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Moran: Offshore Drilling Could Interfere With SEAL Training

by ARLnow.com May 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm 5,132 92 Comments

This afternoon the House of Representatives passed a bill that would permit oil drilling off the coast of Virginia.

On the House floor today, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) offered his support for an amendment that would have strengthened provisions in the bill that prohibit drilling in an area that would cause “unreasonable conflict” with naval operations. The amendment failed, and the bill passed 266-149.

“The proposed lease sale would interfere with U.S. Navy operations and Virginia’s commercial fishery and tourism industries,” Moran said in a statement. “National Security and economic growth should trump lining the pockets of big oil executives.”

Moran added that the drilling could interfere with the training of Virginia Beach-based Navy SEAL Team Six, the elite squad that killed Osama bin Laden.

“In May 2010 the [Department of Defense] stated nearly 80 percent of the drilling area proposed to be sold in Virginia, Lease Sale 220, would interfere with U.S. Navy training and operations (including Navy SEAL Team Six),” a Moran press release said.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) offered his support for the bill in a newspaper op-ed this morning.

“America’s energy future must be made more secure and must focus on domestic energy resources,” McDonnell said.

  • PhilL

    Actually, the rigs would provide some nice authentic targets for the Navy to run practices on.

  • South Arlington

    Not sure why the rigs miles offshore would really affect training at Dam Neck.

    • KalashniKEV

      If it happened a month ago they would have been “vulnerable to tsunamis” or something else… Moron is not very clever when it comes to selling his point.

      • derp

        eh… nice accusation and all but he’s been making this point for well over a year now.

        • Lou

          Wow, he’s been wrong for quite a long time. Sad.

      • derp
      • dynaroo

        It’s not like it says right there in the article that the DoD is who said this. The DoD is a bunch of liberal ecofascist liberals though, so dismiss it too.

  • Arlington, Northside

    Moran gets nuttier and nuttier every year. No way the drilling is going to really interfere with training. Like Phil said, if anything it gives more training opportunities.

  • Arlwhenever

    Jim, it’s the harp seals that Greenpeace was complaining about.

  • BrownFlipFlops

    Moran cares about the military now?

    Well, isn’t THAT expedient.

  • NOVApologist

    Moran is just putting the oil lobbyists on notice that he expects a “personal loan.”

  • Architeuthis

    Moran’s comment is not more idiotic that the Governor’s argument that VA offshore drilling will make “America’s energy future [] more secure.” It will make some people in Va $$ but that is about it.

  • CarsSuck

    are we going back in time, or have we not learned a thing about what we saw in Venice, Louisiana?

  • derp

    Moran actually has a very good point here. Not sure what’s available in declassified maps – but lease area 220 overlaps several key routes for naval vessels in and out of norfolk/newport news, along with regular training grounds.

    The impact of oil rigs on the military and environment is always up for debate but i think Moran’s point should be discussed further, while McDonnell shrugs it off without consideration. A small ship in the navy is 300ft, and while the turning radius of most modern warships is classified, some can take upwards of a quarter mile. These things need space and filling in the training grounds with oil rigs that produce very little in the grand scheme of things doesn’t appear to be worth the tradeoff.

    • bred

      I must say that I hadn’t thought of this in this way.

    • dynaroo

      Hey, those are facts based on knowledge. That’s not allowed. Just call someone a name and move on.

    • brendan

      since most people appear more concerned w/ unsubstantiated political attacks and cheap slogans…

      Perhaps this Department of Defense map of the proposed drilling area will assist you. I don’t have the software to calculate what the exact percentage of drillable space is based on this map but with basic visual analysis, i’d say Moran’s numbers look pretty accurate. Understand that this map was not drawn but ‘ecofascists’ or those politically opposed to drilling, but the Dept. of Defense, and that the area in red has been deemed “Mission Critical.”

      For those of you who that somehow still choose to ignore our military’s mission critical concerns, you should at the very least, in light of everything that has happened in the Gulf, withhold support until seeing an Enviromental Impact Statement. Has Gov. McDonnell seen the 220 EIS? Does he have any idea of the types of drilling, the probability tables of different size spill risks? What economic activity is put at risk and to what degree? What are the anticipated impact areas of a spill large than 10,000 bbl.? What’s the cleanup plan if there is a spill?

      Truth is – the people supporting this don’t care. They’re mostly out of state energy companies like Devon Energy from Oklahoma that gave $25,000 to McDonnell’s campaign – which i guarantee you wasn’t in exchange for McDonnell’s service to the sooner state. One of his top Cabinet officials was a top lawyer for the American Petroleum Institute. Basically – they have their own goals here and they clearly do not care about military or environmental concerns, much less the overall public’s interest. You can get caught up in your cheap slogans and political grudges but Congressman Moran is making some very good points here which should at the very least be considered. Enjoy the map.

      • Burger

        It is hanging the excuse of “protecting the military” to forward agenda. That area is like the size of the state of Virginia. If the US Navy doesn’t have helmsmen that can’t miss an oil rig (and while big, they won’t be everywhere) in that area then Rep. Moran should be investigating why the navy hired incompetents.

        The military is quite adept and moving airplanes around dense area’s like DC and the navy around NYC harbor, I think they can manage the vastness that is the Atlantic Ocean. I mean it isn’t like the Navy doesn’t have bases in the Gulf.

        • dynaroo

          I’m going with the DoD’s opinion on that rather than your’s.

        • PhilL

          Yeah, there is no reason those areas are sacrosanct in terms of their military use.

          There’s also the creeping tone in here that you can not question anything the military does or says, or that they can not be flexible in their demands. Canon fire at 0630, anyone? Ring a bell?

      • Retired Coastie


        Your point is taken but please don’t think for one minute that since the DOD produced the map that political influence would not have intruded into it. Those of us with a few years in (22 for me) know much better than that. If the DOD concerns are about our SOSUS capabilities (ocean acoustic surveillance system), then the areas should be kept secure, if its about training, then drill baby drill. The reason they want the areas off limits is the close proximity to home base (launch the planes from Oceana at noon, run the ASW drills, land & be at the officers club by cocktails) From a security standpoint, if the drilling could obscure noise from intruding submarines that might be a problem but my understanding is that our sonar guys have that one figured out (without going into details) and besides, the russians used to wait further offshore to try to get behind our boomer boats.
        If you think the political appointees at DOD don’t take politics into consideration when they create this stuff, you’re dreamin.

        • dynaroo

          So now all you have to do is prove it. You can’t just go declaring that anything the DoD says or does is worthless political tripe.

          • Retired Coastie

            Wrong again dynaroo. The DOD should be forced to prove it. They’re the ones who want the area off limits to activity so THEY should explain why. The obligation is on THEM to show that they need the area for operational training or security. Besides, its not as if idiot liberals cared one hoot about taking our only gunnery ranges away in Puerto Rico, Kahoolawe or anywhere else in the world. So now that drilling is a possibility liberals care about the Navy? Pretty opportunistic Ya think? What people don’t want is prostituting “national security” in order to achieve liberal objectives.

          • Milner

            Exactly. It is very clear in the bill that the burden of proof lays with the DOD to prove unreasonable disruption to their operations.

            ‘Course, that never stopped ITG’s from screaming “PROVE IT” when they run out of things to cry and moan about.

  • Rick

    If the peace corps killed bin Laden, Moran would take to this cause and spin it somehow. Drill baby drill

    • brendan

      you do realize that domestic drilling will not have any impact on the price you pay at the pump and the potential jobs associated with drilling off of Virginia’s coast are infinitely fewer than the jobs and economic activity put at risk.

      is there another reason for your excitement or do you just get caught up on cheap slogans and desire to bash opposing political views?

      • Rick

        The risks associated with it are negated when the work is done correctly. One bad accident should not tarnish (no pun intended) the idea of offshore drilling. To bring more of the oil industry (which we all know is very rich) to the commonwealth is something that should not be given the cold shoulder by congressional democrats, especially this one.

        • dynaroo

          “The risks associated with it are negated when the work is done correctly.”

          But you can’t just dismiss the risk that it won’t be done correctly. That’s part of the risk.

          • The risks of staying on foreign oil as our sole source of transportation energy is greater than drilling domestically to find more. Are there other options? You bet. But why not explore all? I’m all for solar and wind energy, but putting a sail on my car isn’t going to get me anywhere quickly.

          • dynaroo

            Foreign oil will ALWAYS be our main source. We simply don’t have enough to replace it.

          • dynaroo

            If we can simply push OPEC to increase production, we don’t need to drill our own supplies.

            And as we know from history, OPEC could easily change its mind at any time.

          • Unless we start building our vehicles to utilize natural gas. Just imagine never having to have to go to a gas station again….just refuel with your home gas source and mini compressor.

          • Burger

            Everything in life has risks. There are approximately 300 million gas consuming cars in the US. The new car buying rate is approximately 15 million/yr. So, even if everyone started buyuing Volts it would take 20 years just to clear out the US private car inventory.

            I know it is shocking but gas driven cars are going to be here for alot longer than most alternative energy promoters want to admit. Oil driven from US sources (and there are multiple ones including ANWR, West Coast and East Coast) would provide needed supply into the market. Note: not all Saudi or OPEC crude is optimal for US cars so just turning up the spigot doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in price.

          • dynaroo

            Everything has risks. And returns.

            The return in this case isn’t worth the risk. We just don’t have enough oil to make a dent in prices.

          • CW

            Yes, but unless we completely pull out of the global oil market and create our own little microcosm for drilling and selling oil (which would be economic madness), then what we do here isn’t going to make a bit of difference in the scheme of things. We can pump and pump and OPEC is just going to scale back their production accordingly. The only way to avoid that would be hardcore regulations like cripplingly high import tariffs or something, and as I said, that’s crazy talk given the potential economic ramifications.

          • dynaroo

            Yes, exactly – OPEC can wipe out any tiny price differences our production yields by making one conference call.

          • Milner

            The administration is pushing OPEC to increase production, and they have complied since the beginning of the year. These are our allies, and the state of affairs right now is fairly amicable. There is no benefit to OPEC nations to squeeze the market, in fact they are increasing production to fill the void from Libya and bump their own revenues.

          • Josh S

            The term gets thrown around willy-nilly here in the comments, but THAT is a textbook Straw Man. No one suggested you put a sail on your car, it’s patently ridiculous, it distracts from the actual argument, etc.

            I fully recognize this comment is a bit out of left field.

            Carry on.

          • Rick

            you don’t leave the house much, do you?

            Virginia Paving could hit a natural gas line and blow up wilson blvd if they did it wrong, but they do a half decent job more often than not (mostly not, but no explosions)

          • WTF?

          • Rick

            Weird example, I know. Not doing something because of great risk means nothing would get done at all. The SEAL team that put 2 in Osama’s head faced great risks and pulled it off. “Too risky” isn’t a valid excuse for something that MANY, MANY people have managed to do right for years.

          • Josh S

            I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that off-shore oil drilling is a bit more complicated than repaving a street. Yes, it has been successfully done without major incident at many places around the world for many years. But it’s still a major undertaking, hardly as routine as repaving a street and definitely has the potential for some serious consequences should things go wrong. It would be imprudent to say the least to go into such an operation without some serious risk analysis. You can bet the private sector companies hired to actually do the drilling wouldn’t do it without risk analysis. The government should do it as well.

      • R

        I just like cheap slogans…yes we can. hope & change.

  • danielobvt

    What I am reading from this is that he is saying that Offshore drilling in VA would aid the terrorists…. What an embarrassment…

    But don’t worry, according to him military service isn’t public service like he has performed…

    • dynaroo

      No, he’s not – he’s just saying what the DoD already said. Do you disagree with the DoD on this?

  • BoredHouseWife
  • Drew

    Moran says what?


    He thought he had us fooled when he changed the “O” in his last name to an “A”

  • KalashniKEV

    Every Drop counts. The more oil that comes from within our borders, the less comes from sandy places. Drill, Baby, Drill.

    • Toolpusher

      The more oil that is extracted from within our borders, the less oil we have within our borders, such is the nature of depletion. The ‘Deplete America First’ strategy has been the US policy since Drake discovered the Titusville field. America has been in permament decline since 1972 and no amount of drilling will reverse that. Why not suck the rest of the world dry first and then we’ll be back in the catbird’s seat when they have nothing left to suck on but dry holes – as long as they are willing/able to sell to us that is. Net world oil exports are also declining as countries that currently extract excess oil beyond their domestic needs are 1) in production decline and/or 2) are seeing domestic demand ratchet up. Pretty soon we all will have to make do with only that which we can extract within our borders. For the US this means a draconian reduction in oil useage.

      • KalashniKEV

        Ecofascism will see gasoline engines outlawed for private use before we run out of oil. I’m familiar with this strategy of sitting on all our oil and somehow turning into Saudi Arabia in the year 4040 when the Earth runs dry. I don’t buy it. Drilling our own oil while developing alternative fuels and other advanced technologies would starve the Gulf Sandpits and their kleptocracies in the near term, and eventually put them all in the grave.

        • dynaroo

          You can deny the facts all you want, but they are the facts. We have 3% of world supply while we consume 26%. The idea that we can do anything to lower prices or become independent of foreign oil is ridiculous.

      • dynaroo

        It’s useful to measure oil in years rather than barrels to prove your point, Toolpusher.

        Our proved oil reserves are equal to the amount of oil we consume every three years. In other words, if we relied 100% on domestic supply (which would still cost the same, so what’s the point?) we’d run out in three years.

    • dynaroo

      No, every drop does not count.

      The U.S. does not have enough oil to affect prices. We have about 3% of world supply. Even if we find more, it will be a tiny proportion.

      It doesn’t matter whether the oil comes from here or sandy places – it will cost the same.

      • CW

        +100. All us drilling more is going to do is result in us playing a game of economic chicken with OPEC, Venezuela, and all the other crazies that control the pumps. They’ll turn theirs off commeasurate with however much we turn on. Then, the resulting instability will cause the speculators and futures players to drive the price further through the roof! Domestic drilling will do nothing unless we completely abandon the concept of global economics and say “we’re keeping it for ourselves”, which is a very dangerous game since we don’t have enough to fuel ourselves when the other producers say “fine, we’ll stop giving ours to you”.

        • Stop giving us their oil? Really? How will they get any income for their country then if we don’t buy the oil? We make them. We can break them too.

          • CW

            China and India…

          • KalashniKEV

            True that, CW. If you really wanted to shake the Gulf Sandpits to their knees you would have to declare their production as contraband, worldwide, and start seizing their tankers. Not that it would ever happen, but it would make a good cheesy book…

          • ok, so we cut the demand for their oil in half. China and India get cheap oil because the price drops dramatically. OPEC nations revert from a desert oasis to just a desert.

            This would happen if the US ever goes to natural gas based transportation.

          • dynaroo

            They don’t have to stop. They can simply cut production and raise prices. They recoup most of the losses with higher prices, at least for a while.

            It’s not like they haven’t actually done this before. I’m not the only one here old enough to remember the 1970s.

      • NOVApologist

        OPEC is the biggest influence on prices, but not the only one. Just look at oil prices over the last year. North American oil (WTI) has been trading at a major discount to the international oil benchmarks (Brent and Dubai). This is due to the completion of the TransCanada pipeline to Cushing, OK. The discount today is 10% but has been more than 15% in the past year. Local supply does matter to prices (i.e. – it does matter whether the oil comes from here or from sandy places). And Canada’s proven reserves have been growing like crazy. They have moved to #3 on the list of nations with the largest reserves.

        Also, not to be pedantic, but the 26% consumption number you cite is a little high. The last year for which data is available is 2009 and U.S. consumption was 22%. Given 8-10% GDP growth in China and India, current estimates are that the U.S. share has fallen to close to 20%

        • PhilL

          Considering we get most of our oil production from Mexico and Canada, I’m surprised there is so much talk about OPEC. This is not 1972.

          • dynaroo

            But prices are set on a global market, regardless of where the oil comes from. It’s not like Canada and Mexico give us a big discount just because they like us. They’re going to charge whatever OPEC nations charge, because they can.

          • Prices are set on the open traded market. It is the traders and speculators who are setting oil prices, not OPEC or any other producer. They can change production to attempt to influence the price but they don’t set it.

          • PhilL

            Stop with the facts!

          • KalashniKEV

            I agree with you, but also disagree- the OPEC countries have become very skilled at controlling the supply of oil available to the market. While it’s true that they don’t “set the price” and that there is a lag time involved, we pretty much pay what they want.

          • NOVApologist

            The role of “speculators” is vastly overstated. I know it is kind of a dull explanation, but the price of oil is set by supply and demand.

            [Demand] China and India have ~2.5bn people and have seen their oil consumption roughly double over the last dozen years (quadrupled since 1980). And both countries still have per capita consumption that is a small fraction of that in the U.S. or Western Europe. [Supply] At the same time, the cost of extracting oil has risen. the low hanging fruit has been picked and new supply is coming from cost intensive sources (Canadian Tar Sands; Brazilian offshore fields).

            Traders and speculators make a little noise over very short periods, but oil prices are basically just the result of a rapidly growing number of people demanding more and more of a finite resource that is getting more expensive to produce.

          • NOVApologist, then how do you explain the 10% drop in oil price yesterday alone? Supply and demand? Right…..

          • NOVApologist

            What were those traders and speculators reacting to yesterday? Supply and demand. Before yesterday’s plunge, oil was up 25-30% so far this year. But demand is predicted to slow as China and the broader emerging markets continue tightening monetary policies and as higher gas prices discourage demand in the U.S.

            Like I said, traders and speculators make a little noise over short periods. Yesterday’s move was noise. Oil prices are still 15-20% higher than they were at the beginning of the year.

            I am not saying speculators don’t exist, but when they get ahead of themselves in something like oil, the market has a habit of reminding them who is in charge.

            If you want to find speculators, just look at gold, silver, and Chinese internet stocks.

          • ….and the traders and the speculators have caused it to rise 20+% this year. It is NOT short term supply/demand. Where I do agree with you is the long term supply/demand price driven action. Over time, prices go higher unless more oil resources are found especially with China and other developing countries. That’s why the US should drill….but for natural gas and start putting the technology already in many mass transit fleets into our cars.

          • NOVApologist

            Perhaps we have a different definition of “traders.”

            The biggest reason that oil prices rose sharply in the first quarter of 2011 was concerns over widespread civil strife in the Middle East. Libya was 2% of world oil exports. A civil war there, leading to a loss of 2/3rds of those exports, qualifies as a supply/demand issue in my opinion.

          • dynaroo

            OPEC is a cartel. It counteracts the effects of the free market – that is the point of its existence. OPEC has enough market share to heavily influence prices, for all oil, not just oil produced by OPEC nations. If it cuts production, it can cut enough to drive prices up in the free market, even the prices charged by non-OPEC producers. Even U.S. producers will charge more.

          • Libya making up 2% of oil production is a mere blip in worldwide demand. If their production was cut in half, someone else would happily make it up. The rise in oil prices had less to do with actual demand than the over reaction of oil traders.

          • Toolpusher

            Within 5 years, Mexico is expected to become a net importer of oil due to depletion of their reservers and inability to keep up extraction rates. In the 90’s they goosed their extraction with nitrogen injection at their main Canterell field but that enhanced recovery technique only succeeded in accelerating their depletion and now they are in decline which most analysts believe is irreversable.

          • There’s more money in Mexican drugs than there is oil.

        • dynaroo

          Well, thanks for the details, but the point is the same – foreign producers control the market and we consume an enormous share of global production, far beyond our own long-term production potential.

          As for a discount, it’s true that prices vary due to transportation costs. But that’s only one of many factors that can push prices either way. I believe Canada’s increasing reserves number includes oil shale, which is more expensive to extract. And it’s in Canada, not off the coast of Virginia.

  • Milner

    The bill is good policy, designed for a near horizon economic effect. It is only selling four leases, specifically studied and approved under NEPA a couple of years ago.

    The benefits come from the lease revenue, and the clause in most of these leases that a portion of well production be ceded to the US to stock our defense petroleum reserve.

    The next short term benefit you can expect is a small tactical release from the domestic reserve, which has been used in the past for reduce pump prices anywhere from 8% to 32%.

    The two steps are not exactly about long term US energy policy, it is to give some relief to consumers and try to head-off the stagnation in the economic recovery that is setting in over the last quarter.

    • dynaroo

      So for the risk of interfering with military operations, or a spill that could interefere with that as well as threatens fishing and tourism, we get a small amount of oil, which we could just buy somewhere else at the same price, and a little royalties. Not worth it.

      As for tactical releases, we are much better off doing what we’ve always done – buying low from whatever source to fill the reserve, then releasing when prices are high. That’s true regardless of whether we drill offshore.

      • Milner

        I’m sorry. If you have swallowed the red herring about military operations then there is not going to be any sensible discussion about this.

        The bill won overwhelming bi-partisan support in the house. It is a smart, targeted initiative to boost our economy.

        • dynaroo

          So your argument is basically this: “I declare that the DoD is wrong based on absolutely nothing, and if you don’t accept that I’m not talking any more.”

          Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

          • Milner

            No, actually I’m saying the bill has a clause allowing for DOD restrictions if there would an unreasonable impact on military operations. Can you read?

          • dynaroo

            Sure, I can read. So you’re saying you agree with Moran in his quest to assure that any drilling that interferes with military operations does not move forward, is that it?

          • Milner

            It’s already in the proposed legislation. You seem to think it’s not, which I find amusing, that’s all.

          • dynaroo

            No, I am referring to Moran’s amendment, which was a stonger version and was not included in the legislation. You seem to think it’s in there, which I find amusing, is all.

            You are welcome to explain why the existing bill is sufficient without Moran’s amendment if you like.

            And if you think it’s all a “red herring” feel free to get back to the topic of oil economics and security in general.

          • PhilL

            I’m glad you finally read the bill.

          • dynaroo

            The bill that does not contain Moran’s amendment, you mean.

          • dynaroo

            Let’s put this to rest. If the argument is that the restriction in the bill is already adequate, then that’s an argument that Moran is right about the possibility of interference. So there’s no further discussion needed either way.

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  • Joe

    Moran is a blithering idiot. An an embarrassment to his constituents.

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  • Jen06

    Isn’t there a way to force these fools (Congress and Senate) to take physicals and psychological exams? 90% of them are unfit to serve!

  • Chuck

    I don’t have a strong opinion either pro or con on the drilling but Moran is a drunk and a bully. If he is opposing it then there is something in it for him.


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