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As I’ve stated before I don’t like to jump into issues as soon as they come up – that’s for the cable news people to do because they live on rumors and speculation. So I’ve been waiting to see exactly what the deal is with the awful oil-derrick accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

First, it seems to be an actual accident. These days the first thought in such a situation is “terrorism”. But apparently the cause was quite natural: a large “bubble” of methane gas came up through the oil well and caused the fire and explosion that sank the platform.

Second, it seems to be a genuine ecological catastrophe. The attempt to contain the spill failed, and both surface and sub-surface oil are headed for the southern U.S. coastline. The well head, almost a mile deep under the ocean, continues to release crude oil into the water at a rate of approximately 5,000 barrels per-day. This could increase to as much as 60,000 barrels a day according to British Petroleum. The initial attempts to cap the flow have failed. Divers can’t work at that depth, and so far attempts to repair or contain the damage using remote craft have not worked.

British Petroleum, the company that owns the well lease, have stated that the “industry” has always considered this type of disaster a very remote possibility – virtually impossible (according to statements made by a BP representative on CNN). The finger-pointing has begun now that it’s obvious this is a massive disaster, far larger than the Exxon spill off Alaska about two decades ago. The effects of that spill are still felt by the environment and economy of Alaska. BP blames the operator of the platform, a contractor working for the company. The Obama administration blames BP, though cautiously because Obama favors expansion of offshore drilling operations. The republicans are of course managing to blame Obama, in a self-serving “payback” for the criticism of George Bush’s response to hurricane Katrina.

The American people aren’t sure who to blame.

One thing is clear: offshore oil platforms that reach down to extreme depths to pull-up oil are a huge mistake. Selling the leases was a huge mistake, building the platforms was a huge mistake, and drilling the wells was a huge mistake. Similar deep well heads must be shut down.  I’m not saying all offshore drilling should be stopped, although I believe no new offshore leases should be approved.

Because the old saying is true: oil and water don’t mix, and neither do oil and beaches, oil and sea life, or oil and the local economies that are now threatened along the entire southern shore of the U.S.