Sunday, May 23, 2010

NASA to the Rescue

Answering the hue and cry that the federal government needs to do something to stop the flow of gushing oil into the dark deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, we now have what has been labeled an “All Star Team” of scientists presently meeting right here at the BP America headquarters in Houston.

From where does this “All Star Team” come? Where does the federal government go in this dire emergency in order to recruit a team with the expertise to kill a well that has gushed unknown millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf? A well that is a mile beneath the waves?

Why, NASA of course.

And the Sandia National Laboratories..

And The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

And Los Alamos.

And, oh yes, The United States Geological Survey.

No, really.

NASA, after all, has expertise in getting work done in remote locations under hazardous conditions. No, really. They actually said that on television. Sandia Labs typically works in what they call “breakthrough technology.” Lawrence Livermore? They work in environmental extreme conditions as well. What can be more environmentally extreme than the interior of a sun? Los Alamos? They are known to have created small-scale suns.

And the USGS? Well the USGS does dapple a little in oil and gas exploration. They estimate how much of the stuff we have from time to time.

And which one of these organizations has an offshore oil rig or a deepwater submersible and the technology and expertise to use against this looming ecological disaster?

None of them.

But despite all that they lack, this team of experts is meeting right now to “solve the problem” because “failure is not an option” in this “successful failure.” That’s right, the term “Apollo 13” comes to mind, but not because I thought it up . . . they did.

The feds.

The feds are now saying that if BP can’t or won’t solve this problem then they will have to stand aside or get out of the way so the feds and their team of experts can get to work.

No, I am serious. They actually said that, too.

Look, I am not ridiculing this idea because these people are all a bunch of idiots, that is patently absurd. These people are leaders in their field.

THEIR field.

But none of them know the oil drilling business. And really, even oil drillers are a little behind the curve here because deepwater drilling is brand new. Yes, the technology is based on techniques developed in drilling on the continental shelf, which is decades old, but there has been a lot of innovation recently. Oil drillers are still on a learning curve when it comes to deepwater drilling. That has become painfully obvious.

But the sobering fact is that despite all of this, the only people and the only organization that has the expertise and equipment to take care of this problem are the major oil companies and the service companies that they hire.

That is, the very people, the very companies that caused the problem in the first place.

No, British Petroleum and Halliburton and Transocean are the ones who can fix the problem that they caused, and by all rights ought to be the ones to fix the problem that they caused. They are on the hook and shouldn’t be let off despite the deeply troubling cries from the right that say that the feds aren’t doing enough in this.

Because if making political hay, calling this “Obama’s Katrina” and at the same time causing the feds to take their eye off the ball by recruiting this “team of experts” instead of holding these companies’ feet to the fire is all that this hue and cry is about, the right will have more to answer for than two wars and a financial meltdown.

Much more.

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