Friday, July 16, 2010

Once the Oil Flow is Stopped, What Then?

With guarded hopes, testing on the broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that has been spewing oil into the gulf for nearly 3 months looks promising so far. Although premature for celebration, all parties involved hope to see the beginning of the end for this nightmare that has affected so many people.

Once permanently capped, what then? The clean-up will be a massive undertaking even when it no longer creates sympathetic headlines and we still have growing energy needs that will need met, if we wish to maintain the current lifestyle.

And, it is not just energy needs as petroleum plays a huge role in our day to day lives that most of never give a second thought to. From food to medical and so much in between, petroleum has contributed to our lives in very positive ways.

But, accidents as the Gulf Well draws negative attention and the effects of such accidents last a very long time. Opportunists jump at the chance to raise allegations against those who provide us with petroleum and even elected officials, who actually have little or no knowledge of the matter, push through legislation that benefit lobbyists who fund their campaigns and in the end, John Q. Public pays with a lowered lifestyle, higher prices and increased taxes. Did I mention fewer jobs too?

Such is the case ongoing now with the poor performance seen from the Obama administration in helping or directing efforts at ending this oil spill. Many feel the oil should never have reached the shoreline to create the environmental disaster now being seen along the Louisiana, Alabama and Florida coastlines, as well as other states along the gulf.

In spite of a lack of concern shown by the administration, they and willing accomplices in Congress were very quick to seize upon the unfolding tragedy to announce a “moratorium” on further deep water drilling, giving no regard as to how such a moratorium would affect an already severely depressed economy or how America’s energy needs will be met.

Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stated,

I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely.”

Unstated in the announcement, along with just how our growing energy needs will be met, is that obtaining our own land based petroleum has been blocked now for decades in areas known to contain enough reserves to satisfy our needs while alternative sources are being perfected.

Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute says
It is unnecessary and shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation’s energy lifeline while working to enhance offshore safety The new moratorium threatens enormous harm to the nation and to the Gulf region. It places the jobs of tens of thousands of workers in serious and immediate jeopardy and promises a substantial reduction in domestic energy production. No certain and expeditious path forward has been established for a resumption of drilling.”

“The 33 now idle deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf have passed thorough government inspections and are ready to be put back to work. The industry has been working extremely hard on all fronts to enhance safety-and will continue to do so. And the government has already imposed significant, additional safety requirements that are supported by the industry. A resumption of drilling would proceed only under the most intense and vigilant oversight

Gerard also points out, “80 percent of the oil and 45 percent of the natural gas produced in the Gulf come from deepwater areas,” indicating we now have that much less energy sources to meet our needs and you can imagine the number of jobs now sitting idle in the region and throughout the rest of the nation.

Most telling are the words of Larry Dickerson, chief executive of Diamond Offshore Drilling as he quotes many of his employees who ask about “the difference between the auto industry and the oil industry, ‘how come they get bailed out and we get driven out’?”

Left-winged environmental groups, who although they condemn many modern modes of transportation and energy use them themselves, are also known to seize upon such incidents to further their agendas. We can expect to see emails, television and radio ads decrying the damaged costal regions, even though many of them do not lift a finger to help out.

They and even more willing accomplices in Congress will undoubtedly demand punitive measures on the petroleum industry and taxes placed upon their products, all of which you and I, the struggling citizens of America will inevitably end up paying in higher prices to heat our homes, drive to work (for those lucky enough to still have a job) and even to prepare our meals.

A briefing paper has already been made available to the public on steps being taken that will affect all of us in from the above call.

Nick Rahall, West Virginia Democrat and House Natural Resources Chairman has introduced legislation “to firm up safety and oversight of offshore drilling in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill,” that would expand government oversight and control of not only offshore drilling of oil and natural gas, but would also include onshore drilling.

To me personally, it appears to be more of just another step toward our government nationalizing the petroleum industry.

API’s president, Jack Gerard released a statement recently stating,
The bill passed by the House Natural Resources Committee today moves well beyond a response to the tragic accident in the Gulf of Mexico, to the point where – if adopted by the Congress – provisions of the legislation will kill jobs, stifle economic recovery and punish an already-reeling Gulf Coast community.”

“The numerous provisions that discourage U.S. oil and natural gas development have the potential to drive investment out of the United States, killing U.S. jobs and harming our economy.”

“We support efforts to ensure safe and environmentally responsible operations, and we are committed to being part of the solution. But we cannot forget that oil and natural gas demand is growing and that it is critical to every sector of our economy. Any policy changes must bear that in mind. We can protect the environment without jeopardizing our economic security

In the meantime, there are still thousands of oil wells throughout the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere off of our shores operated by foreign nations that the legislation would not affect. They are drilling to meet their energy needs while we idealistically think we can do without energy.

Our dependence upon foreign oil is growing at an alarming rate, which ultimately will leave us prone to more attacks, both physical and economic. So called “alternative sources” are still not capable of meeting our basic energy needs.

The shortsightedness of the current administration seizing upon such accidents for political opportunism is stripping our nation of our defenses, while devastating our economy.

We remain optimistically guarded that this tragic accident at the Deepwater Horizon Oil Well will be soon permanently sealed and that in time, the Gulf Coast will recover.

But, if the region is not allowed to recover and continue supplying our energy needs economically, can we remain a nation of free people much longer?

What then?

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