Opinion Piece About Oil Spill Facts & Political Hyperbole

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Slogans.Image credit:Mothball Millstone, and various. In the face of an ongoing massive oil leak in the US Gulf, with likelihood of very serious economic and environmental consequences, opinion piece writers and bloggers should at least provide direct citations for facts, and hopefully, avoid hyperbole.

Factual mistakes can be forgiven if authoritative sources are used and referenced directly. It makes responding politely that much easier.

If key facts are left out of sight, it's hard for others to avoid the temptation of offering binary choices and throwing out hyperbole - demanding "banning" drilling when a temporary moratorium could suffice, for example. Here's an example of what I'm talking about, starting with who else? Fox News.In "The Risk To Our Environment Would Grow If We Stopped Offshore Drilling," a Fox News piece reported that: "the Gulf's 3,500 platforms produce 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, or 30% of all domestic production, and support more than 35,000 jobs."

According to the USEIA, which is the authoritative source: 'the Gulf's offshore production is 1.6 mbpd' (indicating an apparent typo by Fox with it's 1.2mbpd number).

More importantly, USEIA reported in it's latest fact sheet that 'total offshore Gulf production of crude oil provides 8% of liquid fuels consumed.'

The Fox writer also neglected to mention in his opinion piece the 6.0 mbpd of oil imported 'into the Gulf' daily and the fact that U.S. Total Reserves of crude oil are 19,121 mb, while U.S. Total Offshore crude reserves are 4,093 mb (meaning a total of 21% of US reserves are offshore).

I would like to know how much of the 4,093 mb of total offshore US crude oil reserves are thought to exist under a mile or more of overlying ocean water? Because really, that's the part of the reserve that requires an especially cautious approach and for which stronger corporate management systems and government oversight are most needed. Let's split the difference and assume the deep water covers half of the offshore reserves.

What we really are talking about then, if my assumption is close to right, is doing a better job at safely supplying around 4% of liquid fuels consumed in the USA. An offshore drilling "ban" might not be needed. How about a moratorium on deep drilling until the oil exploration technologies needed for that situation are proven safe and reliable under best available practices, and with a strong assurance of regulatory oversight?

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