Karl Rove always loves to attack enemies directly at their supposed strengths, thereby sometimes finding weaknesses. Charles Krauthammer follows Rove's playbook by trying to blame the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on environmentalists.
Like all people, environmentalists share responsibility with everyone else for our growing oil appetite, but to the extent they lead the way by consuming less, and helping find alternative paths, environmentalists share less of that burden.
Krauthammer blames environmental chic for sending us out into deep waters, but as he well knows, in many places, the big pools of oil are no longer on land, or even at shallow depths. The reason the Gulf of Mexico is the center of drilling is because that's where the big pools of oil are. Regulations aren't sending us there: a ravenous appetite is. To the extent that environmentalists have succeeded in restricting access to oil elsewhere, the suspensions have always been impermanent and subject to political whim. Constant vigilance is the price environmentalists and governments have had to pay to keep their shores free from filth. Inattention, as in the Gulf, means disaster.
So, blame the environmentalists if you please, but remember - right now, where environmentalists have greater sway, as in California, the shoreline is largely free of oil. That is not an accident:
Here's my question: Why were we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?
Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama's tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we've had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
So we go deep, ultra deep -- to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That's a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?
Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they've escaped any mention at all.