Asked why or whether new offshore drilling permits were being issued even as the Gulf oil spill (leak,underwater gusher) moves into its second month, and more importantly, even after President Obama placed a moratorium on offshore drilling, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu could only answer — “all I know is what I read in the papers”. Well that might have been amusing when Will Rogers said it. But when the Secretary of Energy says it and makes subsequent remarks that indicate he really means it, I think we might be in trouble. The bureaucracy is getting in the way of getting things done or maybe the moratorium was more an exercise in politics and its enforcement is made impossible by devious use of semantics.
I just heard the secretary on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
He said flat out that he was not aware if permits were still being issued, but that he personally thought they should not be. He admitted to his host that he only found out about the issue of the permits by “reading the same story you did in the New York Times”.
Now quite frankly I did not read that story when I first saw it on the web — I just read the headline. Then after reading the story after I heard them talking about it I found out that part of the problem may be different interpretations within the Interior Department as to what the moratorium includes. There was some indication that the permits were for existing, not new wells.
Also many environmental waivers on offshore drilling, to include in the Gulf, have been issued since the moratorium, according to the story. That does not seem smart to me since everyone admits, and it is obvious, that no one knows what to do in this current disaster.
While there is some pressure for the U.S. government to just take over the operation to plug the leak, the problem it has been brought out is that our own government does not know what to do and does not have the total resources anyway. It is dependent upon the cooperation and resources of BP. As I blogged before, BP has the government over a barrel on this one — to some extent anyway.
I watch too much TV. But Chris Matthews says we are at the mercy of BP because we have allowed another corporation to get “too big to fail”.
And here’s something that’s bothered me and to which I have not found an answer. This BP rig is in international waters, as I understand it. How is the jurisdiction decided on this? UPDATE: (5-27-10) And though the magic of the computer I can go back in time now and correct and/or clarify those last two sentences. Now as I understand it the leaking underwater well is 41 miles off the U.S. coast and is in U.S. territorial waters. I got a little too much in a hurry to post and a little lazy in my fact checking.
Energy Secretary Chu is highly intelligent, a Nobel Prize winner, and seems like a nice guy dedicated to his job — but gee, saying “all I know is what I read in the papers?” Couldn’t he have inspired a little more confidence?