A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Drive-through thoughts of drilling ban

Written December 27th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

In line at the drive-through in winter, with the engine running for convenience and heat.

In Albany and the rest of Oregon, most of us are content to burn fossil fuels as long as they last, but when it comes to production, we want nothing to do with that.

In the drive-through line of the West Albany McDonald’s, with the motor running, it’s hard not to think of the fuel being wasted just sitting still. We have gasoline to waste this way because it’s being produced in large quantities, but only somewhere else. Not a drop is made in this state.

The main reason is that whatever other natural resources we have, petroleum is not among them, not on land and not off shore. So it was easy for the legislature to decide in 2007 and again in 2010 to ban oil exploration in Oregon’s territorial ocean waters, and to make the ban permanent by passing another law this year.

Without the passage of Senate Bill 256 last March, the ban on exploration for oil and gas within three miles of the Oregon coast was set to expire at the end of this month. But the bill sailed through the Senate 23-6 and passed the House 47-8. (The mid-valley’s Sherrie Sprenger of Scio and Shelly Boshart Davis of Albany were among the Republican votes against in the House.)

As you would expect, groups from the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy to the Sierra Club and the Surfrider Foundation supported the permanent ban. So did the Port of Toledo and the City of Portland. No one submitted written testimony against it.

The only word from industry came from a Portland lawyer for the Western States Petroleum Association, who said in an email: “There is no oil production or refinement in Oregon, on or off shore.”

So even without the permanent ban on drilling, we would never see anything like this when we look seaward on the Oregon coast:

From the coastal bike path in Huntington Beach, Calif., you could see a couple of oil rigs in 2015. The other dots on the horizon are ships.

Of course, some of us might not mind a few rigs if we got reliably sunny beaches and warm surf as part of the deal. (hh)

17 responses to “Drive-through thoughts of drilling ban”

  1. My Real Name John Hartman says:

    Thankfully, Oregonians elect enough representatives to counter the Sprengers and the Boshart-Davis’ of this world.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Cue the virtue signaling that will communicate how much the morally correct hate fossil fuels, dams, and nuclear power.

    Ignore the reality that Oregon will have to be virtually covered in “climate friendly” wind turbines and solar panels to achieve a few thousandths of one degree less in global warming that no one can afford in 2050.

    Yeah, ban your kid’s future. Great idea, Oregon.

  3. Don says:

    You almost hit the nail on the head, make it someone else’s problem most people think nothing of wasting fuel as you stated. Things will only get better when each person realizes they are the problem.

  4. Mike Patrick says:

    Sitting in line at McDonalds and all you can think of is burning fossil fuel? You have lost it HH.
    Please keep your environmental opinions to yourself if your going to be a hypocrite.
    I like burning fossil fuel and so does 99.9% of the rest of the world.

    Enjoy your shake!

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Apparently reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit? Public school?

      There’s a big difference between-
      “…with the motor running, it’s hard not to think of the fuel being wasted just sitting still.”
      AND YOUR-
      “Sitting in line at McDonalds and all you can think of is burning fossil fuel?”

      • WilsonA says:

        Bill, why the slam on public schools? Public schools are one of our great equalizers in this country. It’s up to the individual to make the most of what they are taught. Just because you get a private school education does not mean you are more prepared for the world or smarter than others. It just means you went to a private school. It takes money not intelligence to go to most private schools.

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          “It takes money not intelligence to go to most private schools.”

          My family was too poor to own a car. I worked off my tuition!
          That blows your statement out of the water!

          • WilsonA says:

            Not really, as you still had to pay to go to the private school. It took money (whether you earned it or someone else paid it) or you bartered your labor to equal the tuition cost, it wasn’t free.

  5. Lundy says:

    I wouldn’t describe myself as “content” to burn fossil fuels, but I do contribute in burning them, at as low amounts as is reasonable, because that’s what we have. I’m against any extremism where the main effect would be to cripple the economy, but I can’t see any reason not to take reasonable steps to limit fossil fuel use while looking for workable/affordable alternatives.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Good point. Interesting that the auto mfg’s all seem to meet the mandated higher targets regardless of their whining & complaining…

  6. GoBeavers! says:

    It seems more pro-Oregon to send money to rural communities that can harvest wind or solar power on their property (often helping them keep the farm in the family) rather than send money to oil companies in Texas or the Middle East. We don’t need to force people to buy electric cars, but I welcome anything we can do to help out rural economies by getting more of my energy from them.

  7. thomas cordier says:

    HH your language of “as long as it lasts” suggests we might run out. Every time a material balance is done; more carbon based fuel reserves are actually discovered. I have been at a fracking drill site in PA. That Marcellus shale deposit has proven reserves which alone would supply all US needs for 200 years. No concern for lack of supply

  8. centrist says:

    Egad, such a loud response over thoughts while passing time in a line.
    JH apparently dislikes Boshart-Davis enough to negatize over voting against a do-nothing bill.
    GS apparently embraced nuclear power, but will he store the waste in his yard?
    MP missed the point and flamed on.

  9. Cap says:

    I think drive-through restaurants should be a thing of the past until we get rid of fossil-fuel burning cars. I, too, think of the fossil fuels being burned when I am in line at a drive-thru. I have cut down how often I allow myself to be in line at a McDonald’s or such.

    All new Starbucks stores are now drive-thrus. I don’t approve of that either.

    All of Hasso’s conservative uber-capitalist followers are probably going to get hell from their grandchildren at some point, and I hope so.

    • John Marble says:

      Getting rid of fossil-fuel burning cars is kind of an interesting concept. I know a number of proud electric car owners who like to talk about their environmental footprint. Except when I remind them that the vast majority of electricity produced in Oregon comes from COAL, NATURAL GAS and HYDRO DAMS. I appreciate the desire to conserve resources, but let’s be honest about the methods.

  10. George Pugh says:

    In my lifetime the oil explorers have been through this part of the valley twice. Fist was in the late 50s or possibly 60. They punched a hole three miles south of me and came up dry. Well, maybe, local lore at the time was that they probably hit oil and capped it to come back later. We’re still waiting.
    They put another whole in the earth over by Lebanon as were purported to have found some gas but not of usable quantities. They found, it was reported, usable quantities of gas up by Mist, Oregon, but I believe that supply petered out.
    They came back in the early 70s. I was using my GI Bill to buy my house and some acreage and signed a mineral lease for two years at $0.50 an acre per year. I told my wife that would be the easiest dollar we will make farming.

    These guys went at it a bit harder using hydraulic thumpers as they moved along the roads and dynamite charges when they had cut across a field to maintain their projected line They were taking seismic readings and interpolating them.
    The end result was no oil. But they did pay for some drainage tile the dynamite destroyed, but I don’t know how the neighbor lady who had her plate collection shaken off their display shelves came out on the deal.

    In the end, the legislature wasted their time and our treasure to make political hay in a barren field.



    • centrist says:

      Thanks for this 1st-person report.
      The gas field at Mist is now used as storage during low-demand periods.

      Always appreciate your writing


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