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Tree-huggers forced oil drillers to go deep

posted 6/1/2010 7:13:05 PM |
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  StraddleMyNose

I thought this article today was good enough to share.

Charles Krauthammer: Tree-huggers forced oil drillers to go deep
By Charles Krauthammer

Here's my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Barack Obama's tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we've had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep — to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are few people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That's a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they've escaped any mention at all.

The other culprits are pretty obvious. It starts with BP, which seems not only to have had an amazing string of perfect-storm engineering lapses but no contingencies to deal with a catastrophic system failure.

However, the railing against BP for its performance since the accident is harder to understand. I attribute no virtue to BP, just self-interest. What possible interest can it have to do anything but cap the well as quickly as possible? Every day that oil is spilled means millions in losses, cleanup and restitution.

Federal officials who rage against BP would like to deflect attention from their own role in this disaster. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department's laxity in environmental permitting and safety oversight renders it among the many bearing responsibility, expresses outrage at BP's inability to stop the leak and even threatens to “push them out of the way.”

“To replace them with what?” asked the estimable, admirably candid Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander. No one has the assets and expertise of BP. The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a 1-mile-deep, out-of-control oil well.

Obama didn't help much with his finger-pointing Rose Garden speech in which he denounced finger-pointing, then proceeded to blame everyone but himself. Even the grace note of admitting some federal responsibility turned sour when he reflexively added that these problems have been going on “for a decade or more” — translation: Bush did it — while, in contrast, his own interior secretary had worked diligently to solve the problem “from the day he took office.”

Really? Why hadn't we heard a thing about this? What about the September 2009 letter from Obama's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accusing Interior's Minerals Management Service of understating the “risk and impacts” of a major oil spill? When you get a blowout 15 months into your administration, and your own Interior Department had given BP a “categorical” environmental exemption in April 2009, the buck stops.

Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when “our planet began to heal” and “the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn't be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.

Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.

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Comments:

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xquseme

Jun 1 @ 7:38PM  
Yeah, I saw that article.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I'm pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool Republican,
and that I can't stand ole Unca Barak. Aside from a local Republican congresswoman
whackjob, I pretty much vote a straight ticket for the red team. That being said...

My father spent his whole career as a chemical engineer in a plastics manufacturing
company. He was expected to leave all sources of ignition at the plant gate, as the
raw materials for plastic are petroleum based, and quite volatile (That translates to "explosive").
We had "safety" pounded into our heads from open flame, down to no peanuts in our
M&Ms.

On the BP drilling platform which recently went nova, it's been publicized that there
were many, MANY sources of spark and open flame. HUNDREDS of safety violations
had been reported, and in hindsight it seems that it was only a matter of time before
this torch was explosively ignited.

To me, this is not a question of which party was at fault. Sounds to me like this was
a case of pure avarice, a "Well, GOLLY! THAT'LL never happen HERE!" attitude.

Well, guess what? It DID....!!
StraddleMyNose

Jun 1 @ 7:47PM  
Aside from a local Republican congresswoman
whackjob
I hope you're not referring to my congresswoman Schmidt...I really like her and think she's one hell of a congresswoman. I have voted for her since her first run in 2005 with the special election.
StraddleMyNose

Jun 1 @ 7:51PM  
I do partly blame Barry for not taking leadership in this crises.
sugarnspice005

Jun 1 @ 8:14PM  
Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman

Exactly. Katrina.....natural disaster. Why didn't Bush "jump" right away? Because, it is up to the Governor of Louisiana to request federal aid/relief in the event of a disaster.

The oil rig....BP's "disaster". Mechanical failure. Responsibility is to BP as the owner of the rig. Now, Louisisana's Governor, knowing that this will be an ecosystem disaster, can request federal aid, as can the other Gulf States.

Our country is set up so that the individual states govern themselves while the Federal Government is looking out for the entire nation. If Bush or Obama were to "jump in" right from the get go...then others would be hollering that they have "taken away" the States individual rights.

I think the time would be better spent focusing on stopping this horrid leak, get it cleaned up...and then worry about "who's to blame".


StraddleMyNose

Jun 1 @ 8:21PM  
I think the time would be better spent focusing on stopping this horrid leak, get it cleaned up...and then worry about "who's to blame".
I agree with you. But I'm also sick and tired of watching the media give a free pass to someone from one party, and not another.
lunanegra

Jun 1 @ 8:21PM  
I think the time would be better spent focusing on stopping this horrid leak, get it cleaned up...and then worry about "who's to blame".

Me thinks many things could be solved if people just shut up and retract their fingers, therefore getting things done.
sugarnspice005

Jun 1 @ 8:53PM  
I agree with you. But I'm also sick and tired of watching the media give a free pass to someone from one party, and not another.

We all know the media focuses on whoever is in the White House, regardless of which party they are. I would just rather they all stop the finger pointing and get down to getting this under control and then cleaned up.
StraddleMyNose

Jun 1 @ 9:46PM  
We all know the media focuses on whoever is in the White House, regardless of which party they are
I'm going to have to disagree with you on this statement. The media leans more to the left.
Wordsofwit

Jun 2 @ 2:40AM  
The media leans more to the left.

Oh really, have you listened to the radio in the last 15 years?
StraddleMyNose

Jun 2 @ 3:55AM  
Oh really, have you listened to the radio in the last 15 years?
At least these commentators on the radio don't pretend to be unbiased like many of the "news" people are. Very few radio commentators compared to the news media.


RevDocLove

Jun 2 @ 7:16AM  
“push them out of the way.”

“To replace them with what?” asked the estimable, admirably candid Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander. No one has the assets and expertise of BP. The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a 1-mile-deep, out-of-control oil well.

That's a fucking DUH!!!!!
Blame it on the companies lack of safety measures..Not the Gov't.


Wordsofwit

Jun 2 @ 8:47AM  
I'm with doc.

Here's my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

People can twist and turn this whole thing around and find some way to blame liberals, Obama, and tree huggers. But all of that is just more disinformation.

As for the quoted question, the answer is simple: money. The oil companies are dropping rigs into the ocean big time off of the coasts of South America and Western Africa. Is that because of liberals? You betcha!!! (not).

When you think about it, the offshore rigs have been happening since 1896 and really got going with deep water rigs in the last 40 years or so. There are well over 500 of them now. Let's face it, when you have that many of them over that many years, it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong. I am just surprised that it didn't happen sooner.
surv6969

Jun 2 @ 10:18AM  
Here is a conspiracy theory for you (I believe this as much as I believe that Bush had a hand in 9/11)

About a month after (Reuters) - President Barack Obama unveiled plans on Wednesday for a limited expansion of U.S. offshore oil and gas drilling in an effort to win Republican support for new proposals to fight climate change.) the BP oil well explodes spewing oil into the gulf prompting Obama to Extends Moratorium on Offshore Drilling among other planned drilling. Is it a quincadence or an Obama plot to get public support for the Green Energy Legislation?






Ewe_Wish

Jun 2 @ 12:50PM  
Blame it on the companies lack of safety measures..Not the Gov't.
Absolutely!!!

You know this may be a bit off topic but perhaps not..........the reason tree huggers and any of the other environmental groups get so much attention and get their way on stuff so much is because there is more of them in one group that bitch loudly and strongly than the ones who think we should go ahead and endanger our natural resources to produce whatever it is we think we can't live without for the moment. If you want the tree huggers vote to count as less............start a group with just a loud of voice and number of people that are against the tree huggers..........in govt its usually the ones that scream the loudest that get what they want................you can't take a back seat and bitch and expect things to change on there own.......No matter who the politician is or on what level he/she is on..........they are going to go with who is going to give them the biggest number of votes in the next election..............JMHO


By the way..........if we bitch about birds that are now extinct.........which some of us did in WOW's blog not so long ago..............than we really don't have a right to bitch about the fact that our govt. listens to the tree huggers to prevent that from happening again........sorry we don't get to have it both ways............Again.......JMHO
longbow371

Jun 2 @ 1:40PM  
The fact is that we are depleating our planets resources.

We need to find a new oil supply before the last one has been exhausted, this pushes us further and deeper requiring technological advances along the way, not to mention the politcal decisions of where we can and cannot drill. Can we categorically say that these advances have been tried and tested beyond the scope for which they will be utilised?

The technology is there for alternative fuels, Current Diesel engines can run on a variety of Bio-fuels. Hydrogen powered vehicles have been successfully tested, but why aren't we hearing more about them, or even using them? Because it is not in the interests of the oil companies making in the region of £1 billion (nearly $1.5 billion) profit per month for people to become less reliant on oil.

The buck rests firmly with the oil companies in my opinion, and the government agencies that we trust to ensure the oil companies are doing everything they should to ensure disasters like this don't happen. It's not like they can't afford the proper tools

We cannot start pointing fingers at environmentalists on this one
sugarnspice005

Jun 2 @ 1:46PM  
I'm going to have to disagree with you on this statement. The media leans more to the left.

Now that isn't totally true. Everyone knows that Fox leans right. MSNBC left, and CNN towards the middle with a left slant.

Regardless of who is in the White House, when a disaster hits...the media will "play" on the "where is the President on this issue".

StraddleMyNose

Jun 2 @ 5:17PM  
Now that isn't totally true. Everyone knows that Fox leans right. MSNBC left, and CNN towards the middle with a left slant.
Fox News is only one source. And while MSNBC leans left BIG TIME, CNN does as well. Maybe not as huge as MSNBC, but they still do. And you seem to have left out other media outlets such as NBC (yes, the own MSNBC, but the two are still considered a separate unity from each other to some degree), ABC, CBS.

And then if you want to talk about the printed news media, we have the New York Times, LA Times, the Washington Post and Times, The Chicago Sun Times and Tribune, The San Friscisco Examiner, The Miami Herrald to name a few.

Regardless of who is in the White House, when a disaster hits...the media will "play" on the "where is the President on this issue".
Again, I still disagree with you on this one as well. And while some over on the left will take some shots at Obama with what's currently going on, that's still only a few.
ksk72

Jun 2 @ 5:58PM  
Just have to add my 2 cents....if we are going to play the blame game its everyones fault. The computer age has caused a major shortage skilled labor. Bp has several projects lined up to upgrade and repair several oil rigs. Problem is even though most positions pay $500 or more a day they can't find enough man power to get the work done in a timely manner. Very few want to get dirty anymore they all want to sit in a office all day.
surv6969

Jun 2 @ 6:20PM  
Obama uses the oil disaster to push his agenda.
RevDocLove

Jun 5 @ 8:15AM  
From TBO.com ....Tampa Bay Tribune online..June 5th..

THE SUNCOAST NEWS

Published: June 5, 2010

As BP was in the midst of another attempt to close off its leaking oil well in the gulf, the company's CEO, Tony Hayward, was telling the Financial Times the company was not fully prepared to deal with the disaster.

That might strike some people as damning, and perhaps it is. On the other hand, the record shows that no one in New York was prepared to deal with what happened at the southern tip of Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001.

In reality, it is hard to be fully prepared for a contingency that almost never happens.

As we often note, the last oil rig blowout off the U.S. coast took place in 1969, off Santa Barbara, Calif. Keep in mind, however, the head of that well was about 200 feet below water. The leaking wellhead off Louisiana is 5,000 feet down.

In addition, the Santa Barbara rig sustained such little damage it not only did not collapse, it is still in operation 41 years later.

The people in the oil industry are human, so they make mistakes, some of which warrant punishment.

On the other hand, if, as some suggest, they are unprincipled privateers whose lust for profit drive them to cut corners and violate safety laws, why haven't we had more of these oil-rig disasters?

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Tree-huggers forced oil drillers to go deep