On Sunday's Late Edition Rep, Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee who reliably votes in favor of the Oil & Gas industry and against renewable energy bills and has been rewarded in return, joined the month-long chorus of Republicans including McCain that have been making the demonstrably false claim that there weren’t any major spills caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Blunt: If there was ever a test of this system it's in the one place that we do drill which is the gulf - 4,000 platforms in the gulf - thank God we've got them. 238 of them were injured by either Katrina or Rita. There was really no oil loss of any appreciable kind at any of those. Less oil was lost than used to seep up out of the gulf floor."
In fact, as we continue to note each time a new version of this claim has been made, there were at least 124 oil spills as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The website Skytruth.org even has posted satellite images of the spills as seen from space. Blunt added to his false assertion a repeat of what must be the new talking point on this issue that was offered on Thursday by McCain’s policy adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer (an energy lobbyist) after she was called out by MSNBC's David Schuster after trying to claim that "hurricanes Rita and Katrina and did not spill a drop” of oil, a downplaying of the spills by comparing them to the amount of oil that naturally seeps into the ocean floor.
As ThinkProgress notes, “the effects of seeps and spills differ hugely” in their environmental impact. It's an apples and oranges comparison, as seeps are natural, thus not preventable, and they have very little adverse ecological impact due to the fact that they result in a much lower rate of release over time over a larger area, while the effects of spills on the surface can be devastating.
Rep. Blunt also attacked Speaker Pelosi's calling for a release of 10% of the oil in the strategic oil reserve and her pointing out many of the same facts I had written about a month ago that the oil industry has yet drilled in just 19 percent of the more than 40 million acres they already can that are not covered by the current ban — 40 million acres that represent 79 percent of America’s technically recoverable offshore oil reserves. Using generous estimates from the latest analysis from Bush’s own Department of Energy, allowing for unlimited drilling both offshore and in ANWR “would lower the price at the pump by less than 6 cents" a gal. by 2025.
A Department of Energy analysis determined that opening the OCS to offshore drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”
A much faster, more effective action to reduce oil prices would to sell a half million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase supply, reduce prices, and burst the “speculative bubble” that leads speculators to buy oil futures based on the assumption that supply will remain fixed and prices will escalate.