Drill, baby, drill

As Louisiana faces another catastrophe, one that is wholly the product of human hands, an always courageous Sarah Palin publicly defends off-shore drilling:

We've all been shocked and saddened by the tragic events in the Gulf of Mexico. My heart breaks for coastal residents who are facing fears of the unknown impacts of the oil spill.

As an Alaskan, I can speak from the heart about the tragedy of an oil spill. For as long as I live, I will never forget the day the Exxon-Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef and millions of gallons of North Slope crude poured into the waters of our beautiful Prince William Sound. The spill was devastating to so many Alaskans who, like my own family, make their living on the water from our commercial fishing industry. "Heartbreaking" was the word my husband Todd, an Alaska Native and trained oil spill responder, used to describe the scene as we watched it unfold on land and water that we feel is sacred.

Alaskans understand the tragedy of an oil spill, and we've taken steps to do all we can to prevent another Exxon tragedy, but we are still pro-development. We still believe in responsible development, which includes drilling to extract energy sources, because we know that there is an inherent link between energy and security, energy and prosperity, and energy and freedom. Production of our own resources means security for America and opportunities for American workers. We need oil, and if we don't drill for it here, we have to purchase it from countries that not only do not like America and can use energy purchases as a weapon against us, but also do not have the oversight that America has.

Is Palin suggesting that British Petroleum engaged in responsible drilling? that the American federal government ensures adequate environmental oversight in the drilling sites it governs? that the residents of the Gulf were made secure by the oil industry located in their region? and that they will remain secure after the initial phase of the disaster concludes?

Do any of these questions matter, as Palin sees the issue? It looks like they do not:

All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk — whether it's sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan "drill here, drill now" not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills — my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America's domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.

It's all for the best except for those unfortunate people who live along the Gulf Coasts. For one thing, they will have the opportunity to observe the responsible folk wielding authority over the matter set ablaze one of the world's greatest natural environments so that they can practically minimize the damage the slick causes to the region as a whole. This effort will not be without perverse effects. Gulf residents can expect polluted water, foul air, decimated shorelines and much else. Yet these effects, bad as they might be, will only prove a lesser harm than the one produced by doing nothing but stopping the oil at its source. In any case, the people of the Gulf will likely have the opportunity to prepare for the next oil disaster since oil drilling in their neighborhood will not stop because it is risky and because we all know accidents will happen, as Palin points out. Their prosperity, security and peace may suffer for it, but the rest of the country will enjoy the benefits which oil provides to those with the right technology and access to the stuff. Of course, these benefits will seem like a witless diversion once the ecological crisis goes global and becomes decisive.

No comments: