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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Energy policy murky year after oil spill

From an editorial in the La Crosse Tribune:

A year ago Wednesday, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and spewing 172 million gallons of oil in the ocean.

While we remember images of spewing oil and blackened beaches, nature has shown her remarkable resiliency, despite man’s best attempts at despoiling her.

A report by more than three dozen scientists grade the Gulf’s health as a 68 on a 100-point scale, which is slightly below the grade of 71 they gave the Gulf prior to the spill. While beaches are open as tourism returns to normal, there are still long-term environmental concerns such as hundreds of young dolphins dying and dead spots on the sea floor.

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that the Gulf is “much better than people feared, but the jury is out about what the end result will be. It’s premature that things are good.”

It also will be a while before there are tougher environmental and safety rules regulating the offshore drilling industry. The New York Times published a story Monday that said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has much work to do before more rigid rules can be put into place.

There’s certainly plenty of pressure from the oil and gas industry to resume deep-water drilling. A moratorium on new deep-water drilling was lifted in October, and the Interior Department has approved 10 permits and 15 others are pending, the Times said. The House of Representatives has three bills pending that would speed up permit approval and open new areas for drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as easing environmental rules off the Alaska shores.

Our country has an insatiable need for oil but fails to have a comprehensive federal energy policy to wean our dependence on fossil fuel.

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