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Offshore Drilling –
Help Down The Road?

For the past few months, the U.S. offshore drilling debate was one of the front and center topics among the presidential candidates, Congress and the White House.

In July, President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling that had been put in place in 1990 via his father – George H.W. Bush – while recommending drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, the 1981 federal ban was still in place.

On Sept. 16, the House passed a measure that would allow limited offshore drilling. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate John McCain openly supported offshore drilling and drilling in Alaska amid the backdrop of his campaign supporters chanting, “Drill, baby, drill.”

Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, supported limited offshore drilling as part of an overall energy package. But in late September, the Democrats, under pressure from Repub-licans and the president’s promise of a veto, went along with letting the offshore drilling ban expire. A final resolution to the issue will have to be worked out when President-elect Obama takes office.

Looking beyond the drill or no-drill debate, we asked our readers in October whether an offshore drilling ban will help lower prices for fuel needed to run their farming operations. Fifty-eight percent say, “Yes,” but see the lower prices as taking a long time to actually materialize. Forty-two percent of the respondents opted for “No.”

Following is a sampling of comments from recipients who voted in the October Web Poll. We appreciate everyone’s feedback.

• “Yes, but I believe, for now, it will not soften the price of fertilizer, which is what we (personally) need more than anything.”

• “No. It will not lower fuel prices unless Congress can stop the oil companies from sending refined diesel to Europe, as they are currently doing. That is the reason there is such a huge difference between the price of unleaded gas and diesel.”

• “This should have happened 25 years ago.”

• “Although it’s useless to look backward, we should never have had an offshore drilling ban. Now we are far behind, and even our economic adversaries are drilling within distances that can tap our continental supplies. The people who have made these decisions have not acted in the interest of our country, including agriculture. Sure, we need alternative energy; but, for now, we need oil.”

• “The amount of oil we would get from offshore will add to the energy pie. It might not help much, but it sure won’t hurt. We need all the sources that we are able to find.”

• “With [a big oil company] making a $14 BILLION profit in the third quarter, I don’t think anything will lower fuel prices for the long term. Congress investigates everything it can nose into but does not mention investigating the oil prices or outrageous profits made by [big oil companies].”

• “Of course it will. It will take some time, but every barrel of oil produced here will be one barrel we won’t have to send dollars overseas to pay for it.”

Now that we are into December and past the political frenzy that came to a head on election day, we who are involved in U.S. agriculture are wondering how our industry will fare in the new political environment. Thus, we are asking our readers to cast their votes on this subject and explain their thoughts in the comments section.

To participate in this month’s Web Poll, go online at www.cottonfarming.com. The results of the December poll will be reported in the February issue of Cotton Farming.

Web Poll Results

In October, we asked: Do you believe Congressional measures to ease the offshore drilling ban will help lower prices for fuel needed to run your farming operation? Why or why not?

  • Yes — 58 percent
  • No — 42 percent

December Web Poll Question

Do you think U.S. agriculture will fare well in terms of productivity and profitability in the new political environment? Please explain your choice in the comments section.

(1) Yes

(2) No

(3) It depends.

Register your vote at www.cottonfarming.com.

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