Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) made two of the more aggressively pro-drilling arguments during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for Energy Secretary-nominee Steven Chu. Neither was totally related to Chu’s testimony, but both were, er, colorful.

First, Landrieu disputed Chu’s citation of the fact that the United States contains only three percent of the world’s oil supply, arguing that she believes there is more oil available domestically:

I listened with interest to your comments to Senator Murkowski about the known inventory in the United States of oil and gas and just wanted to point out that the emphasis is on the word known because we believe, many of us, that there are great resources that have yet to be discovered based on the fact that there’s never been a comprehensive technology-driven inventory taken of oil and gas resources.

So one of the things that our chairman has been leading the effort and to some degree of success with my support and others, has been to push the United States government on behalf of the taxpayers who might be interested to actually know how much oil and gas they have. And so with so much off limit in the past and with limited access to just look, I would just urge you to be careful about the comment about four percent. It is true. We have four percent of the known reserves, but there is great evidence to suggest that there are lots of reserves that are unknown.

Her second remark pertained to pirates:

We don’t have pirates in the Gulf of Mexico today. We did, Jean Lafitte, but since he left, I haven’t heard or read about one since, but there are pirates all over the world, just what happened last week, $3 million having to be parachuted to a tanker to release men and women who had been held under the gun.

Oil and gas industries can’t practice their craft safely in many places in the world. If we were to allow them to practice their craft here on and offshore with high standards and courts that can step in that exist transparently, we do the world a great service because they don’t have to practice in the Niger Delta or in places that have very fragile environments and great consequences to the Earth.

There you have it: A U.S. Senator disputing geologists’ findings on how much oil is left to be extracted in the United States, and making the argument that drilling at home is better than drilling in other parts of the world because we have strong regulations and courts (never mind climate change).