Dead In The Water


Paul Tullis criticizes the NYT for pushing the "Obama's Katrina" meme and spells out the differences between the oil spill and the hurricane. John Hinderaker - surprise! - takes the other side. Michael Roston also casts a critical eye on the administration's preparedness. The NYT follows up with more scrutiny. Ambers, meanwhile, predicts that "offshore drilling is dead in the water as a policy anytime soon, much like the Three Mile Island accident soured politicians and the public on nuclear power."

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry cautions:

[T]he fact that an activity carries risk does not mean it is ill-advised. It does mean that precautions must be taken. “Drill baby drill” is a simplistic slogan, but thinking “drill baby drill” is made wrong by one oil spill is equally simplistic and we don’t want to be as simplistic as Sarah Palin, do we?

Room For Debate also focuses on costs and benefits. Here's Matthew Kotchen, an environmental economics professor:

In terms of benefits, the amount of oil under consideration is so small compared to domestic consumption that we can confidently dismiss all arguments about decreasing prices and reducing our reliance on imports.The real benefit is that oil is worth a lot. And this is why the Obama administration sees an opportunity. Sizeable revenue from the sale of offshore leases can help build political and financial support for more comprehensive climate and energy policies.

Dreher looks at the local impact:

I don't see how it's avoidable that this spill is going to have major, major impact, and not just on the coastal environment. According to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries department, the Louisiana seafood industry is worth $265 billion annually "at the dockside," and beyond that has a $2.3 trillion economic impact. The state's budget was already in dire shape, with dramatic cuts to higher education and state services on their way for next year ... and now the state is faced with the possible destruction of its fishing industry. The economic pain could be extreme -- likewise for the coastal tourism industries in Mississippi, Alabama, still struggling to recover from Katrina, and perhaps even the Florida Panhandle. The entire nation benefits from the oil harvested from Gulf waters, but now the cost of it is going to be borne in a particularly horrible way by Louisiana and neighboring states.

More along these lines from Nicole Allan. And from John Besh. Lisa Margonelli advocates:

The oil spill in the Gulf is horrific and it's very likely it'll get worse. While locals get to work scrubbing the oiled birds with Dawn dish detergent,  a fracas will begin in Washington. Generally speaking this is an opera called "The Punishment," and for the last two major oil spills of great political  consequence (Santa Barbara in 1969 and the Exxon Valdez in 1989) it involved  a moratorium on drilling somewhere in the US. The problem with this, as I lay out in an op-ed in today's New York Times, is that we basically shift drilling and  its risks to other countries. (The figure that the Niger Delta, roughly the size of England, has suffered the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez of spilled oil every year since 1969 ought to make us cry.)

This time we need to use the political will generated by this really awful event to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce American dependence on oil. 

(Image: A dead fish lies on the beach as concern continues for the creatures that are in the path of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on May 3, 2010 in Gulfport, Mississippi. It is unknown if the fish died due to the oil spill. Oil is still leaking out of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead at an estimated rate of 1,000-5,000 barrels a day. By Joe Raedle/Getty Images)