Offshore Oil Drilling after Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill — No New Safeguards, GOP Push for Less Oversight

oil spill anniversary deepwater horizon

One of the worst environmental disasters in history struck one year ago today — the “Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” or “BP oil spill.” Haven’t kept up with the details of offshore oil drilling much lately and curious where things stand? Well, I can’t say that we’ve learned from our lesson.

While no legislation has been passed to make offshore oil drilling safer, “the House Natural Resources Committee pushed forward three bills to expand offshore drilling and reduce safeguards,” Frances  Beinecke of the Natrual Resource Defense Council (NRDC), who served on the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, writes.

Seriously, let’s make it easier to have another oil spill catastrophe? This is what the “House Natural Resources Committee” wants? Yes, the U.S. has been hijacked by political extremists who don’t understand the government’s role in ensuring a safe and livable environment.

More from Beinecke:

These bills would allow big oil companies to sidestep proper environmental analysis, rush permits and drill virtually anywhere off the U.S. coastline.

Have we learned nothing from the largest peacetime oil spill in history? Eleven men died in that disaster. More than 170 million gallons of Louisiana crude spewed into the water, and 1,053 miles of shoreline got oiled.

The impacts have been devastating. Gulf Coast fishermen lost $62 million in dockside sales because of the spill, while tourist businesses lost $1.5 billion in earnings. Oil remains in marshes and underwater plumes, and it will take years to determine the ecological damage.

Yet, it’s more important that oil companies be left alone to do what they wish wherever they wish.

The National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that Beinecke found, after an “exhaustive review of the evidence” that “the root cause of the spill was systemic failure in industry management and government oversight.” Of course it was.

Completely ridiculous that these supposed leaders of our country are interested in ignoring the findings, the need for change, and are actually pushing for further deregulation in this dangerous arena.

Will less regulation of offshore oil drilling help the U.S. become more energy independent? Not enough that anyone would even notice. This is one of the least effective ways of pushing for energy independence and doesn’t get at the root of our problem at all. My grandfather was the Chief Excavation Geologist for Exxon for the U.S. (not including Alaska or California) before he retired — the guy in charge of finding oil. He mentioned a couple years ago that we’ve just gotten spoiled, that we don’t have the oil available to support our current demand.

Here’s more on that from Beinecke as well.

Turning back the clock on offshore drilling will do little to relieve America’s oil addiction.

According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, drilling in America’s previously closed ocean areas “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production…before 2030.” Even then, “because oil prices are determined on the international market …any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

The U.S. cannot drill its way out of oil dependence. We can, however, turn to a host of clean energy solutions that could cut our oil imports almost in half in just 14 years. We don’t have to wait for technological breakthroughs to get started. Things like cleaner cars, more transportation options, high speed rail, and sustainable, homegrown fuels already exist.

Seriously, this is the route we need to go down. We don’t live in caves any more. We found a better option. We can find a better option for our energy supply as well (we already have). Increasing the risk of workers, the environment, and the whole world in order to try to live on an energy source of the past makes no sense (unless you are a Congressman bought by an oil industry trying to increase its profits for a few more years and don’t have any concern for what’s actually best for the American people).

Photo Credit: SkyTruth

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