Spill Baby Spill?
First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to those injured and missing due to the oil rig explosion (link from NPR.) What a horrible human tragedy.
What will be the environmental and political implications of this huge oil spill disaster? Newsweek describes some of the facts and fallout.
Now BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, finds itself blamed forwhat could prove to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history. And onlyweeks after Obama announced an ambitious plan to open up more U.S.offshore waters to oil drilling, shunting aside environmental concernsfrom his own Democratic Party, his administration is facing acomeuppance from hell. "There was a lot of wishful thinking, I guess,"says Villy Kourafalou, a scientist at the University of Miami'sRosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. "The newtechnologies were said to be so wonderful that we'd never have an oilspill again." Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who had sought to block theexpanded drilling, says the oil and gas industry was pushing this ideahard. "They said, 'We'll never have a repeat of Santa Barbara,'?"referring to the 1969 rig explosion off the California coast. Both theBush and Obama administrations "were buying the line that thetechnology was fine," Pallone adds.
BP pressed hardto make that point in D.C. Its PR efforts included payments of $16million last year to a battery of Washington lobbyists, among them thefirm of Tony Podesta, the brother of former Obama transition chief JohnPodesta. Last fall, after the U.S. Interior Department proposed tighterfederal regulation of oil companies' environmental programs, DavidRainey, BP's vice president for Gulf of Mexico exploration, toldCongress that the proposal was unnecessary. "I think we need toremember," he said, that offshore drilling "has been going on for thelast 50 years, and it has been going on in a way that is both safe andprotective of the environment."
Now those who waxed confident about offshore drilling are running forcover, and there are major questions about whether the Obama drillingplan will have to be shelved. The administration also sought to dispelany comparisons to the Bush administration's laggard response afterHurricane Katrina. For nearly a week, from the fatal explosion thatsank the oil rig on April 22 until April 28, the government appeared toaccept BP's estimate of a 1,000-barrel-per-day spill, when it was atleast five times worse. "I'm surprised that there weren't more robuststandby procedures in place," says John Parry of IHS Herold, anenergy-research firm. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and HomelandSecurity Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that most of the earlyefforts had been devoted to rescuing the 11 missing oil workers.
From CNN. While Rush Limbaugh and others try to paint this as "Obama's Katrina," President Obama is pushing back hard, describing his vast efforts thus far and promising "relentless" support.
Venice, Louisiana (CNN) -- President Obama said Sunday hisadministration has mounted a "relentless response" to the oil spillunleashed by the sinking of an offshore drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Obamamet with local, state and federal officials involved in the cleanup insoutheastern Louisiana, the closest stretch of coastline threatened bythe massive spill. Afterward, he said that despite "the most advancedtechnology available," the spill may not be stopped for many days.
"I'mnot going to rest, and none of the gentlemen and women who are here aregoing to rest or be satisfied, until the leak is stopped at the source,the oil on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up and the people of thisregion are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods," hesaid. "We will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage iscaused."
Obama met with the commandant of the Coast Guard,Adm. Thad Allen; EPA administrator Lisa Jackson; Louisiana Gov. BobbyJindal; and the presidents of several parish governments afterarriving, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. The president'sbriefing included an update on the procedures being attempted to capthe well and the economic and environmental impact of the spill, Gibbssaid.
Krugman's take? The Environment may "be back on the map" as a priority. Will it make the "environmentalist wackos" seem much less wacko?
It took futuristic technology to achieve one of the worst ecologicaldisasters on record. Without such innovation, after all, BP couldn’thave drilled the Deepwater Horizon well in the first place. Yet forthose familiar with environmental history, the catastrophe in the Gulfof Mexico has a strangely old-fashioned feel, reminiscent of the eventsthat led to the first Earth Day, four decades ago.
And maybe,just maybe, the disaster will help reverse environmentalism’s longpolitical slide in the United States — a slide largely caused by ourvery success in alleviating highly visible pollution. If so, there maybe a small silver lining to a very dark cloud.
I thought this recent Olberman youtube video was worth showing.
Suzi-I am interested in your take on this since it hits so close to home for you.