Flutterby™! : Drill, baby, drill

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Drill, baby, drill

2010-04-29 20:59:04.209246+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

Barack Obama, April 2nd 2010:

... It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. ...

The 120 mile oil slick is advancing on Louisiana.

AnonLib said:

I'm so old I remember when Sarah Palin rambled on in the VP debate about "safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore."

Uh. Yeah. Thanks to Lyn for both those.

[ related topics: Politics Economics ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-05-01 21:27:43.012574+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger


"Breeder reactors use uranium more than 100 times as efficiently as the current light water reactors. Hence much more expensive uranium can be used. At $1,000 per pound, uranium would contribute only 0.03 cents per kwh, i.e. less than one percent of the cost of electricity. At that price, the fuel cost would correspond to gasoline priced at half a cent per gallon."

It'd be nice to see an updated version of that.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-05-01 15:21:08.115689+00 by: TheSHAD0W

Because there's lots of plutonium in spent fuel, which is indeed a fuel in and of itself but is also easier to use to build nuclear bombs, and our government is very nervous someone will do just that.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-05-01 12:22:55.017726+00 by: JT

Oddly, what the US considers "waste" and what other countries consider "waste" are completely different. Our waste is guarded so valuably that many places, like the University of Texas, went to other countries to buy their waste for the purpose of studies in order to find out if we can use it or not. Turns out that we can, and there have been a few different studies pointing this out that I've run across. Since we (EPA and DoE) still consider it "waste" though and most people don't know the difference between nuclear weapons and nuclear waste, then these government agencies tend to bury ours in mountains and not let anyone near it. From what I've read in the past though, it seems we're sitting on a vast energy reserve of what we consider spent fuel and letting it slowly decay instead of developing ways to harness the energy.

We already get energy on the front end of Nuclear power, why not let the development of energy on the back end take some of the "waste" away as well?

#Comment Re: made: 2010-05-01 03:17:26.353222+00 by: topspin [edit history]

I'm so old I remember when Sarah Palin rambled on in the VP debate about "safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore."

I'm so old I recall Dennis Miller doing Weekend Update on Sat. Night Live and flashing a picture of Ted Kennedy on a yacht with a quite attractive young woman sitting on his lap and quipping "I see Ted's changed his position on offshore drilling..."

Why don't we pursue alternatives vigorously? The recently stated maxim "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution" resonates like the sound of an oil rig. The oil/energy industry, the EPA, the NRDC, Greenpeace, et.al. would suffer without the drama associated with our pursuit of oil.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-30 20:41:23.69358+00 by: Dan Lyke

Eric, on the anti-wind people, Charlene and I went to a local animal rescue fund raiser a while ago, and one of the speakers was an owl expert who was involved in all sorts of local study. He used very careful language when talking about the windmills on the Altamont pass, but his basic thrust seemed to be that yes, there were a few types of windmills that confused raptors, but that it was relatively easy to build the other sort and people were doing that. However, and he didn't say this quite as brashly as I'm going to, but fundraising organizations were still managing to raise funds off the issue and so were going to continue as long as they could.

Compare, for instance, to Joel Reynolds of the NRDC trying to whip people into a righteous donation frenzy with this editorial on whaling policy. This is the NRDC's standard way of operating, but if you read his leaping to conclusion carefully, and then start digging into the actual background, there are all sorts of places where his arguments have holes you could swim a whale through. But "OMG, Obama wants to kill the cute whales!" brings in the bucks.

Todd, I don't think anyone's claiming that this is a part of normal operation, any more than someone would assert that the Exxon Valdez is a normal part of tanker shipping. The point is there are risks associated with all of these things, and most of those risks are externalized to where the cost isn't showing up in the cost of the oil. Thus cheap energy keeps us from looking for alternatives, which brings me to...

Mark, oil is an awesome amazing density and incredibly cheap energy source. It needs to be at least twice the price it currently is to spur development of alternatives, but a lot of the cheapness of price comes from all of those aforementioned externalities; companies not adequately insured against spills, the U.S. military, etc. Slowing down the exploitation of new reserves is one way to raise the price to where we can develop new alternatives, and we'll still have those reserves should that development take longer than a population can be sustained on the interim.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-30 19:44:20.809697+00 by: ebradway

This, combined with the recent coal mine disaster makes me think our nation needs to accept a slight up-tick in the costs of our energy sources for the sake of the people working to provide our energy and the environment.

While I can't begin to imagine what happened on the oil rig that lead to the explosion, I can imagine the conditions that lead to the mining disaster. Coal is pretty darned cheap (it's real costs are hidden in the mess it creates, but that's another matter). Do we really need to scrape the margins so closely on it that it's at all worth risking lives to extract it?

As for energy density...

I had an environmental company come by my house last week asking for money and polling about the environment. When asked "Do I support expanded oil and gas extraction in Colorado?" I said, emphatically, "NO!" The Bush Administration did a damned fine job expanding oil and gas extraction in Colorado. In fact they did such a good job that they got a Democrat elected as Governor and Colorado swung blue for Obama. Bush managed to expand Halliburton's operations in the Western Slope to the point that it negatively impacted the cattle ranchers and hunters.

But then she asked "Do you support expanded uranium extraction in Colorado?" To which I answered emphatically, "YES!" This gets to the energy density issue. Uranium is beats oil and gas hands-down. Using it to generate electricity is mostly carbon-neutral. Sure, it has potential down-sides (Cherynobl). But I think even the nuclear waste issue is less problematic than, say, carbon sequestration. I also believe that the Cherynobl issue may be alleviated through better technology. It's been decades since we broke ground on a new reactor. Even simple considerations like our ability to precision-machine parts has improved immensely in that time.

And while I'm on the soap-box, wtf is up with the anti-wind people? I mean: get over it. Sure, you might not like windmills. Sure, they may have some negative impact on wildlife. But are they really that bad? It's not like you are doing anything permanent to the environment by putting them up.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-30 15:24:40.419899+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Its also important to keep in mind the energy density of oil compared with any alternative under consideration.

Don't get me wrong: I think we need to move off of fossil fuels, and fast, but we're going to either need to cut our energy consumption dramatically (not likely) or find much alternative sources with higher energy densities and with greater availability than we have so far.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-30 15:02:56.129265+00 by: other_todd

Oil rigs don't generally cause spills. Except, of course, when they explode catastrophically in a way that breaks off the main drill pipe (because the rig above it is now totally gone) and trashes the safety features (because they're gone too). I'm all for being very careful about how one conducts offshore drilling, but to say that this nasty event in some way reflects badly on *normal* operations of oil rigs is not really fair.