If you think that environmentalists are lamenting the Gulf oil spill, think again. President Obama discomfited the greens in March when he announced that he would expand opportunities for offshore drilling. Although not a sincere policy proposal, the President’s announcement nonetheless worried the greens as they thought that they might have to make a concession on offshore drilling to get oil industry support for a climate bill. Although the President reiterated his support for more drilling after the spill, Congressional Democrats, environmental groups and the Center for American Progress have all publicly breathed a sigh of relief. Their view is that the spill not only strengthens their hand against more drilling, but increases the likelihood of getting a climate bill through the Senate. “Environmentalists hope the BP spill turns into a game changer that will help propel the climate legislation’s passage much like the Exxon Valdez oil spill led to the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments,” reported Climatewire (May 4).
This is not likely to be the case since the public of 2010 is much more hip to the green agenda than it was in 1990, but the Climatewire report provides clear insight into green-think. They don’t care about the planet’s environment so much as they do about how they can use environmental accidents to advance their social and political agenda.
Consider the puzzlingly slow response of the Obama administration to the spill. Although Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano claims the government has been involved since “day one,” in fact, that “day one” response was limited to search and rescue efforts. Days after the spill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the severity of the accident, stating, “I don’t honestly think it opens up a whole new series of questions, because, you know, in all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last.” As the spill got worse, threatening coastal areas and the administration, the administration remained content to allow the inept BP — responsible for the largest oil spill on Alaska’s North Slope in 2006 — to putter around with unsuccessful efforts to repair the leak and contain to the spill.
For an administration that claims to be so sensitive to the environment, its reaction was curious. Why didn’t the administration rush to action? If your house is catches fire, does the 911 operator respond to your call for help with, “Let’s wait and see if you can put it out before we send a fire truck.” Interestingly, a Clinton administration-era plan calls for the immediate use of fire booms in case of a major Gulf oil spill, according to a Mobile Press-Register report. A single boom (costing only a few hundred thousand dollars) towed by two boats can burn 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, “raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.”
But there were no booms onsite or anywhere close. It took federal officials more than a week to even conduct a test burn. Booms won’t be onsite until Wednesday or Thursday of this week. It’s hard to know for sure whether this all simple lameness on the part of government, or whether the Obama administration is in no rush to prevent a disaster because it perceives an oil-drenched Gulf Coast as a way to advance cap-and-trade and anti-oil agendas. But why would it let a good crisis go to waste?