Will anything be different in Alaska?

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2010

"I'm the president, and the buck stops with me," said Obama, in reference to BP's deep well oil blowout. After a long month, he has finally taken charge of the entire spill crisis by reiterating the already famous presidential words o f Harry S. Truman. Upwards of 19,000 barrels or 780,000 gallons of crude oil and likely more per day now plagues the Gulf marine environment, its people and its entire ecosystem. Many millions of gallons of pure crude to date are at work befouling the marine and marsh waters. Meanwhile the common man can only wait to see and to hope that all the highly trained and specialized oil engineers and sheer amount of human power united will, with lots of dumb luck and sincere determination, overcome yet another major human catastrophe through perhaps permanently plugging this very deep-ocean reservoir of opulent misguidance.

And then in the face of this disaster comes the proactive, if temporary, reaction of the Oval Office to Alaska's own off-shore need and greed for oil. Obama has reacted by shutting down Shell's Alaskan quest for oil. Immediately we hear harmonious blend of squeals from our totally pro-oil Congressional delegation. Representative Young cleverly quips: "If a plane goes down, we don't stop flying." Senator Murkowski quite nervously says, "We need to be able to tell Shell that this one-year delay isn't in reality a life sentence." Senator Begich rather coolly and calculatingly says, "Another year of delay costs money and jobs." And Shell Oil's Vice President of the Alaska Venture Pete Slaiby confidently says, "But we remain confident in our drilling expertise, which is built upon a foundation of redundant safety systems and company global standards." Governor Sean Parnell is heard possibly echoing the call "Drill Baby Drill."

Chevron Corp. (which merged with Texaco) and Shell face human rights and environmental issues in countries such as Nigeria, Venezuela, and Ecuador - so will someone please tell me why we should trust Shell operations in Alaska to be any different?

Alan R. Munro


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