Massa Press Conference: His New Energy Plan

Today's Massa press conference concentrated on his just-released energy plan [pdf], as well as his position on our precious children.

Massa began by saying that energy is the "seminal issue" of national leadership, noting that anyone who wants to go to Washington must come to grips with it. He began with drilling:

I have always been in agreement with John McCain -- I'm in favor of responsible drilling. [I believe] the entire [offshore drilling] moratorium issue should be left up to the states. But what John McCain doesn't tell you, and Randy Kuhl doesn't talk about, is that there have been 68 million acreas of public land available for drilling. Those 68 million acres could produce 4.8 million barrels of oil per day, and 44.7 million cubic feet of natural gas. We burn about 20 million barrels of oil every day in the US. If those 68 million acres of public land were utilized, it would be almost 10% of our national supply.*

Though Massa supports responsible drilling, he pointed out that many of the areas where new drilling is proposed have issues:

  • "One of those areas is the Central Coast of California. Because it's one of the most seismically active areas on earth [...] oil companies themselves say [...] we should not be drilling oil on earthquake faults.
  • Another is the Everglades, where, Massa pointed out, both President Bush and his brother Jeb have appeared recently and said that the Everglades should not be drilled

Massa highlighted two aspects of his plan. First, he said that Kuhl should have voted for HR 6578, which would have released 10% of the strategic petroleum reserve for a quicker impact on oil prices. Second, he said that we need to explore, drill and safely use our own oil. "Big oil has refused to do it. Big oil should be required to execute the leases they have"

I asked Massa how HR 6578 was different from a basic release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Massa opposes. He said, "HR 6578 tapped the reserve to remove low sulfur fuels and then immediately backfilled it with bunker oil, which takes longer to refine." We would have time to do that, because it's only a 10% release, he added. His opposition was to a plan to remove oil from the Strategic Reserve without replenishing it.

Bud Lowell of WXXI asked an interesting question. Noting that people seem to break down into two camps, those who think that you can influence markets in the short term, and those who think it's a long-term strategic issue, he asked Massa where he stood.

Massa said he thinks it is both, and noted that even though Kuhl and McCain call their plan an "all of the above" plan, it isn't, because "it continues to funnel tax subsidies to oil companies" when they are making record profits:

We're talking about ending tax giveaways. This is a hugely important component. [...] In the last couple of days, 10 Senators in the Senate, five Democratic and 5 Republican, have joined in a good faith effort to allow states to decide which offshore oil would be open if we end the tax subsidies on big oil. John McCain and Randy Kuhl have said no. The reason is that both of them rely on big oil companies for campaign cash. For Randy Kuhl, $65,000 has come from big oil companies to his campaign. He says he isn't influenced by it. OK, then give the money back.

Lowell followed up by asking whether the subsidies amount to there not being a real market in oil.

Let's say that Monroe County, like Steuben, sat on one of the largest natural gas formations in North America. Companies like Fortuna are exploring and drilling like termites here. If you have a natural gas well on your property, you get royalties because you own the mineral rights on that gas. [...] For every $1 of gas extracted, you get 12.75 cents.

Massa noted that the mineral rights for federal land belong to the citizens of the United States, and that the Bush Administration has suspended royalty payments on that land, allowing oil companies to extract oil and gas without paying the United States.

Because I wasn't paying attention at the beginning, I asked Massa if he supports use it or lose it.

Use it or lose it on those leases is a specific piece of legislation that Randy Kuhl voted against. Fifteen years ago, a plan was put in place to drill offshore. Oil companies have refused to execute the leases. If they refuse to do it, [those leases] should be renegotiated with companies that [will drill]. Big oil wants to lock up mineral rights to control the market and have a monopoly.

I noted that Randy Kuhl had said in a newspaper interview that Massa's desire to retain ANWR for his children was wrong, because "There won’t be any children, there won’t be any United States if we don’t figure out our energy problems real quick." I asked Massa why he hates children. After a short recovery period from my assholish formulation, he said that he's a responsible adult and parent, but his teenagers might not agree after he's told them to clean up their rooms. He added:

That kind of hyperbole, that kind of fear-mongering, is what Republicans in Washington are good at. After all, it's been said best, they are very good at negative campaigning, not governing.
This problem is too big for fear-mongering. It is too big for sloganeering. It is too big for gimmicks like passing out tire gauges. It's time for thoughtful leadership. We can solve this, but we need to break the partisan big oil controlled deadlock in Washington.

* I realize the math here doesn't work. I'm guessing its 10% of the projected national usage once those areas come on line.


Thanks for covering this for us.

You're welcome.