Palin on oil spill: We must continue to drill, baby, drill

A noble effort, especially given Alaska’s experience with the Valdez, but I think she’s fighting a losing battle here.

As an Alaskan, I can speak from the heart about the tragedy of an oil spill. For as long as I live, I will never forget the day the Exxon-Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef and millions of gallons of North Slope crude poured into the waters of our beautiful Prince William Sound. The spill was devastating to so many Alaskans who, like my own family, make their living on the water from our commercial fishing industry. “Heartbreaking” was the word my husband Todd, an Alaska Native and trained oil spill responder, used to describe the scene as we watched it unfold on land and water that we feel is sacred…

In the coming days, there will be hearings to discover the cause of the explosion and the subsequent leak. Actions will be taken to increase oversight to prevent future accidents. Government can and must play an appropriate role here. If a company was lax in its prevention practices, it must be held accountable. It is inexcusable for any oil company to not invest in preventative measures. They must be held accountable or the public will forever distrust the industry…

All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.

The White House insists that Axelrod was misinterpreted this morning when he said there’s a freeze on new drilling; apparently, production drilling that’s currently in the works is still okay. I’ve got a feeling that position won’t hold, though. This harrowing AP story on the spill makes the case — convincingly — that it could be one of the worst man-made environmental calamities in modern history, like some sort of oily Chernobyl. The type of oil that was being drilled is especially crude and gooey; the type of marshlands at risk in Louisiana are especially fragile and hard to clean; and because the exploded part underwater is actually a live well, there’s theoretically no limit to how much oil can leak from it. Unlike the Valdez, whose supply was finite, it’ll just keep bubblin’ up until they cap it. (That’ll be the argument for why we need to go back to importing oil instead of drilling our own.) Louisiana’s already opened shrimp season early to let fishermen catch what they can in case the local supply gets wiped out. How do you think the “drill, baby, drill” movement will be doing a month from now if there’s a small black sea growing in the Gulf of Mexico?

More good news: Apparently there are three separate breaks in the rig from which oil is flowing. Experts say that’s not a sign that the riser will collapse and that the flow will increase, but stay tuned. As for the politics of it, our liberal betters who blamed George Bush for every misfortune to befall the world for eight years are now on the lookout for crazed wingnuts attempting to blame this somehow on Obama. I won’t take the bait, but do read lefty Michael Roston’s post on how the federal agency charged with policing oil producers has been preoccupied lately with … green energy.

Update: CBS notices that, aside from Palin and Bob McDonnell, Republicans are being awfully quiet about further drilling thus far.

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