The Public Policy Institute of California recently released the results of its statewide survey, Californians and the Environment.
When asked the question “Thinking about the country as a whole, to address the country’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil sources, do you favor or oppose the following proposals? How about allowing more oil drilling off the California coast?”, 51% of survey respondents answered that they favored increased drilling. This is an increase of 10% from July 2007.
Further broken down by regions, support for drilling is highest in the Inland Empire (56%), Central Valley (55%), and Orange/San Diego counties (54%) (There are several offshore platforms located off Orange County beaches); residents in Los Angeles are divided (48% favor, 47% oppose) and residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (54%) oppose more drilling.
The survey also includes question on climate change, the 2008 election (Obama, 50% and McCain, 35%), and approval ratings for Schwarzenegger (43%) and Bush (26%…haha). The full survey is available here.
Bill Klesse, CEO of Valero, calls it like he sees it:
“We can manage industry challenges, but unfortunately, reckless rhetoric in Washington, D.C. complicates our forward progress. Too many in Congress fail to appreciate our industry’s efficiencies, they won’t acknowledge the excellent jobs we provide, they ignore the taxes we pay, and worst of all, many in Congress are more interested in scoring populist political points than reducing energy costs. To not allow companies to look for oil and gas when there are huge potential reserves in the U.S. is irresponsible. Instead, Congress wants to provide subsidies for inefficient technologies. Instead of solutions, they want to reduce CO2 emissions without regard for the economy. The direction we see Congress moving is not good for consumers, our shareholders, or our country. We will continue to advocate sound policies based on facts and market realities.”
I suppose I neglected to mention that. So I had originally planned to move to Houston in mid-July, but this new job opportunity came up in May and I decided to take it, despite my animosity towards this city (but, I’ve discovered that it’s a hell of a lot nicer and much more tolerable when you live in Arlington).
I am still working for an energy industry trade association, only this one is much larger than the previous one I worked for, and I now have the opportunity to work on a variety of issues that I personally find very interesting. I still think my parents lie to their friends back in California and tell them I work for Greenpeace, though.
I had no idea Brighton Beach existed until, about six years ago, I watched the Russian film Brat 2, in which the main character (played by Sergei Bodrov Jr., RIP) purchases a car in Brighton Beach for his roadtrip to Chicago. Intrigued by the possibility of authentic Russian food on the east coast, I swore I would check this place out someday.
On Saturday morning, I finally made it out there. I was staying at Tracy’s place on the Upper East Side, so it took me about an hour and 45 minutes to get to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. On the subway ride, I was surrounded by families on their way to the beach, lugging with them chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, and coolers filled with food and drink. Exiting the subway station and stepping onto Brighton Beach Avenue was like entering a completely different world. Storefront signage and ads were in Cyrillic, sidewalk vendors hawked everything from socks to pillows to Georgian pastries, angry men cursed at each other in Russian, and babushkas sunned themselves outside their apartment buildings. I wandered into a few stores to check out the products. They were filled with the cookies, chocolate bars, cheeses, juices, gigantic bottles of kvas, and frozen bags of pelmini that you would find at any corner store in Moscow or Petersburg. The stores were packed with babushkas towing their granny carts, mowing down anyone who dared get between them and the sausage counter. Yes, it was just like being back in Russia.
Since I was so close to the ocean, which I haven’t seen in God knows how long (ok, it’s been about seven months), I walked a few blocks to the boardwalk to check out the “beach.” Let me just say that, while Oceanside, CA, the beach where I spent a majority of my summers, is certainly looked down upon from those in Newport and La Jolla, it’s still a million times better than Brighton Beach and Coney Island. They were crowded and dirty, with a cheap carnival atmosphere, a plethora of old men in speedos, and no waves to speak of. Dude, I miss the West Coast.
“Moscow on the Beach” Notice the hammers and sickles? (Sorry, only photo I took. Oddly enough, I wasn’t very inspired to pull my camera out and start taking a million photos like I usually do)
Once Tina and Margaret arrived in Brighton Beach, we decided to grab a quick lunch at a Georgian restaurant before heading to the banya. Of course, the quick lunch turned into large servings of nigvziani badrijani, khachapuri, khinkali, and shashlik. It was probably not the most ideal food to eat before an afternoon at the banya, but it was all incredibly delicious, rivaling anything I ate in Tbilisi.
After lunch, we took the subway a few stops to Neck Road and eventually found the Russian Baths of NY, where Grisha (the only member of our group, by the way, who is actually Russian) was waiting for us. We had originally planned on going to the Wall Street Bath & Spa in Manhattan, but the Russian Baths of NY was much closer, and quite frankly, sounded a bit more proletariat than the Wall Street Baths, which, I imagined, were full of analysts from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs discussing derivatives while splashing each other with cold water in the shvitz. No, there would be none of that in this Brooklyn banya. The banya was a lot smaller than I expected, and in addition to the indoor pool, saunas, and steam rooms, also had a bar and restaurant that served the usual Russian dishes. The walls were lined with framed hockey jerseys, which I thought was a little odd, because I don’t usually associate hockey with saunas and pools.
Despite studying in Russia, I had never been to a banya before, so this was an entirely new experience. Basically, you enter the Russian sauna, stay in there for as long as you feel comfortable, and watch the Russian men in felt hats beat themselves with dried birch tree branches. When you can’t stand the heat any longer, you exit the sauna, take a quick cold shower, and then jump in the chilly pool. You repeat this several times, occasionally stopping to drink a half-liter of Baltika beer and snack on dried fish. There were hardly any people at the banya, which wasn’t surprising considering it was 93 degrees outside. Still, the several hours we spent at the banya left us incredibly refreshed and relaxed. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday in Brooklyn.
By the time we were finished with the banya, it was nearing dinner time. We headed back to Brighton Beach, looked around a few stores, walked along the boardwalk, and tried to find a decent place for dinner. We wanted to go back to the Georgian restaurant we had lunch at, but it was closed for a private party. We eventually ended up at some other Russian restaurant that was alright. I had pelmini, and it was pretty indistinguishable from what you’d get in a cheap restaurant in Petersburg. The last thing we did before leaving Brighton Beach was, of course, purchase vodka. Surprising, I know.
Ordinary Russians are also snapping up pictures, according to Maria Valiyeva, who works in a photo shop in central Moscow. “People are buying them for their offices, for presents and for themselves,” she said. “We had a couple who bought a portrait of Medvedev and Putin together and the wife said, ‘It’s for our bedroom.’ “
I’ve got some blank space on my wall that needs some decoration, so I was hoping that allposters.com had a Putin/Medvedev portrait, but when I typed in “Putin” this was the only result:
UGH?!?!?! Seriously WTF?
Tomorrow afternoon I am heading to NYC for the weekend. Hopefully, this trip will be free of idiotic cab drivers and the resulting bloodshed. I have no desire to become involved in multiple lawsuits.
I am going there with some Russophile friends, and we intend to make this a Russified weekend. We will be visiting a banya, followed by a trip to Brighton Beach (aka Little Odessa) to purchase Russian products and gorge ourselves on Russian and Georgian cuisine. Since I will not be taking an international vacation this year (depressing, I know), I have dubbed this my fake Eastern Europe vacation.
Tracy, one of my former roommates at GWU, has been kind enough to let me crash at her apartment while she is in Italy. This note accompanied the set of keys that she mailed me:
No wild parties and don’t drink all of my vodka.
Damn, I wasn’t that bad of a roommate, was I?
The results of a recent Field Poll on Californians and their views on various energy issues were released today. Here are a few of the questions that were asked, and the breakdown of the responses received:
“The building of tanker terminals, pipelines and facilities for liquefied natural gas should be allowed in California.”
63% agree, 19% disagree, 18% no opinion
“The building of more nuclear power plants should be allowed in California.”
50% agree, 41% disagree 9% no opinion
“Oil companies should be allowed to drill more oil and gas wells in state tidelands along the California seacoast.”
43% agree, 51% disagree, 6% no opinion
“Current government restrictions prohibiting the drilling of oil and gas wells on government parklands and forest reserves should be relaxed.”
44% agree, 52% disagree, 4% no opinion
Honestly, I was a bit surprised by these results. I expected that the opposition to LNG facilities, nuclear plants, and oil drilling would be much higher (especially the LNG facilities. I’m guessing they didn’t poll Pierce Brosnan, Ryan Seacrest, and David Duchovny).
Personally, I am in favor of expanding offshore drilling. Apparently my views are even having a bit of influence on my mom. When I called her a month or so ago, she and my dad had just started driving home from a weekend in Santa Barbara.
“We are passing the oil rigs. You know, you can barely see them out there. I don’t know why they just don’t put up a few hundred more out there.”
This op-ed by by Kenneth Medlock is one of the better ones out there:
According to the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), the OCS in the Lower 48 states currently under moratorium holds 19 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. Some analysts claim that opening the OCS will not matter that much, as the quantity of oil is only about two years of U.S. consumption. But a more appropriate way to look at the issue is this: If the OCS could provide additional production of 1 million barrels per day of oil, our import dependence on Persian Gulf crude oil would be reduced by about 40 percent. Moreover, at 1 million barrels per day, the currently blocked OCS resource would last about 50 years.
Of course, opening the OCS will not bring immediate supplies because it would take time to organize the lease sales and then develop the supply delivery infrastructure. However, as development progressed, the expected growth in supply would have an effect on market sentiment and eventually prices. Thus, opening the OCS should be viewed as a relevant part of a larger strategy to help ease prices over time because an increase in activity in the OCS would generally improve expectations about future oil supplies.
Lifting the current moratorium in the OCS would also provide almost 80 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas that is currently off-limits. A recent study by the Baker Institute indicates that removing current restrictions on resource development in the OCS would reduce future liquefied natural gas import dependence of the United States and lessen the influence of any future gas producers’ cartel.
Lifting the moratorium in the outer continental shelf should not be rejected on the grounds that it will not provide an immediate, “silver bullet” solution. Ultimately, we must develop a comprehensive energy strategy that encompasses a portfolio of options including drilling, conservation, energy efficiency and alternative energy.