In spite of Gulf oil disaster, offshore drilling still needed
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from June 16, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….ll-needed.html)
Ten weeks ago I wrote, “There is no good reason not to drill off the coast.”
Ten days later, on April 20, an explosion destroyed a British Petroleum (BP) drilling rig 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. More than a million gallons of oil have been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico each day since, with no end in sight.
Last week, a letter writer from Upper Township, who said he is an Atlantic County educator, wrote in this paper that he was “appalled” by my column and asked, “Will Grossman reconsider his position?”
I have, but my conclusions have not changed. Our prosperity, freedom, and safety all depend on abundant, reliable energy.
Abundant, reliable energy is what lets one American farmer feed more than 129 people, so that only 2 percent of us have to be on farms. Before we harnessed this energy, one farmer only fed two or three people, and 90 percent of Americans had to live and work on farms.
Thanks to the energy supplied to the copiers, computers, and Internet in my law office, I now do wills, contracts, and research in minutes, that once took hours.
The wealth this reliable energy source has created lets taxpayers like me afford the taxes that give educators like the letter writer their generous pay, benefits, and pensions ? at least for a while.
And of course, abundant, reliable energy allows our high-tech military to defeat enemies that greatly outnumber us.
If we lose the availability of abundant and reliable energy, we lose everything.
The folks who oppose drilling for gas and oil also oppose coal mines, nuclear plants, and even hydroelectric dams (they kill some fish). That would leave us with just windmills and solar panels.
I challenge the letter writer to help his students learn the truth about “green” energy. Let them build, as a science project, enough solar panels or windmills to heat up just one frozen pizza next winter.
But does offshore drilling mean polluted oceans? For more than 40 years, since the 1969 ?blowout? off Santa Barbara, Calif., oil well leaks have been “extremely rare and quickly contained.” Far more oil has been spilled from tankers bringing oil in from elsewhere.
So what happened in the Gulf?
Websites like Wikipedia point to the same ?pay to play,? unaccountable, incompetent government that polluted Wall Street, bungled the war in Afghanistan, and can?t even properly bury our fallen soldiers.
All deepwater oil fields are owned by the federal government and managed by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The MMS decided that drilling one mile deep, 41 miles at sea was OK, while drilling on land, in empty wilderness in Alaska was not.
The MMS never asked BP for a plan on how it would prevent a blowout if it hit high pressure, or how it would respond to one.
All oil wells have blowout preventers that shut down the well in case of emergencies. Norway and Brazil both require automatic acoustically-activated triggers that shut down the well at the first sign of trouble. But the MMS did not. The MMS did not even inspect to see if a less reliable “dead man’s” trigger on the blowout preventer switch was working.
BP started drilling last February and ran into trouble in March, as soon as the drill hit the oil pocket. The drill kept “kicking back” because there was twice as much underground gas pressure as anyone had seen before. The chief driller put heavy drill mud into the pipe to control the well, but when operations fell five weeks behind schedule, BP ordered that it be taken out.
Where were the federal inspectors when this was happening? Why aren?t they accountable?
The rig exploded on April 20. It burned for two days because the blowout preventer never shut off the well. When the rig sank, it broke the mile-long pipe in three places.
For two weeks, BP used undersea robots in an attempt to trigger the blowout preventer. BP tried “top hats” on May 11 and May 14, “top kill” on May 26, and “cap containment” on May 29. Nothing worked.
Work on relief wells, the only sure fix, did not even start until many weeks later, because no plans, permits or equipment were in place to do it.
Why was there no federal mobilization of NASA, the Navy, and the resources of all private companies and universities? Because American government is incompetent and corrupt.
Most Americans now support politicians who promise all sorts of benefits paid for by taxing someone else. Today only suckers vote for honesty and competence.
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8-9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.