Oil Sh%& Happens: Is It Worth It?

07/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Bill Chameides Dean, Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment

Crossposted with

As the deepwater oil spill arrives on the Gulf Coast, just some quotes to consider ...

On Offshore Oil Drilling

"It's absolutely worth it."

--Garret Graves, head of the Louisiana Governor's Office of Coastal Activities, as quoted in USA Today, July 2008

"Offshore drilling is the safest way to go. Those guys don't spill oil."

--Roland Guidry, oil-spill coordinator for Louisiana, as quoted in USA Today, July 2008

"As for offshore drilling, it's safe enough these days that not even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage from the battered rigs off the coasts of New Orleans and Houston."

--U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who campaigned for president in 2008 on a "drill, baby drill" platform, on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, June 2008

"A well thought-out [offshore] drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage."

--U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking to the Palm Beach Post as candidate Obama of his willingness to compromise, August 2008

"People are against [expanded on- and offshore drilling] because I believe on the left in this country what they want is a manufactured scarcity so that government can have the rationale to ration, which gives the government what the left wants, an ever more minute supervision of our daily choices."

--Pundit George Will, on Hannity & Colmes in response to an Investor's Business Daily report that concluded America's untapped oil reserves would be bigger than those from all Mideast countries combined, June 2008

"All [areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that have
been off
limits to drilling] should be available for exploration and production
without buffer zones, since these areas can be developed in an
environmentally safe manner with a minimal impact on coastal

 --American Petroleum Institute brochure [pdf], 2009

"Many fail to fully appreciate the tremendous strides our industry has made towards reducing our environmental footprint and improving safety and reliability of our operations. We have shown the ability to drill with precision and with minimal disruption to the environment. ... It is time the public debate on access in this country move forward."

 --Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO, February 2007

"We are all reminded of the need to be ever vigilant in the area of safety and environmental protection as a result of this tragic incident."

 --Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO, in response to the BP-Deepwater Horizon incident, April 2010

And Now Consider This ...

On Exxon Valdez Decades Later

"In some areas, Exxon Valdez oil still remains and is toxic. Some injured species have yet to recover to pre-spill levels. ... This long-term damage was not expected at the time of the spill. ... [T]he picture of recovery is more complicated than was first appreciated."

--Alaska Deputy Attorney General Craig Tillery, writing in the 2009 Status Report [PDF -16 MB] on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) called in June 2009 the "worst environmental disaster in U.S. history"; 2009

On Opening Up Drilling Off Alaska's Coast

"This is progress."

--Sen. Lisa Murkowski on the Interior Department's decision to green-light Shell Oil's exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea, a move that opens the door for production in a new Arctic region, December 2009