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Part 1 of 2: The well from hell is changing our lives

Forgive me for getting personal. Yesterday, my wife (Kay) and I headed our Pursuit out about 40 miles into the Gulf of Mexico from St. Petersburg. As yet untouched by the oil, the Gulf waters and sky were that spectacular clear blue, one of the powerful reasons we live in Florida. What’s more, we were catching some great fish – Grouper and Amberjack, even a big Barracuda. It was one of those wonderful days aboard the “Special Kay” – you know, the kind that reinforces your love for boating.

But something happened while we were out there. We started talking about the BP “well from hell” – this summer of oil that is literally destroying a way of life for so many others, people and businesses, with whom we share the Gulf. We soon found ourselves lamenting what’s happening to our fellow boaters and fishermen just a few hundred miles north of our position. And, it’s not just the horror of the physical damage. No, we could imagine the depression and righteous anger of families who see their marine businesses threatened, their customer’s boats sitting idle, confusion over who’s even in charge and the red tape to get help, if any. 

Maybe it’s because we were sitting out there, surrounded by the beauty of a spot to which oil may soon arrive, that we could grasp how our fellow boaters and boating industry members’ entire way of life is being ripped apart. We talked about people whose lifestyles are based on the Gulf, as is ours now. The things they do. The things they eat. The things they love. Who they are. The reason for living there – all interrupted, if not taken away.

Inevitably, Kay asked the big question: “Besides stopping the spill, what should be done?”

I said, I’m no expert, but I have some strong feelings. For example, it is understandable that all this has given rise to demands for an end to offshore drilling. Environmentalists predicted this could happen. Drilling foes have ammunition. Moreover, it’s with good reason that our trust in the oil industry and government regulators has tanked. The Obama administration is now in court trying to temporarily halt deep-water drilling. That seems reasonable, but not logical in the bigger picture.

There are more than 4,100 oil wells throughout the Gulf. While the BP spill is unprecedented, offshore drilling has been safely happening for decades without disasters. And, this one shouldn’t have happened, either. But, to halt drilling now will only kill jobs for literally thousands of workers on the rigs, supply boats, equipment manufacturers and more. Selfishly, it’s safe to assume many of those workers are boaters and anglers and are also customers of boat dealers and manufacturers around the Gulf Coast.

The current environmental impact aside (no intention to diminish its terrible effect) for a moment, about 32 percent of our nation’s oil is coming from the Gulf. Those who say the BP catastrophe justifies stopping drilling and replacing it with alternative energy sources, like solar, wind, nuclear, etc., are wrong, just unrealistic. Even in the best case scenario, alternative energy will only be able to deliver 11 percent of our energy needs by 2020. For the boating industry, not only do we build our boats with petroleum-derived materials, we need oil to run our products. In fact, oil is in our DNA — most people would agree that affordable and abundant supplies are essential elements of the nation’s prosperity,

So, there must be a better answer coming out of all this agony.

Look for part two of the “well from hell” here on Thursday. ?

Comments

3 comments on “Part 1 of 2: The well from hell is changing our lives

  1. Doug Reimel

    Just take a good long look at our way of life. Oil is not just energy. It is the nylon, dacron, rayon in the clothes we wear. It is that plastic bottle you conveniently carry water in. And the hospital supplies that are used in our health care. And that new cell phone, and computer, and television. It is also in the asphalt on our roads and shingles on our houses. There are so many more products we rely on everyday. Alternative energy is just part of the solution. We also need alternative products that require less crude oil for the product itself. Does anybody know if you can make a plastic bottle out of soybeans, or some organic product? Interesting question. The point is our scientific community is going to find these solutions. Who know one day you may be able to put some salsa on your old iphone when it is no longer usefull and have lunch.

  2. Kevin McLaughlin

    With respect to this specific spill, we now know (as fact, not opinion) that people working on the drill platform found broken pieces of the well head gasket on the deck and reported their findings to other workers/managers on the platform. We also know that one of the two battery packs that control the emergency shot off was known to be dead. We know that the disaster plan used by the major oil companies is a very old boiler plate plan used at land and sea drill sights and created, but not updated by other workers/managers/leaders. The workers/manager/leaders in the government agency charged with keeping the oil company workers/leaders honest, we in fact not sufficiently doing their jobs, and in to many instances over-looking clear problems.

    While we find it easy and we like to blame the President (any President) for all the short-falls, I suggest the common issue and failing is “ourselves”. Yes, the generalized “we the people”. We as individuals have failed to do our most important job – being true to ourselves and our neighbors/co-workers/friends. At some point in our lives some one, at some time tried to teach us not to lie, cheat, or steal. As working adults, we have significant examples of our own failure to be honest with ourselves and our related communities. Somebody at Enron, Lehman, Goldman, World Comm, SEC, Treasury, Arthur Anderson, BP, and many others knew something was wrong. Even if they reported a problem to their supervisor and up their chain of commend, some other worker/manager/leader did not correct the problem, The claim can be company policy, but people make the policies on behalf of the company and shareholders.

    Ladies and gentlemen, until we, the individuals, the people, decide that we are not going to stand for or allow ourselves and others to lie, cheat, and steal, we are going to continue to have big social and business problems. It will not matter who we elect for any political office, corporate leadership position, or even church pastor, if we do not stop taking the easy way, the politically correct way, the dam the facts forward with my opinion way, we will not recover from whatever disaster in which we find ourselves.

    All customer, in all business transaction, want the lowest possible price. All customer will accept a fair and reasonable price. If a businessman knows how to manage his/her company, a fair and reasonable selling price should generate funds to cover all costs and provide a fair profit. A

  3. john ennis

    I agree fullywith Mc Laughlin and will add that now we have a pretty good idea of what that secret mneeting was about that “Shotgun” Chaney held with the top brass of all energy producers when he first took office. De-regulation and the placement of friendly officals in the regulatory offices. I not that “Dickey Doo” has been very silent about the Well From Hell.

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