While Florida waits like a sitting duck, along with the rest of the Gulf Coast to see what the impact last weeks oil spill will have on all of us, just a few thoughts and the latest information.
While I am certainly no expert on the “science” of offshore oil drilling, it doesn’t take an expert in the field to know that offshore drilling is a disastrous idea. For years in Florida, the possibility that it could become a reality here some day has been a fear in the back of many minds, mine included. I have lived in Florida for most of my life, and I remember the Exxon Valdez disaster all too well. Those images and all the damage that came after have remained in my mind ever since, and I have cringed every time the subject of offshore oil drilling has come up for debate in Florida, and it’s come up many times.
While it was bad enough that drilling was taking place far away in the Gulf Of Mexico, I suppose it gave us a kind of false sense of security that in all the years of debate we had still managed to side with reason and fight off attempts to bring oil drilling to our own coast. For the most part officials here seemed in agreement on this one issue: that it would be a bad idea for Florida. I really hoped and believed that officials would never cave in to big oil, if for no other reason than the almighty tourist dollar.
Then Gov. Charlie Crist suddenly changed his mind, during a time when he was also selling out the state to developers. Want to build more? Sure! Who needs planning! Drill for oil? Well, heck why not? What could possibly go wrong? (Vote for me?)
We still had hopes that it wouldn’t happen. Then President Obama announced he too was clearing the way to allow drilling off the coast. It was a real shock and it made many of us angry. Luckily we had politicians who were willing to fight back on our behalf, and they did:
From The Miami Herald:
Florida Democrats have sent letters to President Barack Obama, protesting his plans to expand oil and gas drilling as close as 125 miles off Florida’s coast.
U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown wrote to Obama Tuesday, asking for a meeting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and presidential advisor Carol Browner, a Florida native who last week said the 125-mile proposed buffer should keep Florida protected.
“The threat your plan poses to Florida’s economy is a real worry,” the three wrote. “The coasts of Florida play an important role in sustaining the tourism and fishing industries so vital to the state’s economy.”
The letter comes a day after Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor wrote to Obama, noting that as Salazar himself put it, “there are some places in our country that are too special to drill. Florida’s coastline certainly fits that description.”
– April 7, 2010
Still, this didn’t sway the President, nor Secretary Salazar. The article continued:
….a spokeswoman for the White House said that “after more than a year of review, including in depth consultations with experts and leaders including the Florida delegation, the President and Secretary Salazar announced a responsible plan that will protect areas vital to tourism, the environment and our national security while expanding offshore oil and gas exploration.”
She said the administration is reviewing the letters “and will ensure input from Members of Congress is heard.”
Under the proposal unveiled last week by Obama and Salazar, oil and gas exploration would be allowed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles off Florida’s west coast. On the Atlantic side, the Outer Continental Shelf from Delaware to Central Florida would be open to drilling, but only after feasibility studies are done.
Castor asked Obama to revisit “the science that has pointed to serious harm in the event of a spill or leakage.”
Unfortunately, we didn’t even have to wait until drilling off the coast of Florida began for a disaster waiting to happen. The disaster was way ahead of us.
Now we have the explosion, the deaths of crew members, and subsequent oil leaks from the Deepwater Horizon, which until yesterday some referred to as “Exxon Valdez Two.” No longer. Now we’re learning that this leak may well be even worse before it’s over.
As I write this, some oil from the slick has reached within about 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Yesterday steps were taken to set the oil on fire in the hopes of preventing it from reaching shore, or at least slowing it down. Think about that. The lesser of two evils is to set the oil on fire.
Even as early as Tuesday people in the Tampa Bay area were reporting strong odors and respiratory irritation, presumably from the chemicals being used on the spill. Now there’s the fear of what harm the fire and smoke will cause, not only for wildlife, but all of us on the Gulf Coast. That’s the best they have to offer so far. The oil reaching the shore not withstanding. As one newspaper put it today: “it’s either the coastline or the air.” They still don’t really know that it won’t be both.
The giant inferno is designed to burn off much of the oil, sparing the shore the brunt of the damage. But the air quality will suffer.
Hundreds of miles away in the Tampa Bay area, officials are wondering what the fallout from such a large-scale blaze might be along the state’s west coast.
“I can understand what they are trying to address, to reduce the volume of the oil and its constituents in the marine environment because of the impacts if it reaches the shoreline,” said Peter Hessling, director of the air quality division for Pinellas County.
“Burning it could also reduce the amount of evaporation getting into the air,” he added. “But is it going to create soot? Is it a trade-off?”
Some of the same Florida officials who cautioned President Obama about oil drilling back in March and April plan to reach out to him again:
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa who along with Republican congressman C.W. “Bill” Young of Indian Shores planned to send a letter to President Barack Obama asking for a reconsideration of allowing drilling close to Florida’s pristine shores.
“To think the smoke will waft across the state of Florida is simply unimaginable,” Castor said. “It’s devastating.”
Castor and Young want Obama to pledge a return to a 2006 bipartisan compromise that provided for a 235-mile buffer with any offshore Florida drilling. Federal officials have talked about allowing drilling 125 miles offshore, and the Florida Legislature even talked about the possibility of drilling just a few miles offshore in state waters, Castor said.
“We want to think ahead and avoid this type of catastrophe,” Castor said this afternoon. “It’s entirely too risky for the state of Florida.”
The estimates of how much oil has spilled, or will spill differ depending on the source. BP’s estimates, in the minds of some, are low. (Shock.) Last night we learned that there was a second leak detected. Today, a third.
Here are some of the latest updates:
The U.S. Military has joined the Coast Guard and BP in their efforts to stop the leak.
Five times as much oil as previously thought could be leaking from the well beneath where a rig exploded and sank last week, the US Coast Guard says.
Rear Admiral Mary Landry said some 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day were thought to be gushing into the sea 50 miles (80km) off Louisiana’s coast.
The slick is 45 miles by 105 miles and is heading towards the coast.
If the coastguard estimate is correct, within two months the spill could match the 11 million gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez tanker off Alaska in 1989.
Investigations into the leak have begun.
The Obama Administration said today that the cost for the spill will fall on BP.
So far, Pres. Obama’s position on offshore drilling hasn’t changed.
Charlie Crist, of course, has flip-flopped again in his position on oil drilling, saying:
If this doesn’t give somebody pause, there’s something wrong. I have always said it would need to be far enough, clean enough and safe enough. I’m not sure this was far enough, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t clean enough and it doesn’t sound like it was safe enough.’
Except when he didn’t say that. Not much of a surprise there.
And finally, one last thing:
BP, the British oil company, said Tuesday that its profit more than doubled in the first quarter, helped by higher oil prices.
Profit rose to $6.08 billion from $2.56 billion in the first quarter of last year. The results beat some analyst expectation, setting the tone for other large oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, that are reporting later this week.
BP benefited from a crude oil price that almost doubled in the first quarter as the global economy slowly recovers from recession. Oil prices averaged about $78 a barrel at the beginning of this year, up from about $40 a barrel last year.
The earnings announcement comes as BP attempts to stem an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted from an explosion at a rig off the coast of Louisiana earlier this month. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead.
As that ignorant, empty-headed Alaskan idiot and her GOP friends love to say, by all means: “Drill, baby, drill.”
While we burn, baby, burn.