Young Republicans discuss oil drilling

The Madison County Young Republicans had about 60 people attend their  meeting Tuesday night – the topic of discussion was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the effect on future energy policy.  Several people spoke in support of  ”drill, baby, drill” and there were just a couple who had second thoughts about the technology.  Increasing U.S. nuclear energy capacity was also mentioned a lot.  The consensus seemed to support doing both (drilling and nukes) and then more (biofuels from soybeans, peanuts, and switchgrass).

Points:  land drilling is safest, coastal drilling next safe, deepwater drilling risky.  As we improve our techniques for responsibly exploiting deepwater oil we can help make the industry safer.  No non-Western country cares as much about pollution as US.  Keep in mind that there are areas of Nigeria (and Colombia and Yemen)  that are awash in spilled oil, as much from terrorist (er, militant, er, activist) man-caused disasters as from accidents.  Do you think that India or China or Indonesia have the capability or the will to clean up a spill like Deepwater Horizon?

Another (and greater) source of oil spillage is from tankers.  US coastal shipping is regulated by the Jones Act, which has been used to require double hull tankers (note that the Exxon Valdez had a ‘partial’ double hull).  There is an international plan (MARPOL – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships) to require all oil tankers to be double-hulled by 2026.  Good luck with that…

The point is that Western countries are better stewards of the Earth and that we can only control our piece of it – we can influence the others but we can’t do it for them.  Still we try.  Did you know that the US is paying for Brazil to develop Brazilian deepwater oil fields?  The rationale is that Brazil would be a more stable and safer trading partner than Middle Eastern countries.    

On Topic Update – here’s the photo release of the Macondo scene:

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GULF OF MEXICO – The mobile offshore drilling unit Development Driller III (near) is prepared to drill a relief well at the Deepwater Horizon site May 18, 2010, as the MODU Q4000 holds position directly over the damaged blowout preventer. While the drillship Discover Enterprise (far) continues to capture oil from the ruptured riser, preparations for the possible utilization of  the “top kill” method are being made aboard the Q4000. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley.

Look at the ship in the top center (Enterprise), burning off excess gas in a process known as flaring.  The containment riser feeds into that ship.  The nearest (yellow) rig is the Developmental Driller III, ready to spud the second relief well.  The middle (orange) rig Q4000 is preparing for the top kill method of high speed pumping  concrete mud into the well.

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Florida Keys tar balls not linked to Deepwater Horizon – from the Joint Information Center:

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Laboratory in New London, Conn. analyzed a sampling of tar balls discovered on Florida Keys shoreline Tuesday and determined that none of the collected samples are from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

A sampling of tar balls discovered on beaches at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Fla., Smathers Beach in Key West, Big Pine Key, Fla., and Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park, Fla. were flown by a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet based in Miami, Fla., to New London, Conn. Tuesday for testing and analysis.

The results of those tests conclusively show that the tar balls collected from Florida Keys beaches do not match the type of oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the tar balls remains unknown at this time.

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If that wasn’t enough for a Young Republican meeting, Congressional candidate Les Phillip and Ag Commission candidates John McMillan and Dorman Grace gave brief campaign speeches.

I enjoy hearing Les speak – as I’ve said before – it’s like he’s in my head and I hear my thoughts coming out of his mouth (or thoughts I wish I had).  Phillip said that the US needs nuclear power - noting that the Navy safely runs the largest number of reactors in the world – also noting that France gets 80% (IIRC) of it’s power from nukes.  Phillip said that the most important task before the next Congress was to kill Obamacare, because it is the camel’s nose under the tent to socialism.  Phillip cited the Federal takeover of the student loan industry as an example – originally the feds said that they were just providing competition to the banks – now the Feds control the entire business.   This illustrates what I like about Les, he knows not only that a policy is good or bad, he knows why because he knows the history (NOTE: Mo Brooks is much the same in that respect – I enjoy learning from both of them). 

Google Clement Attlee to see how a socialist didn’t let a crisis (WW2) go to waste and how Britain became a socialist country (hint: national health care).

Ag Commission candidate Dale Peterson might as well have been there – his video, now known nationally as “The greatest political as ever”, certainly had a presence there.  From the comments:

Dale Peterson doesn’t get out of bed in the mornings; he pushes the earth away from him a little.

Dorman Grace and John McMillan both addressed a point made in Peterson’s ad (Grace tried to play it off, saying he’s focused on issues; McMillan reiterated the Ethics claim).  Here’s some background from commenter “Nick”:

Dorman Grace, GOP candidate for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, has had at least two ethics complaints filed against him…

When contacted, Grace did not deny having received the contributions in question, but said he had just received the letter on Friday from the Ethics Commission informing him of the allegations against him. “We received the letter late Friday,” Grace said. “We’re going through it looking at the situation. I’ve never been in politics before, so we need to go through this. We
will be transparent,” Grace said. When asked if he would return the contributions if they are found to be illegal,
Grace said: “That’s possible. They (the commission) haven’t told us what to do. “Right now, it’s just an allegation. At this point I don’t have enough information. We have a week to respond, which we will do. “We’ve raised money all over the state. We’ll go back now and look at everybody,” Grace said.

More candidates:

Representative (and Marine) Howard Sanderford (incumbent candidate House 20),  Senate 8 candidate Shad McGill, Senate 2 candidate (and Marine) Bill Holtzclaw, House 20 candidate David Pinkleton, HSV City Council candidate Jon Hitt, and HSV City Council candidate James Lomax.

Huntsville Governors Forum Report

It’s been awhile since the life-changing Huntsville Governors Forum on March 2 - my notes and memories aren’t getting any better with age.  So finally here it is, the post you’ve all been waiting for, the hottest post in the world, the Huntsville Governors Forum report!

To refresh your memories, the Madison County Young Republicans and Right On Huntsville hosted the Forum at the Davidson Center.  Republican gubernatorial candidates Robert Bentley, Bradley Byrne, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Bill Johnson, and James Potts attended – note that Kay Ivey has since decided to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Retired Lt. Gen. Jim Link of Redstone Arsenal and Teledyne Brown, Gary Palmer of the Alabama Policy Institute, and former Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer were the Forum Panelists.

The event was attended in total by 575 people, but what surprised me was that it was almost like two events: several hundred attended the Reception and several hundred attended the Forum.  Anyway – it was a successful event – the hosts did better than break even (the Davidson Center costs big money – IIRC like $8,000 with catered hors d’ouvres  - but it was worth it).

The Forum began promptly at 6:15, with the Butler High School Air Force ROTC Color Guard presenting the colors.  I was able to spend some time with the cadets and they are great kids – smart and ambitious.  ROTC Instructors Colonel Mike Parsons and Senior Master Sergeant Elijah Porter are creating future leaders – well done!

Retired Colonel John Reitzell led the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Clinton Carter of the Madison County Young Republicans introduced the candidates and panelists.  Kudos to Carter for doing a fantastic job of organizing the Forum.  Joel Jaqubino of Right On Huntsville fired up the audience with red meat – and then – the big show…

Loretta Spencer asked about State support for BRAC in terms of roads and infrastructure:

Bentley – signed the gas tax pledge.
James – signed the gas tax pledge, saying “where do we get the biggest return” and “bang for the buck”.
Byrne – cited Maryland BRAC efforts as a model, Governor is “the point of the spear”, State may have to spend more than 100% on the dollar for roads and schools.
Johnson – helped get BRAC jobs, “understands the needs and will deliver”.
Ivey – “focused”, designate senior staff to liaison with City / County leaders to cut red tape, “count on Kay Ivey”.
Potts – Statewide audit, tax-free bonds for infrastructure, subdivisions pay their way, air / water quality of life.

General Jim Link asked for specific ideas to boost the economy:

James – “keep taxes down”, incentivize existing businesses, regulations – “get Government out of the way”.
Byrne – use Universities as key asstes, cited 2-year college Robotics Center, create “Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.
Johnson – get all the BRAC jobs here that are allocated, improve State image, grow exports.
Ivey – economic liberty, entrepreneurship, elevate Office of Economic Development to Cabinet level, workforce development and education.

Unfortunately, I missed Potts’ and Bentley’s answers, as well as Gary Palmer’s question along with the responses to his question from most of the candidates.  We’ll pick back up with Bentley and James’ responses to Palmer’s question:

Bentley – unfunded teachers retirement is huge problem ($5.4 billion plus $1 billion for employee health care), need to refinance over 30-year cycle.  Need Health Savings Accounts. Likes Representative Greg Canfield’s Rolling Budget Plan.
James – elect Republicans to the State House and Senate.

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Mayor Loretta Spencer asked about forming a ‘Transportation Commission’ to hire the Alabama Department of Transportation Director:

Johnson – supports “taking the politics” out of road construction.
Ivey – “the last thing you need is another layer of Government”.  Need a firm method of deciding road funding.
Potts – “committees spend money on studies but don’t get anything done”.
Bentley – every time this bill came up he voted for it, he voted against it this time because he’s running for Governor.  The Governor needs a single point of contact, not a commission.
James – no commission.  Removing politics from the process won’t happen.  Need one person in charge.
Byrne – not ready for a commission, maybe in the long term.

General Link said there are 33,000 people who work at Redstone Arsenal.  What role does the State play in protecting Federal jobs such as Constellation?

Ivey – listen and “keep economy healthy, healthy, healthy”.
Potts – keep a close relationship with Senators; work force development; ensure that education produces students who perform grade-level work.
Bentley – BRAC renegotiation in 2015; education; work with Senators and Representatives.
James – believes in limited government, interstate commerce and defense.  Cited lobbying office in Washington for the Air Force tanker program.
Byrne – “intense response to BRAC”.
Johnson – cited the moon landing, “we can’t sit on the sidelines” while China and Russia continue improving their space programs.

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Sorry about this, out of time.  Only a few more pages of notes to post.  Maybe starting this post will motivate me to finish it – that’s the plan…