FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Never Let A Good Crisis, etc. (Oil Spill Edition)
In his two most recent appointments to his presidential commission on the BP oil spill, President Obama reveals that he’s got waaaay bigger fish to fry than finding out what went wrong of the Deepwater Horizon, and fixing it.
The new presidential commission investigating the Gulf oil spill will include two experts who have been active on the subject of global warming, including one who wrote just last month that the country should redouble efforts to lessen its dependence on oil, The Associated Press has learned.
The two will join former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly [also Chairman Emeritus of the World Wildlife Fund - ed.], whose roles as co-chairmen of the seven-member panel were .
Together, the backgrounds of the four panel members selected so far suggest the commission will look at more than just what went wrong, including the bigger picture of the country’s conflicting environmental and energy needs.
According to the AP, the commission’s new members will be Donald Boesch, president of the Center for Environmental Science at the University of Maryland, and former Alaska Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, currently University of Alaska Anchorage chancellor.
Hold onto your wallets. Here comes $8.00/gallon gasoline.
President Obama’s stated his reason for forming the commission last Wednesday in Pittsburgh: “…so that the American people will have answers on exactly what happened.” That’s a goal that we can all heartily commend. But then he added a whopper that tips his hand: “We have to acknowledge that there are inherent risks to drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth, and these are risks that are bound to increase the harder oil extraction becomes. We also have to acknowledge that an America run solely on fossil fuels should not be the vision we have for our children and our grandchildren.”
The problem with controlling the Deepwater Horizon well has little or nothing to do with the fact that it’s 3-1/2 miles deep. It has everything to do with the fact that it’s in water a mile deep. With one facile sentence, the President has conflated deepwater oil drilling with all exploration for oil and gas.
Shallow water offshore wells are vastly different from BP’s operation. Divers can dive to all depths. Wellhead and blowout prevention equipment is at the surface. Relief wells (in the rare occasion that they’re needed) can be drilled in a matter of a couple of weeks, not three months.
Most significantly, gas predominates in the shallow water Gulf. Thirty percent of our oil production comes from the Gulf, but 80% of that is from deepwater.
The President has signaled his intention to use this crisis as an opportunity to put Cap and Trade legislation back on the table. Also in the crosshairs are certain oil industry-specific tax provisions that have long been on the Administration’s hit list. This is possible because in crisis mode there is little critical thinking.
The problem with that line of thinking, and the knee-jerk reaction to it, is that it ends up hurting domestic independents (who drill mostly gas wells) and sparing BP and the other multinationals, who lost these tax credits to the wrath of prior Congresses and Presidents.
To the extent that the multinationals are hurt, they can shift their operations to foreign countries, and all the oil we consume will be imported in tankers. Oil spill, anyone?
Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.