Now they're trying to burn off the oil spill. Not a bad idea actually, according to the linked article. With the light, sweet crude that has leaked from this well, the burning in situ process is expected to get rid of up to 90% of the oil. Of course there is the problem of air pollution and disposing of the remaining 10%. There's also talk of lowering a dome to contain the oil, and then pumping it out from there. In the meantime there'll be a public relations battle over the incident. The oil companies will insist that there are thousands of rigs like this one that operate perfectly safely, and they'll be right. And who among us does not rely on fossil fuel for most of our energy needs, not to mention a host of other products? Try as we might, the need for oil is going to be with us for a long time.
* Full circle on the alliterative slogans: Burn, baby, burn (Credit: Los Angeles rioters) morphed into Drill, baby, drill (Credit: former AK governor Palin and/or speechwriters), thence Spill, baby, spill (Credit: Seablogger) and now Burn, baby, burn seems appropriate again.
Ironic, isn't it? Just as the president throws his critics a curve ball and opens up a huge area of US coastline to oil drilling, we're now facing the biggest potential oil spill disaster since the devastating Exxon Valdez incident of March, 1989.
It was the Exxon Valdez incident, as well as other well-documented pollution problems in the past on both coasts, that led to the public outcry against offshore drilling. Similarly the near disaster at Three Mile Island, along with movies like The China Syndrome, and the actual meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear facility, led to a de facto moratorium on nuclear power facilities in the US.
And all this is happening at a time when it's become obvious that relying on foreign oil is a major mistake, politically and economically.
Prediction: even though these oil leases weren't going to become operative for a number of years, the public outcry (aided by politicians eager to hop on the newly-revived save-the-environment bandwagon, like Florida governor Crist) will put the kabosh on offshore drilling for the foreseeable future.
Despite the blandishments and assurances of some of the oil companies regarding the safety of modern equipment, there's unfortunately no guarantee that there won't be a spill like the one happening now. And it also seems that the equipment necessary to control such a spill hasn't been developed.
And if you think the the "envirowackos" have a momentary advantage now, just wait until that spill works it way onshore. You ain't seen nothing yet.