Thursday, June 3, 2010

Virginia Newspaper Wants All the Benefits of Drilling, None of the Risks

It's not often you read an editorial that so perfectly encapsulates the complete fraud that is offshore drilling advocacy. Time for a quick fisking. Take it away, Staunton News Leader editorial board!

Of the three reactions concerning drilling for oil off the Virginia coast, we agree with the military's. 

OK, well, the military didn't really have a reaction so much as it issued a report on the facts, that offshore drilling off most of Virginia's shores would conflict with military operations & training. But yes, we get the gist. So far, so good.

The others, of course, are Gov. Bob McDonnell continuing his drive to begin drilling off Virginia's shore as soon as possible ...

Right, Bob McDonnell's clearly extreme position to, against the military's advice, let Big Oil drill right off Virginia's shores in even deeper waters than the Deepwater Horizon -- waters in which Big Oil just proved it can't stop a gusher.

... and President Barack Obama's outright cancellation of those plans.

And Barack Obama's apparently equally extremist ... cooling-off period delaying drilling until safety concerns can be addressed. STOP THE INSANITY!

Our governor and our president need to reach an agreement. On April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 people and causing an immeasurable amount of damage to the environment and fishing and tourism industries, it became crystal clear that yes, offshore drilling can create a disaster.

Right, offshore drilling is a very real, so-huge-it's-difficult-to-fathom risk. When it comes to offshore drilling, this is where I close my laptop, slide it into my backpack, get up, sling my bag over my shoulder, and stride calmly but briskly out the door.

With the Staunton News Leader, however, I'm sensing a but.

But ...

Thought so.

... the military already has said that only a narrow portion of the ocean floor off Virginia's coast would be suitable for offshore drilling, already limiting the impact here. 

Look, when it comes to massive, ecosystem-decimating oil spills, there's no such thing as "limiting the impact." Sure, there are more minor spills & leaks. But there's no "limiting the impact" of the Deepwater Horizon gusher. The Gulf is screwed and that's that. No "blowout preventers" or inflatable booms are stopping it.

And the process and industry bring much-needed jobs and fuel to the state and country.

So begins the unraveling of reality. Even the American Petroleum Institute admits drilling in the full range of Virginia's coast would only directly create 216 jobs -- and that's twenty years from now. But the Staunton News Leader is talking about going along with the military's plan to take much of the drilling territory off the table. How few jobs are we talking about now?

As for fulfilling our fuel needs, even under the most optimistic scenarios, drilling in all of the areas desired by Big Oil combined -- offshore, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Rocky Mountain states -- would only mean a 4-5 cent reduction (PDF) in the price of a gallon of gasoline by 2025. Now consider JUST off Virginia. And only a small piece of that. How thin can you slice a penny?

What we want to see is a carefully regulated compromise that explores the possibilities for drilling off Virginia's coast and assures us the environmental impact would be limited and any damage done is repaired and punitive measures taken against those responsible.

So the Staunton News Leader wants to drill in water deeper than the Deepwater Horizon, whose gusher can't be stopped, with full assurances that any gusher could be stopped. And all that irreparable damage going on in the Gulf? Assure us it can be repaired. DON'T ASK QUESTIONS, JUST MAKE IT HAPPEN.

When Obama canceled the plans without apparent wiggle room, he did as much harm as going too quickly. 

Hear that? Holding off on drilling to address safety concerns is EXACTLY THE SAME as rushing into drilling and having a Deepwater Horizon disaster off Hampton Roads. Identical.

We need the fuel, and we need the jobs and other revenue offshore drilling can bring. We also need to take care of the environment and be assured that scientific research into alternatives will continue at an accelerated pace.

And there you have it -- the Staunton News Leader wants all of the benefits of drilling with guaranteed protection from all of the risks. I guess I finally understand what the GOP's "all of the above" energy plans is all about!
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