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Panel Says U.S. Not Ready For Inevitable Arctic Oil Spill

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the we're-doomed dept.

Earth 95

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "As eagerness to explore the Arctic's oil and gas resources grows, the threat of a major Arctic oil spill looms ever larger—and the United States has a lot of work to do to prepare for that inevitability, a panel convened by the National Research Council (NRC) declares in a report released yesterday. The committee, made up of members of academia and industry, recommended beefing up forecasting systems for ocean and ice conditions, infrastructure for supply chains for people and equipment to respond, field research on the behavior of oil in the Arctic environment, and other strategies to prepare for a significant spill in the harsh conditions of the Arctic." Shortest version: no one has any idea how any spill cleanup techniques would work in the arctic environment.

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95 comments

So? (-1, Troll)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 3 months ago | (#46837107)

I expect I know how the mods will treat this, but - who cares? Why bother to clean it up at all? It will clot up and have negligible impact, and no one lives there.

Re:So? (1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 months ago | (#46837153)

If we judge by all the posters during BP's Gulf of Mexico spill, apparently puking vast quantities of oil into the sea is not only not bad, but is in fact very good.

Re:So? (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#46837209)

It's not an 'oil spill' it's 'petrochemical philanthropy'. In fact, BP should be allowed to write off the value of the crude they selflessly gave to gulf coast residents just as they would any other charitable donation.

Re: So? (-1, Troll)

Richard Paul (3122685) | about 3 months ago | (#46837477)

Canadian here. Keep your donation.

Re: So? (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#46837773)

Canadian here. Keep your donation.

Unpleasantly enough, gathering crude oil from floating slicks and contaminated beaches might actually be less destructive than extracting it from tar sands... Luckily, with the Harper Regime's war on science going better than most wars on abstract concepts, we should be spared the knowledge of whether or not that's true.

Silver lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837493)

By pouring it into the sea, they have prevented it from being burned and poured into the sky as CO2.

Re:Silver lining (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#46837543)

By pouring it into the sea, they have prevented it from being burned and poured into the sky as CO2.

Instead it's eaten by bacteria and such and released into the environment as CO2, without even the benefits of us burning it.

Re:Silver lining (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 3 months ago | (#46839777)

By pouring it into the sea, they have prevented it from being burned and poured into the sky as CO2.

Instead it's eaten by bacteria and such and released into the environment as CO2, without even the benefits of us burning it.

But you are not taking into account the benefit of the oil killing a bunch of CO2 creating (ie: oxygen breathing) marine life, surely that will balance that out.

Re:Silver lining (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 months ago | (#46839497)

How about the inevitability that volcanic activity will happen near or in an oil field?
How about the inevitablility that fracking will make scientists lie for money?
How about the inevitability that one day global warming will cause our highways to leech petrol products into the water supply as the roads turn to goo?
How about the inevitability that penguins will rule the world when we have destroyed ourselves by our trust in science?
How about a beer? Its noon somewhere and Ive run out of milk for cereal.

Re:So? (1, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46837239)

If we judge by all the posters during BP's Gulf of Mexico spill, apparently puking vast quantities of oil into the sea is not only not bad, but is in fact very good.

Hey, I wanted to nuke the oil spill. All you mother earth hating bastards wouldn't get behind me. I even started a facebook group and only 3 people joined.

Re:So? (0, Flamebait)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 3 months ago | (#46837521)

We can still nuke it, Alaska too.

Re:So? (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46837779)

Exactly. Why the hell are people modding down again? This is a great idea. If you people only understood science!

Re:So? (0)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 3 months ago | (#46837971)

That comment got me from terrible to just bad karma.

Re:So? (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 3 months ago | (#46842563)

That comment got me from terrible to just bad karma.

I just up-modded all of your comments, to help you out.

You can thank me later.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46839969)

wait wait wait - there are lots of people that want to nuke Ukraine first to prevent putirendum. We do that first then Alaska and then BP - do we go for HQ first or start with their oil platforms in the Gulf? Just wondering.

Re:So? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#46840949)

We can still nuke it, Alaska too.

Hah. Go ahead and try it [wikipedia.org] you turkeys! We'll just nip this bud right next to the branch. Even if you somehow manage to get past our defenses we have our own doomsday machine [theforbidd...wledge.com] .

And we have volcanoes. And lots of sharks.

Wriggle in fear you puny 'down southers'!

Re:So? (1, Insightful)

worik (107720) | about 3 months ago | (#46837203)

Who is "no-one"?

There is a lot of life in the arctic. I expect it likes living in sea water with out s thick film of decaying oil on top.

Golly....

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838181)

Who is "no-one"?

There ain't no white dudes up there man. In the Antarctic, there's white guys doing "science". Ya can't drill there. I'm sure that will change with some new Antarctic Free Trade Pact.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46840097)

Who is "no-one"?

There ain't no white dudes up there man. In the Antarctic, there's white guys doing "science". Ya can't drill there. I'm sure that will change with some new Antarctic Free Trade Pact.

Right. Being environmentally responsible costs money. Those poor CEOs would be discouraged from creating jobs because they could no longer afford a proper CEO lifestyle. Jobs are far, far more important than living in on a planet that's not one big sump of toxic pollution. That's why we send so many of them to third-world countries! It would even affect domestic employment. Who will speak out for the poor CEOs and H1-Bs?

Re:So? (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46837231)

Actually, I think you are somewhat correct. It will get very thick, and probably not harm the area all that much. But what happens when it floats south?

Re:So? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 3 months ago | (#46839761)

I expect I know how the mods will treat this, but - who cares? Why bother to clean it up at all? It will clot up and have negligible impact, and no one lives there.

Firstly, people do live there, they are an indigenous people called Eskimo. I suppose they just one more form of indigenous people that the US can shit on though in addition to the native Americans you stole a whole country from.

Secondly, the problem with "just leave it there" is it stinks from a moral standpoint. It is basically saying "we fully expect to make a huge mess of some other area of the planet an not cleaning it up because we cannot be bothered". If the US wants to carry on behaving in that manner do not be too surprised when more and more countries turn a blind eye to people training for terrorist attacks on the US, especially if those countries start getting hit by environmental fallout. How countries act on a global stage and how they are perceived has an impact on how likely they are have terrorist scum bags flying planes into buildings.

Inuit, Actually (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 3 months ago | (#46840565)

They're typically called Inuit, not Eskimo, unless you want to lump a bunch of other tribes into the mix. Eskimo is apparently a perjorative in Greenland, and is generally a term used by the clueless.

Beyond that, the Alaska Native peoples got something less of a raw deal than the rest of the indigenous populations. No one took their land, in most cases they reside where they have for milennia. Also, in the 70s when they put the pipeline in, they formed all Alaskan tribes into regional Native Corporations, so each Native is a shareholder and receives dividends. The corporations get preferential bidding on contracts, so mostly they don't do too badly, and there's a steady supply of free money for each shareholder, plus compensation from the State, a lot of free education and medical services, and other assorted benefits. They also were introduced to alcohol, firearms, and snowmachines, for what that's worth.

The guy you responded to is right, however: there are very few natives up there, less than 15,000, and they live a fair distance from the oil fields -- the nearest settlement, Barrow, is a 40 minute flight, according to Google.

And not to detract from the rest of your ranting, but this is actually a non-issue. [slashdot.org] I'm always down for a good anti-'merica rant, I'm something of an ex-pat, if I can really even be said to be from there, but let's find a different pretext, shall we?

Re:Inuit, Actually (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 3 months ago | (#46847443)

Beyond that, the Alaska Native peoples got something less of a raw deal than the rest of the indigenous populations.

Yup, but would that still be the case if we caused a massive oil leak then decided we could not be bothered to clean it up as only they lived there? I personally think not, even if they don't live near the spill I reckon you wouldn't have to kill to many animals with an oil slick to make it much hard for them to feed themselves.

What the parent poster was suggesting was pretty stupid, and I rather think that if you asked the average Innuit whether they mind me lumping them in with Eskimos while suggesting that we should do our best to avoid or at least clean up afterwards an oil slick on their lands they wouldn't mind too much :)

Re:Inuit, Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847485)

Did you perhaps read the other linked post which discussed reasons why this spill is unlikely, spills aren't that big of a deal, and this article is a big troll? Because in that context, you should probably quit while you're ahead.

Boo hoo (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about 3 months ago | (#46839971)

I just wish all the enviro-wackos would crawl back into the caves that they came out of. It's obvious that back in the cave man days, that not only did the strong survive, some of the weak minded ldiots did too!

WMD peddlers rendering planet uninhabitable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837113)

cleansing or remodeling they call it,, perfect balance addicts

wreck it rebuild it rent it back to us + interest (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837219)

nazi zion WMD on credit shylok prosperiterrorstory

The best reason for alternative energy (0)

hessian (467078) | about 3 months ago | (#46837155)

If we can make alternative energy work, that is.

Oil is... it's great, but there's a high cost, mainly air pollution which may cause autism [pbs.org] and heart disease [heart.org] among other problems.

The spills are disasters which cause ongoing problems [nytimes.com] for decades if not longer [cnn.com] .

In addition, the scarcity of the resource makes future wars, politics, etc. inevitable.

I'm looking for one of those reactor-type-devices from the end of "Back to the Future" that can deconstruct ordinary household waste and produce high amounts of energy. Were I President of the ol' USA, I'd slam resources into that before anything else but space exploration.

Re:The best reason for alternative energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837361)

air pollution which may cause autism

Lots of things "may cause autism". Why don't we figure out what actually causes autism before we do something unbelievably stupid?

Autism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46844995)

Lots of things "may cause autism".

Which caused yours?

Black Ice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837171)

Dangerous only if travelled upon. White bears and eskimos are all there is up there. They need to adapt. It's our oil.

What? Not enough Polar Bears up there? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837181)

Come on, just heard the polar bears out in it and have the sop it all up... Then you kill two birds with one, er, oil slick....

The Polar bears will become brown bears, which are NOT endangered in any way.. AND, the OIL will be gone.

You got to think OUT of the box on this kind of thing..

Same old cause (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837191)

Too many humans. Cut it down to 1-2 billion and a lot of problems just disappear.

Re:Same old cause (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#46837225)

Too many humans. Cut it down to 1-2 billion and a lot of problems just disappear.

Are you one of the ones whose selection criteria for the great cull are poorly defined, or one of the ones whose selection criteria are jaw-droppingly tasteless? They come in both flavors.

Re:Same old cause (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#46837275)

Did you know that mixing bleach and ammonia makes an amazing cleaning solution. Your going to want a lot of this stuff so get the two biggest bottles you can find.

Can you guess my selection criteria?

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837341)

Can you guess my selection criteria?

Folks who believe what they read on the internet?

Re:Same old cause (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 months ago | (#46837353)

Did you know that mixing bleach and ammonia makes an amazing cleaning solution. Your going to want a lot of this stuff so get the two biggest bottles you can find.

Can you guess my selection criteria?

People who didn't watch King of the Hill? I'd be in favor of killing them all off.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838111)

People who know the difference between "your" and "you're?"

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46839535)

He refers to them as "Graduates from UK universities"

Re:Same old cause (2)

Entropius (188861) | about 3 months ago | (#46837621)

Nobody has to cull anybody.

It turns out that education and economic development leads rapidly to a decline in the birthrate. This has happened everywhere, pretty nearly universally, with exceptions among certain insular religious sects that value both a very high birthrate and literacy like Mormons and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Re:Same old cause (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#46837469)

Too many humans. Cut it down to 1-2 billion and a lot of problems just disappear.

Am I correct in assuming that you do not believe that YOU are part of the 5-6 billion that should be eliminated?

Re:Same old cause (2, Interesting)

aevan (903814) | about 3 months ago | (#46838083)

There are methods for population control that exist beyond genocide. Just choose to not have kids. Of course people then whinge about freedoms and such so that idea isn't palatable as a law, but it DOES exist beyond "One Child" Policy...just give incentives. A tube-tied/snipped bonus, either gender, that pays out either lump or over time, whatever. Void by preexisting children. NOT void by adopting (get both? baby bonus and not having kid bonus?).

Won't help in third world/uneducated/religious moron areas, but you can solve that part by 1-educating/helping them, and 2-containing them until they solve themselves out (like rabbits do).

Re:Same old cause (3, Insightful)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 3 months ago | (#46838153)

figure out a way to make it socially acceptable for women to attend school and work outside of the home -- 99% of the problem solved right there. :(

Re:Same old cause (0)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 months ago | (#46838431)

> .just give incentives
You nailed it. But our priorities are exactly the opposite. And by listing how the priorities should be, I'll upset people.

But here are a few ways we could encourage lower birth rates.

Birth control should be subsidized. Abortions, The Pill, hysterectomies, and vasectomies should be free.

There should be an annual tax on the biological father and biological mother for each child they bring into the world. Child Tax Credits only apply to adopted/foster kids.

Conceiving and bearing a child while on welfare should disqualify the familty from welfare.

Re:Same old cause (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 3 months ago | (#46839155)

Birth control is subsidized. Abortions, the pill, hysterectomies and vasectomies are free. Oh, you mean in the US? Well, that's a different matter.

(Tragically) joking aside, the real way to decrease the world's population is to improve living conditions. The longer children live the fewer are needed to guarantee the next generation. As health & wealth increases, birth rates decrease. Medical and economic aid to developing countries is the key factor being reducing birth rates. In the developed world birth rates are already under control, and as we see developing countries becoming more developed, their birth rates mirror that.

Re:Same old cause (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 3 months ago | (#46839861)

Birth control is subsidized. Abortions, the pill, hysterectomies and vasectomies are free. Oh, you mean in the US? Well, that's a different matter.

This is called pragmatism. Not allowing poor people free or cheap access to birth control results in lots of unwanted kids to crap parents who don't really want to be parents, those end up costing a fortune when they grow up and are more likely to turn to crime.

You might think it morally repugnant to pay for someone to have an abortion, but that is far cheaper in the long term than a poor 16 year old single mom firing out 10 kids who all grow up into people we have to imprison for most of their lives as prison is so damn expensive. It also makes it much more difficult for the mother to decide she wants to make something of here life and go to night school or something in her twenties if she already has 2 kids before then and is on welfare.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46839835)

No, birth control should be subsidized in other countries and discouraged here. We don't want to disappear so other can inherit the Earth. We want others to disappear so we can inherit the Earth.

Re:Same old cause (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#46839723)

Note that the population projections ALREADY see the population beginning to decline later this century.

Just choose to not have kids

I take it, then, that YOU plan to have no kids? If so, we thank you for removing your genes from the gene pool.

If not, why not? If you believe that basically 85% of us should not have kids, what puts YOU in the 15%?

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838385)

You are incorrect and no active human means is necessary. Nature will find a way. It will be equitable in the sense that no human will direct it.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 3 months ago | (#46838131)

Too many humans. Cut it down to 1-2 billion and a lot of problems just disappear.

You first, motherfucker.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838367)

We all got it comin', kid.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 3 months ago | (#46838435)

Like I said.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838461)

It will come for you sooner than you think. It always does.

Re:Same old cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838605)

That's what I tell my dates.... Have to set the bar low... lol

Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837267)

Doesn't this mean that Russia and Canada also cannot cope with spills?

Re:Subject (2)

caseih (160668) | about 3 months ago | (#46837499)

Subject is appropriate. We're talking here about proposals to drill for oil in Alaska.

But yes Russia and Canada would also face similar problems with disasters in the arctic.

we aren't ready for (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837309)

the fucking beta Slashdot either, but that doesn't stop the site from forcing it upon users even when they specifically go straight to classic.slashdot.org

Australia is ready to save the penguins again (2)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 3 months ago | (#46837327)

The US may not be prepared, but they can take a note from Australia's efforts [snopes.com] when they needed to clean oil spills off penguins.

Re:Australia is ready to save the penguins again (2)

Mephistro (1248898) | about 3 months ago | (#46837529)

when they needed to clean oil spills off penguins.

That can be done in a fast and efficient way using flamethrowers

Re:Australia is ready to save the penguins again (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 3 months ago | (#46838115)

Yeah, but they probably wouldn't taste so good

Re:Australia is ready to save the penguins again (1)

SpockLogic (1256972) | about 3 months ago | (#46839707)

when they needed to clean oil spills off penguins.

That can be done in a fast and efficient way using flamethrowers

Anti Linux flamebait? Oh No.

ex Mobil exec says fracking can't be done safely (4, Informative)

The Real Dr John (716876) | about 3 months ago | (#46837355)

Retired Mobil Oil exec Louis Allstadt recently said that fracking can't be done safely with current technology. "Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed," said Allstadt, retired executive vice president of Mobil. http://www.timesunion.com/busi... [timesunion.com] This is similar to the situation with arctic drilling, but for somewhat different reasons. To do it right would require too much equipment and too many safety procedures to be cost effective. They would need to do the work quick and dirty to make a good profit. That is precisely what is happening with fracking, where gas companies have been exempted from the clean water act and other environmental protections. If they were required to comply, they couldn't afford to extract the gas. That explains the rush to frack, before the sweetheart deal is over.

Re:ex Mobil exec says fracking can't be done safel (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 3 months ago | (#46838139)

That explains the rush to frack, before the sweetheart deal is over.

There's elections coming up. Vote out the old bums, and vote in some new ones. If you can make the alternatives even sweeter for them, they'll show up at your door asking what they can do for you. At this point though, I still don't know what greases a palm better than oil.

Re:ex Mobil exec says fracking can't be done safel (1)

SirCowMan (1309199) | about 3 months ago | (#46839895)

One of the restraining forces to arctic oil exploration and drilling is actually the shale gas depressing energy prices to the point where it is, relatively, not worth the investment to go north. If the shale gas boom collapses, then it will be profitable to get the oil and we'll see more projects happening, but there will be no fast and dirty about it. There is simply no infrastructure to facilitate anything but massive long-term projects which can afford to build that out - not just to run an operation, but to get it set up in the first place. There is also a lack of commodity technology to facilitate willy-nilly expansion, it needs to be bespoke (today), which means long design/construction/testing timelines.

Only found deeply within the very bowels. (0)

ddt (14627) | about 3 months ago | (#46837427)

We've burned so much oil that we've melted the arctic, so we can get to more oil to burn, and we're worried about what happens if we spill a little bit of it instead of burning all of it.

I don't think anybody is prepared (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 3 months ago | (#46837435)

There are techniques/tools that are available to clean up spills however I don't think that anybody is truly prepared for a large scale oil spill anywhere on Earth.

At BP, we're sorry... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 3 months ago | (#46837481)

Oh, she'll take it.

is anybody else ready? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837541)

the title leads one to believe that the US is not ready, but that others are. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say NO ONE is ready for such an event?

Can we expect the Chinese to do better when they go to exploit while we're sitting around deciding we're the only ones who aren't ready?

Plenty of clues (2, Interesting)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 3 months ago | (#46837615)

Exxon Valdez [wikipedia.org]

Now, you extrapolate taking into consideration a more remote area with even worse access conditions, and the colder temperatures.

An extreme environmental disaster will be the result.

Re:Plenty of clues (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837681)

Except to the Republicans it will be a win. They love destroying new areas. That is why they love the Age of Exploration because it allowed them to rape and burn more of the world. Think about this fact. The USA still celebrates the rapist and genocider Columbus by worshipping him with his own US holiday. They love his kind. He started the movement that killed nearly 300 million nonwhites. That is what their kind lives for. As soon as an oil company destroys part of the arctic, that company will be heroes of whites in the USA. That is their way. That is what they are like. Their kind is disgusting.

blacks like cheap gas too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837997)

Be realistic. Not many people like oil spills, but they like lower gas prices that come from oil extraction. Lower gas prices are popular with all races in America, black, white, and hispanic.

Re:blacks like cheap gas too (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 3 months ago | (#46838173)

there's a subsets of whites (and apparently a few elected officials of mixed heritage) who would *love* to see higher gas prices :)
(le troll!)

Re:Plenty of clues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838769)

How do you explain Nigerians profiting from oil in their country? Is that the fault of white Republicans, too?

Re:Plenty of clues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837849)

Let's keep drilling in 10,000 foot deep water that is even more difficult to stop from leaking, spreads the spillage orders of magnitude faster, and impacts vastly large swaths of wildlife, then. The NIMBY mentality that professes to promote environmental consciousness just causes society to look further offshore for energy resources, drastically increasing the risk to the environment as a result. Don't start with "clean energy" propaganda until you accept nuclear power, or start typing your slashdot comments from a computer that had its rare-earth materials mined using battery powered mining equipment that was charged with wind/solar/whatever generated power, was assembled in a factory sharing such power technology, and came across an ocean in one of those electric cargo ships. (I'm ignoring the power that was required to build and maintain your home.) Mod me down, now, because I'm not living in the fantasy world that so many on slashdot seem to inhabit.

Re:Plenty of clues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838571)

Since the cleanup in the region failed and is still due as of this day, the government seems to have extrapolated by admitting they're not ready for that sort of disaster

Horseshit (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 3 months ago | (#46840495)

First, there is no such thing as eagerness to tap the Arctic, so I have no idea why this article exists; it's a big troll. The TAPS pipeline has had declining volumes [theoildrum.com] for decades. There's been talk (for years) of a gas pipeline but it's pretty much not going to happen, for a number of reasons that no one really gives a shit about.

Second, I'm from Valdez, Alaska. I was there for the spill, and for about twenty years afterwards. The long-term environmental impact is practically nil. Fish stocks recovered quickly, same with sea otter and sea lion populations, shorebirds, etc. The spill happened about twenty miles from my hometown. Yes, in a few beaches you can dig down and find a thin sheen of oil in the shale, but it doesn't seem to affect the critters much. Massive oil spills are not necessarily all that big of a deal.

Thirdly, the oil companies have small spills fairly often, and while the existing methods of cleanup may not scale, it's less of an issue all the time, and not necessarily the end of the world if it does happen. Also, there's not actually all that much opportunity for a large spill: we don't have gushers up there, or supertankers, and the pipelines can be shut down pretty quickly. They're monitored to some degree, usually with 'smart pigs' which travel inside the pipeline cleaning wax deposits and checking for damage. There was an incident a few years back where some drunken yahoo shot a hole in the pipeline, but it did not result in a large spill.

My sister works on the North Slope, in the oilfields. It's actually a really sensitive area environmentally, and the oil companies have to report even tiny spills. Also, it's really hard to build on permafrost without it melting and subsiding into a huge bog. You can't even drive cars on it without tearing it up, they use smaller golfcart type things most of the time. The wells and pads are as small as they can be. I'm not going to eulogize the oil companies for having a good environmental record up there, but they have been limited by the terrain, perhaps more effectively than regulations might have done.

This panel has its head up its collective ass, though, and this story is just trolling. It's not inevitable that there will be a big spill, and it's not necessarily a problem if it happens, and it's not something that we don't know how to deal with. There are a lot of current methods for cleanup that probably wouldn't work so well there, and I'm sure it's worth someone's time to figure out what the best way to clean up big oil spills in Arctic conditions, but "inevitable big Arctic oil spill" is just sensationalism. In other words, it's horseshit, and you've all been had.

Re:Horseshit (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#46841023)

Another Alaskan here (from SE) - just wanted to point out that the most popular bumper sticker in the state is a small black square that says "Cut, Kill, Dig, Drill". In those four words are the summation of the pretty much the entire of Alaska's ethos.....

Re:Horseshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46841273)

I disagree with the sentiment, personally, but not the prevalence of that opinion -- but I have never seen that sticker. In my experiences in Anchorage I think I'd say stickers supporting that Pebble Mine were most common, with stickers against being common as well.

posted anon for my own reasons

HAHA! Says who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837665)

Has there ever been a spill? What is your problem? We will deal with it if it ever happens. Because it won't.

Mega Skimmer Pump Ships (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837719)

There are ships that can completely encompass at sea another vessel and haul it from the water. What is needed around the globe are mega skimmer pump ships that are able to pump and transfer oil and petroleum leaking from source. Who wants to pay for these? Probably no one with any money, but do they owe the world a plausable solution to accidents on such a scale of disasters as what they describe to be inevitable? You are damn right they do. They are already scalping us at the gas pumps.

scratches my head wondering.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837825)

How y'all are gonna transport all that oil from Alaska south to the rest of your country anyways.
OH WAIT !! you will build a PIPELINE !!.
I am sure a new American pipeline running across Canadian soil with get a swift aproval.
heh.

All inclusive list of things us is ready for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837893)

war.

end of list.

Just think of the bears (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46837949)

So a few white bears become black bears.

And in related news... (0)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 3 months ago | (#46838069)

Panel says the average human being is not ready for the inevitable collision with a moving vehicle.

More military presense...and Canada..and Russia? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 3 months ago | (#46838135)

>> And if an emergency happens, there’s no infrastructure in place—no consistent U.S. Coast Guard presence...

Interesting. Related article covers Canada's and Russia's claims in the same area - the "Lomonozov Ridge"
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/... [www.cbc.ca]

The US already has a viable method (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46838849)

Let US companies off the hook, sue and "fine" foreign companies unmercifully. The logical extension of the process would be to sieze the assets of the foreign company entirely, using trumped up charges of fraud and corruption in the manner of the Russian Federation.

Any ecological collateral damage can be cosmetically managed with a small percentage of the proceeds.

There! Not so difficult, is it.

(prove yourself = industry. it fits...)

Tony Hayward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46839091)

"naughty voice" we're sorry

"we no longer fuck the Earth, we DP it"

Um.. (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 3 months ago | (#46839643)

...ok this is probably a stupid question, but why would such a spill be the US's responsibility any more than say, a spill off Madagascar?

Yes, certainly, if it's within the small share of US waters off Alaska, but if you look at territorial claims on the arctic it's a relatively small sliver that the US even optimistically claims. A far, far larger share of arctic waters would be the responsibility of Canada, Russia, and/or Norway - let them sort it out.

Re:Um.. (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about 3 months ago | (#46839833)

That's just ignorant. We all live on the same little Blue Planet, not separate Planets, as some would ignorantly wish. The responsibility rests with all Humans.

Re:Um.. (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 3 months ago | (#46878617)

But you're saying the EXACT opposite.
You're saying "we all live on the same planet, it's all our responsibility...unless there's an accident. In THAT case, it's America's responsibility."

Which is hypocrisy, I believe.

Re:Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46840599)

Because the US people are the ones using the oil. Or the oil companies doing it are based in the US. Or it will be drilled on the US claimed land first probably.

Solar panels, wind turbines, and battery electric cars are much easier than getting a few barrels of oil from the arctic...

Re:Um.. (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 3 months ago | (#46878781)

Who says Americans will be using the majority of the oil?
I'm not sure you have been paying attention, the US is net EXPORTER of oil now. Sure, we still import some, but we are largely now oil independent.

By that same logic, if the factory making iphones burns down, hipsters need to rebuild it?

This word you keep using..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46840029)

Who injected the word "inevitable" into this conversation? I see no predestined outcomes here.

Cold temps (1)

jhswope (716605) | about 3 months ago | (#46840827)

Oil would move slow and tend to remain in thicker layers. Sccop shovel and kitty litter?

Oil spill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46841815)

I dont mind oil exploration in the artic - after the cleaned every microgram of oil from the gulf and prince william sound and un-killed every bird, fish and marin mamal in those areas.

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