Thursday, May 27, 2010

Too Little, Too Late for Gulf's (BP) Oil Crisis?

(Photo from Getty Images)

This posting itself may be too little, too late--but what isn't ineffectual and what hasn't been delayed too long in response to the catastrophic BP-blown-oil-well crisis?

I keep hearing people criticizing not only BP but also the Feds about the lack of constructive crisis management here. Then, too, there are people proclaiming, "Take the boot off the neck of BP!"

Seriously? They must be followers of the Libertarian Pauls (and I truly cannot fathom what makes those people think the way they do).

As I heard James Carville say today on NPR (and this is a man I seriously admire for his strategic vision and informed commentary)--with deep emotion, as he is from Louisiana, which is bearing the brunt of the mess--the only solution is to use all necessary governmental force to get BP to fix this.

Another NPR commentator said BP should be put out of business entirely. I understand the sentiment there, but I don't think that putting all of BP's employees out of work is the correct answer to its leaders' lack of effective crisis management.

Still, though, the oil must be capped. Clean-up has to begin. Offshore drilling should probably cease (how do the proponents of "Drill, baby, drill!" feel right about now? Incredibly stupid, I hope.)

Bobby Jindal (R, Louisiana) was, a while back, pushing hard for increased offshore drilling. Now, he's ranting and raving that President Obama isn't doing enough to help clean up the mess caused by offshore drilling. You can't have it both ways, Bobby: people who wanted oil money can't complain when that oil  comes back to bite them.

I understand the frustration, though. The Gulf of Mexico is a huge (and hugely important) part of our fragile Earth and ecosystem. It must be cleaned and protected. The effect of this gushing, underwater oil well is catastrophic and cannot be overstated. It is tragic.

Clean, renewable energy sources are what we need to focus on next (after this undersea well is capped and the area affected is restored)--but investments must be made in order for us to stop relying on fossil fuels.

People have to stop objecting to helping to save the world because "it costs too much."

As regards the current mess in the Gulf of Mexico, I understand that the oil can't be cleaned up until its flow is stanched; I can also see how this is a very difficult problem to solve, capping a leak that is mile under the sea.  But I still have to ask: why is it taking so long?

There are many brilliant engineering minds out there who could probably find a solution. Let them do it. Step aside, BP, and allow the U.S. to fix the mess now. BP should, of course, pay for it, and I hope it is held accountable, and held to the highest standards of recompense (not to mention penitence).

My mother's family is from Pensacola, Florida--right on the Gulf. Beautiful white beaches, clear green water, dolphins, pelicans...all now destroyed by spilled, toxic oil.

The Gulf of Mexico, the beaches, the wildlife, the fisheries, the people who live near there--none of it will ever be the same. But let's at least learn from our mistakes, and not let this crisis go unaddressed, and let's put precautions in place (forcing oil/energy companies to do so) in order to ensure that it never (I hope) happens again.

In every disaster, there lies opportunity for change.


  1. Bobby Jindal Must GoMay 27, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    I couldn't agree more with everything you have to say!

  2. Ah, yes--another GOP hopeful for Big Things who, upon closer examination, is not ready for prime time.

    Thanks for reading,


  3. We're idiots.

    Until we live within the bounds that are annually provided by the natural world - and not a penny more - we're doomed.
    It's no different than racking up never ending financial debt - well actually it is, because if you kill the primary economy, the game is over.

    Even if we never had another spill, captured all the carbon, and was able to extract the resources with NO negative effect to the biosphere, IT WOULDN'T MATTER.

    We are still consuming more stuff (fresh water/land/mineral resources/energy) faster than it can be "made".

  4. Agreed--and this is why we need to focus efforts not on extracting the last bits of oil, but rather on creating clean energy from the sun and the wind. And while we're at it--stop fishing, because we can't eat those contaminated fish and because the fish are being wiped out anyway.

    I remember visiting Sicily and being told by some villagers that there were no fish...due to overfishing. Hmmm.

    There will certainly be no fish for the fishermen and women of the Gulf.

    Thanks for commenting,


  5. This post just proves you can write intelligently about anything. I, too, am praying for the quick recovery of the Gulf.

    You are a true role model, and don't let the misinformed, wrongheaded haters get you down!

  6. I am a layman grammar nerd who is checking out this blog due to a recent news article. I see that you put the apostrophe outside the 's' on leaders to indicate plural possession! That in and of itself makes me think that you are awesome!

  7. But I still have to ask: why is it taking so long?

    Because, it is a wild well in 5000' of water.

    There are many brilliant engineering minds out there who could probably find a solution. Let them do it.

    The only practical method for killing a wild well in deep water is a relief well.

    BP's engineers and geologists are some of the best in the business(though, its corporate types are idiots!). They are using proven technology to remedy the situation.

    The solution for the problem will be found with the petroleum industry-they are the only ones with the technology and expertise to kill the well.

    You write that BP should "step aside" and "allow the U.S. to fix the mess".

    Who exactly are you referring to? The US government? Other oil companies?

    Oil companies are the only entities with assets capable killing the well.

    Surely, you aren't suggesting that the US Gov. kill the well...

    Petroleum extraction in deep water is a very complex science, and very safe.

    The West, and more specifically the United States, is addicted to oil. It pervades every part of our society, and will continue to do so until we can come up with a viable alternative to, not only oil, but too, plastic.

    What needs to be done is regulation to ensure that the comedy of errors that led to this blowout isn't repeated.