Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spill, Baby -- Spill!

So how's that 'drill, baby, drill" thing workin' for you now? Just askin' -- you betcha -- while watching the massive oil slick edge closer to the wildlife preserves on the Gulf Coast.

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty. Amen.


LGMarshall said...

Blaming Sarah Palin's [pro-exploration stance] for the castastroohic explosion & safety valve malfunction... that's a good one.

No one is happy about the ongoing spill crisis in the Gulf-- least of all-- Palin.

Glad that Obama is FINALLY taking some steps to help, even though it's 9 days after the fact....

Correction: OBAMA is the one that recently said..."Drill, baby Drill". So your complaints [if youre against all drilling] should go to him, not Palin.

Hiram said...

Do you drive a solar-powered car? If you do not, somebody has to drill somewhere.

uffda51 said...

". . . somebody has to drill somewhere."

Hiram, I'm sure your remarks will be a comfort to the families of the eleven people killed in the BP catastrophe and the thousands of fishermen and shrimpers in the gulf who may lose their livelihoods. I was living in Santa Barbara during the big spill of 1969. The BP blowout is 1500 feet deeper than the 1969 accident. It appears that the safety isues remain the same.

Yes, we can continue to rely on a 19th century energy source and the pollution and inherent environmental dangers that come with it. Or, after the gaslines of the 1970s, we could have embarked on a Manhattan Project-like effort to solve the problem. We didn't.

Exxon reported a profit of $45.2 billion in 2009 and paid $15 million in taxes - none of it to the U.S. Not exactly "America First." Imagine if that $15 billion could have been used for U.S. infrastructure. Or our schools.

Over the last quarter-century, the number of refineries in the United States dropped to 149, less than half the number in 1981. Because companies have upgraded and expanded their aging operations, refining capacity during that time period shrank only 10 percent from its peak of 18.6 million barrels a day. At the same time, gasoline consumption has risen by 45 percent, so that any slight kink in the production system creates higher prices. And, the auto industry fought every effort to raise CAFE standards.

Who was the first oil company allowed to go into Iraq since the war started? Exxon. "Mission Accomplished."

My hybrid gets 46 MPG, thanks for asking. The U.S. fleet average is 19.8. Who is keeping CAFE standards low? Who is limiting the number of new refineries? Who is avoiding paying U.S. taxes? As the BP disaster proves, and just as we did on Wall Street, we have once again nationalized risk and privatized wealth. And, the Supreme Court has just ensured that even more corporate cash will enter the political system. Who's to blame? The guy who's been president for a little over a year?

Hiram said...

Uffda51, I did not say that oil companies were the picture of ethical and ecological sanctity. I simply pointed out that we are using oil and that oil has to come from somewhere.

I have owned 14 cars, all 4 cylinder with higher than average mileage, 25 mpg and up. Thirteen have been VW's - and I wish I still had my diesel VW that got 50+ mpg. I recycle assiduously and all kinds of other "green" things.

Our tax laws are a byzantine mess and oil companies (and other major firms) exploit the complexities shamelessly. Neither the laws nor the exploitation of them is good or meritorious. I am no fan of multinational corporations and especially not of their lobbyists; if we are not in a plutocracy now, we are not far away.

Oil companies have not been allowed to build new refineries for decades. NIMBY rules, and so their only choice has been to upgrade as much as possible. We need new refineries - although we cannot build them without risk of some kind. (Of course, not building them also carries other, less specifiable risks.)

We should also build a lot more nuclear plants, and wind farms, and so on. Research is going on to harvest oil from algae and to produce combustible fuels from other sources. We can break free from the tyranny of petroleum as our primary fuel source (although petroleum is not only used for gasoline, fuel oil, and lubricants, but also for many other products, so we will need it for a long time.)

Even with the best engineers, nothing human beings build will be entirely accident-free. There will always be spills, leaks, and other troubles.

That being said - we use oil in many, many ways, and if oil production stopped today, our civilization would collapse. So laughing at Sarah Palin and her support for further oil exploration is to laugh at ourselves. You could live in a cave and eat berries, I suppose, but if you participate in this society at all, you use - and need - oil.