We heard, "Drill, Baby, Drill" through the 2008 election, continuously. In fact when President Obama performed a bait and switch on March 31, 2010, stating he will allow off shore drilling, Senator John McCain tweeted, "Drill baby drill! Good move – where are Reid and Pelosi on this?"
Well, as the 2010 mid-term election is upon us, that is a statement you WON'T hear. Not from Republicans and anyone running for office on either side. Not after hearing and watching what the BP Explosion has done and is still doing to the Gulf Coast region. Not when 200K gallons of oil is still pumping into the waters of the Gulf Coast and BP don't know how to stop it. This is a catastrophe of epic proportion.
Right now, that region is holding its breath hoping BP will figure out how to stop the spill, people are praying that this oil will not spill into the Gulf Coast waterways, shores. (Which unfortunately, many are starting to smell this oil on coastal shores.)
All of this has me thinking about the Santa Barbara Oil Spill. This spill off Southern California helped found Earth Day.
Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed on April 22 each year by more than 500 million people and several national governments in 175 countries.
Senator Nelson, an environmental activist, took a leading role in organizing the celebration, hoping to demonstrate popular political support for an environmental agenda. He modeled it on the highly effective Vietnam War teach-ins of the time. The proposal for Earth Day was first proposed in a prospectus to JFK written by Fred Dutton. However, Nelson decided against much of Dutton's top-down approach, favoring a decentralized, grassroots effort in which each community shaped their action around local concerns.
Nelson had conceived the idea for Earth Day following a trip he took to Santa Barbara right after the horrific oil spill off the coast in 1969. Outraged by the devastation and Washington political inertia, Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university campus in the U.S.
Environmentalists and many on the left did not want President Obama caving to the Republicans for any off-shore drilling. This was not Barack Obama's position during the election and caving for a principled point can lose you voters. But it was this statement said by President Obama that should change his mind, totally on off-shore drilling.
So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration. We’ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.
The problem with this point is that when it comes to off-shore drilling, we give the whole ball of wax to the oil companies. As we are seeing everything unfold, BP not only lied to the Administration on the magnitude of this spill, but whatever tools they had has failed. There goes protecting the environment, tourism, that region's economy and potential health hazards for the people of that region.
BP said last week that it and its partners in the well, including Anadarko Petroleum (APC.N), were paying $6 million a day in clean-up efforts but admitted costs would rise sharply when the oil slick hit land, as would claims for damages.
Hayward said the technical options his company was working on to try to seal the ruptured well included an undersea containment system that would capture the leaking oil and channel it to a tanker on the surface.
"It's fabricated and will be on location next weekend," he said.
Another option, the drilling of a relief well to intersect and try to control the ruptured well, was also "now underway," Hayward added.
BP was also using undersea robotic vehicles to try to fix the well blowout preventer -- a mechanism that he said had failed to prevent the oil gushing from the ruptured well following the rig accident.
"No one understands why it's failed. We have assembled in Houston 160 companies from across the industry to focus on this task," Hayward said.
We have seen the oil-spilled show every few decades. The show itself does not change, just the key oil players and administrations. And the results have always been the same, that of apology and shame by the offenders, that of threatening rhetoric by the administrations, that of anger by the population, and that of FORGETFULNESS down the road.
I hope President Obama changes his position on off-shore drilling and take a bold path of leading this country off the dependence of oil, period. Pandering to the right to get a bill passed may work in some instances, but for this instance, a total loss.
Cross-posted @Daily Kos