil companies for supposedly excessive profits. Exxon already faces a stiff tax bill -- nearly 50% of its taxable income went to the government in the most recent quarter. Increasing the price of success could discourage the company from making high-risk, high-reward bets on new supplies and technologies, which is the opposite of what the country needs.

Ultimately, the source of Exxon's profits is the high price of oil. That's also the force driving down the demand for gasoline and aiding the development of alternative sources of energy -- the only real, long-term solution to America's dependence on foreign oil. So in a way, we should be thankful for another banner quarter by the world's largest publicly traded oil company. Even if it hurts."

Today is August 1, not April 1, right?

Dan Walters: Maybe offshore drilling isn't so bad after all [Sacramento Bee]

Give Exxon a break [Los Angeles Times]