Obama in late June spoke at Georgetown University, laying out the administration's plan to address climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The debate about the cause of climate change continues, but that's a discussion for another blog post.) In his remarks, Obama said, "What is true is that we can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face." It's a comment he's made before, but Winfield decided this time it needed a response. His letter does a great job of rebutting Obama's comments, and I think others in drilling will read it and cheer.
The thrust of Obama's plan is to cut emissions through more reliance on alternative energy sources and less on traditional sources like oil, gas and coal.
But, wait, Winfield says. I own an "alternative energy" business. "I am confused, because I own a drilling company." That company, Geodyne Inc., does geothermal HVAC installations, geotechnical investigations and environmental monitoring. Further, Geodyne even uses bio-diesel to power their drills, so they do what they can to work hard, but with a conscience.
Now, in his speech, Obama makes a point of saying drilling has a place, even in a cleaner energy economy.
"Federally supported technology has helped our businesses drill more effectively and extract more gas," he said. "And now, we'll keep working with the industry to make drilling safer and cleaner, to make sure that we're not seeing methane emissions, and to put people to work modernizing our natural gas infrastructure so that we can power more homes and businesses with cleaner energy.”
But that's not what you hear. "We can't just drill our way out," fits too nicely in a soundbite or on a bumper sticker. I think that's where Winfield starts to take issue—along with many other drilling contractors, I guess.
Drilling for energy isn't going anywhere, whether that drilling hits oil or hot rocks. I think all Winfield and others in the industry want is an acknowledgment of that, and of their contribution and sacrifice. Being president isn't easy: Winfield recognizes that. But neither is drilling.
So, let me suggest a different soundbite: "Drill smarter." Short and to the point. Drilling smarter means finding safer, cleaner ways to get energy, as Obama says. But it also means understanding drilling is a necessary part of the 21st century global economy and that we shouldn't malign the people who put in the grunt work to ensure we have the plastics to make our smartphones and the juice to charge them.
Stay safe out there, drillers.