Handbasket Report — Oil Is Our Lifeblood

Unfortunately, having light sweet crude oil as a lifeblood is not that great when it’s gushing out like real blood from a severed artery.

I smiled wryly when I read this paragraph from the New York Times article “BP Is Criticized over Oil Spill, but U.S. Missed Chances to Act”:

Some oil industry critics questioned whether the federal government is too reliant on oil companies to manage the response to major spills, leaving the government unable to evaluate if the response is robust enough.

These folks need to lighten up, be sweet, and repeat some well-oiled, if crude, lines:

We need to drill off our coasts because we need the oil.

Companies will regulate themselves.

Government interference with companies is bad.

The best government is the one that governs least.

Let me repeat this with commentary.

We need to drill off our coasts because we need the oil, or rather we WANT the oil, like an addict wants the next fix. Running out of dope is NOT possible because we NEED our dope. Cutting down on our dope is NOT an option because we WANT our dope. We will not start a 12 Step program to help us quit our oil habit because we WANT oil and lots of it.

Companies will regulate themselves unless, of course, it’s more profitable for them not to do so, which, of course, it often is. Milton Friedman was wrong more often than was Adam Smith, but, unfortunately, more people have heard snippets of Friedman than have read Adam Smith.

Government interference with companies is bad. And government preparedness is totally unnecessary, unless it’s preparedness to defend corporate interests.

The best government is the one that governs least. Well, hey, it looks like we have the best government after all!

Need more to contemplate? Here are a couple more paragraphs from this article:

If the government determines that the responsible party is not up to the job, it can federalize the spill, running the cleanup operations without the private company but billing it for the cost. This is a last resort, however.

In this case, Admiral North said, the oil companies have more technology and expertise than the government. “It doesn’t appear that federalizing it would bring in any more resources,” he said.

Officials from BP and the federal government have repeatedly said they had prepared for the worst, even though a plan filed last year with the government said it was highly unlikely that a spill or leak would ever result from the Deep Horizon rig.

“There are not much additional available resources in the world to fight this thing offshore,” said Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, in an interview. “We’ve basically thrown everything we have at it.”

Anyone have a guess why there aren’t more available resources? Does rereading my list give any hints?

LiveScience describes the situation in “Looming Disaster? Gulf Oil Spill FAQ”.

Oh, yeah, and those estimates that the spill is 5000 gallons a day? That’s what it is, a guess. Here’s another one from the Wall Street Journal: “Experts: Oil May Be Leaking at Rate of 25,000 Barrels a Day in Gulf.”

I could add another rant on how America stints on research, but instead I’ll just a link and a few paragraphs from this Seattle Times article “Seattle Scientists Chart the Course of the Gulf Oil Spill”:

“I don’t see how we’re going to avoid eclipsing the Exxon Valdez as the worst spill in the U.S.,” said Tom Leschine, director of the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs. Leschine, who analyzed the response to the 1989 Alaska spill, said readiness has improved — but is still fraught with weaknesses.

Among them is the lack of sustained funding for research on spill cleanup and tracking.

Methods for estimating the size of spills are still poor. The Coast Guard initially put the amount of oil gushing from the well at about 40,000 gallons a day, then upgraded it to more than 200,000 gallons.

What grabbed me here weren’t the guesses on the size of the spill. It was the comments on the lack of research. This brings up a related issue. We can trust only the MARKET. We can’t trust government (if indeed we had one) and we certainly don’t need no stinkin’ research. After all, it’s common knowledge–at least in trust-only-the-market-circles–that scientists are all greedy liberals who want to take taxpayer money and use it to tell us the market can be wrong, which, of course, is completely unAmerican because WE WANT OIL!

Unfortunately, we may well be getting it.


P.S. I just hit Al Jazeera‘s latest on the Gulf oil spill. Here’s a bit of their article:

Meanwhile it has emerged that the company operating the rig, the British energy company BP, had no contingency plan for a spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A report commissioned by the company had concluded that it was unlikely a spill would occur and that an ecological disaster was virtually impossible.

What I really like though were the comments about strong winds and heavy seas. I don’t recall mention of that in other stories.

Al Jazeera also has this AFP photo of containment booms that had broken loose and awashed ashore:

Is it just me or do those booms remind you of some giant bikini that’s broken loose and washed ashore?


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