Well Oiled Fear Tactics

Recently, in defending his lack of military and foreign policy experience, Barack Obama said of Republicans, "what they're doing is what they've done every election cycle, which is to use terrorism as a club to make the American people afraid."

While I personally think reminding the American people of the clear and present danger imposed by Islamo-fascists is wise, I am thoroughly disgusted by the Democrat's use of fear in trying to dissuade our government from allowing oil exploration and drilling off our coasts.  Fortunately, the way we are getting clubbed at the pump is causing the majority of us to realize that drilling for new sources of domestic oil is in our best interest.  Increasing the supply of oil will decrease prices at the pump.

The Outer Continental Shelf has been off-limits to oil exploration and development for a quarter of a century thanks to Executive Orders and Congressional votes.  We are told that there well could be 18 billion barrels within reach of our shores.  No wonder the Saudis are considering stepping up their oil production -- they had better sell to us while they still have a customer.  Once we tap our offshore reserves, in 10 years we will not need their oil.  By tapping ANWR and other domestic sources, we could actually wean ourselves off of OPEC altogether.

However Democrats (and a few Republicans) are purposefully playing on our fears.  Obama says drilling offshore "is not something that's going to give consumers short-term relief and it is not a long-term solution to our problems."  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls offshore drilling a "cynical campaign ploy."  Even California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is pumping his biceps, threatening to all that he will "prevent any new offshore drilling."

The fear card being played by these politicians goes back to January 1969 when a Union Oil drilling platform six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara sprang a leak, allowing at least 80,000 barrels of crude oil to seep into the Pacific and wash ashore.  The cameras of the world's media focused on oil-coated birds stuck in the same muck that was used to power America's cars.  The environmental propagandists loved it.
Our nation's first outspoken congressional environmentalist, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, immediately flew out to California to see the action for himself.  He returned to Washington angered at the oil industry, vowing to do something to wake America up.

Emotions were running high -- and still do in ultra-liberal Santa Barbara -- over that accident.  Even today, marble-sized balls of coagulated crude can be found in the sand on the beaches of Santa Barbara.  Deceptive Santa Barbara environmentalists will direct naïve eyes toward the oil platforms offshore, fervently declaring that capitalism and big oil are to blame for the tar balls in the sand, but this observation is another fear tactic. 

There is so much oil just beneath the surface of the ocean floor off Santa Barbara that the black gold is constantly seeping into the open waters of the Pacific.  According research conducted at the University of Santa Barbara, up to 170 barrels of crude bubble up from Santa Barbara's coastal waters every day.  However, despite the eternal supply of crude coming up from the deep of its own accord, all these years later the 1969 leak has fixed it in the minds of many that drilling for oil offshore is a dangerous idea.

Playing on the fear of that Santa Barbara spill, in September of ‘69 Senator Nelson had an idea to capitalize on something he had developed to protest the nagging Vietnam War: the "teach-in".  Scrapping the assigned curriculum for the day, instructors across the country were having their students sit cross-legged on the floor during these makeshift events and "rap" about how America was an imperialist nation and why communism really wasn't such a bad form of government -- it just needed to be implemented properly.  Nelson's efforts were aided by a young man named Dennis Hayes, a former student body president at Stanford with an effective track record for organizing anti-war protests.  While pursuing a masters' degree in public policy at Harvard, Hayes had heard about the teach-in concept and sought out Senator Nelson to help him take his strategy of infiltrating the classroom nationwide.

"My God," Nelson is reported to have said.  "Why not a national teach-in on the environment?"  Years later, reminiscing in a 1993 interview published in the American Heritage Magazine, Nelson elaborated, 
"I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda."

Soon, Senator Nelson was ready to "do something".  He formally announced there would be a "national environmental teach-in" sometime in the spring of 1970. Hayes would play a pivotal role in the organization and implementation. After careful consideration a name and date for the event were chosen:  Earth Day would be celebrated each April 22.   
Skeptical historians immediately noted a bizarre coincidence.  The date of the inaugural Earth Day coincided with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lenin. 

The seeds that were sown into that first Earth Day have grown into the scare tactics utilized today by the environmentalists and their political mouthpieces to whip up fear of another 1969-like spill.

Problem is, the likelihood of that occurring is pretty slim. 

In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita whipped up the waters of the Gulf of Mexico with wind gusts over 125 miles per hour, accompanied by chaotic 40 foot waves.  The storm battered oil production platforms, ripped a few drilling rigs from their moorings and displaced below surface pipelines.  The oil industry was put through a rigorous real-time test.  Over 800 manned platforms and about 140 rigs are in the Gulf of Mexico and even with the full wrath of nature unleashed during that hurricane season of 2005, they came through with a good grade.  A mere 13,000 barrels of crude were leaked into the open water. 

Today's technology is phenomenal compared to what was available in 1969.  Oil spills are not a barrier to drilling.

In the run up to the 2006 elections, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was whining about the price of gas which was then averaging about $2.20 a gallon.  In a press release issued in April of that year she said, "Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices..."

Since then Ms. Pelosi has forced a vote to increase taxes on energy not once or twice...but four times.  Was that a part of her plan?  Was it part of the plan when she and her Congressional colleagues trotted oil company executives to Capital Hill for a reenactment of the Inquisition?  Maybe details of the plan were recently slipped by her House teammates Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who called to nationalize America's oil refineries. 

Earth Day's stealth poster boy, Vladimir, would have been proud.

The Republicans have been given a gift here.  President Bush has called for Congress to lift its long-standing ban on offshore drilling.  Presidential hopeful John McCain agrees.  Americans like this kind of talk.  We understand the law of supply and demand. 

A recent Rasmussen poll reveals that 67% of voters support drilling for oil offshore.  Included in that number were 57% of Democrats and 60% of unaffiliated voters.  Even 46% of self-described "liberal" voters acknowledge the need to drill offshore.

The anti-drilling crowd is up against the ropes right now and most of us see straight through their scare-based rhetoric.


Brian Sussman is a radio talk show host on KSFO-AM in San Francisco and formerly an award-winning television meteorologist.  He is currently writing, "Global Whining, a Denier's Handbook", a book represented by WordServe Literary Group, Ltd
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