One of the GOP’s “plans” for helping the US’s dependence on foreign oil has been trying to open up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. Skipping the debate for now on exactly how much oil we could actually recover from the area, the news yesterday that BP was shutting down their operations in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil field should be proof positive why it shouldn’t be considered.
The problems with BP started several months ago when it was discovered that they had spilled over 250,000 gallons of crude that went undetected for days. That spill led to the revelation yesterday that at least 73 percent of the pipeline needs to be replaced due to excessive corrosion. Not only does this shutdown affect 8 percent of our domestic crude oil production, it also shows that the oil companies are more concerned with their bottom lines than in protecting the environment in which they are operating.
A story by ABC’s Brian Ross reveals that BP hadn’t cleaned or even inspected the pipeline for at least 14 years. Other reports reveal that the pipeline is 29 years into it’s 25 year documented lifespan with no plans, until this problem, by BP to address it’s aging infrastructure.
“I would call it a catastrophic failure,” said Lois Epstein, an engineer and consultant for the Pipeline Safety Trust, an advocacy group. “They had 80 percent or more wall thinning, which is an enormous percentage, and it really never should have gotten that bad.”
So this is the type of corporate responsibility that we are placing the future of our environment on? Considering BP has long been touted as the “environmentally friendly” oil company, I’d hate to see the results of letting less “responsible” companies loose in ANWR. I guess BP will now have to use some of their record $7.3 billion in second quarter profits for something other than padding their corporate wallets while Americans will have to continue to endure soaring gas prices for some time to come.