Drill Baby Drill… or maybe not

    I’ve been looking all over the web to see if Sarah “Drill Baby Drill” Palin has mentioned the catastrophic crude oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but I haven’t been able to find anything. Word is, the oil, which is pouring into the Gulf at a rate of 210,000 gallons a day, will reach the Louisiana coast by tomorrow. That stretch of coast, it’s worth noting, contains 40% of our country’s wetlands, and is home to innumerable species… One would hope that between this spill, and the recent mining disasters, that people might begin to comprehend the fact that coal and oil come at a cost, both environmental and societal. We need to do better as a nation, and Obama should take the lead here by reneging on the promise to open up more of the nation’s coastal areas to off-shore drilling. Furthermore, he should demand that already existing rigs be retrofitted with remote shut-off valves. It might be nice if he insisted that BP pay for the clean up, instead of us U.S. taxpayers.

    Oh, and one wonders if Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana, who so hates “big government,” will turn away federal assistance.

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      12 Comments

      1. Knox
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        Did I read somewhere that Exxon has still to pay their share of the Valdez spill? And what was that, like 20 years ago?

      2. West Cross
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Sadly, I don’t think reality figure much into the Drill Baby Drill mentality.

        My understanding is that this rig had a remote shut off valve but it isn’t working. They’ve been trying to get it to active with deep sea robots but it hasn’t worked. If the robots can’t do it, who can?

      3. Fred
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        I was reading a post somewhere from an engineer who knows the industry, and he was saying that remote shut-offs do exist, but that they’re expensive. She said it would cost about $500,000 per rig to outfit them. I haven’t verified this, so take it for what it’s worth.

        Here’s my question for Palin, “So how’s that Drill Baby Drill working out for ya?”

      4. Kim
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        From what I’ve read, BP leased the rig. My guess is that they structured it that way in case such an event occurred, so that they wouldn’t be liable.

        If the government charged balloon boy’s family for the entire search and rescue operation, I don’t see why government wouldn’t charge the companies responsible in this instance. But maybe when you’re a company different rules apply.

      5. Stephen K
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        At 10:40AM ET on Friday, Sarah Palin made her first comment on the oil spill, posting the following on Twitter: “Having worked/lived thru Exxon oil spill,my family&I understand Gulf residents’ fears.Our prayers r w/u.All industry efforts must b employed”

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/29/drill-baby-drill-champion_n_558014.html

      6. Stephen K
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        And check this Palin video out, in which she says drilling is environmentally friendly and safe.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6MOzmiY9iQ

      7. Meta
        Posted April 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        From Think Progress:

        On Tuesday, a sudden explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig, located 40 miles off the shore in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers. The rig is owned by a Switzerland-based company, Transocean Ltd, and leased to British Petroleum (BP). Following the evacuation of 115 other crewmembers, emergency responders immediately began trying to contain the emerging ecological and public health disaster posed by the massive outpouring of nearly 210,000 gallons of crude oil a day from the sea floor. “It may be two or three months before they can stop the discharge,” said Michael Sole, head of Florida’s Environmental Protection Department. As thousands of gallons of oil rush towards the U.S. coastline, federal officials are scrambling to contain it before the damage devastates entire ecosystems. White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos today that no “additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here.” As workers seek to mitigate the damage caused by the spill, policymakers must note the regulatory failures that helped contribute to the disaster and examine the dangers of offshore drilling while reasserting our intention to transition away from an oil-driven economy.

        ‘WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER IN DECADES’: Although BP originally stated that the spill amounted to 42,000 gallons of oil a day, the company later agreed with the U.S. Coast Guard’s figure of 210,000 gallons a day. The nonprofit SkyTruth, which specializes in analyzing satellite and aerial data, also warns that the spill may be releasing as much as 850,000 gallons a day. There were also concerns that the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil surging from the spill would rush towards the “mouth of the Mississippi River, which runs up the middle of the country,” and threaten “the wetland areas of the river that are home to hundreds of species of wildlife and near some oyster grounds.” “As it is now, it’s already looking like this could be the worst oil spill since the Valdez,” John Hocevar, oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA, told MSNBC. “In terms of total quantity of oil released, it seems this will probably fall short of Exxon Valdez. But because of the habitat, the environmental impact will be worse.” Yesterday morning, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) declared a state of emergency. President Obama has already promised to deploy “every single resource” to try to contain the environmental disaster, deploying officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, and Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, the Navy is deploying 66,000 feet of inflatable boom and several skimming systems to Gulfport, MS, to try to contain the incoming oil. As of this morning, the oil spill has reached “the mouth of the Mississippi River” and the coast of Louisiana, threatening to become “America’s worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife in one of the world’s richest marine environments.”

        BP’S BAD BEHAVIOR: While the cause of the fire and explosion on Deepwater Horizon is still uncertain, one thing is clear: BP, which was in charge of operating the rig, has a history of fighting tough regulations and safety inspections, misleading federal authorities about the dangers of a potential oil spill, and actively advocating for more relaxed safety standards — much like Massey Energy Co. repeatedly fought tougher regulation of mines. Following a March 2005 explosion at a BP refinery, the company assembled a blue-ribbon panel to examine the company’s safety practices. The commission concluded that “the oil company skimped on spending and failed to take other steps” that would have prevented the explosion, writing that “BP had not learned from a long string of past accidents, had ‘a false sense of confidence’ about safety, ‘did not always ensure that adequate resources were effectively allocated to support or sustain a high level’ of safety in the industrial process and rotated refinery chiefs too quickly.” “BP gets it, and I get it too,” chief executive John Browne said following the commission’s report. “I recognize the need for improvement.” However, a Wall Street Journal investigation found that BP “was one of several companies that opposed efforts to tighten up safety procedures offshore.” These efforts, led by the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS), would have “required lessees and operators to have their safety and environmental management system programs audited at least once every three years by either an independent third party or by qualified personnel designated within the company,” replacing the “voluntary approach” adopted in 1994. In a September 2009 letter to the MMS, BP said that it is “not supportive” of additional regulation of the industry and instead supported “voluntary programs” to secure the safety of its sites. New MMS guidelines had not yet been implemented, and the $600 million rig had “passed three federal inspections, the most recent on April 1,” suggesting that the federal government needs to take a more robust approach to site inspection. Additionally, BP’s oil exploration plan, which “allowed it to avoid filing a more detailed site-specific plan,” mapped out a worst-case scenario that a spill would release 162,000 gallons a day — which pales in comparison to the volume of the current spill. Meanwhile, as a Center for American Progress report notes, BP’s Q1 profits rose 133 percent from just a year ago, while consumers were gouged at the pump. Unfortunately, other oil companies have joined BP in opposing tougher regulation. Chevron and Exxon Mobil both also submitted comments in opposition to the new MMS rule. Responding to the disaster, Louisiana shrimpers have filed a lawsuit against BP, Transocean, Cameron International Corp., which “supplied the rig’s blow-out prevention equipment,” and Halliburton Energy Services Inc., which was responsible for “engaging in cementing operations of the [rig's] well and well cap.” The suit alleges that the companies’ negligence and are responsible for the massive economic disaster.

        THE DANGERS OF ‘DRILL BABY DRILL’: The disaster at the BP rig underscores the dangers of pursuing the simplistic, oil-driven energy policy proposed by right-wing figures. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin summed up this policy during the 2008 presidential campaign with the slogan “drill baby drill,” which ended up being a chant at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Since then, conservatives and the oil industry have joined hands to continue to push oil as the answer to our energy problems. In 2008, Newt Gingrich began American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), the casino-funded 527 that used the slogan “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” to promote the false idea that new offshore drilling could lower gas prices. On its website, ASWF is continuing its petition for offshore drilling, and other oil-industry front groups — American Petroleum Institute, Energy Tomorrow, Institute for Energy Research, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, and the Institute for 21st Century Energy — are still promoting increased drilling and attacking green economy legislation that would reduce our dependence on oil. Meanwhile Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol continues to insist that offshore drilling is “quite safe.” When Obama was asked a recent town hall meeting about his move toward approving “significant oil and gas exploration off America’s coasts,” he claimed that “oil rigs today don’t generally cause spills” and said that “even during Katrina, the spills didn’t come from the oil rigs.” Yet the truth is that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita actually caused 124 offshore spills totaling 743,700 gallons of oil and condensate from platforms, rigs, and pipelines. As J.R. Tolbert of Environment Virginia writes, “Every day that the U.S. Senate fails to pass clean energy and climate legislation, we are putting our environment and economy at risk.” CAP has warned repeatedly of the economic dangers to our dependence on oil, and of the need to accelerate our shift to the clean energy economy to create more jobs and preserve the health of our planet from the ravages of climate change.

      8. thed
        Posted May 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        I want to see PBJ get on his knees and beg the President for the assistance they’ll demand. Hey, they wanted to “Drill Baby Drill” then let it spill baby spill. The only part that really sucks, besides the ecological and economical disasters, is that I won’t get my seafood fill next time I’m down there.

        As far as Gov Halley Barber (R-MI), I suggest he do what he said during their 2006 State of State address. “Lace up their britches and get to work…[and not] whine [like La Gov Blanco].” Perhaps if the President give them anything, let it be a mop bucket with a few sponges. Good luck with that, Halley.

      9. Peter Larson
        Posted May 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        HALEY BARBOUR is the Republican governor of Mississippi (MS), not Michigan (MI).

        I am happy for this fact.

      10. klynn
        Posted May 3, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Found this:

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/05/bp_will_pay_for_gulf_disaster.html?sc=fb&cc=fp

      11. Meta
        Posted May 3, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Interesting article in the New York Times on the funding of the cleanup:

        The federal government has a large rainy day fund on hand to help mitigate the expanding damage on the Gulf Coast, generated by a tax on oil for use in cases like the Deepwater Horizon spill.

        Up to $1 billion of the $1.6 billion reserve could be used to compensate for losses from the accident, as much as half of it for what is sometimes a major category of costs: damage to natural resources like fisheries and other wildlife habitats.

        Under the law that established the reserve, called the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the operators of the offshore rig face no more than $75 million in liability for the damages that might be claimed by individuals, companies or the government, although they are responsible for the cost of containing and cleaning up the spill.

        The fund was set up by Congress in 1986 but not financed until after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska in 1989. In exchange for the limits on liability, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 imposed a tax on oil companies, currently 8 cents for every barrel they produce in this country or import.

        The tax adds roughly one tenth of a percent to the price of oil. Another source of revenue is fines and civil penalties from companies that spill oil.

        The rest of the article:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/us/02liability.html

      12. Tim
        Posted June 25, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Palin, in case you hadn’t seen it yet, has been found guilty of a major ethics violation.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-dunn/palin-guilty-of-major-eth_b_624863.html

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