It's a good day to be an alt media reporter. While The Journal Times reporter is sitting at her desk right now trying to figure out what to write about Rep. Paul Ryan's public forum at the Flat Iron Mall today, I can start my story, well ... like this.
First, let me say Ryan was flawless as ever. He had PowerPoint slides, Encyclopedic knowledge on everything and a good rapport with the crowd. There's a reason this guy's name is being slung around for vice president - he's really good at his job.
That said, there's not much to write about. Ryan laid out his support for lifting bans on drilling for oil in Alaska and along U.S. coasts. This will lead to immediate drops in gas prices, Ryan said, because the futures market will stabilize (basically, long-term investors will know more oil is on the way). And, it will lower prices in the future.
There's nothing particularly special about these positions. Ryan is walking in line with the Republican party by pushing for an increase in U.S. oil production.
Ryan was careful with his words. Unlike VP Dick Cheney, he didn't say China was drilling for oil off of Cuba (which is simply not true). Instead, Ryan said China was negotiating with Cuba to drill for oil off the U.S. coast. That may be true. China has rights to drill for oil on Cuba's mainland, and they may be talking about building oil platforms in Cuban waters 50 miles from Florida.
But he also claimed that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would generate more oil per day than the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia. Government estimates place the number way below that bold claim.
Ryan did note, however, that the government taxes domestic oil sales and could generate billions of dollars in revenue if it increased its production over the next 10 years. In turn, he wants to invest that money in job training and developing alternative energies. That's one of the best ideas I've heard from Ryan, who openly said the U.S.'s goal should be a fossil-fuel-free economy in his children's lifetime (they're 3, 5 and 6).
But then Ryan mentioned the "safety" of offshore drilling and claimed that oil rigs off the coast of New Orleans were untouched by Hurricane Katrina. That's simply a lie, and Ryan is too smart to know that's not a lie. To save a click on the link, Katrina destroyed 113 oil rigs, damaged 595 pipelines and spilled so much oil it could be seen from space. The GOP response is that that damage affected a small percentage of the 4,000 oil facilities around the Gulf and that none of the oil spills reached land - as if the environment stops at our nation's shores.
This energy stuff is important. McCain is battering Sen. Barack Obama on the presidential campaign trail with his pro-drilling stance - a stance shared by most Americans. It's turning into one of the signature issues of the presidential race, and Ryan did his part to reinforce the GOP's claims. They're persuasive in their arguments, which makes others silly. Of course there's a risk of drilling for oil in the middle of the ocean, so why try to sell everybody on the idea that's it's perfectly safe? I'd push the tax revenue idea and show how it could be used to train Americans and develop wind and solar energy, fuel cells, biofuels and the other emerging technologies that will get us out of this fossil-fuel mess.
Truthfully, it's a better idea than the elitist agenda of some environmentalists. Their strategy is push the price of oil up so high we're all forced to sell our cars and develop alternatives. That may sound like a good idea, but it's the poor and middle classes who will be screwed by that route. Let's hope the environmentalists comes up with some better ideas, and soon.