Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Deepwater Disaster Headed for Pensacola Beach

"Drill, drill, drill"
-- Sarah Palin, 2008 Vice-presidential debate

The explosion and collapse last week of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform off the coast of Louisiana is a major environmental disaster for the entire central Gulf Coast. Oil continues to leak into Gulf waters from a broken drill pipe at a rate of about 42,000 gallons, or one th0usand barrels of oil, daily.

As of yesterday, it appears the leading eastern edge of the oil slick is just 89 miles from Pensacola Beach. (Click on map, above.) The Deepwater Horizon rig is new and outfitted with the latest in oil industry safety devices, including a "blowout preventer, a 450-ton device... that is intended to prevent spills of this kind."

It doesn't work. The "improved technology" solution oil industry lobbyists have been touting as added reason to drill in the Gulf simply failed. No surprise there. Shades of the levy-builders at the Corps of Engineers.

Submersible submarines now are being deployed to see if they can repair or shut off the leak manually. The best-case scenario is that it will take two to four weeks to cap the deep water well. The worst case scenario is that the oil well blows a bigger leak and it takes "several months" to stem all the spillage. ABC News reports that if the well itself opens, "100 times more crude could spew into the water."

Either way, it will take decades to repair the damage to nearby ecosystems and beaches. And for many life forms that depend upon them -- from bivalves to beach business owners -- the damage may be permanent. Let there be no mistake about it: this disaster is man-made.

To be sure, there have been a few far-sighted, dedicated, and brave souls like Carolyn Esther McCormick and Enid Siskin. For many years, they have been warning us that the Gulf of Mexico was already "stressed" and "bringing rigs up to a line or an arbitrary distance on a map won’t stop damage that will be caused by drilling to Florida’s coastal communities."

Rather than listen, learn, and act on the irrefutable proof they offered, too many among us even right here in Northwest Florida applauded -- and voted for -- political pollyannas like Sarah Palin and Northwest Florida Congressman Jeff Miller when they urged "drill, baby, drill." Even President Obama recently caved under the public pressure.

Either Obama doesn't have the courage of his own convictions or he was cursed by spectacularly poor timing in making one of his infamous "compromise" proposals to achieve a chimerical "bipartisan" solution. Either way, he was wrong and he ought to admit it.

But he won't. No more than Palin or Miller will own up to their misjudgments. As happens too frequently in American politics, politicians who are proven by subsequent events to have been flat wrong rarely suffer the consequences.

Palin will continue to rake in her millions as a red-meat speaker for the right wing. Miller likely will win reelection -- aided, no doubt, by many of the same business-men and -women who are about to be ruined by the very policies he promotes. Obama already has vowed to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf, despite the ongoing disastrous results.

Short of a new law requiring that every proponent of expanded oil drilling off the shore of Pensacola Beach eat the tarballs that will soon be washing ashore thanks to the policies they advocated, they will all escape the consequences.

If we raised children like we coddle wrong-headed politicians, we would have a society full of sociopaths..... Oh, wait. Maybe we already do.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Thanks for the input. I would like to train, so that I may participate as a volunteer in the cleanup effort. Do you have any idea how?