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  • Oil Spill: Focus on Containment, Clean Up, Causation

    The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unfortunate and terrible accident that poses economic and environmental challenges to the Gulf coast. The fact that the explosion took eleven lives is regrettable and condolences to friends and families who lost their loved ones. Many questions are yet without answers; the most general and pressing being: what went wrong? Along with stopping the leak and containing the oil slick to minimize, the imperative concern is to figure out what went wrong. There will be lots of finger pointing and calls for action but Members of Congress and the White House should refrain from making any rash political decisions.

    Despite accusations that BP cut corners on preventative measures, BP America Inc. President Lamar McKay maintains that’s not the case saying, “My belief is that that does not have anything to do with it. I believe we’ve got a failed piece of equipment. We don’t know why it failed yet in this contracted rig.” Whether that’s the case remains to be seen and will require a thorough investigation. The company is spending $6 million a day to reduce the environmental impact with burnoffs, oil booms, chemical-filled barriers and other dispersant chemicals and is attempting to activate the blowout prevention mechanism that was supposed to go into effect when the rig exploded. Answering this question must be at the top of the priority list.

    After the “what happened and why” questions follow the “who’s to blame” ones. The obvious responsible party is BP and the company has vowed to pay for the clean up costs for “legitimate and objectively verifiable claims for other loss and damage caused by the spill.” This should include reimbursing the taxpayers for government resources allocated towards the problem, which thus far includes the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Management Services.

    Also on the receiving end of much blame is President Obama and his administration. Critics on the left and the right disparaged the president’s slow response. Some are calling the Gulf oil spill “President Obama’s Katrina” since federal efforts weren’t ramped up immediately. A large part of this may have been the Coast Guard underestimating the severity of the problem, but regardless, there will be plenty of time for passing blame. The focus needs to be remain on containment, clean up and causation.

    For the most part the administration’s reaction has been prudent. President Obama has called on Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to report on new technologies might be needed to prevent future spills in the next thirty days. In this time no new lease sales will occur. Although none were meant to occur anyhow, this is a common sense approach for the near-term.

    But the White House should refrain from making any impulsive decisions that affect our long-term energy policy. While there are economic consequences with the spill, there are much bigger economic costs with a ban on offshore drilling. Even Secretary Salazar acknowledged this – noting that 30 percent of our nation’s oil production comes from the Gulf. He asserted, “For us to turn off those spigots would have a very, very huge impact on America’s economy right now. This is an industry that can operate safely. There has been a tragic accident here and we need to learn the lessons from it, and we will not move forward with any kind of activity on offshore oil and gas drilling that isn’t going to have safety first.” Secretary Salazar should also be commended for this level-headed approach.

    The knee jerk reaction for politicians is to put in place laws and regulations they believe will solve the problem, but often times these can have adverse effects, as explained by Richard Fulmer:

    Suppose, for example, that the final result of a congressional inquiry into a tragedy is a bill mandating the use of technology “X.” Let us further suppose that X is, indeed, an excellent, state-of-the-art solution, and not something that was selected because Technology X Industries, Inc. made a generous campaign contribution to Senator Jones, or because the X Solutions company happens to be located in Congressman Smith’s district.

    In a dynamic, free market economy, technology X is likely to be superseded very quickly by superior technology “Y.” Once X has been mandated, however, Y may never be used. First, innovators have little incentive to investigate alternatives to X, given that entrenched laws must be overturned before such alternatives can be used. Second, even if Y were to be developed, the status quo surrounding X would fight to keep the laws mandating X firmly in place.”

    The Gulf oil spill presents significant near-term and long-term questions and challenges. We need to address the environmental clean up and cause of the spill before moving forward with anything else.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Oil Spill: Focus on Containment, Clean Up, Causation

    1. Billie says:

      Our prayers and condolences to families and friends of those who have perished.

      This may be considered ignorant and I apologize for it, but what would happen if there was never drilling for oil which naturally develops in the earth? Would it stop developing or would we have oil mines? Or whatever? Also wondering if these government resources weren't taking this situation at hand, what are they being paid for when there isn't anything at hand? Also, how much of this can nature take care of?

    2. Jimthepimp from Geor says:

      I liked your article with one exception. The adminsitration should of acted sooner. It was ten days before they did anything. I saw the pictures on CNN and knew that this was a huge deal. If I know it so doesnt the government. I wanted to send a letter to Washington to say " What are u thinking"? It only really got blown into a huge story the end of last week once the media really picked up on it. Once it was known that the oil was still flowing out of the pipes all hands should of been in action. This I didnt know or it was somebody elses fault is just another cop out. All hands are on deck now and things will get solved within a few days to stop the flow. BP is just a company and you dont just take for granted that things will be fine. Ok im done with that but overall a great article and keep up the good work.

    3. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      I lived in Louisiana most of my life. I worked in the "oil patch", on and under many rigs, for more years than I care to remember. Dispite my intense dislike for Obama and his socialist administration, I honestly can't put blame on Obama.

      At the time of the "blow-out" and subsequent fire, no one knew the rig would sink. After the first few days it was not known that the BOP did not operate thus shut off the flow from the wellhead. At first, no one could be sure the "oil slick" was from the oil products stored on the rig or actual crude. The first estimates of the crude flowing from the drill stem was low. After the wreckage settled to the bottom, the leaks opened and the flow increased. This was about 5 or 6 days afterwards. During these days BP thought they could manage the spill with skimming and controled burns. Only after about a week, was the amount of crude flow confirmed and BP needed help. Then the weather effected the recovery process with 40 mph winds and 6 to 8 foot seas.

      I really don't think Obama's could have helped. But what I strongly object to is these his lackeys claimed they were involved from day one. That an outright lie.

      Then, when Obama came down here, he implied that BP should be sued by

      the people who's livelihoods would be effected. It is a given that law suites will result. But for a sitting president and/or his administration to endorce law suites is deployable.

    4. Tim Az says:

      Well we all know the Regime's motto. Never let a crisis go to waist. If you have to. Give it time to develop so you can exploit it to the fullest extent possible.

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      Let's stop pointing fingers about who could have done what sooner. Let's work with the people from BP and get this mess cleaned up. Let's learn what went wrong so we can figure out how to prevent it from happening again.

    6. ROY S. MALLMANN II S says:

      We need offshore drilling off Florida, The East Coast, and California to stop all foreign importation of oil. But, we have got to find out what went wrong and come up with a fix immediately. In this high tech nation we should be able to solve this problem and implement it now. It is Obama's Katrina as they didn't have anything prestaged. Have you noticed though that the United States Coast Guard is always there almost immediately, just like Katrina. I sincerely think that we should beef up the Coast Guard drastically and equip them to handle these oil spills, hurricanes, or whatever. They are the best equipped and on call 24-7. It only makes sense.

    7. biddie-Baton Rouge says:

      All of the "converations" and "reporting" have been by people who don't have a clue as to what happens on a rig! Any number of things could have happened. And the only ones who know are either dead or cannot tell until the "invest-igations" are complete. BP is being "crucified" by the media-well they owned the lease, TransOcean owned the rig, plus there may have been contract supervisors(known as "toolpushers") as well as many service company personnel. Now, everybody seems to be having fits about lost paychecks for the seafood people, and that's OK, but what about all the oilfield people who will be jobless especially if the left has their way and bans drilling. (The Cubans, Chinese, Russians and Brazillians will STILL be drilling.

    8. jordan, cleveland OH says:

      Your article is very good. I hope that many people read this to realize the terrible effects of oil spills. If we can focus our attention to pressing causes such as man made disasters, we can maintain a clean and rewarding enviornment.

    9. Scott Galbraith, Cla says:

      Hello, I was hoping you may be able to help me, on the oil spill problem, and dealing with the leftist government problem. I have a unique background in Emergency Management, over 17 years with the NC

      Division of Emergency Management, and I have experience with oil spill planning with the state, Coast Guard and other response agencies. As well as most major disaster respnses since 1989 I also have been prevented from working my trade in North Carolina due to direct intereference by the state since my firing 2 years ago. The reasons were political, with a lame justification that eventually did not hold water with the the courts, thank God.

      I also have extensive Navy experience with driving large ships (air craft carriers) and working as a Division Officer in the Meteorology Office on board the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65)).

      I still have a strong desire to serve my country in Emergency Management, including oil spill and terrorist response (I have been on number of North Carolina's Task Forces on terrorism going back to 1997.

      I dearly believe that I have the background and energy to be of service, but I do not savor Obama politics or the FEMA bureacracy. You would'nt believe what I have been put through just to be a Reservist. They have more red tape than you can imagine. I can get into that later.

      The bottom line, I would like to serve my country along the traditional lines of the Heritage Foundation.. If your think there is some place I can get someone's ear about my desire to serve my country, and avoid the Obama morrase, please let me know.

      I am your servant and look forward to hearing from someone.

      Sincerely,

      Scott J. Galbraith

      (919) 550-2095

    10. Scott Galbraith, Cla says:

      I apologize for my sermonizing.

      Addressing the the oil repsonse will have to include a unified response from county and State governments along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. The physical oceanographic characteristics of the currents near ground zero, will soon make this a national problem and perhaps internationa problem as welll. A great deal of money will be wasted from the beginning by the Federal government in drawing up their "plans" and seeing to coordinating a response…but I pray to God that they can do it. I fervently believe that the it is in the private sector, starting with the oil industry, and including numerous maritime intersests, which must take the lead in in this and future preparation.

      There is no reason, with today's technology, that a rapid response force, privately contracted to the Government and the Oil Industry, can step in swiftly and mitigate future events like this. And this sort of response will need the public relations and marketing to the public, like Re Adair and John Wayne (Hellfighters), and I am sure that is probably occuring….But something needs to be done quickly to let the public know that we have such a response structure, if there is to be any support in off-shore drilling of our petroleum resources.

      I am also a proponant of the use of nuclear power to to take care of our electrical needs. I lived on a nuclear power plant at sea (USS ENTERPRISE) long enough to know that this is a safer and affordable option than anything else in the near future.

      This country will sink if it doesn't fully address this problem….and I would leave the Feds out as much as possible….Can I help?

    11. Pingback: Caffeinated Thoughts

    12. Mike S South Bend, I says:

      You know, with that initial heavy some-odd ton remedy, the engineers that be would have had some idea of the potential force they were dealing with. But they didn't. It proved well to be that looming neigborhood bully that just can't be swept aside, no. Those precious times of life looking down the throat of insurmountables calls up the prudent to a better means. I say go back to the plan with more of a persuasion rather than a one-stop prevailing. Collar the thing wide open with the neccessary shut-off attached.

    13. Ruth T. says:

      I am wondering if there is not a website where the public can offer constructive suggestions. If there is (Heritage Foundation), could you let us know?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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