Politics. What a nasty word these days.
I’m sure we’ve all heard about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from one of BP’s rigs. You’d almost have to live in a cave not to hear the media ranting and raving. But the media only tells one-third of the story.
Before we delve further into the current issues, let’s look into the past.
A Brief History
The environmental activism started in the 1960’s with much concern about drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This new concern was catalyzed by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Many years later the George H.W. Bush administration banned all drilling in the OCS. The same ban was removed by H.W.’s own son, George W. Bush.
Then came the Obama Administration. About the only way to explain President Obama’s feeling toward drilling in the OCS is “confused.” First, Obama put a ban into a six month consideration period (which took more than six months.) After that period, he officially banned drilling in the OCS. And then, not even a month later, out of the blue, opens parts of the OCS for drilling. And now, most recently (because of BP’s spill), banned deep-water drilling in the OCS. Our President sounds rather confused or at least indecisive.
On, off, on, off, on. That’s enough to make an oil company go crazy. Especially because of all the red tape and years it takes just to get started. If this isn’t enough to scare away business I don’t know what is.
The Largest Gusher
Everyone just wants to clean up the mess and move on–or, as our own President put it, “plug that hole.” But if the government really wanted to clean up this mess, there are many better ways they could have gone about it.
Local authorities tried to do their part. One county tried to gain permission five weeks ago, and still has not heard back. The Heritage Foundation says,
Keeping local governments in the dark is just one reason why the frustration of residents in the Gulf is so palpable. State and local governments know their geography, people, economic impacts and needs far better than the federal government does. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government has actually been playing a bigger and bigger role in running natural disaster responses. And as Heritage fellow Matt Mayer has documented, the results have gotten worse, not better.” The Heritage Foundation, June 10, 2010
We even had offers from foreign nations to help clean up the spill (a kind gesture of friendship). President Obama turned these nations down on the basis of the Jones act. The Jones act (established in 1920) requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be U.S.-flagships that are made in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed in the U.S. (Its roots can be found with unions.) But the part our President ignored is that this law can be temporarily waived in emergency (and has been before.)
In short, the U.S. federal government (more specifically the Obama Administration) is dragging this spill on longer than it has to be. The Jones act could have been waived lawfully, and yet the Obama Administration is turning down thirteen countries with more efficient technology. This spill used to be BP’s problem, but now the fault lies in the government preventing solutions.
Spilling On a Larger Scale
While our President may appear justified in banning deep-water drilling, he is anything but. Activists espouse the idea that drilling harms the environment, drilling would do the complete opposite. Due to a problem known as natural seepage.
As you can easily see, 62 percent of the oil found in our water is from oil seeping up out of the sea floor due to pressure. Our oil exploration, production, transportation and consumption combined doesn’t even come close to the amount of pollution released naturally in our waters. According to the Minerals Management Service, 1,700 barrels of oil seep into our waters each day.
In fact, Santa Barbara county has had difficulty reaching the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency’s) air quality standards in spite of regulation of industrial sources and reductions in automobile emissions. The only explanation that can be found is natural seepage.
In addition buying oil from foreign sources isn’t safe. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that four times as much oil is spilled from tankers as there is from oil exploration. And the less we drill at home, the more we import, and the more we import the more likely it is that there will be an oil spill.
So what is the solution to this problem? Drilling. William Yeatman (energy policy analyst on the energy and global warming team at the Competitive Enterprise Institute) says that by drilling we can reduce natural seepage. It’s simple.
Agenda vs. Environment
If the environment was really our President’s concern, why won’t he allow anyone to clean it, why won’t he allow others to drill and reduce this continual natural seeping disaster? Because it’s politics, and politics (especially these politicians) aren’t worried about the environment, their worried about their agenda. If the environment was the concern Obama would have waived the Jones act and opened drilling. If the truth was the concern maybe our politicians would be speaking the truth.
Oil drilling isn’t the problem, oil consumption isn’t the problem, oil transportation isn’t the problem, natural seepage is. Oil spills from platforms happen every 40 years, natural seepage is daily. But there’s a problem even bigger than natural seepage that has done more damage than anything else.
Politics. What a nasty word these days.