Is the Chesapeake Bay a good location for a major petrochemical industry?

The danger is not just oil spills from rigs.

If we have producing oil and gas drilling rigs off our coast, the Lower Chesapeake Bay will undoubtedly become the Galveston Bay of the east coast.

The tanker traffic, storage tanks, chemical plants, refineries, pipelines and all the infrastructure that goes with them will line the shores.

The shores that are subsiding and very susceptible to flooding, particularly as sea levels rise. One good storm could create catastrophic damage on top of that vulnerability.

Remember decades back when the anchorages were jammed with coal colliers? Picture a jumble of oil tankers anchored and transiting along with the Navy ships training and loads of other coal and commercial shipping, fishing and recreational traffic.

Toss in a good nor’easter or a direct hit from even just a Cat 1 hurricane.

What could go wrong?

The Bay is our largest estuary. A source of breeding grounds for sea life up and down the entire Atlantic seaboard. We are struggling now to keep it healthy from the runoffs from rivers further north.

14 thoughts on “Is the Chesapeake Bay a good location for a major petrochemical industry?

  1. So, the industry and regulators have learned nothing since Galveston bay was industrialized?

    Those industries are clean today even there, though like some parts of the Elizabeth River, there is polluted sediment form the old days.

    Could accidents happen? Sure.

    But trying to support a city on tourism wages is a certain catastrophe.Even median oilfield support wages are six figures.

    Maybe for retired guys like us, the risk of an accident causing pollution is enough to make it a negative, but our grandchildren better jobs are needed here.


      1. Because you say so?

        I grew up in Louisiana at the later stages of the bad old days, and I was a witness to the change in the oil industry. It has been a true change in culture.

        The industry’s internal standards exceed the regulatory requirements.

        It is not a risk free industry, but barring accidents outside their control, they are clean.


  2. And the fact that flooding is a persistent and growing problem because of subsidence and sea level rise is just nothing to worry about?

    The value of a clean Bay is just for recreation, so who cares?

    We don’t need the oil and gas. So every square mile of water and land does not need to be sacrificed to to the petrochemical industry.

    Fisheries are already on life support. And we are working feverishly to recycle plastics, not add to that already massive amounts in the environment.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The arrogance of environmentalists never ceases to impress me. Here, Ms. Everett’s very first words are, “Nearly everyone in coastal Virginia agrees that drilling for oil and gas off our coast is a bad deal.”

    That leaves me, for one, out, but more significantly there’s no good reason to believe Ms. Everett even knows what “nearly everyone” thinks about anything.

    I have read a couple of the environmental impact statements our government has published and I happen to know a little bit about Naval operations here, at least from Willoghby to Wallops Island. My inexpert assessment is there’s no strong reason in theory to prevent the proposed offshore drilling. The whole issue boils down to a matter of preferences.

    Here’s an example of one of my preferences as a resident of Norfolk: Most of Virginia Beach would make an ideal location for oil refineries and the like — specifically because the area is prone to flooding. The engineers and architects can readily design around the flooding problem, which is well known and well understood. And since the plants don’t concentrate large numbers of people, comparatively, this would be a better land-use plan than the high-density residential neighborhoods which plague the city now.

    My own tiny plot which never floods, despite being within spitting distance of the Lafayette River, would go up in value immensly.

    Drill, baby!


      1. More to the point, it leaves plenty of room for the well-schooled, rational lot of science supporters Ms. Everett pretentiously ignores.


  4. “A shelter-in-place advisory was issued on Thursday for thousands of residents living in Houston suburbs after a petrochemical fire at a nearby gasoline-production facility released dangerous levels of the toxic chemical benzene.” March 21, 2019, Vice

    That would solve a densely populated residential neighborhood problem pretty quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The explosion was in Houston so perhaps their paucity of zoning allowed proximity that few other places do.

        The fishing, crab and oyster businesses are worthy. Tourism has s part of vacation time for millions.
        There is no good reason to destroy both for mining more oil and gas.

        Now that Trump is opening federal lands, we might see rigs near the Grand Canyon some day. Surround the rim with petrochemical plants. Why not, mule deer and vistas are pretty worthless.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: “There is no good reason to destroy both for mining more oil and gas.”

        One good reason I can think of: Instead of spending multiple tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to make Virginia Beach safe from sea level rise and storm-induced flooding, just switch the land-use priorities.


        1. The hazard of off-shore oil and gas mining, refining, piping, shipping, etc., is not to the land, but rather to the water. Mainly fisheries in the western Atlantic and all its estuaries.

          As far as cost savings, you are not counting the impact of moving a decent sized population elsewhere. Along with all kinds of industrial businesses, shipping, banking, etc., and the Navy. That ain’t cheap either.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. So are we putting up a refinery at Hilltop and then making life so miserable that folks for miles around have to move after selling a home no one wants.

            Seems a bit draconian.

            Liked by 1 person

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