Thursday, May 27, 2010

Drill where? Drill when? Drill how?

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The ever irreverent has a post this morning containing the inadvertent poetry of Sarah Palin. Among the ditties it cites is this one from a speech in Hamilton, Ontario on April 15th of this year.
"On- and Offshore"
There are hundreds of trillions more
undiscovered both on shore and offshore.
Just piles of energy in that part
of North America that again
can be tapped responsibly
@@@@and make us all secure!
Ah, yes. . . offshore drilling for oil. Oh, what a difference a few weeks have made in the popularity of that idea for solving our dependency on foreign oil.  The Obama administration has now moved to un-ease the restrictions on off-shore drilling it had just eased on April 2nd. This was big enough news that even the LA Times, half a continent away from the BPoil mess, took note on today's front page.

I was on the road a lot of yesterday, capturing this week's Civic Soapbox and getting lost in Albemarle County. As soon as I made it back, I turned on my computer, immediately checked the BP spillcam, and asked colleague Matt Bingay to fill me in on what I'd missed.

And it seemed to me that everyone I talked to yesterday was keeping an eye on the spillcam, waiting to see whether the attempted top kill would work.

Stopping the oil gusher out of that 9-inch broken pipe will turn off the spillcam, but it will do nothing to stop the damage that the already-spilled oil is causing or to heal the flawed system that's responsible for that damage.

It is so important that we address and solve the manifold problems that the BP oil spill illuminates; that our focus on them not end with our viewing pleasure. E.J. Dionne, who's a regular Friday guest on All Things Considered, has what is, in my opinion, a must-read column on a few of these problems in today's Washington Post. It begins thusly . . .
So who is in charge of stopping the oil spill, BP or the federal government?
The fact that the answer to this question seems as murky as the water around the exploded oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico suggests that this is an excellent moment to recognize that our arguments pitting capitalism against socialism and the government against the private sector muddle far more than they clarify.
Mr. Dionne goes on to lay out the shifting views of the federal government's role in our lives that people and politicians have demonstrated in the face of this disaster. He ends his column this way:
"Deregulation" is wonderful until we discover what happens when regulations aren't issued or enforced. Everyone is a capitalist until a private company blunders. Then everyone starts talking like a socialist, presuming that the government can put things right because they see it as being just as big and powerful as its Tea Party critics claim it is.
But the truth is that we have disempowered government and handed vast responsibilities over to a private sector that will never see protecting the public interest as its primary task. The sludge in the gulf is, finally, the product of our own contradictions.
 In my opinion, Mr. Dionne's column is well-worth considering. You can read it with the eye that's not glued to the spillcam.

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