How the Oil Turns: From Selling it Snake-Style to Drowning in It.

| June 16, 2010 | Reply

All you really need to know about last night’s super-important Presidential Oval Office speech you can get from these two paragraphs:

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about forty miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven workers lost their lives. Seventeen others were injured. And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water.

Because there has never been a leak of this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge – a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well.

Nearly two months ago, the President convened a panel of experts, led by the finest minds in the Federal Government and their best advice was to have BP put more resources on the spill. That’s it. That’s the best our progressive, expert-driven, smarter than the rest of us government could come up with. Well, let me respond with a phrase from my childhood:No s**t, Sherlock.

We shold have gotten more hard numbers: this many miles of oil boom with this many more miles on the way, this number of boats engaging in these actions, these square miles of oil burned off before they could befoul this many miles of shoreline. But no. What we got were floaty clouds of unicorn magic and hopey-change. Yes, there are boats and National Guardsmen, but what, exactly, are they doing? What is the plan, beyond haranguing BP to do what it is already doing (and what, by the way, it has never balked at doing) and appointing a new Czar to head up yet another commission of experts? What is the plan of attack? According to the President, the answer lies in turning power over to him and his crack experts so they can lead us to our our destiny, whatever the heck that happens to be.

 It is no surprise to anyone but the President’s most ardent fans (and he’s even losing them) that the people of Louisiana hold him in less regard today than they hold George Bush over his actions after Hurricane Katrina. A snake oil salesman is being entirely undone by an oil spill.

UPDATE: Andrew Malcolm has the best long-form analysis of the speech, followed closely by Stephen Green’s live drunkblogging. Joy McCann has shorter, but very good, comments. Peter Robinson asks two related questions about recklessness and how we know what we know. The Anchoress has a thorough link roundup.

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Category: Thinking About Energy

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