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Lax Regulation Not a Good Lure


BRADENTON -- It was just over a year ago the global oil and gas company, BP, managed to cap a catastrophic oil well leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The culprit, a bad blowout valve.

Another faulty valve caused an environmental disaster, this time in the Arctic. BP was testing a new valve when a rupture occurred that released a reported 4,000-gallon mixture of methanol and oily water onto the Alaskan tundra. At the Lisburne field near Prudhoe Bay, cleanup is ongoing and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is monitoring the spill.

Since the court-ordered moratorium that put deepwater exploration in the Gulf on hold was lifted on October 2010, many industry specialists claim much has transpired to prevent another accident resulting in environmental damage. Critics of the oil industry are asking if the faulty valve involved in the Prudhoe Bay accident was part of the new and improved equipment designed to make oil operations safer. Had this equipment failure happened thousands of feet beneath the water's surface, another catastrophic spill would have taken place.  

With the latest mishap, BP is upholding its risky-business reputation acquired long before the  BP Moncondo Project (Deep Water Horizon explosion) that spewed an estimated 5 million  barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing the worst off shore oil hazard in U.S. history. That disaster cost the lives of 11 workers and tens of billions of dollars in damage to gulf-coast states. BP's 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion off the Texas coast, killed 15 and injured more than 170 others, and is yet another reminder of how costly fossil fuels are and why alternatives need major consideration.

With almost as many miles of gulf shore as all of the gulf states combined, Florida beaches suffered for months from cancelations, losing hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity following BP's spill. Moreover, western Floridians  got a preview of what life might be like had the disaster occurred closer to their shores. States within a couple hundred miles of the spill experienced complete devastation in both their fishing and tourist industries. Yet Florida's Governor, Rick Scott, shows little concern -- that's because he has a plan.

Rick Scott and Senate president Mike Haridopolos have voiced their intentions to allow offshore oil drilling as part of their new energy policy. Before the jury is in on what permanent damage BP has caused, before the future of those who's life derailed can be revealed, Scott plans future drilling off our coast.

The governor has pledged to examine all regulations and eliminate any that can deprive the state of new jobs. Scott's budget cuts have terminated more jobs than any of his policies have created. I suggest he takes a very good look in the mirror. Rick Scott has stated, he opposes federal regulations to enforce clean water standards in Florida. Maybe he needs to try table water from one of Florida's extremely polluted rivers.

Scott disputes EPA's acceptable level of radiation on former phosphate-mined land and won't respond to the high levels of radon gas found near them.

Radon gas is one the largest contributors to lung cancer, second only to cigarettes. He and his Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, resist regulations to fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals, and Putnam extended an executive order relaxing trucking restrictions.

It's clear Scott and his team see regulations as a road block to any and all commerce. The Sun Sentinel reported, "We're not enforcing the regulations we have right now for water quality. We have virtually no regulation on agriculture chemicals or fertilizers," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida. "We grew like crazy for 30 years while our existing laws were in place," Draper said. "When Gov. Scott says environmental laws are costing jobs, he's lying. There is no evidence that our environmental rules are the reason for Florida's high unemployment rate."


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