Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Drill it, spill it - we don't care.

By Capt. Fogg

The subject of off shore oil and gas drilling has been a frequent discussion topic since I've lived in Florida. My particular part of the state has a large proportion of people who have environmental concerns, at least as far as clean water and the health of fish stocks are concerned. Most oppose rapid growth, virtually all of my local friends are extremely concerned about the ongoing discharge of polluted fresh water from Lake Okeechobee into our estuary and are likely to show anger at the sugar industry and even the cattle industry that are sources of much of it and who benefit greatly from the government guaranteed status quo. But when it comes to oil, it's been Drill Baby Drill even despite former Republican Governor Jeb Bush's opposition to it.

Before the BP disaster, one couldn't bring up the subject without becoming an audience for vituperation against "the Enviros" who were the root of the problem: the problem of course being high oil prices. The Environmental bogey men, they insist, are the reason we don't have more and cheaper nuclear power and why our bottomless oil reserves aren't being tapped as cleanly and risk free as turning on the bathroom faucet. It's the Liberals -- it's always the Liberals. They're all Republicans and conservationists without being in favor of conservation and environmentally concerned without being environmentalists. It's doublethink at it's finest.

One would expect that to have changed, and indeed it is changing, but not by as much as you might think. The illusion persists that there are huge amounts of oil off our coasts than can be easily accessed by sticking a straw into the mud and that the sooner we give the right to do that to foreign oil companies who sell into a competitive worldwide market, the sooner we'll be back to 26 cents per gallon. Efforts -- my efforts at least -- to dispel the mythology haven't been worthwhile. There's always some secret reserve or hidden oil field kept under wraps by a malicious government and their familiars: the Enviros.

They're not chanting Drill Baby Drill any more; not out loud at any rate, but Floridians aren't yet solidly behind a Constitutional amendment preventing these operations in Florida waters. The Republican-led Legislature seems firmly against it and abruptly adjourned a special legislative session after 49 minutes Tuesday, squelching Governor Charlie Crist's proposal to put the amendment on the ballot. Florida legislators, of course, get a lot of money from the oil and gas industry and before the false equivalence parade float is pulled out of the shed, the lion's share goes to Republicans.

The House Republican leader, Adam Hasner claims that Crist is making it "all about politics" but of course opposition to environmental responsibility has little else but politics to offer as a basis.
It's all about continued profits for the oil industry, continued support for their party (which Crist has recently left) and continued disregard for public safety, health and the common resources of our country.

I don't expect my local friends to put it all together and realize that we' can't preserve our local environment while letting the unholy alliance between oil and government rape the land and water and food sources, but according to the Miami Herald today, support is indeed growing for a permanent ban on at least near-shore drilling. That means at least a few more people are willing to see the picture beyond what is framed by their job, their backyard and their circle of idiocy. It's far too soon -- enormously far too soon to sound like an optimist and in fact I'm convinced that slogans and dogmas, slanders and stupidity will remain the song of the South until the Gulf looks like the LaBrea tar pits and we have to resort to eating termites and grasshoppers while the crops die -- and even then, I'm not sure many minds will be changed in the direction of responsible oversight and regulation by a government agency.

What the hell, might as well just drill!

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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