The Incompetent Blame Game as the Gulf Bleeds

Stephen Smith | May 12, 2010 | Energy Policy, Nuclear, Offshore Drilling

I have watched this horrific spill unfold with utter disbelief at the lack of preparedness and clear incompetence of the oil companies’ response.

It May Look “Slick”

Remember the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) slick ads that have been running to warm the American public to offshore drilling.

Take a look:


Those ads contrast sharply with pictures of the Deepwater Horizon burning and sinking and provide a different perspective of offshore drilling:



It is now evident at Day 23 of this disaster that these guys have no real plan and they are literally in over their heads. The failure of the “containment dome” last weekend shows that BP clearly did not have a plan and was not prepared.  BP’s failure to prepare and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) failure to regulate the oil interest are stark reminders of the dangerous water we are in, yet many of our politicians defend the expanding risky trade of offshore drilling.

High Risk Energy Choices

Christine Todd Whiteman, the former NJ Governor and short lived Bush 43 EPA director, has become the new cheerleader for High Risk Energy Choices.  She penned an opinion piece:  Oil Spill Mustn’t End Offshore Drilling.

Ironically in this piece she ties back to her favorite high-risk topic, nuclear power.  I’m not the only one who has wondered about parallels with the nuclear industry and their assurances similar to the oil industry that “this can never happen”.  Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC) Chairman Greg Jaczko says just that on the May 11, 2010 edition of E&E TV.  Katherine Ling reported in May 6th E&E Daily that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shared his thoughts with the NRC Chairman.

Sen. Sanders compared the oil spill and the nuclear industry to highlight the significant risks inherent in both advanced technologies.  “Technology as risky as offshore drilling or nuclear cannot be 99.9 percent safe and even that is not enough,” Sanders said. “What we are seeing now in Louisiana, I have a feeling somehow a group of people like you when asked about the safety of offshore drilling gave the same answers as you” about the safety of operating the oil rigs, he said.

Public confidence has already been shaken by the tritium leak and other radioactive substances found in and around the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, Sanders said Jaczko said the tritium leak was on-site at the Vermont Yankee plant and was not a risk to public health and safety or the operation of the plant.  But, he added, “this is not how the NRC would like to see these plants operate.”

Deeper and More Dangerous

Of course accidents can and will happen with any human technology. We should expect that those operating and profiting from these technologies would take full responsibility, right?  Don’t count on it.  Yesterday’s hearings in DC showed us these oil companies cannot be counted on.

As oil reserves become more depleted, the oil companies are going into deeper and more risky parts of the Gulf of Mexico, lesser known parts of the Atlantic and sensitive regions of Alaska in search of oil.

“Oil drilling is a 19th century answer to a 21st century problem, it’s inherently dangerous, inherently dirty and inherently destructive to our environment.”

– Senator Frank Lautenberg, May 11, 2010

Our friends at Southwings and the Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen shot this video of the spill describing it as the “Gulf appears to be bleeding”.


Clearly, we need a new plan!

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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