As of June 21, 2010 two different collecting systems are transferring oil and gas from British Petroleum’s damaged Gulf of Mexico underwater oil well MC252 to surface vessels. In addition, drilling of two relief wells has been underway since early May. When completed sometime in mid to late August they’ll greatly reduce if not stop the flow of oil from the damaged MC252 well.
Aside from the priceless loss of 11 human lives, the total cost to British Petroleum has topped two billion dollars. Over 100 million has been paid out in personal and corporate claims. Of course the total economic and environmental damage is yet to be determined.
Toward that end British Petroleum made an agreement with the Obama administration for a $20 billion fund that will be paid by the company in installments over several years. Some people think President Obama used his “bully pulpit” to extort the deal from BP in the closed door meeting. Perhaps, but it’s not likely that BP is afraid of President Obama. BP and Obama needed each other.
British Petroleum’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill may be underscoring the negative effects that man’s utilization of natural energy sources has on the environment (yes, oil is a natural energy source same as wind or solar; it’s just not a so-called “renewable” source) but the spill is also highlighting two other facts; one is good news, the other not so good.
The good news is the oil spill shows the bountiful amount of crude oil and natural gas that’s still available to the United States. Middle East political ramifications aside, if the people (government) of the US truly wanted to become energy independent we could in relative short order by immediately opening up the known oil reserves to drilling and production.
It’d not only move us toward energy independence, it’d be an almost instant boost to the economy. It would have the added benefit of shoring up America’s energy industry and better preparing it to move toward exploiting renewable energy sources.
The bad news is that all of it is far too entangled in politics. The oil spill has exposed America’s irrational thinking and its irresponsible communication; in particular among its politicians.
Case in point, both President Obama and his deputy press secretary have called the oil spill the “worst disaster” and the “worst environmental disaster” in America’s history. On both accounts they’re wrong. No one can argue that they’re been many worse disasters; the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11 to name three.
As far as environmental disasters, the “Dust Bowl” is one that comes to mind as worse than the oil spill. Like the oil spill it too was man-made. Of course the oil spill isn’t yet over so perhaps it will become the worst environmental disaster in US history. Yes, it’s the worst oil spill in US history though not in world history.
Another side to the irresponsible communication and irrational thinking is the manner in which British Petroleum is being treated as if it were a single evil person or small group of people. Even President Obama referred to BP as “their” and “they.” BP isn’t a “they” it’s an it.
The legal fact of the corporation as an autonomous “person” causes people to lose sight of the fact that it’s not an actual human being but rather; it’s composed of real people. If you harm BP you harm thousands of people most whom are just trying to make an honest living.
The hard truth is it’s possible that one or more of the men who worked on the exploded rig may have caused the disaster by some unintentional act of carelessness. That point doesn’t need belaboring but it is a valid point regardless of if or how much pressure was being applied by management to bring in the well.
The media reports that people in the affected Gulf States were angered over BP president Tony Hayward taking a little R&R to attend a yacht regatta. How absurd. What do they want? What are those people doing while thousands of children and millions of people in Africa are starving? They’re going to bars, movies, and restaurants. Americans need to stop acting like spoiled brats.