Friday, August 6, 2010

Radical Environmentalism – Which Is Worse, An Ecological “Disaster” or the Federal Government? (Part 13)

The Gulf oil spill news has certainly waned in the last few weeks. I guess people got tired of watching each drop spill on national television. And while I don’t approve of lackadaisical methods by companies such as BP, who are ultimately responsible for the spill and its cleanup, I also think we need to put the spill in perspective (see my previous tongue-in-cheek post about how long it would take to fill the Gulf with oil).

For me, a couple of questions stand out in relation to the spill. First, how bad was it for the environment? To be sure, some beaches were impacted, but I can’t find any lasting evidence that any were ruined – if they were, don’t you think the media would report the “loss of a national treasure” ad infinitum? I haven’t seen it on the news, so I must conclude that there is no story there.

What about losses to animals in the Gulf? According to Jonah Goldberg’s latest column, the losses in the bird population stand at less than one percent of losses during the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska back in 1989. That is remarkable, considering that this spill is larger and in a region which likely has more birds due to the warmer climate. And according to Goldberg, the total number of oiled mammal carcasses discovered to this date numbers only…three. Three? How many dolphins and porpoises died of old age during this period? And if this is not enough to make you think that a minimum amount of damage has been done, consider this article (from ABC News, no less), which claims that some clean-up crews are having a hard time finding any oil to clean up. “Even the federal government admits that locating the oil has become a problem”.

I concede that the oil is likely out there somewhere, breaking down over time as nature intended, but I refer you again to my calculations on the relative size of the oil spill (one or two grains of sand represent the relative size of the oil which has spilled, while the volume of the Gulf of Mexico can be represented by over 4,000 5-gallon buckets of sand). It’s going to be hard to find – and it’s going away more and more each day.

My second question is this – how bad was the spill for the economy? There is no doubt that the shrimping industry and the tourism industry have been hurt temporarily. And some families may not be able to weather the loss of half of their working season. That is sad.

But far, far more damage has been inflicted by the federal government’s intrusion into the economic policies of the Gulf region.

- An attempted moratorium by the Obama administration on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf (overturned by a federal appeals panel on July 9)

- The potential trickle-down effect of the above moratorium on things like boat shuttle service, and all of the industry that supports deepwater drilling.

- The potential passage of crippling federal economic laws that might come about due to this event – make no mistake, they are sorely tempted to limit America’s ability to drill for oil in the Gulf – though there is no corresponding decline in demand. This will simply open the door for others to replace that oil with oil obtained elsewhere on the planet, likely by non-U.S. companies. This would increase our dependence on foreign oil.

- The future “justified” shift to “greener” energy because of the oil spill – most of these so-called greener technologies are far more expensive, and many are not proven to be any better for the environment. But the federal government is pushing hard on these because of appearances, not because it is ultimately the right thing to do.

Finally, consider this. The Deepwater Horizon rig was incredibly difficult to shut down because it was in…deep water. The challenge of capping a wellhead that is a mile below the surface (where pressures are in the 2200 psi range) is far greater than if the well had been drilled in shallow water, and the drill bit allowed to tunnel sideways toward the oil reserve. But it is the very government which decries this disaster which then forces companies like BP out into the deep water areas to drill. Could it be that the government’s policy of forcing oil companies into deep water drilling is at least partially responsible for this “disaster”?

The oil spill is a nasty event. But it would appear that nature (designed by God) is already reclaiming the Gulf. When man (a.k.a. the federal government) thinks he knows more that he really does, bad policy is made. And the result of bad policy is ultimately higher energy costs, increased foreign dependence on oil, and a people with temporarily-soothed consciences who may later discover that much of the economic suffering was due to improper reactions to the spill, rather than to the spill itself.

Go, Gulf - I have a soft spot for the area since I grew up in Louisiana.


...and this was released a week after my article - "The Gulf Recover Obama Does Not Want To See"

Next in this series.......
Back to Part 1 of this series

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