In the vice-presidential debate last week and on the campaign trail today, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) — the person McCain has tapped as his “energy expert” — is repeating the absurd claim that oil and gas drilling is “safe” and “environmentally friendly.” Watch it:
But saying it’s so don’t make it so. Normal drilling operations cause significant pollution, environmental damage, and of course have tremendous global warming impacts. And frequent oil spills caused by global-warming-fueled storms mean that drilling is anything but “environmentally friendly.”
A new analysis by the Associated Press shows that Hurricane Ike “destroyed oil platforms, tossed storage tanks and punctured pipelines,” resulting in: “At least a half million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marches, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas.” The Coast Guard has responded to more than 3,000 pollution reports. “At times, a new spill or release was reported to the Coast Guard every five minutes to 10 minutes.”
Ike’s enormously destructive wreckage adds further proof that conservatives’ claims regarding the safety of offshore oil drilling are totally false. With the “drill, baby, drill” chant, conservatives repeatedly insisted that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita “didn’t spill a drop” of oil. Even the Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman, claimed that during Katrina and Rita, “there was not one case where we had a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment.” This is a lie: Those hurricanes caused 595 different oil spills, totalling 9 million gallons.
Sadly, the clear evidence of Ike’s environmental damage comes just days after House progressives caved to conservative pressure and allowed the ban on offshore oil drilling to expire, potentially clearing the way for hundreds of new rigs to be built — and for just as many opportunities for new oil spills to be created. As Palin might say, “Spill, baby, spill!“