The Greatest Environmental Disaster of the Century: Turning Point or More to Come?


This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie

 by Randy Shannon

April 30, 2010

The Deep Horizons ultra-deepwater dynamic positioned semi-submersible oil drilling rig, lying upside down a mile below sea level, was built and owned by Transocean Limited of Vernier, Switzerland. This rig was the most technologically advanced drilling machine on earth, designed to tap oil reserves miles below the ocean’s surface. It was completed in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea. British Petroleum was leasing the rig at a cost of one-half million dollars per day to exploit oil and gas trapped under tremendous pressure miles below.

Just as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara thought that advanced technology would allow U.S. weaponry to defeat the people of Vietnam in the 1970s, the Wall Street banks now believe that current ‘advanced technology’ will allow them to tap unknown forces of nature…at a profit.

They justify this endeavor with the argument that exploiting natural resources always involves some endemic risk and that they are insured to protect their investors. Wall Street and their oil industry allies believe that, as in the past, disasters are a cost of business and that once the cleanup is done there will be a return to profitability.

Profits from deepwater drilling, as well as the fracking of the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and New York, are projected to be enormous, to create dazzling new fortunes for those who are bold, hardy, and carefree enough to get there first. These expectations of great wealth from expensive and refractory resources are based on the knowledge that the world, but especially the United States, is rapidly using up, and to a great degree wasting, petroleum and gas reserves. As the reserves shrink and become more expensive to exploit, the push to find and exploit them intensifies.

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