Wednesday, June 02, 2010

BP told feds it could handle a blowout; Lexington paper sees parallels between bayous and coalfield

BP Exploration and Production told the federal government that it had "proven equipment and technology" to deal with uncontrolled releases of oil like that from the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, Mike Soraghan of Energy and Environment News reports. "It didn't. Still, the Minerals Management Service took the company's word for it."

Soraghan adds, "BP isn't the only company to offer such blithe, and some say false, assurances. Most of the three dozen or so companies that kept drilling in deep water in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon rig sank got their regulatory approvals based on documents stating they could easily mop up spills, even gushers many times the stated size of the BP spill. But there's no indication they have any better method than BP." (Read more; subscription required)

The Lexington Herald-Leader sees some sad similarities in the Gulf oil blowout (please stop calling it a spill; it's not!) and the coal industry in Appalachia:
  • Corporate management that puts production above all.
  • Cozy relationships between regulators and the regulated.
  • Government agencies that behave more as servants of industry than enforcers of the law.
  • Profound damage to the environment, people and culture of a region
"The people of the Appalachian Mountains and Louisiana bayous have a lot more in common than fiddle tunes and distinctive accents," the editorial continues. "More than most, they are called on to sacrifice to satisfy this nation's appetite for fossil fuels. And more than most, they are economically dependent on energy production.

"Something else that the regions have in common: The easily accessible reserves of oil and coal have been depleted. One reason the BP well has been so hard to plug is because it's a mile underwater and reaches five miles beneath the ocean's floor. Extracting what remains of this country's coal and oil will require ever greater risks to human life and the environment. Add that to all the other reasons for aggressively promoting conservation and renewable energy." (Read more)

No comments: