Watching the advance of the Deepwater Horizon oil slick onto the marshes and bays of the Gulf feels all too familiar. It’s the same sense of impending tragedy I felt seeing the huge eye of Hurricane Katrina before it made landfall in the same area.
They can already smell the oil on the streets of New Orleans, 90 miles from the coast.
“I am frightened,” David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told The Associated Press. “This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling.”
The disaster has forced the Obama administration to announce at least a temporary suspension of its efforts to open new coastal areas to drilling, including the Georgia coast.
“There will be no new domestic offshore oil drilling pending a review of the rig disaster and massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast, the White House said Friday morning.
Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” senior adviser David Axelrod said “no additional [offshore] drilling has been authorized, and none will until we find out what happened and whether there was something unique and preventable here. … No domestic drilling in new areas is going to go forward until there is an adequate review of what’s happened here and of what is being proposed elsewhere.”
…. While the administration is in the spotlight as it seeks to get control of the oil disaster, Republicans, with their cries of “drill baby drill,” have been the bigger boosters of increased drilling. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in particular has been a forceful advocate of more drilling. She’s been silent so far on the latest development.”
I’ll confess, I was one of those who bought the industry argument that such large-scale spills were a thing of the past. As far back as the ‘08 elections, I was open to the argument that additional coastal areas should be made available for drilling, although I did not buy the claim that such drilling would in any way lower the price of oil or significantly alter our dependence on foreign sources. Nobody who understands world oil markets would make such a claim.
But I did believe that allowing more coastal drilling might be an acceptable political tradeoff in return for policies that stressed alternative energy sources and energy-efficiency steps. That no longer seems to be the case.
However, while the Obama administration reconsiders its drilling policy, others are apparently going full steam ahead. Here’s a screen grab from American Solutions, Newt Gingrich’s organization: