Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drill, baby, drill?

A cloudy sheen of oil the size of Delaware is consuming the Gulf of Mexico as it inches closer to the New Orleans coastline. Thousands of gallons of oil is spewing from an underwater well after a rig caught fire last week and then collapsed into the murky waters. The ramifications to the wildlife along the coast will be devastating, so the U.S. Coast Guard has decided to light the oil on fire. And it has also ignited new questions about off-shore drilling.

What began as "drill, baby, drill" is turning into "burn, baby, burn" (although this doesn't appear to be a disco inferno).

So, where is Sarah Palin reacting to this man-made disaster? She offered fiery rhetoric at the 2008 Republican National Convention when she worked the crowd into a frenzy that off-shore drilling would be America's salvation for its fossil fuel consumption. She and other Republicans recently chastised President Obama, even though he opened wide swaths for off-shore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. That decision now appears to be a mistake.

Let me say that I'm not necessarily opposed to off-shore drilling, but I do think the calls of "drill, baby, drill" were ludicrous and short-sighted. Fossil fuels obviously are finite, so rather than drilling for more oil and ripping off mountains to mine more coal, why don't we put all of our energy (literally) into finding new fuel sources that are both renewable and cheap.

Ah, but "green energy" isn't cheap, you say? Well, nothing is cheap in its genesis. It takes years to develop technology and find more affordable ways to link it into our lives. From televisions to computers, things become cheaper over time.

Glenn Beck likes to talk about his 9.12 project, but imagine if we had started a full-tilt green revolution on Sept. 12, 2001? I seriously doubt we would be dealing with a faltering economy and strained diplomatic relations with the Middle East. And I know we wouldn't have idiots like Sarah Palin calling for us to "drill, baby, drill" in the wake of an environmental disaster.


  1. UPDATE: The government is now saying that British Petroleum is unable to control the "leak" and will have intervene. So, our tax dollars are going to clean up this mess while it destroys our coastline. I'm boycotting BP, and I encourage all of you to do the same.

  2. I wish there was an affordable, alternative energy vehicle that would allow me to avoid gas stations entirely. I hope someday we can rise above our refusal to move away from fossil fuels. You would think that a country with as many great minds as ours could come up with a clean, safe source of energy for our homes and vehicles, but the powers that be are beholden to the status quo.

  3. Mike- great post.

    Brant- Check out the nissan leaf... in addition to the leaf, there are up to 10 all-electric vehicles going "mainstream" in the next 5 years... I believe mitsubishi will be debuting one within a year of the leaf, also...

    Back to Mike- I don't know how much time you have on your hands, but do you think you could expand on what it would take, exactly, to effectively boycott BP? There are a couple of obstacles that come to mind immediately... First, they sell oil on commodities exchanges... so even if you don't buy gas from BP stations, you are still buying the same amount of Gas, which keeps demand for crude at the same level... which means that when they sell their crude to the world market, they get the same price for it. Also, I would assume they have their own refinery network... which means that even if you buy gas from GetGo, they may have bought the fuel from BP.

    While I like the "you break it, you bought it" approach that the administration is taking with BP (legislation submitted to recoup 10 billion in costs from them), the reality is that last year, BP revenue was 265 billion dollars and their gross profit was 63 billion. So, is it OK for you to rape my wife and kick my dog as long as you pay the doctor and vet bills? Or do you lose the privilege of doing your business in my house? Yes, this will be expensive for BP... but once they pay to make their amends, BP stock is a REALLY good deal. The stock price is down 30% in the past couple weeks with no real change in the fundamentals... a 1 time charge of 10 billion for destroying part of the world? Meh... that doesn't change the fact that they will probably STILL have close to 300 billion in revenue this year... and 10 billion expensed over a decade means what, a 1% decline in real stock value? I have half a mind to start buying BP now and doing so steadily for the next 6 months or so... If it sinks lower, I dollar-cost average down and make even more when the price rebounds to reflect the actual state of their "filthy-richedness"... but that is beside the point. Cash-money is something that BP has tons of... if you want to affect some sort of fundamental change, you need to take something from them that can't be replaced by 5 week's sales.

  4. This is my solution: Walk, ride a bike or take public transportation. If you drive, buy a fuel-efficient vehicle and do not fill up at BP or Gulf.

    In other news, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is suggesting that we not jump to conclusions because this disaster could be "an act of God." I guess the explosion that killed 29 miners in West Virginia also was an act of God because methane was emanating from the earth. And no one should take blame for having substandard levees in New Orleans when God's Katrina rolled through. And don't forget that 9/11 likely was "an act of God" because al-Qaeda terrorists believe they are waging a holy war on the United States.

  5. Conclusion? God hates peoples.

  6. Or maybe He doesn't want us to drill for oil in the oceans.

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  8. 5,000 barrels of oil per day really isn't much, considering we use approx. 24 MILLION per day here in the good ol US of A. I'm all for cheap, renewable energy, but until something is truly cheaper and more feasible, the market will not allow it to take the mainstream position.

    On another note, I find it fascinating that - what, 13? - men's lives were lost and all we can talk about is political oil bull. When the UBB mining tragedy happened, the focus was on lives lost and the fact that "nobody should have to go to work worrying about dying." Why are we not hearing that same rhetoric from Obama during this tragedy?

    Regarding the levees and Katrina, anybody who is stupid enough to live below sea level, beside the sea, deserves what's coming to them. I realize that sounds harsh, but it is what it is.

    Honda makes a car that runs on CNG. You can avoid gas stations by installing a pump that runs off your natural gas line at home and fill up there!

    Drill baby drill...

  9. Penguin,

    If the Upper Big Branch mine had exploded, causing 10,000 acres of forest in Logan and Raleigh counties to catch fire, I doubt they would be discussing the miners quite as much. The loss of lives are tragic and the media should be paying more attention to the men who died on the oil rig. But this uncontrolled "leak" will affect thousands in the Gulf Coast region.

    And we know all too well about drilling for natural gas. Drilling companies have inundated Western Pennsylvania to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale. Unfortunately, the process is very dirty, sometimes contaminates well water and tankers destroy our roads.

  10. I'm sorry if my St. Elsewhere reference was offensive...

    We have conflicting policies in the US that do little to protect the environment or advance our technology and do much to enrich corporate interests. For example, we talk about cutting our reliance on oil as a matter of national security, economic security, and environmental protection... but we cannot have Turbo-Diesel Hybrid hatchbacks that get 70-90 miles per gallon because they don't meet safety or emissions standards. Instead, we get sub-par cars that measure up to arbitrary standards but require us to chug 24 million barrels of oil a day. Are there comparative studies that would show the effect of tripling average mpg while also increasing CO2 emissions by a few grams per gallon? What would be refreshing would be if we could agree on an objective and then devote resources to achieving it... instead of incrementally staying 3 steps behind the rest of the world.

  11. No, not offensive at all. I actually agree with your post there 100%. Diesel technology is much cleaner than it used to be, and the emissions standards are very arbitrary.

    That said, you'll never catch me driving a hatchback... :-)

  12. I didn't mean that my last post was offensive... I had a comment zapped that was about something being in the imagination of an autistic boy... meh