creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
4 Feb 2016
And the Oscar for Most Stunning Actress Goes to ...

We are here not to discuss the complex #OscarsSoWhite controversy but to address another sore point with … Read More.

2 Feb 2016
Government Keeps Rural West Going

The 187,000 acres on which sits the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge never belonged to the state of Oregon, … Read More.

28 Jan 2016
Why Cheap Oil Isn't Bad for the Environment

It stood to reason that collapsing prices for oil would make clean energy relatively more expensive. That … Read More.

Gulf Shrimpers Had Economic Interests, Too

Comment

A pile of beautiful Gulf shrimp beckoned from the fish counter, and I thought, better buy them soon. Louisiana shrimpers are now trying to grab all they can get before the oil takes over. A lot of pleasure is dying in the Gulf of Mexico — but economic activity, too. Only lawyers seem to be prospering as the suits begin to fly.

Why did fisheries and tourism spanning from Texas to the west coast of Florida take second economic billing to the oil drillers? Even the Obama administration wanted to open the eastern Gulf, much of the Atlantic Coast and Alaska's north coast to oil and gas development. Objections from non-energy interests in Florida, Alabama and elsewhere were brushed aside.

The first answer is that oil is where the bigger bucks are, and not just for private enterprise. The government takes in about $13 billion a year from leases and royalties paid by the extractive industries. The Minerals Management Service, which does the collecting, was also supposed to protect the environment. The administration is now addressing that obvious conflict in mission.

The second answer is that Americans have been trained like Dobermans to go mad every time the oil price spikes. Two summers ago, gasoline hit $4 a gallon, and you'd think we'd never be happy again.

Fanning the passions, Republicans chanted "drill, baby drill" at their national convention and beat up Democrats for not wanting to open fragile coastal areas to oil and gas exploration. Never mind that the Energy Information Administration said that these new wells would barely nudge the price at the pump.

And even though Republicans suffered an electoral bloodbath two months later, and the price of oil had collapsed to just over half its 2008 high, President Obama felt another of his urges in March to reach "consensus," this time on offshore drilling.

"Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right," he said at the time.

And that he did. He gave up on the debate of the left and capitulated to the one on the right.

Obama had company. Florida's then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist dropped his previously strenuous objections to drilling off his state's fabulous beaches. (He's now running for the Senate as an independent.) California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also spoke warmly of the idea.

The mess in the Gulf caused both of them to extend their 180-degree turns into full pirouettes: They're back to start, as is Obama, whose Interior Department has just stopped a planned oil and gas lease sale off the cost of Virginia.

After staking so much of their message on drilling everywhere, most Republicans have little choice but to spin the spill. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called it an "act of God."

The more conventional Republican response has been that we must learn how the accident happened and make sure drilling is safe in the future. Sounds good, but weren't Republicans assuring us that offshore drilling had already solved its environmental problems?

True, it's a lot safer than it used to be, but drilling underwater for oil remains a dirty business. And as the Gulf well blowout shows, a single mishap can turn into environmental catastrophe.

The questions for anyone capable of skepticism on offshore drilling are these: Why expand it when we are beginning to move off fossil fuels and oil prices are low? And why trade a few years of oil profit for centuries of wealth and health derived from a clean coastal environment?

More offshore drilling didn't make sense in 2008, didn't make sense in March and makes even less sense now.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Froma Harrop
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 8 Feb 2016
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 6 Feb 2016
Brent Bozell

27 Jun 2013 About Those Who Abuse Their Health

3 Sep 2009 Cracked Justice Enabled Girl Rape Case

11 Jun 2013 Prop. 13: Message for Another Time