The next hot spot for drilling could be the N.C. coast

N.C. is central to MMS's proposed five-year leasing plan

| June 30, 2010
The feds are eyeing North Carolina for offshore drilling. Thanks to chocolate syrup, no beaches or children were harmed in the making of this photo.
- Photo illustration by D.L. Anderson
The feds are eyeing North Carolina for offshore drilling. Thanks to chocolate syrup, no beaches or children were harmed in the making of this photo.
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Editor's Note: It's Day 71 of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and each day I read the newspaper accounts and updates on the disaster. But I no longer watch the underwater oilcam that captures the slow death of the ocean. I turn my head when rescuers cradle another viscous bird from the slick.

I've refocused my outrage toward this country's lack of a legitimate, coherent national energy policy. Well, I guess we do have one: Former Vice President Dick Cheney crafted the Big Oil version in 2001 during top-secret meetings with his Energy Task Force. That task force, whose records remain secret, was stacked with top executives from the oil industry—including the CEO of BP. The 170-page "policy" reads like it was written by special interests, because it was.

If anything positive can come from BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, perhaps it will be a rethinking of our energy habits. Given the short-term and long-range environmental impacts of fossil fuels, at some point we'll have to wean ourselves from oil. We'll have to kick coal. Nukes aren't the answer; there's no place to responsibly dispose of the waste.

So what are our options?

In our summer long series on energy, the Indy will examine the political, economic and environmental impacts—and tradeoffs—of renewable energy, including solar, wind and biomass.

Conservation is essential to a federal or state energy policy. We'll analyze and evaluate existing conservation programs. If they're not working, why?

Green jobs were supposed to help resuscitate our economy. Has the promise of a green economy been fulfilled?

We can blame BP for the oil on our beaches. We can blame Obama. We can blame Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Nukes and Big Gas for the world's environmental woes. But we need to blame ourselves. The energy industry is our dealer, but we're the ones with the habit. —Lisa Sorg

There is a place in the sea 45 miles northeast of Cape Hatteras brimming with so much life that at depths beyond the sunlight's reach the water is illuminated by colorful ocean creatures and fish.

Known as the Point, it is one of the most valuable and biodiverse areas of the Atlantic. Here, the cold northern Labrador Current meets the warm southern Gulf Stream and the mingling creates a parfait of marine life: swordfish, sharks, endangered sea turtles and large, iconic sea mammals such as dolphins and whales. Rare sea birds dive in the water for food.

The Point is also valuable because of what has died there. Over millions of years, plants and sea creatures perished. They were buried beneath layers of sediment and rock, which acted like a pressure cooker and eventually created deposits of oil and gas.

North Carolina's coastline—the second largest on the Eastern Seaboard—contributes to the state's economic and environmental wealth. But its trove of resources, including potential oil and gas deposits located offshore, also leave North Carolina vulnerable.

"The threat is greatest here because people think we have the greatest resources," Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina, said.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar targeted the mid-Atlantic's Outer Continental Shelf for potential oil and gas exploration. This portion of the shelf includes 64 million acres within North Carolina's administrative boundaries. If the Minerals Management Service (MMS) proceeds with its five-year leasing plan, then there could be offshore drilling in these waters for the first time in North Carolina history.

Even if North Carolina opposes offshore drilling, the state bears more risk than it has power. Virginia and South Carolina are aggressively pursuing oil and gas exploration off their coasts. Until recently, MMS was offering a block for lease 50 miles off the Virginia coast—and just 55 miles from North Carolina.

With limited authority over federal approval of exploration or drilling, what can North Carolina do? It could appeal to Obama, the Department of the Interior and MMS (now renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation as part of the agency's drastic overhaul) to take its leasing plans for the mid-Atlantic off the table. It could lobby the congressional delegation for legislation that would strenuously regulate and monitor the oil and gas industry instead of kowtowing to it.

"We need more of our leaders to use the bully pulpit about drilling," Ouzts said.

In state government, a bill is sailing through the Legislature that would lift the cap on damages paid to the state from spills, leaks and other accidents as a result of offshore energy exploration. And state environmental agencies are crafting rules that would further protect the coast and set the scene for the state to generate wind energy offshore.

Clean energy is key. North Carolina can't prevent a spill, but it can craft a state energy policy that reduces our dependency on oil and other fossil fuels.

If you were relaxing along Wrightsville, Carolina or Kure beaches last week, you may have seen people armed with bottles and buckets collecting ocean water, fish and sand. Funded by the N.C. Sea Grant, these researchers from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington were studying the beach to capture a "before" picture of its health. It's as if doctors were photographing a pair of pink lungs before a person began smoking cigarettes. The "after" picture won't be as pretty.

It's unlikely slicks of oil from the BP disaster will reach North Carolina beaches, but it is possible that tarballs will, as well as contaminated or dying birds and sea animals.

It's also highly possible that future exploration in the mid-Atlantic could result in a spill or major accident. And if it does, thanks to researchers, at least we'll know what we've lost.

Ancient deep-sea coral reefs, coastal marshes, sensitive habitats, endangered and threatened species, sea life and birds: They would be the environmental casualties. And depending on the magnitude of the spill, it could take years before the beach's ecosystem fully healed.

Steve Ross is a research associate professor at the Center for Marine Science at UNC-Wilmington. He told a legislative advisory subcommittee last year that "offshore energy exploration could irreparably damage these sensitive habitats."

"We're finding a lot of species new to science in these reefs," Ross told the Indy, adding that the damage to the sensitive ancient reefs is unknown because there is little data showing their vulnerability to oil.

Yet these environmentally fragile areas in the mid- and south Atlantic, including parts of the reefs that extend from North Carolina to northern Florida, are targeted for drilling according to the MMS 2012–2017 proposed leasing plan.

North Carolina is central, both geographically and strategically, to that plan. Eighty percent of the mid-Atlantic lies within the state's administrative boundaries. (The area is in federal waters, but within North Carolina's borders if the imaginary lines extended 200 miles to sea.)

"North Carolina shouldn't assume [an accident] couldn't happen here," says Doug Rader. The chief oceans scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, he served as the co-chair of the N.C. Legislative Advisory Subcommittee on Offshore Energy Exploration. Just a week before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the subcommittee issued a 100-plus-page report evaluating the potential impacts of drilling in federal waters off the North Carolina coast.

"The big irony was the timing of our report," Rader said. "What became outdated was reassurance from the industry and federal agencies that drilling was safe. There was a seemingly very low probability of a big accident weighed against the investment that would be required to prepare for the big accident. That calculation led people to underinvest in the gulf. We have to reduce the level of acceptable risk."

The state has huge investments in the coast. Commercial and recreational fishing is valued at more than $3 billion. The tourism industry is worth $3 billion to $5 billion in state and tax revenues and about 50,000 jobs.

Not only would the state bear much of the risk of offshore oil and gas drilling, it would receive little, if any, of the reward.

The size of oil and gas deposits at any specific location off the North Carolina coast is unknown, according to Robin Smith, assistant secretary for the environment at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. However, this year MMS estimated that the mid-Atlantic region could contain from 21 billion to 42 billion gallons of oil and 2.5 trillion to 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Those estimates are for "economically recoverable" deposits, meaning energy companies can retrieve the oil or gas cheaply enough to turn a profit. And these gettable amounts are far less— one-third to one-half—than the "technically recoverable" resources MMS reported in 2006.

Since the estimates are based on 30-year-old data, Rader called them "highly speculative."

Yet energy analysts are viewing these numbers with cautious optimism. Given MMS projections though, says Bill Weatherspoon, executive director of the N.C. Petroleum Council, "It's reasonable to expect there could be sizable discoveries."

But those discoveries would only briefly sate Americans' appetite for oil and gas. Overall, Americans use about 840 million gallons of oil per day, according to the Energy Information Agency, meaning even on the high end, the amount of oil in the mid-Atlantic would feed our habit for roughly seven weeks. As for natural gas, the deposits would provide about six months' worth.

And as the Southern Environmental Law Center noted in May, opening more areas to exploration and drilling wouldn't translate to lower oil and gas prices for another 20 years.

The federal government designated the mid- and southern Atlantic off-limits to drilling and exploration for more than 25 years. Then, in June 2008, President George W. Bush, who has longstanding familial and political ties to the oil industry, effectively lifted the longstanding presidential moratorium on these and other areas. The congressional moratorium lapsed.

In last year's leasing plan for 2010–2015, MMS agreed that other areas should be open for drilling. It cited the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on drilling operations as an example of how the U.S. relies on a too limited area—the gulf—for energy production.

Rader challenges MMS' rationale, noting the Atlantic is equally prone to violent hurricanes. And drilling in the mid-Atlantic makes no financial sense, he said, considering the lack of onshore pipelines, roads, waste-processing facilities and other infrastructure.

Nonetheless, last March, Obama picked up where Bush left off, directing MMS to include the mid-Atlantic in a new 2012–2017 leasing plan, although some environmentally sensitive areas—yet to be determined—could be excluded.

Obama's new plan is not substantively different from the previous one. And Gov. Beverly Perdue, in a September 2009 letter to Interior Secretary Salazar, sounded displeased with the previous proposal.

"I want to point out several significant gaps at the federal level which make it difficult for us to do our work," Perdue wrote.

One of the main sticking points of both leasing plans is that the states won't know the extent of oil and gas deposits in a lease area until after MMS has already leased the tract to an energy company. The state's comments, in other words, won't be informed or timely. Once the tract has been leased, the energy companies expect to be able to drill, regardless of the state's input.

"The states can comment," Rader said, "but it's largely shooting in the dark."

And North Carolina would receive none of the revenue from the energy production off its shores because federal law limits such revenue sharing to the Gulf states and Alaska.

"Simply put, no state can or should make decisions that could forever alter the state of its coast and economy without a firm commitment as to its share of the revenue," Perdue wrote.

Congress would have to pass a new law, signed by the president, for East Coast states to get any money. That's likely, considering the support for offshore drilling by many East Coast senators, including North Carolina's Richard Burr.

Weatherspoon of the N.C. Petroleum Council predicts the state could receive as much as $577 million annually. But, Rader said, based on the lack of information about what oil and gas may exist in the mid-Atlantic, there could also be no money available.

Should the MMS go through with its 2012–2017 plan, North Carolina would undoubtedly be affected. In federal waters—areas three to 200 miles offshore that fall inside the state's administrative boundaries—MMS could lease tracts to energy companies for five to 10 years without the state's consent. The state can object to the leasing, but the federal government can overrule it.

North Carolina does have one critical power. The state can review the exploration and drilling proposals for areas within its administrative boundaries and comment to MMS on the impact. The state used this power, known as consistency review, in the 1980s to successfully thwart Mobil's attempts to drill at the environmentally sensitive Point.

In energy parlance, the area near the Point is called the Manteo Unit, a 190-square-mile leasing area where, based on 1980s data, the reef 15,000 feet below the seafloor was thought to hold 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A 1999 article in the trade journal Marine Georesources and Geotechnology called the Manteo Unit a "high risk prospect with world class potential."

In 1988, Mobil successfully bid $103 million for the rights to a nine-square-mile leasing block of the Manteo Unit and proposed drilling an exploratory well. But North Carolina, in its review of the company's required exploration plan, deemed it inconsistent with the state's coastal protection laws because it lacked enough information. Mobil appealed the state's decision to the U.S. Department of Commerce, but lost.

Then, in 1990, Congress passed the Outer Banks Protection Act that blocked exploration off the North Carolina coast. Mobil sued the federal government for breach of contract and won on appeal, effectively overturning the protection act. But as a consequence of its legal victory, Mobil lost its leases in the Manteo Unit.

Seven years later, the state again used its power of consistency review, and this time received Chevron more warmly. Chevron began looking at a block within the Manteo Unit close to Mobil's original tract. The state approved Chevron's proposal, and had it gone through, the energy company was considering Morehead City for its onshore operations.

However, before Chevron could drill its exploratory well in 2000, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order removing from consideration all unleased areas of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf until 2012.

Clinton's executive order should have bought North Carolina time to prepare for the possibility of offshore drilling. But Virginia circumvented the executive order, much to North Carolina's chagrin. In 2007, Virginia requested that MMS hold a special lease sale off its coast to include a 2.9-million-acre block that was still under the moratorium. At the time, the federal government was hopeful that other states would be open to oil and gas exploration, says Robin Smith of DENR, but there was little positive response. "There was a lot of hesitancy of the East Coast states to enter offshore exploration."

Then-Gov. Mike Easley objected to the Virginia sale because of the block's proximity to North Carolina, which also supported the moratorium.

But Easley's—and the state's—opposition had little impact on Virginia's decision. Under federal law, states that provide consistency review must show direct impacts of, not merely general concerns about, oil and gas production on their coasts.

Until the lease sale was canceled in May—or by MMS' account, postponed indefinitely—the Virginia block hovered over North Carolina like a storm cloud. (The one-two punch of the BP disaster and the military's concerns that the drilling area would conflict with Navy training and testing derailed the sale.)

Undaunted, Virginia's top officials are aggressively pursuing offshore oil and gas.

"The fact of the matter is that the Republican Party of Virginia has reached the conclusion that 'Drill, baby, drill' will appease their base and give them a way to answer their transportation funding problems," says J.R. Tolbert, advocate for Environment Virginia.

Virginia is not entitled to revenues from offshore energy production or lease sales, but it's clearly anticipating the law will change. Officials are citing potential energy revenues as a way to pay for maintaining and building the state's roads. The irony is stunning: Instead of kicking the oil habit, Virginia is using oil money so its roads can accommodate more gas-powered cars.

"It's going to take passing a policy that lessens dependence on oil to calm 'Drill, baby, drill,'" Tolbert says.

As for South Carolina, state leaders also are gung-ho for natural gas, although legally, once energy companies begin drilling, they can retrieve gas or oil. Republican state Sen. Paul Campbell Jr. was quoted in The Charleston City Paper last September as saying offshore exploration offers "an excellent opportunity for the state with limited environmental impact."

We now know that's untrue. If a spill occurred off Virginia or South Carolina, the Labrador and Gulf currents—the same ones that enrich marine habitats at the Point—would also ferry the oil there and to other North Carolina coastal waters.

How the states resolve their differences about offshore drilling remains to be seen. North and South Carolina belong to the Governors' South Atlantic Alliance, which includes top officials from those states, plus Georgia and Florida. (Virginia is a member of a different alliance.)

The alliance is focusing on clean coastal waters, disaster-resilient communities, healthy ecosystems and working waterfronts—all of which could be critically damaged by an offshore spill or accident.

"Ecosystems don't stop at the state line," says Chris Russo, director of organizational effectiveness for N.C. DENR and the alliance's point person.

Yet it's unclear how much pull North Carolina would have in convincing the other states to resist offshore drilling. Since the alliance's mission was drawn up before the BP disaster, nowhere in its working documents does it discuss how states would contend with conflicts over offshore energy exploration.

The legislative advisory subcommittee recommended that the state develop a comprehensive energy plan. While that has yet to happen, N.C. Energy Policy Council is working through issues related to coal, oil, natural gas and renewable energy.

In the Legislature, the bill that removes the damages cap also requires state agencies to study and prepare for an oil spill that would reach the North Carolina coast. In addition, the legislative climate change commission has prepared its final report to the General Assembly.

The greatest promise for North Carolina is wind energy. A detailed UNC Coastal Wind Study analyzed the economic, environmental and technical issues and concluded there is significant potential for utility-scale wind energy.Progress Energy announced this week it is spending $300,000 to partner with UNC to further study wind energy possibilities.

The Coastal Resources Commission is amending its energy policy to focus on wind. Gov. Perdue appointed her Scientific Advisory Committee on Offshore Energy, which recently held a lengthy discussion on wind and wave energy. Under Perdue's leadership, the state has also joined the Atlantic Wind Consortium, according to Jennifer Bumgarner, the state's newly appointed assistant secretary for energy.

"Responsibly sited wind turbines are the way of the future to meet our energy needs cleanly," said Elizabeth Ouzts of Environment North Carolina. "And there will not be a wind spill."

Yet our dependence, even insistence, on gas-powered cars keeps Weatherspoon of the N.C. Petroleum Council in business. "We use fossil fuels for mobility—to shop here, eat there, go to doctor here. That isn't going to change for a long time."

Moreoever, public opinion on oil is changing. Before the BP disaster, polls in North Carolina showed support for drilling off the coast. Two-thirds of those surveyed approved of it, but those numbers have eroded to less than half in favor.

"The gulf disaster opened people's eyes to what can happen in a worst-case scenario," Ouzts said. "Combined with the plan on the table, hopefully it's making more people see that it wouldn't be a good thing for the North Carolina coast."

North Carolina has the second-largest coastline in the East and the biggest portion of the Atlantic. Inland, pipelines, refineries and roads would irrevocably alter the shore. Several coastal communities, including Dare County and the town of Duck, have passed resolutions opposing offshore oil and gas exploration.
North Carolina has the second-largest coastline in the East and the biggest portion of the Atlantic. Inland, pipelines, refineries and roads would irrevocably alter the shore. Several coastal communities, including Dare County and the town of Duck, have passed resolutions opposing offshore oil and gas exploration.
- Source: Minerals Management Service
The Point, an environmentally sensitive area 45 miles off Cape Hatteras, is a vital habitat for marine life. Some underwater species have been only recently discovered. In the 1980s and 1990s, Mobil and Chevron targeted the Point for oil and gas exploration, but neither was successful for legal and political reasons.
The Point, an environmentally sensitive area 45 miles off Cape Hatteras, is a vital habitat for marine life. Some underwater species have been only recently discovered. In the 1980s and 1990s, Mobil and Chevron targeted the Point for oil and gas exploration, but neither was successful for legal and political reasons.
- Source: Legislative Advisory Subcommittee on Offshore Energy Exploration
Eddies in the gulf have slowed the oil's eastward progress. When the eddies dissipate, the oil could then be caught in the Gulf Loop current, which flows through the Florida Straits and up the East Coast. Ancient deep-sea coral reefs and other marine life—from plankton to fish to dolphins—in its path could be critically harmed.
Eddies in the gulf have slowed the oil's eastward progress. When the eddies dissipate, the oil could then be caught in the Gulf Loop current, which flows through the Florida Straits and up the East Coast. Ancient deep-sea coral reefs and other marine life—from plankton to fish to dolphins—in its path could be critically harmed.
- Source: National Center for Oceanic Research, released June 3
The Minerals Management Service proposed to lease an area off the Virginia coast to the highest-bidding energy company. The area, known as Lease Block 220, is just 50 miles from North Carolina. The sale was canceled in May, but Virginia is still pursuing offshore drilling. If there were a spill off the Virginia coast, the Labrador Current that flows from the north could carry oil to North Carolina.
The Minerals Management Service proposed to lease an area off the Virginia coast to the highest-bidding energy company. The area, known as Lease Block 220, is just 50 miles from North Carolina. The sale was canceled in May, but Virginia is still pursuing offshore drilling. If there were a spill off the Virginia coast, the Labrador Current that flows from the north could carry oil to North Carolina.
- Source: Minerals Management Service
Victoria Huff, a teacher at South Brunswick High School, collects sediment samples at Wrightsville Beach. Researchers were at the beach last week to capture a "before" picture of the coast in case oil should contaminate the shore.
Victoria Huff, a teacher at South Brunswick High School, collects sediment samples at Wrightsville Beach. Researchers were at the beach last week to capture a "before" picture of the coast in case oil should contaminate the shore.
- Photo by Jamie Moncrief/ UNCW


Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

It's not just oil spills that would permanently screw up our beaches. We'll lose the outer banks once the sea level rises, so I think our state has a lot more at stake from the normal use of the oil that's extracted.

Quite frankly we need a radical energy policy. Something along the lines of everyone abandoning gas-powered cars within 20 years. Republican-lites like Obama and most of his party aren't going to pass that.

So I'm pretty pessimistic that we'll avert a major disaster on our coast in the next couple centuries, even if the federal gov't decided to cancel drilling in the atlantic, which they hopefully will.

Posted by mentalrectangle on 07/06/2010 at 12:08 PM

My comment of 7/1/10 was as apolitical as reality would allow. With a disaster of this magnitude in the making this is hardly a time for political BS. State department spokesman P.J. Crowley has publicly stated that this administration has received over two dozen offers from 18 nations (and growing) to send crews and equipment at no cost to us, and whoever is in charge in Washington refused all of them except one, and even it was delayed while the Dutch crew were refused participation and had to train Americans to use the Dutch equipment (while the crude continued to gush) does that sound like concerned leadership to you? The Jones act was waived after Katrina, what's the holdup here? If your house were on fire would you care who put out the flames? I wouldn't give a shit if Louis Farrakhan or David Duke were in charge if they mounted a response equal to the threat. I'm concerned about my country, not the millionaire mouthpieces we've allowed to slither into our public offices.

Posted by gannamede on 07/02/2010 at 10:32 PM

As usual, right-wingers are not going to let anything such as the truth get in the way of their hatred for President Obama. The fact is that the U.S. has rejected only one offer of help for the Gulf Oil Spill disaster. An offer from France was declined because the dispersant that was being offered is not approved for use here. And the Jones Act is not relevant here, either--not yet anyway. The Jones Act covers port-to-port operations, which at this point have not been jeapardized by this disaster.

I suggest the following from for those who are interested:…

And here's an AP article that also dispels the notion that we've turned down offers of help:…

Posted by NCBluebird on 07/01/2010 at 11:51 AM

Today, even though President Obama is against off shore drilling for
> our country, he signed an executive order to loan 2 Billion of our
> dollars to a Brazilian Oil Exploration Company (which is the 8th largest
> company in the entire world) to drill for oil off the coast of Brazil !
> oil that comes from this operation is for the sole purpose and use of
> and NOT THE USA !
> Now here's the real clincher...the Chinese government is
> under contract to purchase all the oil that this oil field will produce,
> which is "hundreds of millions of barrels of oil".
> We have absolutely no gain from this transaction whatsoever!
> Wait, it gets more interesting.
> Guess who is the largest individual stockholder of this Brazilian Oil
> Company and who would benefit most from this? It is American BILLIONAIRE,
> George Soros, who was one of President Obama's most generous financial
> supporter during his campaign.
> If you are able to connect the dots and follow the money, you are
> probably as upset as I am. Not a word of this transaction was broadcast on
> any of the other news networks!
> Forward this factual e-mail to others who care about this country and
> where it is going. Also, let all of your Government representatives know
> you feel about this.
> Below is the Wall street Journal article to confirm this:

Posted by Eli on 07/01/2010 at 11:48 AM

I (and many others I assume) am of the mind that this may be a good time to get serious about weaning ourselves from the black menace we've become much too dependent on. The ramifications of what's happening in the gulf at this moment are almost certainly an order of magnitude greater than the majority of us care to think about. Apocalyptic in scope may not be in fact an overstatement. Given that we have no precedent by which to evaluate the long term effects of this incident, we are sitting astride a keg of something unknown with a fuse burning, hoping, but not knowing, whether or not it's not going to explode. I happen to be in the business of oil recycling, and I can tell you that this stuff is considered so hazardous that the spilling of a single barrel would be enough to mobilize an entire excavation crew and produce punitive fines in the thousands. The safeguards we are required to employ are extraordinary, including what is known as "cradle to grave" liability which means that we are responsible for every ounce from the moment we pick up until we transfer ownership to our customer. Every level of handling requires special license and permits, and we are scrutinized more closely than if we were handling dynamite, literally. The safety requirements in fact are so stringent that 90% of the businesses that once did this have now closed, and a single drum of recycle "offings" can cost upwards of several thousands of dollars to dispose of at special hazardous waste facilities. And while it is true that virgin crude does not contain the same contaminants as used oil such as heavy metals, chlorine, certain volatile organic compounds and such, it does have such niceties as hydrogen sulfide and some very mean corrosives that are normally processed out before usage, that are now being belched untreated in horrendous quantities into some of the most productive waters on earth. And what compounds the problem is the fact that this will never be, cannot be, confined to the gulf, but will work it's way into the entire Atlantic and very probably beyond, affecting lives and industries conceivably worldwide before it's over.

This is, in any context one tries to put it, a world class disaster in the making, and the rest of the world knows it, so it seems unthinkable that our laggard government is declining offers from every concerned corner of the earth to help in any way they can. This will be Obama's Katrina X 100 unless he gets off his egotistical do-nothing ass and allows every available resource to mobilize against it. We need an authoritative leader at this moment as surely as if a war were imminent, photo ops be damned, and try (weeks behind schedule) to get control of this thing as best we can. It's bad, worse I fear than the much too limited attention it's getting.

Posted by gannamede on 07/01/2010 at 10:42 AM

We may need an ad hoc defense force to defend our coast. Our own navy that will protect us from corporate assault. I'm serious.

Posted by marcoplos on 07/01/2010 at 9:08 AM

What is disheartening is everyone in Obama's Mineral Management Service who accepted "Gifts", a.k.a. "Bribes", have not had criminal charges filed against them. Even worse they haven't even been fired, and stripped of the pensions. What if the IRS employees were taking "Gifts" from those they audit? What if the SEC employees were taking "Gifts" from Wall Street firms? What if those who work for Social Security or the FBI started accepting "Gifts". This is a HUGE serious issue that our elected officials aren't really addressing, and the American people have taken notice. The whole entity of Obama's government, not just our elected officials, is now in question. Obama is the biggest recipient of BP campaign money. Let's be honest, this epic man made disaster in the end was caused by greed. Showmanship and cover-ups by Obama and BP will not distract nor hide the truth.

Posted by Eli on 07/01/2010 at 8:25 AM


When "The Obamaspill" first occurred, Obama should have utilized every means possible to stop the massive oil ecological disaster. Obama was very busy at that time planning how to shove his next piece of Marxist Change down our throats so he was super slow in his response! Precious time was lost while Obama slouched! In the year of our lord "1993", the Saudi's used super tankers to clean up their massive 1993 Persian gulf oil spill with great results. The tankers sucked up the Saudi oil while it was still out at sea and removed it before it got to land. BTW, The Saudis offered America help to skim the oil but Barack Obama and The Democrats refused the Saudi's offer! Why did Obama refuse to waiver the 1920 "Jones Act" which keeps foreign vessels out of our waters and thus allow other nations to help??? There are other nations besides the Saudis that have offer us help with the Obamaspill but Obama and the Democrats refused to save our gulf! God knows, we have helped many of those nations, many times too! With Obama's lack of tact & concern, the Gulf Of Mexico oil is now destroying our beaches and marshes. Obama could have stopped the oil before it got to the shoreline by mobilizing those Saudi super tankers. As I said the Saudi's did it 17 years ago! "The Obamaspill" is the worst oil disaster the USA has ever had! It is sad for the Gulf Of Mexico, Planet Earth, & us that Obama was so indecisive and has shown no real leadership on this catastrophe of Biblical proportions! I heard Obama didn't miss one hour of his golfing while the oil spewed! Now hear this, Obama's next forceful political move will be a massive "Cap And Trade Tax" and he will use "The Obamaspill" to shove his Cap And Trade right down your throat! I have read that Obama's Cap And Trade Tax will triple your utility bill. How much are you paying now? Did you say Ouch? You can count on the Marxist/Muslim wealth re-distributor to shove the Democrat's wet dream of a "Cap And Trade Tax" right down your unwilling throats! ...........................................................


Posted by Eli on 07/01/2010 at 8:23 AM

The choice is simple, make a mess in other countries that find the risk/rewards of drilling acceptable and pay the military to keep it available to the world market. Or drill here and accept the risk and costs directly, without the military.

I prefer to end the wars, cut the military to 1% from current 20% of budget, and accept the technical risks directly and solve them. But it is not just my decision.

We have the Energy Policy we have always had, and hopefully always will. Some of us drill, refine, distribute, and sell energy related products and services. The rest of us pay those people for products and services. If you want to see what government command/control over oil looks like, check out Mexico's nationalized mess.

Posted by luthert on 07/01/2010 at 8:06 AM

It's BS to keep blaming Bush and Cheney!

Not one president has created an energy policy that get's us away from oil!

Nixon = no
Ford = no
Carter = no
Reagan = no
Bush = no
Clinton = no
Bush = no
Obama = no, before the gulf mess he was in favor of NC drilling!

Art K from Durham

Posted by Art on 06/30/2010 at 11:37 PM
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