Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Statoil Joisey Dreams

When I first heard that Barack Obama would seriously consider expanding offshore drilling in the US, I lost it. Really lost it. Like Jim Carrey lost it while waiting on the express checkout line in Me, Myself & Irene. Face twitching. Head-pounding surges in blood pressure. A lot of Loony Toon sound effects. Obama… offshore drilling… Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas... the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

When the snappage was over, I was a changed person. My new energy policy is: SUCK EVERYTHING DRY.

Now, I’ve read to the point of memorizing The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. I know the American public is being played. I know the stunted and venal officials we keep sending to Washington will be well rewarded for helping the oil companies play us. I know that expanding offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR is just the last long sweet FU from Bush and Cheney.

But for just this once I want New Jersey to profit from the playing. Screw Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Drill off the Jersey coast. It’s the sweet spot. We already have the refineries and the storage tanks and the tanker ports. We’ve got all the transportation infrastructure needed: freight trains forever and a well-maintained turnpike with clean rest stops and great food franchises.

Please, please, please Mr. Government and Oil Men Peoples -- choose us, choose us. Turn New Jersey into the next Norway or Kuwait or Abu Dhabi. I’m tired of NJ’s tax burdens -- we were ranked third for federal tax burden and tenth for state tax burden in 2007.

With my very soul I envy Norway’s petro-bounty from its North Sea crude.
Norway pumped its first crude to markets in the 1970s and now produces over three million barrels a day. Taxes and fees paid by oil companies, coupled with dividends from Statoil ASA, an oil company majority-owned by the state, are expected this year [2005] to pump about $42 billion into government coffers.
Some of the petro-profits go to finance Norway’s budget, but most of the money goes into the Petroleum Fund, which protects Norway's oil wealth for future generations.

Future generations. Such a tender thought. I weep.

Maybe we could finally remove the tollbooths from the Garden State Parkway. Maybe we could eliminate the sales tax on pet food. Maybe we could fund schools and colleges based on the number of barrels pumped instead of the cumulative square footage of every New Jersey home.

I can see it now: Statoil Joisey.

And to be honest, the seagulls around here are way too aggressive. One landed in my car trunk and started rummaging around in the grocery bags before I even finished emptying the cart. An accidental coating of spilled crude every now and again might teach them some manners.

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