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.
In a rational self-governing society, the exploitation of these precious dwindling resources would be slowed in order to save for the future, while our enormous talents and energies are focused on developing and deploying alternative means of securing energy and more efficient ways of using it.
But the profit motive alone rules Wall Street, not rationality. This was so sadly illustrated by the untimely announcement by the Obama administration that offshore drilling would be expanded to the Atlantic coast of the United States. This decision was not based on the knowledge that vast untapped reserves lie waiting, because they don’t. This decision was not based on new developments in drilling technology that would make the threat to our coastline acceptable, because there are none. This decision was based on the power of the oil industry and Wall Street to pull the strings of their puppets in Congress to block legislation to promote alternative energy unless Obama made concessions to their greed.
In Pennsylvania we are experiencing the same powerful forces of greed running rampant across the state destroying our forests, our water, and our air in a mad rush to squeeze the gas from the Marcellus shale lying a mile below the surface. The gas drillers enjoy the “Halliburton Exemption” that was passed by the despicable puppet U.S. Congress of 2005. This law exempted only gas drilling from all environmental regulations. The Clean Water Act does not apply. The Safe Drinking Water Act does not apply. So drinking water is contaminated, streams and lakes are contaminated, plants and animals are poisoned. In this case, the technology exists to control the process so that it is safe. But the cost of buying the Republican legislators and the Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor Onorato, Wagner, and Corbett are much less than the cost of environmentally safe drilling.
The oil and gas companies are planning for more of the same. The devastation of the U.S coastal economies and the devastation of Pennsylvania countryside and towns is not their problem. It is our problem. This great environmental disaster should be a wakeup call for all of us. Only the voices of the people can make this a turning point that results in breaking the death grip of the carbon based energy industry on the government.
It is clear that the Bush era privatization of environmental enforcement must be reversed in the coal industry. Three more miners have died in two incidents since the explosion at the Massey mine in Montcoal, WV. We must demand that our Congresspersons and Senators investigate and cleanup the Mine Safety and Health Administration and pass laws with teeth and penalties that are real deterrents.
We must demand that our Congresspersons and Senators repeal the Halliburton exemption and order the EPA to enforce all environmental regulations that are impacted by the solid, fluid, and gas emissions of the shale drilling enterprises in Pennsylvania and other states. Adequate funding for scientific research and enforcement personnel must be provided.
Pennsylvanians should throw the Republican bums out of Harrisburg. They are completely at the beck and call of the gas drillers, working diligently as their public promoters. Democrats should vote for Joe Hoeffel, who is firmly in the camp of the property owners, sportsmen and women, and taxpayers of this state and will strictly regulate and tax the gas drillers.
Lastly, the U.S. should ban all deep offshore drilling on the coastal shelf. The oil is not worth destoying our coastal economies and our natural heritage along the shores of the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Oceans. President Obama is wrong when he says that offshore drilling can be done safely. He is only repeating an accepted lie.
We need an alternative energy Marshall Plan that can only be funded by ending the imperial oil war in the Middle East. Lets fund these drillers to dig geothermal heating wells all across the nation to replace oil, coal, and gas heating. Geothermal heating is safe cheap and lasts forever.
This land is my land. This land is your land. This land was made for you and me.
Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez
VENICE, La. – An oil spill that threatened to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez disaster spread out of control with a faint sheen washing ashore along the Gulf Coast Thursday night as fishermen rushed to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes.
The spill was bigger than imagined — five times more than first estimated — and closer. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines.
“It is of grave concern,” David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press. “I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling.”
The oil slick could become the nation’s worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world’s richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life. Thicker oil was in waters south and east of the Mississippi delta about five miles offshore.
The leak from the ocean floor proved to be far bigger than initially reported, contributing to a growing sense among many in Louisiana that the government failed them again, just as it did during Hurricane Katrina. President Barack Obama dispatched Cabinet officials to deal with the crisis.
Cade Thomas, a fishing guide in Venice, worried that his livelihood will be destroyed. He said he did not know whether to blame the Coast Guard, the federal government or oil company BP PLC.
“They lied to us. They came out and said it was leaking 1,000 barrels when I think they knew it was more. And they weren’t proactive,” he said. “As soon as it blew up, they should have started wrapping it with booms.”
The Coast Guard worked with BP, which operated the oil rig that exploded and sank last week, to deploy floating booms, skimmers and chemical dispersants, and set controlled fires to burn the oil off the water’s surface.
The company has requested more resources from the Defense Department, especially underwater equipment that might be better than