Jul 30, 2010

The US Gulf of Mexico - Jobs vs Environment

The oil companies and the local politicians whose constituents are tied into oil and gas production love to speak of all the money and jobs lost if drilling is tightened or disallowed in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

We feel if the total externality cost of environmental damage to this area is considered that these jobs may be too expensive to support.

We heard a great report yesterday on NPR about Galveston the horrible damage to it's environment caused by oil spills and tanker crashes. The biologists(hopefully not on Oil company payroll) always point to how things "always come back to the way they were" But is that truly the case?

The NY Times(Gulf of Mexico has long been dumping site) today suggests,

Now that the oil on the surface appears to be dissipating, the notion of a recovery from the spill, repeated by politicians, strikes some here as short-sighted. The gulf had been suffering for decades before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.

“There’s a tremendous amount of outrage with the oil spill, and rightfully so,” said Felicia Coleman, director of Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory. “But where’s the outrage at the thousands and millions of little cuts we’ve made on a daily basis?”

The gulf is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the hemisphere, a stopping point for migratory birds from South America to the Arctic, home to abundant wildlife and natural resources.
But like no other American body of water, the gulf bears the environmental consequences of the country’s economic pursuits and appetites, including oil and corn.

There are around 4,000 offshore oil and gas platforms and tens of thousands of miles of pipeline in the central and western Gulf of Mexico, where 90 percent of the country’s offshore drilling takes place.
At least half a million barrels of oil and drilling fluids had been spilled offshore before the gusher that began after the April 20 explosion, according to government records.

Much more than that has been spilled from pipelines, vessel traffic and wells in state waters — including hundreds of spills in Louisiana alone — records show, some of it since April 20.

What if the demolition caused by oil and gas was strongly assaulted by tighter regulation and the abundance of seafood in the area could be increased greatly. Could this not offset the pain caused by the oil industry waste?

There is a bit of good news that the Obama administration had even before the DeepWater Horizon accident realized that the Northern Gulf needed more TLC. According to the NY Times,

On July 19, the Obama administration announced the recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, a committee created in 2009 to coordinate governance over the country’s major bodies of water.
The White House also announced the creation of a gulf restoration road map before the spill to address the long-term problems on the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

We focus again on what the true cost of damage to the Gulf by industrial accidents "should be."
There needs to be a metric that applies to the damage to non human plant and animal life by these accidents. That penalty needs to come out of the $20 billion set aside to pay accident claims and should be a part of future claim procedures.

We have been using Gulf drilled oil and gas without truly knowing it's cost, most importantly it's environmental cost. If this cost is factored into the price at the pump, then the price of alternatives immediately trump oil and gas and become the favored transportation energy source

Conserv-A-Store is your favorite Green Goods store-visit us soon

1 comment:

  1. Job vs. environment is nice title. Environment plays a important factor while doing a job.