Friday, April 20, 2012

Question: Safe Off-Shore Oil Drilling?

It’s only a matter of time before the next gigantic oil spill -- even as politicians are pushed into opening up more areas off-shore for drilling.
by Charlie Leck

This morning’s Washington Post story by Stephen Mufson explains quite clearly how dangerous off-shore drilling remains – to both human life and to the environment. It’s really worth the 10 minutes you’d give up to read it. On the other hand, it may frustrate the hell out of you.

A French drilling company is battling a leak in the North Sea that has been seeping oil for the last four weeks. In Nigeria recently, 40,000 gallons of oil leaked out of an old holding line that should have been replaced years ago.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it [offshore drilling], but we ought to go at it with our eyes open,” said Roger Rufe, a retired Coast Guard vice admiral. “We can’t do it with a human-designed system and not expect that there will be occasional problems with it.”

The problems caused by the Gulf of Mexico explosion and spill are the most costly and serious in drilling history and it’s only a matter of time before something like it happens again.

“A National Wildlife Federation report said, for example, that the shrimp catch increased last year but that since the spill 523 dolphins have been stranded onshore, four times the historic average; 95 percent of them were dead. A team of scientists led by Peter Roopnarine of the California Academy of Sciences said oysters collected post-spill contain higher concentrations of heavy metals in their shells, gills and muscle tissue than those collected before the spill.”

Now we’re going into the pristine Arctic regions and spills there could be disastrous and very difficult to clean up. Laws from Congress are tougher regarding precautions that must be taken, but none of this stuff is full-proof as we can easily see from spills and leaks that regularly happen. We’re only human, after all.

The oil companies don’t seem to mind the risk. I’m sure they know problems are going to occur and they are going to get fined big bucks for their mistakes and they’ll have to pay out big-time for the damages. However, the business is so profitable (outrageously so as you can see by looking at their annual reports) that they really can handle their mistakes and the damage they do to the environment.

One day, however, in a place far removed and now very pure, we’re going to permanently soil the earth. It’s a prediction no one wants to make, but I’m afraid it is inevitable.

The Creator made us stewards of the Earth and we’re not doing a very good job of it.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

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