brotherpeacemaker

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Spill Baby Spill

The fear is that we are in the early stages of a large scale environmental disaster that is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. Houston based energy contractor Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig leased by the big oil company BP, exploded and sank off the Louisiana coast last week. It was carrying out exploratory drilling about fifty miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, in an area referred to as the Macondo well, when the disaster occurred. While More than one hundred workers on the rig were rescued, eleven workers are still missing and presumed to have been killed in the accident. The search for them has been called off. It had been burning for more than a day and a half when it sank into the water offshore about a mile deep.

Poor weather conditions have hampered efforts to clean up the spill. And right now it is estimated that oil is leaking out of the damaged vessel and into the sea at a rate of about a thousand barrels a day. The oil leak has the potential to damage beaches, barrier islands and wetlands up and down the coastline. Officials from the United States Coast Guard estimate that the slick has grown to more than six hundred square miles in area. A significant change from the fifteen square mile slick observed just the day after the explosion.

BP has been using a remote controlled submarine to try to activate a valve that could stop the leak. However, BP officials do warn it was a highly complex task and there is a very good chance that it may not be successful. The company has hired more than thirty cleanup vessels and several aircraft to help control the spill by spraying chemicals to help disperse the floating oil. And at the moment, the same weather conditions that hampered clean up efforts are keeping the oil away from the coastline and it is hoped the waves will break up the heavy crude oil, allowing it to harden and sink back to the ocean floor. That way, its toxic effects will be kept out of the eye of the majority of the public.

The spill, and its looming threat of major environmental damage to the Gulf Coast from Mississippi all the way across Texas, comes at a critical moment for the oil industry. After years of lobbying by oil producers, the Obama administration has proposed opening the east cost of the United States to offshore drilling. For years the east coast was protected by a moratorium that allowed for exploration for oil, but prevented drilling.

Proponents of big oil welcome the change in the law thinking that giving oil companies access to more oil will somehow help alleviate America’s addiction to foreign. People who really want to fool themselves believe that offshore drilling in the waters off the east coast would help lower fuel prices to the public. But any oil extracted there, like oil extracted anywhere, would go onto the world’s oil market and would only give oil companies more inventory to sell at the best price possible.

President Barack Obama has promised that the federal government’s response to this disaster will be one of his number one priorities. Mr. Obama says that the entire federal government was offering all assistance needed in the rescue effort as well as in mitigating and responding to the environmental impact. The White House is ready to do everything it possibly can to help control this problem, with the exception of keeping laws in place that would help keep these problems from happening in the first place.

There is little doubt that we will not learn much of anything from this awful event. Every effort will be made to clean the place up, at least enough where the majority of the public could put their mind at ease and devote their attention elsewhere. The workers who were injured and the families of the people who were regrettably killed in this disaster will be compensated. The rig will be salvaged and the company will file a claim to their insurance company to replace it. The fragile ecosystem in Louisiana’s wetlands will take a hit. But this too shall pass for the vast majority of us. This is little more than a hiccup as we will continue to guzzle as much petroleum as possible as quickly as possible.

We will continue with the plan to open the east coast up and expose more of our environment to potential danger. When any future disasters happen we will simply consider it the price of doing business as the oil companies continue to make huge profits and our ecosystem continues to bear the burden of our need to extract every drop of petroleum available no matter what the cost.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 - Posted by | Life, Petroleum, Thoughts

1 Comment »

  1. “That way, its toxic effects will be kept out of the eye of the majority of the public.”

    And that’s about the size of it. If the mess isn’t on our front yard, or in our living room, most of us don’t really care.

    If the spill washes up against a line of expensive beach homes, you bet there will be backlash. If not, though, it will probably just blow over and we’ll most likely learn nothing at all.

    Comment by Jeff | Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Reply


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