By: Wayne Brown
The arguing over the oil spilling into the Gulf waters has now reached into the courtroom with the recent judge’s overruling of the six-month shutdown of deep-water drilling in the Gulf waters. The shutdown is proposed by the Obama Administration and is justified by the administration as the only way that America can be sure that deep-water drilling is a safe process for the environment and people of America. How could you not go along with that proposition when the federal government appears to have our best interest as citizens in mind? Let’s look at a likely scenario of this proposal and see where we stand.
This moratorium on deep-water drilling could shut down all deep-water operations in the Gulf depending on how the scope of the shutdown is defined. Some, in government, read it as only applying to certain “active” drilling sites and not including those existing deep-water resources that have already been drilled and are now in the production phase. In their scenario, the production operations would continue with any delays. Now, I ask you, if safety of operation and concern for America’s citizens is the primary focus, why would these operations be allowed to continue without proper inspection and certification? Is it possible that some of those facilities are operating with some of the same potential flaws that caused the blow-out in the plumbing in the BP drill site?
Those same government officials will assure America and the oil production industry that only a small number of rigs will be affected and for a minimal period of time, then America can sleep peacefully once again. Who knows what will happen until this shutdown proposal gets through the courts and is implemented. Let’s say that it does. What will happen? Does the term “symbolism over substance” have any meaning to you? Well, that is what is going on here. The government is going to do just enough to give the appearance that something has been done about the matter. In the process, this clown court the Gulf Commission will create will do tremendous damage to our economy, our workforce in the Gulf, and ultimately, the American people.
Once Obama appoints his Gulf Oil Czar and the associated commission to investigate the spill, then we can get this circus on the road. Oh, did I mention that just that process might have a negative impact on the proposed shutdown time. Oh yes, six-months is the timeline proposed but the fine print likely will state that the timeframe is defined by when the Commission is up and running and ready to start the clock. Then, it will end when the Commission finally gets around to issuing its report. All told, the shutdown will last far more than six months. In the meantime, people who make their living in this manner will be out of work. Those production platforms configured for deep-water drilling will move to other parts of the world and dictators like Chavez will benefit greatly from the opportunity to provide petroleum products to America.
The President is quick to point out that he has kept BP on the spill because the government does not possess the expertise to carry out this shutdown of the well. On the other hand, the appointment of a Gulf Czar and a Gulf Commission would suggest that the government feels that it is the most qualified to determine whether or not deep-water drilling is being carried out in a safe manner. Huh? That is an equation that just does not compute. What are we going to do here, appoint a bunch of grand-standing party line political wanna-bee’s and societal darlings to sit behind a large expensive wood structure and ask reams of vague and meaningless questions of those who possess the expertise in the industry. That’s what it will amount to in the end. Oh, and by the way, part of getting ready to conduct the investigation will require someone to design this expensive wood structure and equip it with microphones and really nice leather high-back executive chairs for the distinguished commissioners. The whole circus will be televised because the rationale will be that “Americans must be able to see for themselves that justice is being served”. In the meantime, all parties will be playing to the cameras.
Now, I ask you, if the federal government does not have the means to shut down this spill that is currently wrecking the Gulf, then how do you think it will go about conducting an inspection of the equipment and materials needed to complete the process of deep-water drilling? How is this so-called “Commission” going to determine that operations have been “shabby and substandard”? Again, we are back to the concept of “symbolism over substance” and the process of giving the American people a false sense of security that something has actually been done to improve the situation.
Ultimately, the only conclusions that a Gulf Commission is going to reach that deep-water drilling has been in existence for long enough to demonstrate that the procedures used and the materials employed do normally yield a well that is safely drilled and placed into production without significant incidents or accidents. In addition, the Commission will cite the incident surrounding the BP spill to be extraordinary and outside the considerations of the Commission in terms of assessing the overall safety of the deep-water drilling industry. A large report will be issued. No one will read it but the taxpayers will pay mucho-dollars for the production of it. The commissioners will take advantage of all their photo ops, televised hearings, talk-show circuit appearances, and spend a ton of taxpayer money in the process and maybe even write a book about their experience. The deep-water drilling shutdown will be lifted and America will return to normalcy with a worse economy and a higher unemployment rate as a result.
Let’s get real here. When the airline industry in this country suffers a crash, the NTSB investigates and does its best to reconstruct the process that led up to the crash and loss of life. During that process, the airline industry is not shutdown is it? No, because it would not be either practical or economical. Drilling down further, there has to be multiple incidents of a similar variety which occurs within one aircraft type and model before those aircraft are completely grounded and not allowed to fly until the problem is identified and resolved. Given that process, how can the government rationalize a shutdown of the deep-water drilling in the Gulf?
This situation as it stands today rides on the back of political posturing and attempts by the Obama Administration to appear in charge and directing the process. It gives the appearance that the best interests of the GulfCoastStates and the American people are the primary considerations. In actuality, the true benefit of this process will only strengthen the strangle hold that the rabid environmentalists of this country hold over various aspects of the American economy. In the end, the petroleum industry and the American people will lose. Maybe the Obama Administration should appoint a commission to study that outcome as well.
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