Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer of Discontent

As the oil began gushing out of the BP Deep Horizon well, many questioned the wisdom of drilling a mile below the ocean's surface, apparently to satisfy environmentalists. So the contingency plan if/when the oil well blows one mile below the ocean's surface? Deploy sophisticated technology designed to stop the gusher? No, it doesn't exist.  Fallback plan, if all else fails: relief wells that take a few months to build, while the oil gusher continues to whack away at livelihoods, ways of life, and much of Louisiana's natural beauty.

Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) provided more context on This Week, a few days later on Sunday, June 6.  He explained that 30,000 deep water oil drills had been approved since Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas gave the OK to deep water oil drilling, and that this Deep Horizon/BP disaster is the only such one. Most of the accidents, he said, have occurred with tankers, and that if we ceased our deep water oil drilling, we would be importing that much more oil, increasing the likelihood of tanker accidents.

Deepwater oil drilling, he stressed, is a big source of jobs and revenue.

The deep water oil rigs, he said, would not go out of commmission but would simply move to other parts of the world -- off the coast of Africa, Indonesia, etc. -- again making us progressively more dependent on the rest of the world for our oil, thereby further undermining our national security and that of our allies since so much of the oil profit would go into the hands of our enemies.

Now, this disaster has certainly put into the sharpest focus possible the need to have tighter safety regulation -- and to impose stiff penalties when greasing politicians hands' undermines saftey. Also, we need to have a better contingency plan should, God forbid, the unthinkable happen again. The irony is, as Gov. Barbour noted, such technology already exists -- the product of American innovation, which the Chinese and others are making use of it. Furthermore the technology exists to avoid such catastrophes in the first place -- technology which the Chinese and others are availing themselves of.

But, as Gov. Barbour suggests, if unwise policies are implemented, it would only compound the disaster the Gulf states are now reeling from.

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