The unnecessary war on oil

another excuse for blocking offshore drilling debunked.

As I wrote at the time, the worst oil spill ever wasn’t so bad after all.

Certainly no reason to keep half the Gulf and all of the Atlantic coast off limits.

72 thoughts on “The unnecessary war on oil

  1. Thank God for the “abundant tar balls found along an eastern Texas beach in 1542. Without them poor DeSoto might never have made it home.

    The gist of this piece is that oil spills naturally into the ocean so what’s the big deal? Wait a few years and you will not be able to tell that it happened.

    But, as a matter of environmental and economic fact, the BP oil spill WAS a disaster. And it was on top of whatever Mother Nature throws at the environment.

    chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nrdc.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fgulfspill-impacts-summary-IP.pdf&clen=316791&chunk=true

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is that supposed to be some kind of link?

      But had you read you would have seen that the effects were largely gone 3 months after the spill.

      Sorry if the studies by marine biologists who actually live there disagree with your preconceived political views of science, but you’re probably used to it by now.

      Like

      1. It is a link. Highlight it. Right click, then copy. Paste it in the address field. It will take you to a 2015 report summarizing the environmental and economic effects of the BP spill.

        I actually do not have any “preconceived views” about drilling for oil. That is an assumption that you are making. I do have preconceived views that when it is done it should be done as safely as humanly possible. And when it is being considered the REALISTIC risks should be assessed. An argument that says, “Gee, Mother Nature spills oil so we do not need to worry about it” is not REALISTIC.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It is a bad link. Maybe you should open the PDF itself and copy that URL, or something. Your Chrome browser is messing you up.

          Like

    1. I don’t know why they threw that in there, perhaps just to make it timely.

      But the idea that an oil spill off the Atlantic would ba a catastrophe just isn’t true.

      Like

      1. RE: “the idea that an oil spill off the Atlantic would ba a catastrophe just isn’t true.”

        I’m with. I’m a “Drill baby, drill” baby.

        Like

        1. Per my response below, would that lower the global price of oil? That is what we pay. Unless we told the oil multinationals to only sell American oil to Americans. If that is even possible.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. RE: “would that lower the global price of oil?”

          You want to control the global price of oil?

          Per my response below, I’d suggest you want something you can’t have. That is, you can’t control such a thing unless you make yourself king of the cosmos.

          What you (and we) can do, however, is remove barriers to free market operations so that the natural forces of competition among producers/sellers create optimal outcomes.

          Like

          1. I don’t want to control the price of oil. My point is that nobody can. We already have millions of acres, lots of leases and wells that are just now starting to uncap because the price is high enough to cover it.

            We are producing more now than we did in the last administration. We would have to ramp up production to huge levels to lower the gas prices globally. And as soon as the prices comes down, companies cap the wells again because they are not profitable on the global market.

            In other words, gas prices are what they have always been, a political tool to attack whomever is in office at the time. The “barriers”? Mostly environmental and those are not without reason. Royalties are another, but you will find that states and the feds are certainly entitled to revenue as representatives of us, the citizens. Why? Because it is our land. If you owned a nice piece of property that had oil, you might gladly let Exxon drill it, but not for free.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “I don’t want to control the price of oil.”

            Then why do you ask “would that [drilling more] lower the global price of oil?”

            Like

      2. “But the idea that an oil spill off the Atlantic would be a catastrophe just isn’t true.”

        That sounds truthy but is it true? I think that the location, duration, and volume of a spill along with other factors like temperature, depth, currents, etc. might determine whether “catastrophe” is the right word or not. A spill like BP’s pumping oil on the Virginia Beach beaches for 87 days might seem like a “catastrophe” to the people whose livelihoods would be wrecked.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. See the reply to Len about Grand Isle.

          The locals made money on the BP spill.

          In any case, the petroleum off VA is natural gas with very little liquid petroleum, natural gas spills are cleaned up with a leaf blower.

          Like

  2. If I recall there were several objections to Atlantic coastal drilling.

    First, for VA at least, was the skewed zones as to which states got which royalties. VA was on the short end of the stick.

    Next, that colder waters are not as oil microbe rich and the liaisons among oil spills and bacteria were not nearly as strong.

    Finally, Florida’s Atlantic coast was off the table completely during the last administration for political reasons. Too many powerful interests not wanting to spoil views or the threats of spills on million dollar frontages. And, of course, the huge tourism industry was not about to let oil rigs spoil the day.

    Didn’t Biden lose most of the lawsuits on his drilling and leasing restrictions? And in the first few months, too? Millions of acres both leased and unleased are still available in the Gulf.

    Do we need more oil? We have increased production every year since 2019. With oil at $120/bbl the capped fracking wells can be profitable again, too.

    Even if we did increase output a lot, oil is a global commodity and it belongs to the oil companies, not us, to sell on the world market.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Even if we did increase output a lot, oil is a global commodity and it belongs to the oil companies, not us, to sell on the world market.”

      You make a good point. If our objectives are political, then increasing supply is a misguided hope. Instead, we should want oil companies to have maximum freedom to exploit oil resources. After all, oil companies have no interest in oil except to serve their market well and intelligently.

      “Maximum freedom” in this context doesn’t mean “perfect and complete,” or even “absolute” freedom, but it does mean the removal of stupid barriers to free market operations such as political restrictions on drilling for oil off Virginia Beach.

      Like

      1. Political restrictions sounds like a trivial barrier.

        But, politics is how democratic republics solve problems without violence.

        You may not like a decision, but that is what elections and the judiciary are about.

        VA’s objection was more economic than anything else. The border lines from VA were so skewed that the benefits were minimal compared to any risk to tourism.

        Florida did put up a huge political battle, however. A lot of well connected property owners objected.

        If the Gold Coast had a major spill, the tourism impact would be enormous.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “Political restrictions sounds like a trivial barrier.”

          Not trivial, but misguided. A better way to discuss oil production as a public policy issue might be to follow the science.

          But to your point, I do object to bad politics overruling good science. I think the valid point of Dr. Tabor’s post is that — according to science — the environmental impacts of the Gulf oil spill are not as bad as overly-politicized environmental activists led many to expect.

          Like

          1. The price of oil is controlled by psychological factors as well.

            If you believed the government was going to take your car away in a year or two, would you change the oil, get it repainted?

            The same is true of aging oil rigs, rig count is down because no one wants to invest in an industry which the government has a stated policy of bakmrupting it.

            Like

          1. You raised the issue of economic impact.

            Certainly oil spills are unfortunate, but they just aren’t catastrophic, they are rare, and not reason to abandon resources that make our lives better.

            From our own local experience, the deforestation resulting from the wood pellet (for British carbon trading schemes) has done more damage than a dozen oil spills. If you really care about environment, get upset about that.

            Concern for the environment is a good thing, But it should be guided by realistic evaluation of the impact, not dramatic pictures of oily sea gulls. You can’t take pictures of the lost diversity of our environment, but it is every bit as real and far more harmful.

            Like

          2. “Tourism? In LA, MS and AL all the hotels and restaurants were booked solid by the cleanup. In Grand Isle LA, it’s referred to as the BP Gold Spill.”

            Sounds like you believe in “broken glass” theory until you don’t.

            Personally, I have witnessed the degradation of the Gulf Coast over the years. My family used to vacation there. No more. The water is now too dirty and there are too many tar balls on the beach.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. The tar balls were there when I was a kid and there were 2 oil platforms in the whole Gulf.

            They were there when Bienville was a child.

            And the water conditions along the Gulf are cleaner now than 30 years ago, the work of real environmentalists.

            Like

          4. “And the water conditions along the Gulf are cleaner now than 30 years ago, the work of real environmentalists.”

            “Real environmentalists?” The ones who agree with you, I suppose?

            Still no plans to spend my vacation dollars on the Gulf. It may be cleaner than it was 30 years ago – if you say so – but my memories go back further than that when it actually was clean.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Yes, those who agree with me.

            Those who don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good and who balance the risks of action against the risk of inaction.

            Like

          6. “Read it looking in a mirror”

            Is that the best you can do? “I’m rubber, you’re glue?”

            I am not the one who is constantly claiming knowledge that is superior to established professionals in a wide variety of fields. That would be you.

            I am not the one who sets up my ‘druthers as the standard for being a “real environmentalist.” That would be you.

            I am not the one who is apparently unable to distinguish the truth from “alternative facts.” That would be you.

            But, hey, whatever. I think a reference to the D-K thing is good medicine for people without the good sense than to not claim that they are somehow intellectually superior to everyone else.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. The established professionals were in the post you objected to and countered with an opinion from a judge who has no special knowledge comparable to that of the marine biologists.

            You’re the one who rejects logic, data and professional opinion when it contradicts your political position.

            Like

          8. “The established professionals were in the post you objected to and countered with an opinion from a judge who has no special knowledge comparable to that of the marine biologists.”

            Uh, try to keep up. There are two subjects here.

            The first was the original claim that the BP spill was not a big deal based on the fact that Mother Nature often spills oil as well. I responded with a link to a list of the significant environmental and economic damages done as seen from five years later. It was a list prepared by competent professionals and it reflects the scientific and economic consensus that the spill WAS a disaster.

            Later when you opined that we must do the best we can to avoid such spills, I seemly noted that BP failed to do that. You came back defending them basically saying “shit happens.” It was THAT which caused me to cite the findings of “gross negligence” by the judge reviewing the established facts.

            So, after getting totally muddled you once again climb on your self-righteous high horse. Have you always been so confused or is it getting worse as you age?

            Liked by 1 person

          9. It’s all the same thing.

            Yes accidents happen. Considering the potential risks(at the pressures deep wells hold, a pinhole sized leak can cut you in half) the accident rate is extremely low.

            Nonetheless, when “big oil” is on trial, you can always find enough ungrateful cretins in robes or in juries to disparage the people who put their capital or lives at risk to make your easy life possible.

            BP had enough safety redundancy in place that it took a cascade of 8 unpredictable failures to cause the accident. It’s going to happen. That we seem to go about 40 years between major accidents is pretty damned remarkable. Does the government do anything with that kind of safety record?

            So, the judge called it ‘gross negligence?’

            The judge is a pompous ass that wouldn’t last a week offshore.

            BTW, I came very close to being killed working offshore. And I don’t hold it against anyone, it was a totally unpredictable set of coincidences from which we all learned lessons.

            Like

          10. “It’s all the same thing?”

            No, it is not. There were two different subjects and I supplied separate responses to each subject.
            Was the Deepwater Horizon a disaster? Yes, it was.
            Was BP “grossly negligent?” Yes, they were.

            I backed my views on both questions with evidence.

            I did not get my evidence by way of lame arguments on a “conservative” propaganda site offered by a professional right-wing troll.

            “The judge is a pompous ass that wouldn’t last a week offshore.”
            A statement like that just confirms how absurdly emotional and illogical you can be. You pose as a supporter of the people working on the rigs but when somebody tries to hold them accountable for negligence allowing lives to be squandered they are a “pompous ass” or cretinous.

            Like

          11. A judge should know what his job is

            A finding of gross negligence as opposed to negligence, opens the door to punitive damages.

            That was a political move as no one could really demonstrate a high number for actual damages other than those on the rig.

            His decision allowed the states to cash in.

            That decision belonged to a jury.

            Like

          1. The environment doesn’t need anything. We do.

            This is our only island and we should keep it as clean and livable as we can.
            Going elsewhere is not an option.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Of course we want as clean an ocean and land as we can reasonably have, But there is no zero risk world.

            Overall, which did more real harm to more real people, the BP spill or today’s high gasoline prices?

            So sure, we try to avoid accidents, and it was 40 years between major spills.

            That considered, there was little harm done and we aren’t going to have to abandon the planet over a spill one or twice in a lifetime.

            Like

          3. RE: “This is our only island and we should keep it as clean and livable as we can.”

            What does that mean?

            Does it mean, for example, that we should shower with anti-bacterial soaps when regular soaps will do?

            Like

          4. “So sure, we try to avoid accidents. . .”

            BP didn’t. It acted with “gross negligence.”
            Profits before safety will always be the priority of for-profit companies. That is why they cannot be allowed to decide for themselves where it is safe to drill or how much to spend on accident prevention.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. The two engineers who made the error were burned to death in the blowout.

            Just what regulatory penalty do you think would have motivated them to be more cautious?

            Like

          6. The court did not find that it was just an “error.”
            It found that the “error” was the product of a pattern of “gross negligence” by BP.

            http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/judge-bp-acted-with-gross-negligence-in-gulf-oil-spill/#:~:text=A%20federal%20judge%20has%20ruled,oil%20spill%20in%20U.S.%20history.

            “Just what regulatory penalty do you think would have motivated them to be more cautious?”
            Serious and continuous inspections and fines that would cost CEOs their jobs if incurred.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. A judge’s assignment of blame is not a technical assessment, It is more pf a political statement and a search for deep pockets.

            The disaster was a result of a cascade of 8 unlikely failures any one of which could have prevented it had it gone differently.

            Deep water drilling is inherently dangerous, and the people on the rigs know that. There is no pressure that could be brought on them to cause them to do anything that would result in their being burned to death, and any one on the rig could bring it to a standstill with a phone call.

            It had been 40 years since the last major failure, and there was just a lot of bad luck and small errors that came together.

            Like

          8. “A judge’s assignment of blame is not a technical assessment, It is more pf a political statement and a search for deep pockets.”

            Whatever happened to the “Rule of Law”? Isn’t that why judges preside over cases, to administer the law as they best see fit based on the evidence provided?

            Liked by 1 person

          9. Yep, sad that so many of them don’t seem to know that.

            They are supposed to administer the law, not make findings of fact unless both parties to the suit agree to it. Otherwise findings of fact are by jury.

            “Amendment VII
            In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the
            right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise
            reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. ”

            So, why is a judge finding ‘gross negligence’ and assigning proportional liability?

            Like

          10. As I understand it, there was an settlement reached by arbitration, and the government disagreed with the outcome and the judge overruled the arbitration.

            Like

          11. So, the evidence and “technical assessments” presented in court and carefully considered by a competent judge should not be taken seriously? Why? Because he was “corrupt,” “political,” and only interested in finding “deep pockets?” That is a very serious allegation. Any evidence to support it? I didn’t think so.

            Courts only seem to matter if they confirm what you want to believe?

            Does it not occur to you that the chain of those cascading “unlikely” events might have been broken if BP had not put profits ahead of safety? Did not the improbable become more probable in such a negligent environment?

            I am not sure if you could be any more unseemly than to blame the workers for not picking up their cell phones to blow the whistle. You seem immune to any understanding of what it means to go against the bosses in that kind of greedy corporate environment.

            Liked by 1 person

          12. Judges should decide matters of law, not matters of fact, That is for juries.

            That was a rig full of Cajuns and Texans, and they know more ways to tell a boss ‘fuck you’ than you could count.

            Workers on oil rigs know what they do is dangerous, and they know the penalties for error.

            Like

          13. “Judges should decide matters of law, not matters of fact, That is for juries.”

            The ruling I linked to was not the result of a jury trial. It was in response to an appeal about the LEGAL meaning of “gross negligence” vs “negligence. The judge did not establish ANY facts. He relied on the facts previously established. And applied the law.

            “That was a rig full of Cajuns and Texans, and they know more ways to tell a boss ‘fuck you’ than you could count.”

            Cute! But not particularly persuasive.
            There are very few jobs where people of little education can make six figure incomes. Even Cajuns and Texans are careful about losing those kinds of jobs by being seen as not a team player. But whether there was no cell phone whistleblowing out of fear of management or ignorance of the serious danger is highly immaterial. I think it likely that ordinary people on the rig were aware of heightened danger but did not want to rock the boat.

            But, speaking of phone calls, there was an urgent phone call from the rig to the company engineers 40 minutes before the explosion to discuss the negative pressure test that SHOULD have triggered an immediate shutdown that would have prevented the disaster. The failure to act on this evidence was a key element in the finding of “gross negligence.” The judge also found it suspicious that this phone call was omitted from BP’s submission of facts. I would too. Wouldn’t you?

            Liked by 2 people

          14. “So, why is a judge finding ‘gross negligence’ and assigning proportional liability?”

            Because BP asked the court to approve the settlements that they had reached on the basis that they were NOT “grossly negligent.” The DOJ filed a formal response that they WERE “grossly negligent.” “Gross negligence” is a legal concept – not a matter for a jury but for a judge. The ruling by the judge was based on facts that were not in dispute.

            Whether or not they were “grossly negligent” under the law was extremely significant because had they been merely “negligent” there is a cap of $75 million on economic damages under the industry-favoring “Oil Pollution Act of 1990.”

            Liked by 1 person

          15. As I wrote before, a political decision in pursuit of deep pockets.

            The difference between negligence and gross negligence is willful disregard for hazard to life and property. Deciding whether that intent existed at BP is a finding of fact.

            The decision cannot be based on how much the plaintiff stands to gain. But it was, and that’s politics

            Like

          16. “Deciding whether that intent existed at BP is a finding of fact.”

            By their actions shall ye know them.

            The judge had all the facts, knows the law, and is subject to appeal and professional embarassment if he gets it wrong. I do not know which of the facts the judge relied on in his ruling. There were so many ways that the operators were negligent. It might have been the delay after that urgent phone call that the pressure readings were screaming for a shutdown which did not happen.

            You have zero basis for you blanket condemnation of the judge’s role and decisions except your own prejudices. You do not know all the facts. You do not know the law. All you know is that you do not like the outcome.

            Liked by 1 person

          17. “The judge decided an issue of fact”

            The judge decided whether the definition of “gross negligence” in the 1990 law applied to the actions and inactions of BP and others. That is the task he was given by both BP and the DOJ. The actual facts of what was done and what was not done were not in dispute. The entire dispute was whether they met the LEGAL definition of “gross negligence.” That is what judges are paid to do. Apply the law to the facts at hand.

            Double DUH!

            Liked by 1 person

          18. Again, not how it works.

            The judge can explain to the jury what constitutes gross negligence, and what they would need to find to meet that standard, but whether BP’s acts met that standard is a matter of fact, and belongs to the jury.

            And, it doesn’t matter if it was a million barrels or a tablespoon. Only whether BP’s acts met the standard of reckless disregard.

            He’s a judge, not a king.

            Like

        1. “Again, not how it works.”

          You really do not have a clue about what you are pontificating about. Maybe you should consider that D-K link more objectively?

          THERE WAS NO JURY. This was NOT a criminal trial.

          The issue was whether the conduct met the standard of “gross negligence” as defined in the Oil Pollution Law. It was ENTIRELY a legal question, not a question of fact. A good analogy would be for a defense motion to throw out a First Degree murder charge because the requirements IN LAW for charging First Degree murder had not been met. Juries do not get to decide such matters. Judges do.

          This is my last word on this subject. The Deepwater Horizon explosion WAS a disaster based on the evidence. BP was “grossly negligent” based on the evidence. Period.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think it is likely that the army of lawyers representing BP know the law almost as well as you do. There is ZERO chance the judge acted unfairly or denied anybody any right or privilege they wished to exercise.

            The issue between the parties was whether “gross negligence” would require an intent to do harm. BP said that it did. The Government said that it did not. THAT IS A LEGAL QUESTION. There were LEGAL arguments and LEGAL precedents on both sides of this question presented to the judge. He found that there need not be an intent to do harm under the specific relevant law as written. That is a LEGAL finding which is why judges are employed.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. It is perplexing. perhaps they were resigned to the government getting its pound of flesh one way or another.

            I doubt anyone would make the argument that intent to do harm would be required for negligence. That would be malice and addressed under other law.

            Gross negligence requires reckless disregard for harm, not malice.

            I see nothing to indicate anything BP did meets either standard.

            Like

          3. “I doubt anyone would make the argument that intent to do harm would be required for negligence.”
            And you would be wrong. First, the subject is “gross negligence” not just “negligence.” Second that is exactly what BP’s lawyers argued.

            “Gross negligence requires reckless disregard for harm, not malice.”
            Yes, that is what the judge decided too.

            The court document that lays out all the facts also includes a long section where the judge states the arguments and precedents for both points of view and gives his decision and reasoning.

            You may not see any reason to find gross negligence by BP, but the judge did, and, unlike you, he was very familiar with the relevant facts.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. You keep harping on the global market controlling prices. Why are they high, just because the global market decided it was the thing to do? If the sources of oil are minimized by decree, the present and future supply is reduced which equals inflated prices. More supply and competition equals lower prices. It’s simple really.

      You libs are trying too hard to cover for Biden’s disastrous economic policies its sickening. If Trump was in office you would be singing a completely different tune.

      Like

    1. Looks like a lot of ‘mights’ and ‘coulds’ but nothing more than speculation. Remember that Wikipedia is written by activists.

      The actual marine biologists on scene are a lot more convincing.

      Like

  3. You keep harping on the global market controlling prices. Why are they high, just because the global market decided it was the thing to do? If the sources of oil are minimized by decree, the present and future supply is reduced which equals inflated prices. More supply and competition equals lower prices. It’s simple really.

    You libs are trying too hard to cover for Biden’s disastrous economic policies its sickening. If Trump was in office you would be singing a completely different tune.

    Like

    1. …”the global market decided it was the thing to do”

      Pretty much. Politicians have such little effect on what oil markets do, it is unreasonable to put all of the blame on one person.

      But ya gotta own the libs, because real policies just don’t happen on the right. Unless it is to curtail the rights of people they don’t like.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s not the sources that are the issue; it is the production output from those sources. If oil companies decide to cut production because the worldwide use of their products is declining, they have to do so to protect their bottom lines and keep prices higher, or at least to prevent them from cratering to the point where they start to lose money.

      There are plenty of leases already in place. Any new leases wouldn’t even being to yield production for about 4-5 years. It won’t help in the near term, which is where the problem is.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s