Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Off-Shore Drilling a Good Thing??

Sarah at Beach
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
With the horrible, on-going man-made disaster going on in the Gulf of Mexico, is anyone raising the point that Obama just approved an INCREASE in off-shore drilling? Isn't this a good time to re-think this awful idea?

It is vital that, as we look to the bottom line in our energy plans (and for many people, that means oil/gas/coal as cheap as possible. Period.), we MUST remember that the cost of fossil fuels is not simply the cost of obtaining them plus massive profits, it's also the cost to the environment, to those killed in tragedies like this (and their loved ones), to future generations.

These hidden costs are rarely factored into the price of fossil fuels when we consider what is "cheapest." But to ignore these costs is to ignore the REAL cost of fossil fuels, which is much greater than we've tended to think.

Or, as Wendell Berry has said...

Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.


We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction?

Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.


John said...

Yes, absolutely, more offshore drilling. This is one accident, and it's bad, but offshore oil drilling accidents are very rare. Keep going, and drill more, more, more.

Then build more hydroelectric plants, more wind farms, more solar farms, and more nuclear reactors. More, more, more. More energy, more wealth.

If we're going to compete with the countries that are doing these things (e.g. China, Brazil), we've got to stop worrying about comparatively minor risks.

Alan said...

I heard an interesting statistic this morning that Iowa gets 20% of its energy from renewable energy sources, mostly wind.


Pretty amazing.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Shoot, John, why not just strip the EPA of enforcement and allow factories to belch pollutants in to the atmosphere, dump their crap in to rivers and lakes, and bury toxic waste in your backyard?

The idea that we have to rid ourselves of pesky environmental regulations in order to properly compete is exactly bass-ackwards. We keep them intact and continue to push for wider implementation, including refusing to buy from places that do not conform to certain environmental standards.

John said...

Well, first we need a constitutional amendment authorizing the US federal government to regulate environmental output to some degree. Then we can have environmental regulations.

Wait, am I in favor of environmental regulation? You betcha. I'm a libertarian, not an anarchist. And things that easily cross property lines, such as groundwater and air necessitate state intervention.

The idea that we have to rid ourselves of pesky environmental regulations in order to properly compete is exactly bass-ackwards. We keep them intact and continue to push for wider implementation, including refusing to buy from places that do not conform to certain environmental standards.

Please explain. Are you saying that stricter (than current) environmental regulations make us more economically competitive?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I am saying, not to put to fine a point on it, that I don't give a fart in a windstorm about economic competitiveness as some kind of end in itself, some all-encompassing good to which all our other policies must bend.

We already overconsume, overproduce, and overpollute to the point that there are whole regions of the planet that are uninhabitable - deoxygenated zones in the ocean, planes where toxic waste have leaked rendering them uninhabitable, whole mountaintops ripped off, the effluvia dumped unceremoniously in rivers, toxins flooding rivers and killing fish and other creatures that rely upon them. Then, of course, there is the empty ghost-city in Ukraine, Chernobyl.

Isolated instances like these add up to one big mess.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

And, BTW - with the commerce clause giving Congress permission to regulate commerce, there is no need for some extraneous amendment. Ignorance isn't bliss, John. Sometimes, it's just ignorance.

John said...

Ignorance isn't bliss, John. Sometimes, it's just ignorance.

I considered responding with an argument, but if you won't debate me in a civil manner, then I won't engage you.

We're done.

Alan said...

I'm pretty sure the complete decimation (or rather, decimation of what was left of the industry Post-Katrina) of Louisiana's fishing and shell-fish industry by an ocean of oil pouring out of a broken well is not going to do much for those folks' "economic competitiveness."

"Economic competitiveness" sounds like a catch phrase for short term gains trumping long term economic sustainability.

But then, I'm sure someone somewhere will make money on this disaster, so perhaps that's the economic competition to which John refers?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Debate in a civil manner, John? I called ignorance, that's all.

John said...

Alan, I'm referring to the willingness to use one's natural resources. If we never mined the coal, oil, and iron in the US -- to use only three examples -- we'd be a much poorer country.

If you don't show up to work at your job, you're going to make less money in the long term, and probably the short-term as well.

There's risk involved in any action. The other day, I passed by a nasty car accident. The next day, I drove to work. I calculated that the risk of dying in a car accident was not sufficiently high to justify not driving to work and reaping the profits that would bring me.

I think that, given the extensive safety protocols in place for offshore oil drilling and the potential profits, it's a good risk to take. If you disagree, well, that's not an unreasonable view. So as long as we're talking about calculating the risks vs. rewards and not deciding to leave our resources undeveloped as a self-justified moral principle.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

John, there are some things that irk me. Using little examples like car accidents and your on-going decision to drive a car is the kind of thing that irks me. So, I shall hop on that example.

You are the driver of a car pool of which I am a member. We live in an area that is walkable, although perhaps not conveniently close; there is public transportation that also would involve some hoofing it should any of us choose. On the way home from work, we pass a traffic accident. We all talk about it, about the relative incidence of traffic accidents, also the way automobiles pollute, also the way our colleagues who take public transportation or other, alternative, transportation to work seem to arrive on time.

The next morning, I decide that I am not going to ride in the car pool. In fact, since I need the exercise, I am going to ride my bike. When you arrive to pick me up, I thank you but inform you I am dropping out of the car pool because of the discussion we had after seeing the traffic accident the previous afternoon. You proceed to berate me, insist I climb in immediately, that I am an ignorant tree-hugging budding eco-terrorist, and that cars are far safer than riding a bike.

Then, it occurs to me. As a member of a car pool, I am subsidizing your ride to work; what really has your dander up is you will now have to pay more to do what you have to do anyway. Realizing this, I smile, hop on my bike and still arrive at the office before you.

That is how I imagine the story to go. And that is how I imagine libertarians. They insist they are right and we're all a bunch of idiots, when in fact they are really playing us all for suckers.

Not civil enough for you? How about all those dead and/or dying fish and shrimp that are the heart and soul of the coastal economy? How about a second leaker on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico? How about all the vaunted technology in the world designed specifically to prevent this kind of accident failed, which is precisely the reason for this accident?

Finally, I just love it when someone says that his or her decision to take a seriously high-risk gamble with the lives and resources that are not their sole possession completely ignores the simple reality that the lives and resources in question are not his or hers, but all of ours. We have elected representatives, and political parties, and federal and state resource management agencies precisely because these are public resources.

So, you may take a risk with your own life. But don't risk mine, my family's, my community's, or my planet's because you like to gamble with other people's money.