4.30.2010

Drill, Baby, Drill



We could be looking at the worst oil spill in living memory off the Gulf Coast, coming right on the heels of Obama's decision to allow off-shore drilling, which should have come as no surprise to people who were paying attention during the 2008 election season.

There are a lot of people to point fingers at here. You could blame Obama for giving in to pressure in order to save his electoral landslide (and the mandate that came with it). You could blame John McCain, Sarah Palin, Michael Steele, and the rest of the right-wing noise machine for hawking so shamelessly on a wedge issue. You could blame the media for not fully disseminating the numbers on off-shore drilling: That whatever the impact on the environment (which we have now witnessed), a country that uses 25% of the world's oil and only possesses 3% of it cannot drill the way to energy independence.

I blame us.

During the election, sixty percent of voters said that they favored offshore drilling. Suddenly, in the wake of a financial crisis that caught McCain side-by-side with Phil "there's no real recession and people who say there is one are whiners" Gramm on the most important issue of the year. "Drill, baby, drill." became the only substantive issue where the Republican Party was on the same side as the people. So of course they hammered on it, despite the fact that it wouldn't make us any more self-reliant than Obama's much-ridiculed tire guage.


Which isn't to say that I'm letting Steele and Palin off the hook for hawking-- or Obama for folding. By ultimately favoring off-shore drilling, both sides did the truth and their constituents a grave disservice, and there ought to be accountability for it.

But in a democracy, the people rule. It's possible to be at odds with popular opinion in some matters and still win elections, and in fact it's the duty of a statesman . But when a supermajority oppose you on an issue with as much exposure as offshore drilling had in the 2008 Presidential election, it's hard to ignore it.

I don't think we believed it when we were told that drilling was safe. The information was out there.

I think we just didn't care.

The people I spoke to during election season who were pro-drilling weren't basing their position on a cost-benefit analysis. A number of them ridiculed me for caring about the risk to the environment at all.

Those of us who do give a shit about the consequences of our energy consumption need to find a new way forward, because "punch the hippies" is a disturbingly viable political strategy in this country.

And the clock is ticking.

5 comments:

  1. christ, you're right.

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  2. Honestly this administration is beyond disappointing, so I think there is more than enough blame to share though I am giving them more. I also tend to think local -those in that area for instance do have a responsibility to protect their coast and fight for it, admittedly I pay a lot more attention to the Chesapeake Bay and the harbor here than I do about the coast of places I don't really plan to surf ro spend time in, and that will have to change.

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  3. I'd be right with you, but Obama's decision to lift the moratorium on new drilling didn't have anything to do with this oil platform, and if he'd acted to shut it down absent any evidence of malfeasance (which would possibly be overstepping his authority), it'd have tanked climate change legislation. Offshore drilling sucks, and it sucks that Obama did what he did, but I'm not really seeing a causal link.

    Mary Landrieu, David Vitter, and Bobby Jindal have all been drilling hawks, and up until now, offshore drilling has polled at 73% in Louisiana, which is actually a far more dangerous number to contend with because it would have pit the White House against the state government, which in addition to a vast majority of the local populace puts just about anyone who might want to stop the drilling in an untenable position.

    I'm gravely disappointed in the Obama administration, but I'm not entirely convinced that the gulf between the results that they've been getting and the results they ought to be getting is that wide.

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  4. You're absolutely right. I'm not happy with Obama's decision to lift the moratorium on new drilling either. But what's a politician to do? He can't tell all those fat, lazy Americans they can't have everything they want. It's the demand for the black crap (oil) which is to blame.

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  5. I blame us also. While I agree, among friends, about Obama's administration, I think he's battling more forces than Darth Vader

    I'm trying to invest, (minimal money as that's all I have) in alt energy--solar because I think this country screws up nuclear power something fierce, and I think that any investor has a moral obligation to invest in alt energy. It might save us someday

    Then again I have very little faith so...

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