Environment Political

Oil Story

I am pleased to see President Obama more engaged in the Gulf crises, but how much control the federal government has is still open for debate. As long as BP controls where resources are allocated in the region, as well as controlling information access, then the Federal government is not in control.

Yes, BP is responsible for all of the costs of the clean up, but it should never have been given the authority in the clean up effort it has been given. It would seem that the Coast Guard in the region, as well as Mineral Management Services, has too cozy a relationship with the oil companies. This also has to end.

The bright spot this week was the moratorium on new oil drilling, particularly along the Arctic. It’s obvious we don’t have a handle on offshore drilling. All we’ve had, is a bit of luck.

Consider what’s happening now: we’ve put the company that caused this disaster in charge of fixing the problem, because the government doesn’t have the expertise or equipment in order to manage the effort. So, now we’re trusting in the competence of the same company whose incompetence triggered this mess. A company that has demonstrated, time and again, that it is acting less than honorably: hiding how much oil is spilling; not allowing independent experts access to the video; preventing media access; downplaying the seriousness of the spill; continuing to use a toxic chemical despite EPA demands. At what point in time is the government going to wake up to the fact that BP is more interested in protecting its butt than the Gulf?

However, the federal government isn’t the only governmental body that needs to be slapped awake. This tragedy is just as much a Louisiana mess as it is a federal government mess. Even now that the state faces untold damage to its coast, it still hastens to assure the oil industry that the two are friends, forever. The state wants the oil jobs and oil revenue, but doesn’t want the oil. As we’re now finding, though, every silver lining has its dark, oily cloud—you can’t separate the oil from the oil wealth.

But lets not talk about this now. This kind of talk is for later, after this current crises is over. You know, when clear heads can prevail. After all, we need the oil: Apple has more iPads to sell. Gosh darn it, can’t make iPads without oil. Instead, let’s focus on good old American ingenuity and know how. There’s no disaster so bad that can’t be fixed with the right mix of technology if we all work together. All we really need, is a wiki.

Governor “never met a press conference he didn’t like” Jindal wants the Army Corps of Engineers to build sand berms to protect the coastal areas. Instead of the oil lapping along the fragile marshes, it hits the sand berms, which can be easily cleaned. Or at least, that’s what we’re told. However, many experts believe the sand berms won’t work, at best, or may push the oil towards the Mississippi state coast line, at worst. It is a politically expedient move, though, and perhaps we may learn from the effort—because goodness knows I hope we learn something, now that we’ve turned the Gulf into one great big oil spill laboratory, already equipped with test animals.


I really hope that BP has succeeded in stopping the oil.

Second update

CNN has come out with an article about how little scientists know about the long term impact of the Gulf oil spill. Sometimes scientists irritate the hell out of me. One is “hopeful that scientists will be able to figure out a way to tackle the problem”, which again puts too much reliance on science to fix the problem, rather than changing human behavior to prevent the problem. Another says hopefully we’ll learn from this event for the next time. There should not be a “next time”. If we can’t guarantee the absolute safety of offshore oil platforms, they should be closed down.

However, I do agree with the scientists who are pissed that we didn’t have the research in hand about how to handle a spill before the spill—what were we thinking, to allow all of these drill rigs to operate in the Gulf, without any kind of emergency plan in place? To allow the use of chemicals, when we don’t understand their impact?

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