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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Eye of the Beholder

While in Orange County, CA, I happened to hear two radio yapsters (Conway & Stecler?) on KSLX during the evening discussing the possibility of American oil independence. They both seemed excited by the possibility that given the number of oil wells dotting the LA area landscape (including schoolyards, etc), that the USA should be able to break free from dependence on imported oil. Their guest, local TV newsreader Paul Magers, didn't pipe in to challenge the assertion.

True, lots of oil rigs can be seen bobbing away along the Pacific Coast Highway, and in peculiar spots, such as backyards of motels near the Huntington Beach pier.

However, many of these rigs are close to idle. In the image above of the Bolsa Chica wetlands area, 64 defunct oil wells and 98,000 feet of oil pipeline will be removed as part of an environmental restoration project. This area is right across the PCH from the beach. According to the Huntington Beach Municipal Code, the wells get declared idle anyways when they produce less than 90 barrels of oil a quarter, or a barrel per day. This is right in line with the average output of stripper wells of 2 barrels per day.

Appearances are deceiving. The local Pacifica-affiliated community radio station KPFK held a discussion of LA area wetlands restoration. No mention was made of oil wells; the guest primarily talked about keeping residential construction from creeping into the wildlife habitat. Blading along the beachfront, I was astounded by the amount of birdlife seen in the marshy areas. At least the Green part of the plan seems to be working out OK.

You have to wonder if the oil companies will keep at least a few of the pumps going, so as to keep the brainless yapsters (KSLX) clueless as to what is really happening.


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