Spill, Baby Spill: Explosion Gives Environmentalists Regulation Firepower

Apr 30 2010 Published by under Featured News, White House

Spill, Baby Spill: Explosion Gives Environmentalists Regulation Firepower

The massive explosion and subsequent oil spill of a rig in the Gulf of Mexico may lead to reinstating the expired moratoriums on off-shore drilling as well as new regulations, which oil giant BP says it is expecting.

Environmentalists Must Fight Now

The “Drill Baby Drill” proponents are eerily silent as the oil spill in the Gulf, which could become one of the worst recent environmental disasters of this nation, threatens hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife. Could it be shame? Or perhaps they are not capable of the sort of reflection needed for shame, in which case, their silence is simply the most expedient choice at the moment. Either way, sane people must seize the moment to step into the five seconds of jingoistic silence and make their voices heard.

Now is the time to introduce environmentally sound legislation, and stepping up to the plate are Democrats Bill Nelson of Fla who is asking the administration to postpone plans for off-shore drilling expansion and Edward Markey of Mass to discuss environmental risks with off-shore drilling.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is introducing legislation that would block the Obama administration from acting on its plans to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

“In a letter to President Obama, Nelson writes that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent leak in the Gulf of Mexico requires the administration to “postpone indefinitely plans for expanded offshore drilling operations.”

Meanwhile, the Hill reports that “Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is calling on top officials from ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell to appear before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which he leads.

The hearing — which has not been scheduled — will provide a high-profile forum for discussing environmental risks in the wake of last week’s oil rig explosion, which has created a major spill that crews are struggling to contain. ”

The Wall Street Journal reports that BP is expecting tougher regulations to be introduced:

“The chief executive of BP PLC said in an interview Thursday he expects a tougher regime for oil companies as a consequence of the spill. BP hired the rig that caught fire and sank, resulting in the spill. “Regulators will want to understand how this occurred and quite reasonably wish to introduce additional regulation, if that’s appropriate, to prevent it happening again,” Chief Executive Tony Hayward told The Wall Street Journal. “You certainly won’t see BP standing in the way of that.” Asked whether the spill could prompt calls for a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, he said: “I’m certain some people are thinking that might be necessary.”

When even the WSJ is reporting that oil companies expect tougher regulations, we have to know the time to act is NOW. The issue is not only common sense regulations and reinstating the moratorium on off-shore drilling, but also investigating the regulator in charge of oil rigs, the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, which has a dubious record. The New York Times reported in Sept of 2008 on the ethics scandal of the Dept of Interior:

“The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch…The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” The investigation separately found that the program’s manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.”

In other words, heck of a job, Brownies. Regulations are irrelevant if regulators are not doing their jobs.

As responsible stewards of this land, Democrats need to band together to insist upon their platform of environmentally sound energy policies and competent regulators. I would suggest that the morally repugnant idea of saddling our children with debt also applies to saddling our children with an environmentally poisoned world bereft of wildlife, so that one would hope that all reasonable people of both parties could come together on this issue, but I am not holding my breath on this one.

The Obama White House announced that it will not authorize any more offshore oil drilling until it’s determined what caused the explosion. David Axelrod told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “no additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what has happened here.”

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