WEBCommentary Guest

Author: Paul Driessen
Date:  July 4, 2010

Topic category:  Government/Politics

Obama’s deliberate Katrina
Bungling the BP oil spill cleanup? Or never letting the crisis go to waste?

The Obama Administration appears to be trying to perpetuate, intensify and capitalize on the Gulf oil spill to advance its anti-energy agenda.

Back in May, a television news program asked me if I’d tell America the BP oil spill is President Obama’s Katrina. We discussed the spill’s causes, effects and cleanup effort, but I wouldn’t give them the “red meat” they were looking for. So I lost my 15 minutes of national fame.

Since then, it has become obvious that the Katrina analogy is inappropriate. The 2005 hurricane was marked by abject failures by the New Orleans mayor and Louisiana governor, and initially inept responses by FEMA and the Bush administration.

The 2010 oil spill is defined by yeoman’s efforts by Gulf Coast governors – and an Obama administration response that is leagues beyond inept. It is proactively incompetent and obstructionist, as though it is determined not to let this crisis go to waste – but to prolong and intensify the environmental and economic calamity, to advance its political objectives: shutting down offshore leasing and drilling, bringing the US oil industry into the automotive-banking-housing-healthcare sphere of federal control, forcing a massive shift to costly renewable energy, and ramming cap-tax-and-trade through Congress.

How else can anyone explain the litany of bureaucratic decisions that have squandered opportunities to shield beaches, fisheries and estuaries from the expanding slick, before hurricanes hammer cleanup efforts? Ponder this unconscionable malfeasance by the EPA, Corps of Engineers, Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife Service, OSHA, Justice Department, White House and Congress, which:

To top it off, in the face of an environmental catastrophe largely perpetrated and perpetuated by a deliberately incompetent and intransigent federal government, rabidly anti-drilling Congressmen Waxman, Markey and Stupak have now introduced HR 5626, the Blowout Prevention Act. The bill requires that any company seeking a drilling permit must first guarantee that it could prevent any future blowouts; promptly stop any blowout, even if the blowout preventers and other measures fail; and drill a relief well within 90 days of any blowout.

This “domestic oil production prohibition” bill sets safety standards that are as impossible to meet, as requiring that all oil tankers prove they will never have an accident, even if they are forced to negotiate the obstacle courses that these same legislators intend to create off our shores, by installing thousands of wind turbines along our coasts. In conjunction with other anti-drilling initiatives, the bill would greatly increase the number of tankers coming to the United States with crude oil and refined products – thus increasing the number of major tanker accidents.

Even a six-month moratorium could cost 20,000-30,000 jobs in the Gulf Region. If HR 5626 and other measures are implemented, the ban could easily become permanent – destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs. Once the big rigs leave, most won't be back for years, as they will be in high demand in counties that do want to drill. Meanwhile China, Cuba and other countries will be drilling in our backyard, off Florida for example, using their rules and technologies, tapping into US reservoirs, and threatening our coasts. 

Anyone who’s read my book, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power / Black Death, knows I am no fan of BP. It screwed up big time in the Gulf, cutting corners and failing to respond properly to tests and other signs of trouble downhole, further compounding its awful environmental and workplace safety record.

However, there is simply no justification for these actions by the Obama administration and Democrat Congress, which seem determined to magnify the crisis – to further hobble the nation’s oil and gas industry and the countless companies, workers, families, hospitals, schools and charities that depend on it. Indeed, America runs on reliable, affordable petroleum fuels for almost two-thirds of all the energy we consume. It counts on offshore oil for millions of jobs and billions in royalty and tax revenues.

Enough is enough. The Gulf States must take control of their energy, economic and environmental future. In the long term, this means conducting complete investigations into corporate and government failures – and imposing civil and criminal penalties for misfeasance and malfeasance, as appropriate.

In the near term, the Gulf States should make it clear that these are their beaches, estuaries, coastal waters, jobs and revenues – and they will no longer tolerate the abject failures that have defined the authoritarian federal takeover of this oil spill response effort. 

The states have a right, and a duty, to make decisions about booms, berms, skimmers and every other aspect of the cleanup – based on what their experts advise, and perhaps regardless of what the EPA, Coast Guard or other federal agencies might say.

Only then will this nightmare be brought to an end.

Paul Driessen

Biography - Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of many articles on energy and the environment.  He has degrees in sciences and environmental law.

Copyright © 2010 by Paul Driessen
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