In a recent press release regarding the decision by BP to shut down its Prudhoe Bay oil pipeline, Richard Pombo’s House Resources Committee hastened to spin out a story placing the blame for the shutdown and subsequent oil supply disruption at the feet of ANWR and Coastal drilling critics. Quoting Pombo, the statement made the following claim:
“[O]utdated federal laws have red-taped this country into dangerous supply-shortage vulnerabilities and many in Congress have willfully and repeatedly refused to do anything about it. This disruption is yet another stark reminder that America needs more American energy.”Well, no, it’s not anything of the sort. It is, in fact, a stark reminder that we need to work to develop new, cleaner energy sources and conserve the resources that we have — and an even starker reminder that despite the much-ballyhooed improvements in pipeline technology, sending oil through 800+ miles of pipe is still fraught with peril.
The Prudhoe Bay pipeline was shut down because it was so severely corroded that it was unsafe to use — and has been for a long time, according to the Alaska Wilderness League:
The Prudhoe Bay oil fields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have caused an average of 504 spills annually on the North Slope since 1996, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC). There were 4,532 spills between 1996 and 2004 totaling more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substances including diesel, crude oil, and hydraulic oil. [...]So Richard Pombo's solution to the problem is MORE pipelines in the Arctic. Makes perfect sense to me. Anything to keep the oil profits of his corporate masters up in the stratosphere.
Drilling for oil is a dirty business, and simply cannot be done without adversely impacting the environment. As long as drilling in the arctic has occurred, oil companies have promised to keep it clean and then broken those promises.
But apparently, I’m not the only one to find Pombo’s argument ludicrous. You should check out this column by Daryl Lease, of the Sarasota Herald Tribune in Florida. He wrote a spoof the other day on a BP telemarketing ploy to raise money to fix their pipeline by letting people adopt a “pig” (the sensors used to check pipelines for leaks).
"At the moment, I have several pigs available for you to adopt. Let's see now: I have 'Hummer' -- he's a utility pig. Big, hulking fellow. And I have a precocious little smart pig named 'Pombo.' "
"As in -- "
"Yes, sir. He's named in honor of Sen. Richard Pombo, the California Republican who's been a major supporter of our industry."
"And your industry has been most generous to him."
"He's a visionary, sir. I don't know if you've heard, but he says this little Prudhoe leak demonstrates the need for us to diversify our domestic oil supply and begin drilling elsewhere."
"Like in the Gulf of Mexico."
"Exactly! And Alaska, too! We want to spread the oil around, you know?"