The BP oil spill in the Gulf is doing unmeasurable damage to the local economy and ecology of the region. Are government efforts geared toward making undersea oil extraction safer or cleaning up the damage done?
Not really. Pres. Obama's BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission instead seems primarily focused on ending America's "addiction to oil" and a disaster like this is a heel-clickingly delightful way to frame the debate to advance that agenda.
Given that the first order of business should be fixing the problem and cleaning it up, it is strange that 5 out of the 7 members have zero experience in either engineering or science - it's positively George Bush-ian in its anti-science agenda, except for Bush it would have been pro-oil people and for Obama it is people who hate the industry. Neither is acceptable, though Bush's anti-science moments certainly got more attention from the science community.
Granger Morgan, who is head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University and an Obama campaign contributor but apparently not aggressive enough for the panel, said there needs to be more technical expertise and "folks who aren't sort of already staked out" on oil issues. Meaning they hate the industry and want to be in sound bites teeing off on Mr. Bean, or whoever the heck is running BP now.
An environmental activist makes their living hating oil the same way the oil industry makes money loving it so the value of Frances Beinecke of the the Natural Resources Defense Council is questionable when the goal is to fix industry practices. What are her credentials? She is most famous for the now-debunked and never-peer-reviewed Alar apple scare 'study' which cost Washington state apple growers $125 million with its hysterical diatribes on a problem that did not exist. Who did she blame for that fiasco? The media, of course, not the NRDC's agenda-driven junk science.
The commission does have a Republican, William K. Reilly, Environmental Protection Agency chief under President George H.W. Bush, so it can be called bi-partisan, and Reilly insisted on technical expertise clearly lacking on the panel itself - so he is getting information from a 66 member group of actual experts headed by Bob Bea, petroleum engineering professor at U.C. Berkeley.
Cherry Murray, Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, at least has engineering in her title, though her degree is in optics. One environmental scientist, one engineer and 5 people with an anti-oil agenda are not a sign that the government is interested in fixing the problem as much as engaging in the usual political theater.
Should The BP Oil Spill Be A Weapon In The Culture War?