Oil spills and cleanup difficulty

by wfgodbold

The media is rightly covering the disastrous explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Opponents of drilling for oil are thrilled; they can hold this up as proof that the oil industry destroys the environment and that we need to find new sources of energy as soon as possible.

No one is disputing the fact that it is just good business sense to be exploring and developing new energy technologies.  Part of the blame for this accident, though, can be laid at the feet of the federal government.

Because of the moratoriums on new offshore drilling, and on drilling in ANWR, or processing oil shale, oil companies (in the US; the Chinese, Russians, Venezuelans, and Arabs have no problems with any of this) have been forced to rely on already drilled wells, regardless of their location.

Had this well been drilled in ANWR, and there been an explosion and spill at the site, the environmental impact would have been far less than what we are seeing in the Gulf of Mexico, simply because it’s far easier to cap off a well that isn’t hundreds or thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean.

This isn’t the same as a manufacturing problem; after all, if you want to drill for oil, you have to drill where the oil is.  You can’t just build your facilities wherever you want, like you could a factory.

Saying that the oil companies don’t care about the environmental impact of their accidents and what happens because of spills like this is ridiculous; any oil that is spilled is oil they can’t sell, and any oil that is spilled is oil they have to pay to clean up.  That doesn’t even take in to account the investigating they will have to pay for to determine the cause of the spill, and whatever fines are levied by the government.

No one likes oil spills; not the environmentalists, not the government, not the people, and definitely not the oil companies.

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