Friday, May 28, 2010

Gushers In The Gulf

The latest word from the Gulf of Mexico says that the undersea oil volcano has stopped erupting for now, but BP officials don’t know whether they have permanently sealed the rupture, or if it will re-open and resume gushing.

Either way, the price of gasoline has somehow gone down in the past week, so I’ll be celebrating Memorial Day with a little road trip to soak in some scenic New England beauty, and wonder how long someone in my socioeconomic bracket – either lower-middle-class or upper-lower class, depending on how you calculate my income – can afford to burn gasoline for such luxurious reasons.

Gas taxes are bound to rise to pay for the damage the spill has done to Gulf Coast residents and businesses (BP’s liability is limited to only $75 million thanks to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The oil giant’s not even facing all the bad publicity it deserves, since it has legal authority to decide whether or not the media may document the goings-on.) No surprises there; in America bad legal consequences are reserved for people like pot smokers, not corporate billionaires who trash economies or ecosystems.

One possible silver lining to this toxic cloud: in a press conference President Obama effectively admitted the reality of Peak Oil without actually using those words. Listen around the 49:30 mark:
The fact that oil companies now have to go a mile underwater and then drill another three miles below that in order to hit oil tells us something about the direction of the oil industry. Extraction is more expensive, and it is going to be inherently more risky. And so that's part of the reason you never heard me say, "Drill, baby, drill." Because we can't drill our way out of the problem…. the easily accessible oil has already been sucked up out of he ground, and as we are moving forward the technology gets more complicated, the oil sources are more remote, and that means that there's probably going to end up being more risk.
It’s a start. Let’s leave the deepwater oil fields for future generations to extract – not just because they’ll have better, safer technology than we do, but they’ll use that petroleum as a raw material for manufacturing useful things, whereas we’d just burn most of it for fuel.

3 Comments:

Anonymous NCDan said...

Just FYI..
I wanted to show a friend the satirical "Official Website of the Prophet Mohammad" and clicked on the link listed on your blog. It seems ownership of that site has changed and is no longer satirical.

http://www.prophetmohammed.co.uk/

Thought you might like to know.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Yaaa! Thanks for the heads-up, Dan!

Now I'll have to see if the guy's site is still up.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Charles Pergiel said...

"Let’s leave the deepwater oil fields for future generations to extract – not just because they’ll have better, safer technology than we do,"

Well, that's a nice fantasy, but I think the oil companies will probably still be in charge and will likely resort to riskier technology. We'll probably look back on this spill as a minor one, back in the good old days, when the spill only covered the Gulf of Mexico, not the entire Atlantic Ocean.

11:46 PM  

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