Is oil drilling safe in the Gulf of Mexico? SAFE says so - or do they?

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"SAFE is committed to one clear mission: improving America's economic and national security through reducing our dangerous dependence on oil."

Robbie Diamond

Founder Securing America's Future Energy

Although this position against oil is their stated mission, they’ve issued a report that attempts to dismantle one of the major national hurdles to oil drilling in the Gulf. Please notice that SAFE’s mission describes the reduction of our dangerous dependence on oil - not on “foreign oil”. If you’ll recall from, oh, last week: “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” was the former mantra of the Right in its effort to appear stronger on national security, and, of course, to justify drilling for oil in the Gulf. This subtle change in wording may seem innocent but it is not. It may indeed be an attempt to cast a wider net and capture those who might believe that oil has had its day, it clearly makes SAFE appear to be an advocate for clean energy and against oil, but it is most certainly part of the messaging shell game such as “Clear Skies”, “Healthy Forests” and other initiatives that hit all the right feel-good tones but mean the opposite. It’s a hook. But this industry code doesn’t belie their underlying purpose - to drill for oil domestically. We’ve seen it all before.

Incredibly, SAFE further states:

"The threat to our national security is even more urgent. Oil dependence constrains and distorts U.S. foreign policy. Whether the U.S. military is policing the waters of the Gulf of Guinea or ensuring safe passage for tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, America's men and women in uniform are on the front lines of a steadily intensifying global resource conflict that strains our military forces and ultimately weakens national security.

These dangers are real, and they are growing. Yet for too long, too many have ignored the threat. Policymakers, industry, and special interest groups all have reason to protect their own parochial or political interests. Some find it easier to do nothing; some truly believe that a technological `silver bullet' will be found in the nick of time.

Whatever their reasons, one thing we know is that they are wrong: we cannot wait. Our dependence on oil threatens our prosperity and our safety. We cannot leave to our children and grandchildren a nation that is clouded by such a threat. The time for action is now."

Sounds great, right? Sounds like a clarion call to develop clean renewable energy alternatives right here, right now. SAFE continues with statements from business leaders:

"America's dependence on oil makes vulnerable the country's economic and military security and our nation must finally address this fundamental risk. As co-Chair of the Energy Security Leadership Council, I am completely committed to actively working with this diverse group of fellow business leaders to make the case for an aggressive, comprehensive policy to improve energy security."

Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President and CEO, FedEx Corp. (co-Chair)

I’m sold! I’m an environmentalist. I love this guy. Hmm…FedEx? Wait a minute. How will they fly those planes without oil? FedEx Blimps? “When it absolutely, positively has to get there before next month?” Amazing that he’d take a position against oil.

As I read SAFE’s positive messages about clean energy and big bad oil, this latest report just makes no sense. This report sure makes it seem as if SAFE is clearing the way to drill for oil!? But their stated mission opposes oil. Huh? Oh my gosh, could someone be…lying? No, she didn’t say it - not the “L” word!

SAFE’s website goes on to tout an electrified transportation sector (great idea), diversifying and investing in energy technology R & D (yippee), and focusing on energy efficiency (hooray). So if you can get past SAFE’s confusing mission and dichotomous approach to foreign vs domestic oil, they sound very sensible.

But something is nagging. What could it be? Oh, golly, that pesky elephant is still in the room. SAFE has completely failed to mention the destabilizing and dangerous effects of rapid climate change. You know, climate change, the bad stuff that happens to Earth when greenhouse gas is produced in excess of what the planet can absorb. We used to call it global warming, but then we’d have some cold days and people became confused. So let’s just say that warming up the planet too fast causes all kinds of climate shifts and other effects. It’s the unpredictability of those rapid environmental changes that makes it so destabilizing. Maybe SAFE’s website is still under construction and they haven’t added that tab yet? I guess it’s tough for them to say too much about climate change. It’s so slippery ‘cause just when you think you’ve modeled and described all the possible effects and events, darn if things aren’t happening faster than you thought and you have to start all over again.

For the sake of argument, let’s say we are concerned about national security and we really and truly don’t want drilling in the Gulf. To find a non-industry-driven, nationally respected research organization, let’s turn to The Pew Center on Global Climate Change . The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate is dedicated to highlighting the climate-security nexus in order to advance discussions and solutions that will make the United States safer, more prosperous and secure. You can find their mission at:

Pew says:

U.S. national security is inextricably linked to global climate change. Scientific experts warn that continued climate change will increase resource conflicts within and among countries, increase migration pressures on hundreds of millions of people, increase the number of humanitarian disasters, disrupt economies all over the world and threaten military preparedness.

You can download the Pew fact sheet at:,%20Energy%20and%20Climate.pdf

The Pew Project on National Security, Energy & Climate hired former Senator John Warner as part of its outreach team. The Senator served in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines in two wars, was Secretary of the Navy from 1972-1974 and during his five terms in the U.S. Senate he was a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and was the longest serving Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. In 2006 he joined with Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), to co-sponsor the Climate Security Act, the only climate change bill passed by a Senate committee.

“The problem of global climate change fits squarely within the issue of National Security. I believe climate change and national security must be urgently addressed as top priorities before we fall victim to the worst of consequences.” – Former Senator John Warner

In a bizarre demonstration of the ‘6 degrees of separation’ principle, here’s 2 degrees (quite fitting for a climate change discussion): A former staff member of then Senator John Warner was Christopher M. Lehman, PhD – now Chairman & CEO of Commonwealth Consulting Corporation. Yes, the very same CC Corp that helped write SAFE’s report that drilling for oil in the Gulf is not a problem for the military. Somebody has sold his soul: I wonder who it could be?

But there’s more from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in its report: National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, August 2009:

Recently, respected voices in the U.S. national security community—general officers, CIA analysts, high-level Pentagon officials—have warned that global climate change threatens American security. The security implications of climate change can be parsed into three broad categories:

* The changing foreign policy landscape

* U.S. military missions and operations

* National security as a driver of solutions”

“It is crucial that we begin exercising real leadership now to slow down and begin to confront the effects global warming will have on our national security.” -General Wesley Clark

So you see, friends, while ostensibly railing against oil, SAFE has published a report that removes an impediment to oil. Their stated mission is not their mission at all, calling into question the purpose and validity of their report. Nor have they mentioned climate change anywhere on their website or in their mission statement.

But my favorite part of the SAFE report is this: "Based on MMS mean estimates, the Eastern Gulf contains 3.9 billion barrels of oil and 21.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; a confirmed discovery in Destin Dome contains enough natural gas to supply 1 million households for 30 years."

Well, if there were 1 million households in the U.S. that would be quite something. That might even be worth ruining Florida’s coastlines and economy. But let’s do some math, shall we? In 2007 there were 111,162,259 households in the U.S. (per That’s more than 111 times greater than 1 million. (And after the 12-17 years it would take to actually see any oil from the Gulf, the number of households would be larger.) But using 2007 numbers and rounding this off, this amount of natural gas would roughly last .009 years for that many households. This number is small, so let’s convert years to days. There are 365 days in a year. 365 x .009 = 3.285, let’s say 3.3 days. That’s how long the estimated Destin Dome would supply energy to the U.S.- 3.3 days!

Glenn Beck notwithstanding, the world’s scientists and governments agree that the effect of rapid climate change is the most serious threat we face. But folks, let’s not kid ourselves. No matter what you believe about climate change or oil spills or any of the rest of it, you've got to believe oil and gas is not the answer. So let’s stop this nonsense about Gulf drilling and focus on clean energy, renewable energy and all the jobs that come with it. And while we’re at it, we just might improve our "national security".

Please join your fellow Floridians and tourists alike for Hands Across the Sand on Saturday, February 13th. Hands is a statewide, grassroots effort to show our state and federal policymakers that Floridians are standing up against offshore drilling and standing up for protection of our precious coastlines and economy. Please go to to sign up to participate at a beach near you. Then just come to the beach on Saturday, February 13th, and at 1:30 pm, join hands. That’s all it takes.

On January 19th, a report was issued by a corporation called SAFE (Securing America’s Future Energy). The report is entitled: Eastern Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Exploration and Military Readiness.

Kudos to SAFE for this ingenious doublespeak. SAFE prepared this report in concert with a company called Commonwealth Consulting Corporation. In case you were wondering, SAFE created the template for energy policy initiatives during the Bush Administration (remember the closed door energy policy meetings VP Cheney held? Even when compelled by the courts to open up the guest list for those meetings, Cheney refused). They are not energy specialists but have military backgrounds. Nor is Commonwealth Consulting Corporation considered an energy expert, but is a consulting firm with ties to the military and defense departments.  And there’s more to that story further on.

What’s interesting about SAFE is the mission statement on its website:

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