Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feel the Pain

There is a well-done multi-media interactive graphic extravaganza (I never know what to call these things) at The Guardian today, illustrating some of the details unfolding off the Mississippi delta. The big news, which came out late yesterday, is that apparently there's another leak, and the previous estimate of 42,000 gallons per day has been raised by a factor of five.


One of the approaches to containing the spill, using open-bottomed "funnels" (my word) to capture the leaking oil, makes better sense to me now, as does the idea of a "relief well" (apparently, the industry's term). The relief well will take about 3 months to complete, and no estimate is given, as far as I've seen, for how long it will take to implement the recapture method.

So we're looking at ~5000 barrels a day for as long as the next 90 days.

How's that "drill, baby, drill" thing workin' out for ya, huh?
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Not only that, it's looking as if our tax dollars may be used for this clean-up:
She also opened up the possibility that if the government determines that BP, which is responsible for the cleanup, cannot handle the spill with the resources available in the private sector, that Defense Department could become involved to contribute technology.
Not that I'm against that; in an emergency I feel like we have to use the resources available to solve the problems present. But I'm not happy about it. Interesting bit of news from a couple of days ago:
Profits at oil giant BP have more than doubled from a year ago on the back of rising oil prices.

Replacement cost profit for January to March was $5.6bn (£3.6bn), compared with $2.4bn for the first quarter of 2009 - a 135% rise. The profit figure is also up from the $3.45bn profit made in the last three months of 2009.
Now I feel pretty strongly that switching out from petroleum-based energy to alternatives any time in the near future- less than a decade or two- is unlikely to be practical or even possible. And I feel pretty strongly that for non-energy uses it's even less likely. Given that, I support finding and using what domestic supplies are available. We will never meet our own needs, but we should use what we have. In other words, I actually support "drill, baby, drill," though I suspect in detail, very differently from Ms. Palin and her tea partiers.

I believe energy extraction can be done responsibly. I just don't believe that our current regulatory structures and enforcement foster that end. And I don't feel that, as things stand, it's in energy corporations' interests to do so.

Here's my suggestion: fine BP $5.6 billion, and put it toward the response and developing a serious set of environmental and safety regulations, and the infrastructure to enforce them. Do the same for Massey Energy. I am so sick of corporations resisting regulatory reform, hindering enforcement, and cutting every corner they can find.

When they hurt people and the planet, we should have the means to make them feel that pain. Until we do, they'll follow SOP, raking in billions and ravaging everything around them. Yeah, you could say I'm a little pissed.

Followup, 1:11 PM: NASA's Earth Observatory has an image of the spill taken earlier today.

1 comment:

nicholas k. said...

Your comment "how is that drill baby drill thing working out for yah..." is absolutely perfect!!!

I also like your proposed suggestion of fining BP a hell of a lot, and putting it toward environmental safety (maybe a bit of alternative energy as well).

When are these companies going to pay for the monumental damage they cause? Is a slap on the wrist enough anymore?