The online journal of Vermont filmmaker, Bill Simmon.

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A Little Perspective

Posted on Jun 23, 2010 by billsimmon in politics | 2 Comments

Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent environmental disaster, President Obama understandably enforced a moratorium on new deep water oil rigs until we can find out why this one failed and, ideally, how we can deal with the situation a little better should it ever happen again. Yesterday, federal judge Martin Feldman imposed an injunction on the moratorium, explaining [PDF]…

“The blanket moratorium seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.” … “If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?” … “The court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium.”

Putting aside the fact that nobody is saying all drilling equipment parts are flawed and putting aside his honor’s well publicized ties to the oil industry, let’s consider another situation.

Remember January 1986? The space shuttle Challenger exploded a few minutes after takeoff killing its seven occupants and destroying the expensive vehicle. NASA didn’t launch another space shuttle for nearly three years following that incident. Why? Because the government didn’t know why the accident had occurred and they wanted to find out and fix the problem so that another shuttle didn’t explode for similar reasons. Three years. And the Challenger explosion didn’t cause the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In this light, maybe the president’s six month moratorium on new off shore oil platforms deeper than 500 feet doesn’t seem so egregious.



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  1. On June 24, 2010, Katie Levin said:

    Great analogy, Bill. I really like this.

  2. On July 18, 2010, JT said:

    Kinda late on this, but another analogy would be how Bush grounded all air traffic on 9/11. I mean, clearly not ALL planes were hijacked and posed a threat. But clearly the situation called for shutting everything down and getting things sorted out before anything else happened.

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