Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Politicizing Oil Slicks
By Alan Caruba
Since everything in America is politicized, it is no surprise that on May 3rd, the two New Jersey Senators, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, along with Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, all Democrats, held a press conference to announced they were introducing legislation “to ensure that oil companies are not allowed off the hook when it comes to paying for economic damages as a result of spills.”
Let me see if I understand this. It’s okay to bail out banks that ended up with a lot of worthless mortgages thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and it’s okay to bail out AIG because it was “too big to fail”, and it was okay to vote for the multi-billion dollar “stimulus” bill that so far has stimulated nothing, but we have to crack down on an oil company, BP, that was among Obama’s biggest contributors during the campaign.
Well, of course, BP (British Petroleum) is going to pay for the clean up of the oil slick. They have already said they will. So why introduce legislation to “protect” U.S. taxpayers? BP is used to cleaning up its own messes. It has less than a sterling record of safety when it comes to its oil rigs and refineries.
Meanwhile, both New Jersey Senators are hot to have hundreds of wind turbines built off the coast of the Garden State even though a single coal-fired or nuclear plant would provide as much or more electricity with barely a carbon footprint in the case of the latter.
For the record, they are morons. If the recent votes for Obamacare and other such measures are any indicator, they have lots of company in Congress.
The blogosphere is filled with talk that the BP accident was really an act of sabotage and, frankly, it is worth considering. Oil industry experts will tell you that the chance that a U.S. operated Gulf of Mexico rig sinking or having a major spill is about 1 in 4,000.
No one wants an oil spill, but the fact is that natural, i.e., Mother Nature, oil seepage in the Gulf is the equivalent of 5,000 barrels a day. It is widely distributed and not “point sourced” as in the case of the Transocean Heritage spill.
Much of the oil from the rig will likely be burned and what isn’t burned will be subject to biodegration from wind and wave action. The reason that the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay incident was so visually dramatic was that the spill was in a closed system that did not permit dispersion.
By comparison, wildfires, a common occurrence in America—just ask Californians—devastate the areas in which they occur. It typically takes from five to thirty years for such areas to fully recover. Full recovery from an oil spill is typically about a year or so.
The worst aspect of politicizing the BP oil spill is the likelihood that offshore oil and natural gas exploration and extraction will now be delayed another decade or more. The Obama administration is openly anti-oil and anti-coal.
The EPA has just announced it intends to regulate coal ash from coal-fired power plants despite the fact that these same plants are equipped with the best in modern technology to reduce, well, soot. There is no evidence that this further draconian measure is needed other than the anti-energy agenda of the Obama administration.
So, while the U.S. taxpayer has been asked to bail out banks, insurance companies, and to provide massive subsidies to ethanol plants, wind farms and solar energy producers, three Senators could not wait to rush outside the Capital building to hold a press conference to beat up on the oil industry.
The U.S. has more hydrocarbon reserves (oil, natural gas and coal) than any other nation in the world.
In October 2009, the Congressional Research Service estimated that our hydrocarbon reserves totaled the equivalent of 970 billion barrels of oil. The vast majority of that total (about 906 billion equivalent oil barrels) is coal.
Too bad Congress and successive administrations since Jimmy Carter’s disastrous one and only term have done everything in their power in ensure Americans will be unable to benefit from most of it.
Prediction: A year from now the BP oil spill will hardly evoke any notice.
© Alan Caruba, 2010