Texas governor pans drilling safety regulations, suggests ‘God’ to blame for BP’s oil disaster
If the very Christian, very Republican governor of Texas is right on this one, he may soon find it politically expedient to rethink his allegiances, what with 2010 being an election year and all.
That’s right: according to Republican Rick Perry, no amount of safety requirements can prevent an “act of God,” which may or may not have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in 11 dead oil rig workers and a gusher of oil jetting over 2 million gallons of crude per day into the fragile aquatic ecosystem.
Initial estimates claimed just 1,000 barrels of oil per day were leaking, but that number was quickly revised upward to 5,000 barrels per day. Current estimates project as much as 50,000 barrels a day are spouting from the sunken rig, and it may yet increase.
Speaking at a benefit funded by the Chamber of Commerce, Perry suggested that tighter safety regulations just don’t have anything on God.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what the event that has allowed for this massive oil to be released,Ã¢â‚¬Â Perry said, according to Politico. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And until we know that, I hope we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering.”
He suggested the disaster might be “just an act of God that occurred.”
God, however, does not work for Halliburton, which was cementing the well when the explosion set off. The deity is also not an employee of British Petrolium, which saved a cool $500,000 by not installing “a remote-control shutoff switch” currently required in regulations imposed by other major oil-producing nations.
“Regulators have previously identified problems in the cementing process as a leading cause of well blowouts, in which oil and natural gas surge out of a well with explosive force,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “When cement develops cracks or doesn’t set properly, oil and gas can escape, ultimately flowing out of control. The gas is highly combustible and prone to ignite, as it appears to have done aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which was leased by BP PLC, the British oil giant.”
Lamar McKay, the president of BP, has, for his part, insisted that his firm is not responsible for the disaster. Speaking to The New York Times, McKay hinted at the likelihood of a crucial piece of drilling equipment that malfunctioned.
The statement is especially sober stacked next to those of conservative pundits in recent days, many of whom have engaged in imposing a collective conspiracy “what if” that ultimately points at environmentalists.
“The carbon tax bill, cap and trade, that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day,” quipped de-facto GOP leader Rush Limbaugh on Thursday, arguing that “hardcore environmentalist wackos” were opposed to the bill’s allowances for more nuclear power and more offshore drilling.
“What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?” he rhetorically asked. “I’m just, I’m just noting the timing here.”
A “theory” quite similar to Limbaugh’s made its way onto Fox and Friends Monday, where the hosts and former Bush press secretary Dana Perino engaged in a conspiracy session of their own.
President Obama has said BP is responsible for the disaster and plans to hold the company financially accountable.
“We will keep our… boot on the throat of BP to ensure that they’re doing all that is necessary while we do all that is humanly possible to deal with this incident,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday.
At time of this writing, the firm was drilling several relief wells to alleviate the pressure jetting mass quantities of oil into the gulf. The process could take as long as three months. Meanwhile, the company is also dumping thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical “dispersant” into the gulf in hopes that the solution will bind to oil molecules and drag them to the ocean floor, where the crude would be absorbed by micro-organisms and other sea life in a best-case scenario. The firm is also trying to place containment domes over the leaks.
“We expect to load out the fabricated containment chamber tomorrow and we hope to have the system up and operating within a week,” BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told reporters on Monday. The dome is the first of three designed to be placed “over the leak sources and allow us to collect the oil, funnel it up through pipework to a drill ship called Enterprise on the surface.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry is facing a stiff electoral challenge from former Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat. Remarkably, a recent Rasmussen poll claimed that White and Perry were nearly tied, with White trailing by just four percent.