Iowa Public Television

 

Ethanol Leader Dinneen Calls Oil Well Disaster "Teaching Moment"

posted on May 6, 2010


Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. A surge in hiring typically bodes well for the economy. Last month, however, job creation was tempered by rising unemployment.

According to the Labor Department, U.S. employers added 290,000 positions to their payrolls in April, in the biggest monthly hiring spree in four years. Nevertheless, the nation's unemployment rate increased to 9.9 percent, primarily, because more than 800,000 jobseekers resumed searching for work.

Earlier in the week, the Commerce Department reported orders to U.S. factories rose 1.3 percent in March as widespread gains in numerous industries offset a steep decline in demand for commercial aircraft. Stripping out the volatile transportation category, factory orders increased 3.1 percent, to post their largest monthly gain in more than nine years.

Wall Street appeared to look past this week's reports focusing, instead, on Europe's spreading debt crisis. The trouble overseas -- -- coupled with alleged trading glitches -- -- sent the Dow Jones Industrials plunging nearly 1,000 points Thursday. Trading remained volatile on Friday, but when the dust settled, the Dow closed out a frenzied week with a loss of more than 600 points.

Shares of BP have declined about 20 percent since a fatal explosion and fire sank one of the company's oil rigs in mile-deep waters off the coast of Louisiana. In the wake of the accident, millions of gallons of crude have seeped into the Gulf threatening to make it the worst U.S. oil disaster since the Exxon Valdez.

Ethanol Leader Dinneen Calls Oil Well Disaster

More than two weeks ago, a catastrophic explosion and fire struck BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers were killed and millions of gallons of oil began leaking from the well more than a mile below the surface.

Tallying up the cost to both environment and economy has barely begun. It is already clear the damage will reach well into sensitive ecosystems on the Southern coast of the United States located 40 miles away from the doomed rig.

Sec. Ken Salazar, Department of the Interior: "We have to do everything that is humanly and technologically possible to stop this leak at the well. That's a BP responsibility and we are doing everything we can to make sure that the technological resources of the world are right there, making sure that the hole, that the well does get plugged."

The 2,000 square-mile oil slick has already caused the shutdown of the gulf's richest fisheries. According to the Louisiana State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the region's aquatic industry is worth $2.6 billion-a-year and supplies 25 percent of the seafood eaten in the continental United States.

There is some discussion about when or if the shipping lanes will need to be closed. U.S. government officials have already stated they will balance the facilitation of commerce with the potential environmental impact of the spill.

Experiments with subsea dispersants and burning of the slick are already underway. A four-story tall dome dispatched by BP is being lowered over the well in hopes of capturing the free-flowing crude.

Oil industry experts believe the spill will have no effect on crude prices over the next few months. Though there has been a rise in prices at the pump, the move is being credited to the annual spring increase and not the mishap in the gulf.

There are some who see the tragedy as an opportunity. Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen is urging President Obama to use the accident as a "teaching moment." Dinneen believes the incident requires both an aggressive short term response and a comprehensive long term energy and environmental strategy.

In a statement, Dinneen said

Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association "The juxtaposition of a green American farm field and the copper-toned oil slick spreading across the Gulf is striking....We may never know exactly what caused this particular offshore tragedy. But we surely know that our nation's relentless pursuit of petroleum has economic and environmental consequences that only a more balanced energy policy can address."

Dineen went on say the EPA should grant a full waiver for 15% ethanol blends as soon as the Department of Energy testing on catalytic converters is completed early this summer.

It remains unclear how much longer it will take BP to get the spill under control and when the full extent of the damage will be known.

 


Tags: biofuels BP disasters ethanol Gulf of Mexico news oil oil spills renewable fuels