15 June 2010

Lessons from the Oil Spill - Potential and Otherwise

Recently, President Obama claimed that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is akin to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. What is implied in the comparison has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or fault. What the comparison attempts to do is give magnitude for change which the president wants to impose. He believes that “this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.” When disaster strikes, we shape how we think about matters based on valid lessons learned.

While I’m not an oil expert – far from it – is seems like a valid lesson which might be learned is that the deeper we go to drill, the more difficult everything becomes. Water is heavy, and once one gets a mile down, it is really heavy. Even if there isn’t a problem, everything is difficult a mile down. Thus, if we are able to drill in shallower waters, we ought to.

Additionally, if we are able to drill for oil on land, we should. It is obviously easier to control and contain an accident of this type if it occurs on terra firma. While I may be mistaken, I am willing to bet that there are a fair number of spots fit for drilling within the coastal boarders which are barred from use by the federal government. Re-examining and reducing federal limitations is something we ought to do.

Finally, if forced to drill miles off-shore and a mile or more under the surface, then clearly delineated responsibilities for containment and cleanup must be established and adhered to. At the moment, who is in charge of what and who is responsible for what is more than a little fuzzy – and may change depending on the political spin deemed necessary at a given time. This is not the way to prepare for and execute an emergency response.

What President Obama tells the nation tonight in his speech about the oil spill will probably contain none of these points. Instead, he’ll talk about things that are being done (the six-month moratorium on drilling), he’ll pay no attention to things which aren’t being done (or haven’t been done – sand barriers off the coast of Louisiana come to mind), and probably make a push for an energy plan, which in reality means “cap and trade”. While it may come off as politically expedient, the speech tonight will not, I believe, show Mr. Obama to be a leader. He is, in the end, a community organizer, and the oil spill gives him an excuse to push his next money-wasting social program: squeezing tax dollars out of the country under the auspices of renewable, “green” energy. For Mr. Obama, the spill is a crisis which simply cannot go to waste. After all, he may have a Democrat-run Congress for only a few more months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual, after his speech, I was left with -- Is this guy REALLY the president?