* Santa Barbara Channel oil platform blowout (1969): 90,000 barrels off the California coast;
* Mega Borg tanker (1990): 121,400 barrels in the Gulf of Mexico off Galveston, TX;
* Exxon Valdez tanker (1989): 250,000 barrels along 1,300 miles of untouched Alaska shoreline; * Ixtoc 1 oil platform blowout (1979): 3,500,000 barrels in Mexico’s Campeche Bay;
* Saddam Hussein oil field sabotage (1991): 857,000,000 barrels in Kuwait;
* Natural seeps in US waters: 1,119,000 barrels every year from natural cracks in the seafloor.
What should we do next? Recognize that life, technology and civilization involve risks. Humans make mistakes. Equipment fails. Nature presents us with extreme, unprecedented, unexpected power and fury.
Can we afford to shut down our domestic oil and gas industry – economically, ecologically and ethically – and import more, as we export risks to other countries, and shift risks from drilling accidents to tanker accidents? Can we afford to replace dozens of offshore rigs with thousands of towering offshore wind turbines, creating obstacle courses for ships laden with bunker fuel or crude oil?
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.