More oil isn't worth the risk

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2010

President Obama continuing the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling in response to the huge Gulf of Mexico spill is a good first step. The fact is that no human endeavor is without risk, particularly when dealing with the forces such as those in the earth 5,000 feet or more below the surface. A cause for this disaster will be found, and perhaps even be remedied. The mistake we usually make occurs when we convince ourselves there will not be another unforeseen accident, whether it be in six weeks or six years.

Those who lived in Alaska during the original oil pipeline debates will remember that spokesmen for the oil companies asserted again and again that modern technology made an oil spill impossible. We all know what happened near Valdez, but it is also worth noting the numerous smaller spills, such as those attributed to BP's lack of North Slope maintenance a couple of years ago. The humans involved then, as now, were fallible, even if you accept the dubious premise that the technology was not.

Obama should permanently reverse his decision and continue the moratorium on all drilling, and he should be allowed to change his mind on this one without being criticized for "flip-flopping." Even BP apparently accepted its propaganda that the wells were completely safe, as the company has acknowledged that it is self-insured regarding costs associated with the oil spill. If they can fool themselves, I suppose they can also fool the president.

With the horrible example of the Gulf oil spill before him, I sincerely hope Obama will put a permanent stop to offshore drilling. This oil spill will be a huge environmental disaster, as was the one north of Australia last year and many others we never hear about. A little more oil is not worth the risk, or rather the certainty, of the next disaster.

Jim Greenough

Juneau



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