Offshore Drilling and the Hurricane Threat
Facts? Who needs ‘em?
Earlier this week, The Washington Post ran an offshore drilling story that finds Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) making a curious claim about the power of new technologies to prevent spills:
“I think people are reassured that not a drop of oil was spilled during Katrina or Rita,” McConnell said. “Those rigs in the Gulf, there was not a single incident of spillage that anyone reported.”
It’s curious because, as the administration has documented (and the Post points out), there were 125 separate spills attributed to the two storms, dumping an estimated 16,302 barrels (roughly 685,000 gallons) of oil into coastal waters. Five of those accidents spilled between 1,000 and 2,000 barrels apiece, making them “medium” spills, in the parlance of the Coast Guard. (”Major” spills involve quantities larger than 2,381 barrels, or 100,000 gallons.)
There’s even a Web site, Skytruth.org, that’s documented some of those spills with satellite photographs. In the face of the evidence, some environmentalists wonder why Republicans have adopted the position that offshore drilling platforms are hurricane-proof.
“It’s remarkable that that’s their argument because it’s so easy to disprove,” said Richard Charter, a government relations consultant with Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.