by Max Brantley
OK, I get it that Louisiana is supportive of offshore drilling (though the poll I'm about to link didn't differentiate between deepwater and shelf drilling). It's a huge industry worth billions.
But the BP disaster has made 28 percent of the people of Louisiana MORE supportive of offshore drilling? Something's gone bad wrong with the schools in the Bayou State since I passed through. It's now the Delta House. "Thank you, BP, for that trashing, may I have another?"
They love Bobby Jindal's posturing in Louisiana, too. It is so much easier to say "build a barrier island" than it is to understand the time, effort, effectiveness and unintended consequences (damage to other terrain and wildlife) of such ideas. I do understand the frustration, though, particularly after watching people in scattered boats daub at oil slicks with tiny mops in the vast polluted bays of the Gulf. I found myself wanting to hear more from the former Navy submariner who's proposed shutting down the well by non-nuclear explosion.
That said, President Obama's performance hasn't been inspiring. It's long past time for him to go all in with Huey Long-style populism, no matter what the people of Louisiana might think. They won't be voting for a Democrat, much less a black one, anyway. Draw a line in the oil-stained sand. Take over BP. Remove any limit on what they must pay to make the world whole, even if it bankrupts them. Require tougher safety measures for future offshore drilling. If Canada can require relief wells along with new drilling and still make a profit, so can we. If not now, when?
A full-throated howl for the environment and beaches and pelicans and people versus consideration for the oil industry? I'd take my odds politically on the former, not to mention that it would be the right thing to do against the lying outlaws of BP.
(They're now saying the "leak" could be 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons — 40,000 to 60,000 barrels — a day. At today's prices, 40,000 barrels a day is more than $3 million worth of crude a day, or more than $1 billion a year. I think you could build some additional safety overhead into that take.)
UPDATE: Good speech by the president. He's going to make BP pay whatever it takes, through an open-ended independently administered fund. He'll insist on tougher regulation of drilling. He wants to restore the Gulf coast. It's time for a transformative approach to green, clean energy and the economic benefits that could flow from it. Tightly constructed and well-delivered, it was a start.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln fired off a quick statement:
Washington — Following President Obama’s Oval Office address tonight on the ongoing Gulf oil spill, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) said BP must be held accountable and called for action on energy reform that will allow Arkansas to play a significant role in the transition to a new energy economy.
“The ongoing oil spill is likely the most significant environmental disaster we will see in our lifetime, and it is taking a dramatic emotional and economic toll on the people of the Gulf region,” Lincoln said.
“It is clear that BP did not have the appropriate contingency plans in place to respond to a catastrophic event of this magnitude. The American people deserve answers as to how and why this disaster took place, and Congress should insist on the necessary reforms to ensure that a catastrophe like this one can never happen again.
“BP must be held responsible for this disaster, not American taxpayers. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I will continue to use my oversight role to ensure that BP is taking all appropriate steps to clean up this mess and compensate the individuals and families who are suffering as a result of the oil spill.
“In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to take up legislation to address not only the BP oil spill but also ways to accelerate America’s energy independence. Arkansas has a significant role to play in our nation’s transition to a new energy economy and is already a leader in developing natural gas reserves, providing biomass for energy production, and manufacturing wind energy components.
“As we move forward, we must ensure that we are holding BP accountable, preventing future disasters, and steering our country toward a cleaner energy future. I am particularly focused on creating jobs for Arkansas in a new energy economy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
“The starting point for achieving these goals is the bipartisan energy bill I worked to pass out of the Senate Energy Committee last year that includes a number of initiatives to increase our renewable energy resources and energy efficiency.
“In addition, the agriculture community can play a key role in our new energy economy, and as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will work to ensure we fully utilize the capabilities of our farmers and forests.”