Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Few Thought Not on Poetry

At the left is a photograph of just a small portion of what the recent oil spill in the Gulf region is like.  It's evidence of a much larger - might I venture catastrophic accident from an off shore drilling site. 

I'll make my case for catastrophic on this basis.  We know factually that the Exxon Valdez oil spill in spring of 1989 was small potatoes compared to the current Gulf spill. Some 20 years later The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council continues to monitor the impact and reports that some areas remain as toxic to wildlife as they did just after the spill.  By size comparison, Exxon's spill was surpassed in size by the BP Gulf spill by the end of it's first week and it remains an active spill in spite of all efforts to control it and begin the cleanup. 

I've heard criticism in the past week or so that the government response is not unlike that of the government's response to Katrina.  I'm not sure I believe that is a fair comparison because we knew how to lift people from house tops. We know how to distribute food and water. To mobilize and move people. You see, no one seems knowledgeable about how to stop this spill for certain.

One might expect that if government is going to authorize and regulate off-shore drilling, they would first have a clear idea what to do in such cases. That also implies that the industry itself knows and convinces the government that there are methods to deal effectively with accidents such as this. We know now that even BP is using the trial and error method of abating the spill. I will assume that other industry giants are no more knowledgeable or they would be sharing their knowledge, after all the outcome of this spill cleanup will impact the future drill prospects for them. There should be no industry secrets here.

Yes, I believe the government is ill repaired for regulating the oil industry, but it is also clear they require regulation. Such a problem is however not simply a problem of the Obama Administration, but clearly a systemic problem that spans many administrations and places far to much reliance on the oil companies to "do the right thing."

The damage to the economic, ecological, and health of the Gulf Coast states is immeasurable. Not for the short term but for decades maybe centuries. No plan for dealing with such accidents is no different from licensing nuclear power plants with no thought given to how you decommission one or what you do in the case of an accident.

It was not that long ago people seemed to think it was somehow Unamerican to not be a part of the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd.  How is it that being stewards of our environment is unpatriotic?
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