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Friday, June 4, 2010

Republicans Block Bill To Raise Oil Spill Liability Cap

3 comments:

consultant said...

The Republican Party is no longer a political party. Hasn't been for a while. It's the government branch of big business. About 60% of the Democratic Party is the same way. As Herbert of the NYTimes said, big business and government have created a unholy alliance AGAINST average Americans, which is most of America.

Any way you slice it, America loses.

Checkmate.

Everyone under 35 ought to be in the streets, but we've raised a generation that doesn't care enough to do so. Big business knows this. As long as they can keep new versions of video games coming (and the lights on), young people are distracted.

Checkmate.

The North Coast said...

I would auger that most of the denizens of the Corporate Nanny State are blithely ignoring the conversations taking place around the disaster in the gulf, because nobody really wants to grasp what they mean in economic terms.

The senator from Alaska is dead correct- most oil producers are not going to be able to insure themselves to the extent necessary to cover any damages they do.

What she's skirting is: neither will the taxpayers, who of course are the insurers of the last resort for not only these smaller players but for the majors as well, for there is NO LIMIT on what these disasters could cost us cleanup costs and the consequences for our food supply and our coastal communities.

The upshot is glaringly obvious but you would never know it from our current low oil prices, and that is that oil is, one way or the other, about to become much more expensive. If we continue to drill offshore and enforce the regulations necessary to prevent spills, the costs of this will of course be priced into the end product. If we don't enforce the rules and let drilling continue in the same manner, we will confront much steeper costs, almost beyond reckoning, in the loss of much of our seafood supply, and in damage to our coastal areas to the point where they could become unlivable. And these costs will work their way all the way through the food chain, both actual and purely economic. Everything has to be paid for, and the costs will be passed on to all of us. I'm personally very surprised oil dropped in price since the disaster, because this accident does not auger well for our oil future, given that offshore and other unconventional drills will be the only way to get large quantities of oil going forward, since the conventional sources have peaked or are near peak. I can only credit the drop in oil prices to the drop in demand worldwide as the global recession continues to bite.

This is really the endgame of oil. We're now down to the oil that will be too expensive to recover. This is a very desperate matter because we are not positioned to cut our use drastically and rapidly. If the only thing we stood to lose was our ability to purchase new cars and superfluous electronic devices every 3 years, it would not be so bad. But this country, because of the malinvestment in sprawl over the past 50 years, has built in a massive inflexible demand for fossil fuels, and when the drawdown goes critical, it will be a naked contest between fuel and food, mediated by a government that is utterly committed to pretending it's still 1965, to reinforcing a lifestyle that never did make economic sense and is now about to become impossible. But that won't stop our leaders from shoveling the last of our resources and all the borrowed money they can grab in to propping it up.

Nudge said...

It's very telling that the ultimate costs of a cleanup like this ~ including the damages that are likely to be done if the oil makes it up the east coast and into the Georges Bank fishing grounds ~ are beyond what the oil companies can afford in terms of insurance, and are probably beyond what our civilization can afford.

Someone on TOD said it correctly: the BP spill is not Obama's Katrina, as the TeaBaggers allege, but is instead the oil industry's Chernobyl. I have little doubt that every aspect of deepwater drilling is going to be thoroughly examined by people asking very pointy questions about what can be done to ensure better safety at every step of the process. Deepwater oil (the only kind we seem to be finding anymore) is about to get a whole lot more expensive. What oil wells we have on dry land here in the US are all well into their depletion arcs. Most of the world's dryland oil wells are past peak too.

National average gasoline prices seem to have hit a floor around $2.72, and haven't gone below it since the middle of last week.

More than half of our country's population lives within 50 miles of the seacoast.

Judging by our government's long record of it, I assume they will limit the liabilities to the larger, influential corporations while essentially sticking the public with the ultimate costs of the oil spill. (note: not the costs of the BP oil spill cleanup, but the costs of the oil spill itself .. there will be no ultimate “cleanup”) This will come in the form of ruined investments all along the coast from Texas to Maine: commercial fishers, tour guides, beachfront property, vacation spots, sailboat rentals, whale watching tours – anything and everything that gets done on the beach or offshore from it. We must remember, after all, that corporate “persons” (they have the rights of persons, but not the responsibilities, essentially) are the first-class citizens here; politicians and lobbyists are the second-class citizens; and everyone else (that's us) is, well, not worth worrying about ~ at least from the perspective of them-in-charge.