Advertising | Metro Eireann | Top News | Contact Us
Governor Uduaghan awarded the 2013 International Outstanding Leadership Award  •   South African Ambassador to leave  •   Roddy's back with his new exclusive "Brown-Eyed Boy"  •  
Print E-mail

Charles Laffiteau`s Bigger Picture

Last update - Thursday, May 6, 2010, 13:38 By Charles Laffiteau

Just as the roots of anti-American terrorism lie in the Islamic world’s frustration with America’s support of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, the roots of the current environmental catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico lie in America’s addiction to cheap energy from burning fossil fuels.

One might think such tragic disasters would motivate America to clean up its act and face up to its self-destructive addiction to coal and oil. But now President Obama’s historic environmental protection bill is actually in danger because this oil spill underscores the dangers of offshore drilling.
One of the key elements of this bill was an agreement to allow new off-shore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Florida, in the Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of Alaska, and in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico, only 125 miles from the tourist beaches of Florida.
Environmental groups and their Democratic legislative supporters had reluctantly agreed to this in an effort to win some limited support from Republicans for their broader climate change aspirations. But the problem now isn’t with the bill’s opponents. Several Democrats in Congress have said they will now vote against the climate change bill if offshore drilling is still included. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who previously supported the bill, now says: “I think that’s dead on arrival.”
Though I usually find humour in such ironic twists of fate, there is nothing funny about this one. America’s best chance in years to do something about climate change and its addiction to fossil fuels is now foundering on the oil-soaked shoals of its gulf coast. And as for who is to blame for this ongoing environmental catastrophe? BP may be the oil company that is most responsible, but it had plenty of willing accomplices.
America’s consumers are right at the top of this list because of their crowing whenever the price of the cheap energy that fuels their cars, heats their homes and supports their wasteful lifestyles spikes. Right behind them are self-serving Republican politicians, as well as a few Democrats, who fuel this anger while catering to the carbon industries’ desire for more drilling rights and less regulation.
The US government agencies that are supposed to safeguard America’s vital environmental and occupational safety interests are also culprits. The methane gas explosion that claimed the lives of 29 miners in West Virginia last month was at least partially due to lax regulation.
Getting back to the current disaster, the US Department of the Interior was the agency in charge of regulating offshore drilling and ensuring that the oil industry had safeguards in place to prevent environmental catastrophe. In response to questions from Congress regarding the risk of offshore rig accidents, the department stated that “oil companies have reliable backup systems in the event of a rig blowout”. Well they sure got that one right, didn’t they?
This had become an issue in Congress because the US oil industry was trying to avoid the cost of installing ‘acoustic switches’ that Norway and Brazil required on offshore drilling rigs. These switches are designed to shut off the flow of oil in the event of a drilling rig explosion that doesn’t activate the oil well’s standard cut off procedures. In 2003 the Interior gave in to the oil industry and dropped the issue – but now it’s come back to haunt them.
By the time BP and the US government tallies the cost of cleaning up this oil spill, I’ll bet that half a million dollars for an acoustic switch will look mighty cheap by comparison.

Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas who is pursuing a PhD in International Relations and lectures on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU

Latest News:
Latest Video News:
Photo News:
Kerry drinking and driving
How do you feel about the Kerry County Councillor\'s recent passing of legislation to allow a limited amount of drinking and driving?
I agree with the passing, it is acceptable
I disagree with the passing, it is too dangerous
I don\'t have a strong opinion either way
Quick Links