Sunday, June 13, 2010


Silver Lining

Some see big opportunities.

Many environmentalists have hoped that the tragedy of the Gulf Gusher might move (finally!) US society toward renewable energy. That indeed might be a "silver lining" but it's not really looking that way. Although one poll is noticing a shift in attitudes toward fossil fuel consumption, the main Gallop poll reported no significant shifts in its results for the month of May.

Indeed, President Obama has waffled on off-shore drilling and signaled mostly for more of the same:

"As Mr. Obama put in on March 31, “Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable homegrown energy.”

What exactly is "renewable homegrown energy?" Unfortunately, the only "homegrown energy" in the US energy matrix is corn ethanol. Corn ethanol has been severely criticized by scientists since a startling report in early 2008 indicated that it was probably worse for emissions and global warming than using gasoline.

Ignoring the science, Obama has maintained a cozy relationship with Midwestern agro-energy interests, especially since the time of the Iowa caucuses which were so critical to his drive for the Democratic nomination.

Now, with the pressure on to find non-fossil fuel energy source, the corn ethanol industry is lobbying for an even greater dependence and subsidization of its dysfunctional program and the Obama Administration is apparently moving toward an even deeper embrace. For the corn ethanol folks, this is more than a silver lining. It's a bonanza of boondoggle that won't solve anything.

And, in perhaps an ultimate irony, Brazil sees silver lining in BP spill: more rigs.

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 11 (Reuters) - Brazil could benefit
from the BP Gulf of Mexico spill as a U.S. moratorium on
offshore drilling boosts available rigs for the country's deep
water oil exploration program.

Even as an ecological catastrophe makes the future of U.S.
offshore drilling less certain, Brazil is plowing ahead with a
$220 billion five-year plan to tap oil fields even deeper than
BP's (BP.L) ill-fated Gulf well, which is still leaking crude.

With an estimated 35 rigs idled in the Gulf of Mexico,
Brazil is already receiving inquiries from companies looking to
move their rigs here, where vast discoveries in recent years
may soon turn the country into a major crude exporter.

"What is bad for some may be good for others," said
Fernando Martins, Latin America Vice President for GE Oil and
Gas, which provides services to drillers in Brazil.

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