A. Schmelz: No support for drilling

President Barack Obama discussed moving toward a clean energy future in his State of the Union address. But Obama also said he is directing his administration to open more than 75 percent of America’s potential offshore oil and gas resources. These statements are contradictory: offshore oil exploration should not be part of a clean energy future.

April 2010 brought the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill — the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history with 11 people killed and 200 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, harming the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem. The devastation did not stop there.

As fishing and tourism economies suffered, individuals lost their jobs and could no longer support their families. The spill cost more than $40 billion to clean, yet oil companies and now, Obama, still want to drill.

The arguments supporting drilling are not substantiated. If the U.S. achieved full production of its oil wells by 2030, the price of gas would be lowered by only three cents per gallon. Drilling supporters claim it will create jobs; studies have shown that clean energy produces three times the jobs on average than the same investment in the oil industry.

Much of Maine’s economy revolves around its ports, beaches and wildlife. If offshore drilling were proposed and explored off the coast of Maine, these resources would be threatened.

In place of drilling, state officials should look into offshore wind. Wind energy is infinite, renewable and sustainable, and will create jobs without threatening our coasts.

Anabel Schmelz, Lewiston

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 's picture

Dumb, plain dumb!

First, look at shallow water wind projects like Block Island, RI, where the guaranteed contract price is 24 cents per kwh with a 3.5% annual escalator built in. That cost is triple what we are paying per kwh for conventionally generated electricity source that ISO-New England is buying in the day ahead market. That is for monopoles drilled directly into the ocean floor, close to shore, using existing technology. What is being schemed and dreamed for the Gulf of Maine deep water will be far more expensive. Even if the huge turbines on floating platforms were to become a reality, physics & weather likely keep them to at best 40% capacity factor. The damned things would never pay for themselves. Ratepayers will be burdened with far higher electricity costs.

Second, at 40% capacity factor, it would take 450 turbines at 3 MW rating each to equal the output of the 540 MW Calpine gas fired generator located on less than 100 acres in an industrial park in Westbrook. The difference is the Gulf of Maine turbines will still be unpredictable, unreliable power compared to Calpine that hums away 24/7/365 very predictably.

Third, Habib Dagher and his minions dream of littering the Gulf of Maine with thousands of these turbines. I would rather believe that out there are deposits of natural gas similar to Sable Island, NS. The Canadians are tapping 3 trillion cubic feet of known reserves with only 6 platforms. They have done so with an excellent environmental record and the Sable Island development has made NS prosperous. We don't even know what is off our own shore because for the last 40 years, exploratory drilling has been banned. I would rather see private investment of natural gas in the Gulf of Maine than heavily subsidized R & D and development costs for Dagher's folly.

I'll take proven science and economics any day over scams.

 's picture


Anabel did not mention NEW nuclear technology. It needs to be looked at as we have over 100 old nuke plants which are due to be decommissioned. The new tech surely is safer than the half century old leaky structures built on fault lines. It should be studied and any energy technology needs STRICT regulation to prevent disasters like in the Gulf. That was preventable. Can't we drill for nat. gas without using toxic chemicals? I agree with you that tourism and wildlife are important to Maine.Why not tidal power instead of ocean windsprawl?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"April 2010 brought the BP

"April 2010 brought the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill-the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history with 11 people killed"...
When a 747 airliner goes down killing 200 or 300 people, we never hear cries from environmentalists of wanting to ban air travel. "The arguments supporting drilling are not substantiated.If the U.S. achieved full production of its oil wells by 2030, the price of gas would be lowered by only 3 cents per gallon."
Where in the world is the proof of THAT???

Gary Steinberg's picture

Uh Oh Anabel, look what else your hero Obama says......

"We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy," Obama said in his address. "Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk."

So here is this fact even Obama, "Mr. Renewable" gets.

WE HAVE PLENTY OF DENSE , RELIABLE FOSSIL FUEL AVAILABE DOMESTICALLY, and from our CANADIAN friends.(unless we go to war with Quebec).

Technology advances, and oil drilling as well is much safer than it was 20 years ago (even after the BP accident).

Drilling offshore of Maine might indeed be a wonderful way to expand Maine's job base.

BTW, Canadian Maritime drilling is expanding, do you fear a spill from them as well?

Did you stop flying after the last commercial airline accident BTW?

If you did, then please negate all I have said. I will help you buy a few dense mattresses to pad your rooms from your next earthquake in Maine.

Frank Heller's picture

Propaganda vs. reality

We have been bombarded with endless propaganda about the oil spill disasters and dangers from drilling; yet the Gulf of Mexico, despite over 30,000 gas & oil drilling platforms, is the world's most productive fishery.

Visit its shores and people say 'what spill'?

Success of the cleanup or is it something else?

Maybe there is positive relationship between the drilling and the fishery that should be studied to see if it would perk up the Gulf of Maine? There are 'dead zones' in the Gulf you never hear about, yet no drilling happened.

Oil and gas leaking from fissures in the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for millenia and an entire ecosystem evolved to feed on the petrochemicals. Could it be this ecosystem is involved in a 'chain reaction' that benefits the larger life forms in the Gulf, like those shrimp I love so much?

Just saying it might be time to apply a bit of scientific skepticism to what has been a badly biased discussion and diatribe against 'big oil'.

 's picture

Do you know how they anchor

Do you know how they anchor off shore wind turbines?
Do you know how they anchor the transmission line to shore?
Do you know how much damage GRID scale WIND turbines do to wildlife?

Gary Steinberg's picture

Anabel Demonstrates a HIgh Level of Energy Myth ...and

lack of Science.
The first and second laws of thermodynamics cannot be overcome by NON-DENSE,(low-density) electron sources, such as onshore, or offshore wind toys.
Just as Mr. Obama's tune had to change when applying science to energy(which he and his advisors may sometimes think about), if we did not have high levels of domestic energy sources available, we would have to invent them. There is no substitute for oil and natural gas, and he knows this. He also knows there are plenty of them as well, we just have to get them, politics aside.

Obama has to pander to his scientifically naive liberal base for politics, but politics won't power American modernity, ever.He had to get real.

So Anabel, please tell me how offshore wind meets any of the below requirements, any electrical utility knows must be met to turn on your lights, when and if you need them.
Dense energy sources are needed to power modernity.(period)

How does wind meet the criteria every electrical generating source must meet?
Any electric utility must meet the following, well known in the industry to survive.
1.The source must provide large amounts of electrons (it must be dense)
2.The power must be reliable and predictable.
3.The electrons must be dispatchable (high or low amount must be generated on demand)
4.It must serve one or more grid demand elements(base load, load following and peak load).
5.The utilization of environment must be minimal and compactness is a must, or it is non-green and damaging the environment.
6.It must be economical

Can an intermittent source like feckless wind meet these numerous demands?

There is a place for wind and solar (independent residential of industrial use is sometimes economical, but costly), but GRID SCALE....nope.

Oh, when LePage allows the Renewable Option to be selected for use as Your energy supplier, please request the renewable option at a 30 percent premium!

Your neighbor most likely will stick to the standard offer, derived mainly from natural gas and hydro, and nuclear.


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