No matter how green a person is, they leave an environmental footprint on Earth. Not everything can be recycled and sometimes the cleanest and best technology is far into the future. Nature is nature and all of us fail at some level to tame her. Exhibit A, the Gulf of Gelatinous Goo, formerly known as the Gulf of Mexico.
To the Governor of Texas the massive oil spill is â€œan act of Godâ€œ, but only if God goes by the nickname British Petroleum. Drilling for oil is a dangerous and dirty business, but there are ways to make it less so. However, it â€“ like every other human activity â€“ will never be totally safe.
Very safe industries, like aviation for example, perform cost/benefit calculus pretty well. Thereâ€™s a fair balance between turning a buck and turning a buck extraordinarily safely. Accidents happen, but itâ€™s rare and the cause isnâ€™t usually technology, but a short between the headsets not allowing people enough time to recover from it.
Oil drilling â€“ not so much.
The pressure and the power for oil companies to make a buck is astronomical. If thereâ€™s a shortcut, theyâ€™ll take it. If thereâ€™s a regulation, theyâ€™ll skirt it. Anyone who expects a company or industry to totally regulate itself is starry-eyed.The pollyanna belief among the unrestricted capitalist set claims markets always equalize things. In this case, the spill became just a messy â€œmarket correctionâ€.
In this case, there were regulations and they fell apart. The oil companies skirted them and the former oil industry regulators didnâ€™t enforce them. The result: thousands of fishermen and tourist industry workers slip sliding into the already bulging unemployment line.
Thatâ€™s what makes oil company behavior after accidents all the more galling. After the Exxon Valdez spill, Exxon promised to clean up their mess. Their way of doing that was apparently by dragging their feet and suing until everyone just gave in to be rid of the skeevy bastards. The mess still lingers.
BP is already on that path with $5000 for anyone who lets them off the hook and goes away while they put together their world-class environmental cleanup team of high-priced lawyers. The Feds have told them no â€“ for now. But, thereâ€™sÂ little doubt theyâ€™ll end up paying laughably few pennies on the dollar, especially with a proposed Federal law to limit their liability â€“ another case of saving a company too big to fail because of their own negligence.
The Obama energy policy to open up drilling is on hold, but itâ€™ll be back. Even with heavy investments in alternative energy, weâ€™re still stuck with burning dino-poop until the new energy sources come on line.
But when the policy gets moving again, itâ€™ll be useful to see if we learned anything from turning the Gulf of Mexico into an oily, seafood deep-fryer. Drilling technology isnâ€™t the issue here, trusting BP, Exxon, et al to use it is.
Now, how about a tarball etouffee and a nice refreshing glass of iced Texas Tea to go with that spill?
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!