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Lynn Fang
Lynn Fang

Gulf Oil Spills Onto Political Shores

In the wake of such an enormous disaster that is the Gulf Oil spill, an unspeakable crime against living ecosystems, political leaders are getting a jostle. In the words of James Boyce:

As the greatest domestic environmental disaster of this generation, and perhaps in the end of all generations, unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico, with literally no end in sight, the Grand Old Party has taken the extraordinary step of deciding that now is the perfect time to remind people we need to do MORE offshore oil drilling.

Yes, the House Republican Conference has assembled an “Energy Rapid Response Team†ready to convince you that more offshore drilling is necessary, for great fear of rising costs of importing oil and fueling at the pump. James does well to criticize the reps who put this together.

On the less ridiculous side, two moderate Republican governors took back their support for offshore drilling. Florida Republican governor Charlie Crist sided with McCain in 2008 in support of offshore drilling. After seeing the catastrophe in the Gulf, he now retracts his support. Flying over the spill site, Crist remarked, "Clearly it could be devastating to Florida if something like that were to occur. It's the last thing in the world I would want to see happen in our beautiful state. ... It's clearly not clean enough after we saw what we saw today -- that's horrific -- and it certainly isn't safe enough. It's the opposite of safe."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his shock and distaste for the television images of the spill and promptly rescinded his interest in lifting a 40-year moratorium on drilling off the California coast. In 1969, a Union Oil Co. drilling platform off the Santa Barbara coast blew out and defiled miles of beaches and ocean ecosystems, prompting a moratorium on offshore drilling. Perhaps forty years is enough time to forget the horror of such an event (I wasn’t born yet). Almost fortunately, the Gulf Oil spill reminded us once again of what it feels like to see habitats die on a large scale. Obama has recently been interested in lifting bans on offshore drilling as well. Hopefully, he will listen to Greenpeace and change his mind.

I know well mining companies attempt to deregulate safety measures as much as possible, causing things like the mining explosion one month ago. Mining companies often cite higher costs and loss of profits as the primary reason for not installing more advanced and reliable safety measures in their mining operations. They also invest in politicians. I’m thinking the oil industry operates very similarly.

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It's interesting that the Republicans solution to rising gas prices is to call for more offshore oil drilling. But this is not a solution! Offshore drilling is not a “quick fix†and it won't help to lower our gas prices. If you look at the consumption rate of oil in the USA you can see that any new offshore oil drilling would only be a “drop in the bucketâ€. Offshore oil drilling would also be more expensive which results in higher prices at the gas pump. See: http://www.green-blog.org/2008/09/18/a-picture-... and http://www.green-blog.org/2008/08/05/offshore-d.... Rising gas prices is a result of an increasing consumption and dwindling oil resources (peak oil) worldwide. So wouldn't the best idea be to move away from non-renewable fossil fuels and encourage the transition to other energy alternatives as quickly as possible?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should be complimented for taking back his support for any new offshore oil drilling plans. But isn't it a bit sad that an “unprecedented environmental disaster†has to take place before anyone cares to realize the dangers of offshore oil drilling (as well as other issues such as nuclear energy)?

And I agree with you Lynn about the mining and oil companies. If there is something that the mining accident and this oil spill has proven it is that private corporations only cares about their profits and nothing else.

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Yeah, I really can't believe Republicans were brazen enough to do that!

And I agree, I am disappointed that it takes a huge disaster like this to get political leaders to believe offshore drilling really is that terrible. As a comment on humanity in general, it often takes a personal disaster to get someone involved on an issue (why wait until then to start getting involved?). Easily, Schwarzenegger could have looked at past disasters involving offshore drilling, unless someone shmoozed him into thinking the technology is so good now no accidents would happen. It just seems so obvious to me that oil is not the answer, we can't keep turning to quick fixes. At some point, the infrastructure itself has to change, we can't keep putting it off.

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