Light, sweet disaster

I have to admit that I’m not quite sure if I should pat myself on the back or start chewing shoe now that the Louisiana oil spill shows just how dangerous off shore drilling can be. After all, I was pretty pragmatic back when Obama announced that he’d allow expanded drilling. “Will never see the light of day,” I thought, sure that this was nothing more than a political feint.

Still, I figured that the plan was to make sure than any expanded drilling came with enough bureaucratic costs that it would surely get so bogged down in process that no oil company in its right mind would ever even conceive of a serious attempt to drill for the pathetic amount of oil actually available. And so I supported the President’s announcement – very savvy, especially following the passage of the health care legislation.

And now we have an epic disaster on our hands. The benighted Gulf coast, still recovering from Katrina, now faces an ecological disaster that will capture imaginations for a generation, the Cuyahoga fire or Valdez wreck for the Twitter set. Will it change minds? Can Palin ever again utter her drilling mantra without irony, shame, or – at least – qualification? I doubt it, or at least I hope not.

The bigger question to me now is, how does this change the debate around energy policy? If Rahm Emanuel were Karl Rove, I’d almost say he’d blown up the oil rig himself, given the timing. I’m looking forward to the debate between the Red State fisherman and shrimpers along with the Red State property developers and the Red State governors and legislators versus the Red State oil interests. Talk about a wedge issue!

I’d say it would be fun to watch, but it’s a shame that it takes a tangible disaster like this for people to reconsider misguided opinion.