Saturday, May 1, 2010

The BP Valdez

There are so many aspects to the ongoing ecological disaster in the Gulf that one hardly knows where to start and even finding a place to start, it seem futile. Latest estimates have the well leaking 1 million gallons per day instead of BP's original estimate of 42,000.

I believe it was Keith Olberman who dubbed the mess Lake Palin, I myself prefer the BP Valdez. This because it is obvious that the leadership of British Petroleum were drunk with arrogance and completely thoughtless when it came to the possible dangers of drilling so close to fragile and valuable ecosystems.

The spill's costs to wildlife are incalculable but the dollar value on Louisiana's commercial fisheries takes in 2.5 billion a year and tourists spend  2.3 billion at Alabama's beaches. And some estimates that it could cost the state of Florida 3 billion in lost tourist dollars.

The sad and remarkable thing is that this was completely preventable. It's been reported that BP fought new and stricter safety standards, insisting that they could police themselves and it was unlikely anything bad could happen and so their contingency plans were sorely lacking. Worse, it turns out that for the cost of $500,000 there could have been a device in place, an acoustic switch, that would have plugged up the leak after it occurred but they were too cheap to install it.

Rigs in Norway and Brazil are required to have these switches but years of deregulation and an administration in bed with Bigoil have left the Gulf at the mercy of BP short-sightedness. Mike Papantonio, an environmental lawyer who has filed a class-action suit on behalf of the Gulf States, says you can thank Dick Cheney for this mess:

There is evidence that Haliburton were involved in the negligence that caused the explosion. And just to emphasize that Bush/Cheney have their fingerprints all over this mess, the blowout valve that the rig did have (and obviously failed) was manufactured by the Cameron Group. Crooks and Liars informs us their board is filled with their former cronies.

There is no upside or any quick fix to this. The dispersants that are being used currently are toxic to fish and perhaps worse for the environment than the oil itself and can migrate great distances. Maybe at some point someone will look up and realize that it's time to start investing all of our efforts and resources in finding sources of energy other than fossil fuels but that hardly seems likely.

That's what was so wrong about Obama's declaration that he was okay with more offshore drilling. They are still planning to be doing the same things 20 years from now? That hardly seems possible, or doable.

1 comment:

  1. karlpk

    Duane - saw your response on the previous board - went shopping for mom in law - and I see you assumed it was cynicism on Obama's part - I don't know how you know that as opposed to him just believing unchecked MSM and beltway CW - I'd be a lot angrier about it if I assumed it was cynicism on his part - people can get things wrong you know - hence my point about beating back the msm distortions every day

    I'm assuming he knows better. I could be wrong. But I doubt it. It's not as if the reasons why we haven't opened the coasts up to drilling previously were some great mystery. This Administration obviously has a strategy of always moving toward some mythical center, which has progressively been moving right since Reagan. That IS the Conventional Wisdom in the beltway, influenced as it is by lobbyists, but again, I find it hard to believe these savvy political veterans aren't aware of the criticisms of such a policy from the left. They know, they just don't give a shit. It's not the first time they've done this. Remember Insurance Reform?