Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Lie?

Oil and natural gas powered the past. But the future? Fact is a growing world will require more, 45 percent more by 2030 along with greatly expanding alternatives. We have substantial oil and natural gas resources1 right here [NARRATOR STROLLS OVER MAP OF THE LOWER 48 STATES].2 Enough to power 60 million cars3 and heat 160 million households for 60 years.4 With advanced technology and smart policies,5 together we can secure America’s energy future.6 Log on to learn more.
(1) Only of fraction of those oil and natural gas resources are ever likely to be recovered for both economic and technical reasons. There is no guarantee that those that we do recover will come out at the rate we want them to.

(2) Includes all offshore areas such as Cape Cod, Hilton Head, Miami Beach, the Gulf of Mexico and the California, Oregon and Washington coasts. Also included are all wilderness areas of Alaska (not pictured).

(3) 60 million cars sounds like a lot, but that represents only a fraction of the more than 250 million highway vehicles currently registered in the United States.

(4) The “60 years” claim is theoretical (and perhaps mere fantasy). See footnote 1. Also, powering cars and heating homes assumes that the highest and best use of oil and natural gas is to burn them notwithstanding their critical roles as feedstocks for thousands of chemicals and others products that are essential to the modern world.

(5) “Smart policies” is shorthand for opening up all public lands and offshore areas in the United States to drilling.

(6) This doesn’t mean energy independence. The U. S. will still be importing more than half its oil by 2030 according to the U. S. Energy Information Administration. We won’t really be secure.

In fact, by suggesting that domestic oil resources could power 60 million cars, API is admitting that energy independence is a false hope even as it confuses viewers with the notion that we Americans will be more secure.

What might make viewers even more concerned is a second API ad which claims that we get two-thirds of our oil and natural gas from North America. This is a rough but reasonable estimate of the heat value of the oil and natural gas combined. But, once again we find ourselves watching API’s spokeswoman walking across a map of the lower 48 states as she delivers her message. Perhaps Canada and Mexico from whom we import significant quantities natural gas and oil are too large to represent on the map. Or perhaps it would be a little impolitic to treat Canadian and Mexican oil and natural gas as if it belonged to the United States. Better to leave both countries off the map and hope that nobody notices. People might begin to think inconvenient thoughts such as, “Why should the Canadians and the Mexicans simply sell us all the oil and natural gas we want? Maybe they’ll need it for themselves. Oh, and by the way, didn’t I hear that Mexico’s oil production is declining and Canada’s natural gas production is flat?” Clever and Deceptive: The Oil Lobby’s New Ads