The president’s decision to drill in the Gulf remains sound, and he knows it.
The Obama administration’s fortune in having the SEC announce criminal charges against Goldman Sachs days before the Senate was to vote on a financial regulations bill did not stick when the national discussion changed to offshore oil drilling. Three weeks after the president announced his intentions to allow limited offshore oil exploration, a drilling accident in the Gulf of Mexico released what some experts predict could be the largest oil spill in history.
Now, environmental activists are exploiting the oil spill and calling on the president to drop his plans to expand offshore drilling. The administration should ignore them. It is right; the radical greens wrong.
Even if this spill becomes history’s largest, it will remain an extraordinarily rare outlier. Anti-drilling extremists don’t want to admit it, but the science bears out that offshore drilling is extremely safe. The occasional spill happens, but they are rare and typically quite small.
The Energy Information Administration has determined that offshore drilling within the USA’s Exclusive Economic Zone has a 99.999 percent safety rate, meaning that only .0001 percent of extracted oil has been spilled.
In fact, natural seepage leaks far more oil into the oceans than man-made spills do, according to a joint study by NASA and the Smithsonian Institution. The study found that natural underground leaks put an average of 62 million gallons of oil a year into the world’s oceans. Offshore drilling? Just 15 million gallons a year. Tanker spills leak 37 million gallons a year.
Just as importantly, major spills seem to produce terrifying visuals at the time, but little if any lasting ecological damage.
Yet all of this science isn’t helping Obama with the greens, which is ironic
When Obama announced his offshore drilling plans in late March, the radical environmental groups acted as if Obama’s middle initial were W. “We’re appalled that the president is unleashing a wholesale assault on the oceans,” Jackie Savitz of Oceana told the New York Times.
After the spill, Savitz released a statement saying, “This event is a bitter reminder that offshore drilling is not safe, and that we need to be moving away from the dirty and dangerous energy choices of the past.”
The irony is that Obama is having the same strategy he used to pass his health care legislation turned against him. The president got the health care bill passed by ignoring the research and hyping the anecdotes. Every cancer patient without health insurance was presented as the norm, not the exception, while the positive aspects of the system were downplayed and the fact that the vast majority of Americans were a) covered, and b) liked their coverage was ignored in a rush to change the entire system.
Now, the administration is stuck defending its scientifically backed policy while the opposition attempts to affect change by exploiting the emotional reaction to a tragic event that is not representative of the norm.
To its credit, The White House is holding firm. Yesterday it released a statement calling its plan a “thoughtful, scientifically grounded process for determining which new areas on the outer continental shelf are appropriate for exploration and development, and for assessing the potential risks and benefits of development in areas that are being explored.”
That’s more or less right. Obama limited the reach of his drilling proposal for political reasons, but the decision to expand drilling is scientifically and environmentally sound. No matter how much the mainstream press falls for the claim that this spill proves drilling environmentally catastrophic, it isn’t, and Obama mustn’t let the exploitation of this unfortunate accident stop his much-needed expansion.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online