Republicans are still repeating the tired old criticism that Barack Obama is blocking offshore drilling, even though Obama voted in favor of Drill Baby Drill legislation back in 2008, then helped BP try to cover up the extent of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, then blocked efforts to ban offshore drilling, and has re-opened the Gulf of Mexico to deepwater offshore drilling months before the federal commission’s report on the Deepwater Horizon is released. To cap that all off with a nice oil-soaked cherry, the Obama Administration has just approved the fourth permit for a new deepwater offshore drilling location since the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year.
And still, the Republicans in Congress tell us that there’s a de facto moratorium on offshore drilling. What are they talking about?
Oil spills are last year’s story, we’re told. This year’s energy story is supposed to be the rapid increase in the price of gasoline, which is leading congressional Republicans to push for even more drilling for oil in even more places. Of course, offshore drilling has expanded, not contracted, under Barack Obama. The truth is that the price of gasoline isn’t impacted by new offshore drilling rigs. Though they put our environment in great peril, they just don’t produce enough oil to drive down prices. What’s driving up prices is irresponsible financial speculation, not a fuel shortage.
Besides, oil spills are this year’s story. For almost a week now, oil has been leaking out of a wrecked tanker, the MS OLIVIA in the South Atlantic island group of Tristan Da Cunha. Help is on the way, to close up the gash in the leaking tanker and to try to clean up the shores and wildlife that’s been coated in petroleum, but will take several days to get there by boat.
It’s not the first time that the island group has been troubled by the oil industry. A few years ago, the Tristan da Cunha marine ecosystem was hit by offshore drilling, literally, as an abandoned drilling rig slammed into the coastline.
In the Gulf of Mexico, too, oil spills are not a thing of the past. Along the coast of Louisiana, oil slicks 30 miles long have been washing ashore from an offshore well. The offshore drilling company responsible says it’s surprised that so much oil is now being seen in the water, given that the spill was minor. This spill comes as BP admits that it is still cleaning up oil from the Gulf of Mexico that came from the Deepwater Horizon spill almost one year ago.