Friday, April 30, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Goes From Bad to Worse

An absolute disaster:
VENICE, La. (AP) -- An oil spill that threatened to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez disaster spread out of control with a faint sheen washing ashore along the Gulf Coast Thursday night as fishermen rushed to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes.

The spill was bigger than imagined -- five times more than first estimated -- and closer. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines.

"It is of grave concern," David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."

The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world's richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life. Thicker oil was in waters south and east of the Mississippi delta about five miles offshore.
. . .
Government officials said the blown-out well 40 miles offshore is spewing five times as much oil into the water as originally estimated – about 5,000 barrels, or 200,000 gallons, a day.

At that rate, the spill could eclipse the worst oil spill in U.S. history – the 11 million gallons that leaked from the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989 – in the three months it could take to drill a relief well and plug the gushing well 5,000 feet underwater on the sea floor.
It looks like there's at least been one positive development, Obama is trying to walk back the stupid:
The White House put a hold on any new offshore oil projects until the rig disaster that caused the spill is explained.

A top adviser to President Barack Obama said Friday that no new oil drilling would be allowed until authorities learn what caused the explosion of the rig Deepwater Horizon. 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." Obama recently lifted a drilling moratorium for many offshore areas, including the Atlantic and Gulf areas.
Just think, it was only a few short weeks ago, Obama ended all debates over the safety of offshore drilling forever, because he's so trans-formative and post partisan he can do that sort of thing:
Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place. Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.
Yeah those crazy people who thought it that offshore drilling had no place, what a bunch of pussies. Just think of the 5,000 barrels of progress that's being unleashed each day into the Gulf, couldn't let that chance slip by while we fight the same old battles.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that he's putting his plans on hold now that his triangulation has become politically toxic. It just infuriates me that it took one of the worst environmental disasters in our history to stop something that very well would have destroyed another coastline 10-20 years down the road had gone through.

The stupidity of this decision is one thing, but when it's combined with triangulation rhetoric it's enough to drive you mad.

The phrase "age old debates between right and left" is something that I've absolutely loathed about Obama (going all the way back to the primaries) and it doesn't get any easier now. His triangulation fetish is honestly deeper than what Clinton did, in that it really envelopes every one of his policy arguments. Dick Morris Clinton picked issues to triangulate his base on so that he seemed more moderate (Nafta, School uniforms, welfare reform), and in his eyes, that was how you win elections and remain in office. This isn't smart, but you knew that already.

I really don't know what Obama's motivations are when he uses that type of rhetoric in almost every speech he makes on just about every single subject. I'm actually trying to think of a topic that he's tackled where he hasn't taken on as president where he hasn't tried to position himself as this arbiter between "the extremes on either side" and can't think of one with the possible exception of his policy on Israel. Triangulation isn't merely a political tactic like it was under Clinton, it has become the ethos of the Obama Administration.

Maybe it's out of anger over how much this spill is going to wreak havoc on an already bombed out Mississippi delta, but I really hope he feels it for this decision, and hard. I hope the press plays back that idiotic speech over and over again, line by line, until he suffers some real political damage for it. Very rarely does a dangerous long term decision like the one he made come face to face with very serious negative consequences the country is about to face the short term. If he pays a price in the short term, there's at least a chance that it makes him think twice before doing something that blindingly stupid again in the future.

I still have real hopes for this Administration, and there's a never ending list of things that we need to accomplish. But actions as reckless as his should have consequences. It's gonna be too late to save us from this disaster, but hopefully it will save us the time of having another "age old left-right debate" about the environmental impact of offshore drilling in the future.



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