Gulf oil spill
Don't let us forget this disaster
As gut-wrenching as the photos are, I hope the St. Petersburg Times will continue placing pictures of wildlife impacted by the gulf oil spill on the front page.
Though poll numbers now show offshore drilling has fallen out of favor with Floridians, Charles Wohlforth (Relearning oil spill lessons, May 7) makes it poignantly clear that this disaster, like those before it, will be soon forgotten, even as the toxic fallout dooms coastal ecosystems for decades. Front-page photos of victims of the oil spill will make that forgetting less easy.
Cindy Maxwell, Clearwater
We still need the oil
Liberal columnist Thomas Friedman says no more messing with Mother Nature (End our oil addiction, May 6). A coal mine disaster; stop coal production. An oil drilling accident; no more drilling.
Hopefully, we can use mayonnaise or Wesson oil for our petroleum needs. Maybe we could all buy hamsters and put them on treadmills, but that would only solve our electrical needs.
What about all the plastics and the myriad of other products made from petrol? Everyone would like our country to be energy self-sufficient, but for now, we are tied to Middle East suppliers who are not our best friends.
Be realistic: Until we are able to produce energy by whatever means, we must use what is available to us.
Until then, shut up and drill!
Don Niemann, Seminole
Look to the oilmen
You printed an interesting collection of letters on May 6 regarding the BP disaster. One of your letter writers asked about a safety device, required by law in other parts of the world. I believe she was referring to an "acoustic trigger" which would have stopped the oil on the sea floor if the manual switch failed. In 2000, the Minerals Management Service said it was essential for all offshore drilling. However, that was before Vice President Dick Cheney replaced officials at the MMS with oilmen. (These were the same officials caught up in the sex, drug and alcohol scandal provided by the oil lobbyists a few years ago.)
In 2003, not surprisingly, the MMS removed the requirement for the acoustic trigger, which would have cost $500,000, claiming it was too expensive. I wonder what they think now?
Funny, too, that another letter writer blames President Barack Obama. I guess he forgets that Obama took office a little more than a year ago. They say memory is the first thing to go …
Jackie Gavrian, Brandon
Make safety a priority
The U.S. government should require oil companies to demonstrate tested, proven methods of containing oil well blowouts before issuing permits to drill. These incidents have happened before all over the world. We have over 3,500 oil rigs in the gulf, any one or more of which could experience the same accident at any time.
We need to be smart enough to know that accidents are going to happen and we need to be prepared. The up-front cost for safety compared to the catastrophic cost of this spill makes this an imperative.
Jeff Brown, St. Petersburg
Doing as little as possible
The upper management folks at BP are not fools, nor are they stupid. They have only followed procedures that work well:
A. Spend money on preventive safety measures only to the extent of a "token" that will satisfy regulators.
B. Let future administrations take care of future problems.
C. A and B are actually very safe bets for business due to the fact that a real crisis is not likely to come home "on your watch."
Shareholders would not have it any other way!
Alan Abele, Dunnellon
Methane triggered rig's blowout | May 8
The answer is in the wind
With this big debate over oil drilling off the Florida coast happening alongside a gulf oil spill, I have to ask the American public, "Would you rather see an endless source of more gulf oil messes like this, or would you rather allow a much cleaner and basically endless source of energy for our country's future?"
Wind power — something that I honestly think has a soothing appearance. The view of wind turbines spinning in the blowing wind is certainly much more soothing than watching cleanup crews attempting to mop up a big oil spill.
Jeff McElveen, Safety Harbor
Wind farm finally gets okay | April 29, story
This is what we need
Let me congratulate Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on his bold move to bring about the first major offshore wind farm project for our country! Despite opposition from various groups — isn't there always some opposition to new proposals? — I sincerely hope to see this one implemented soon.
The article said, "Advocates are hoping Cape Wind can jump-start the entire U.S. offshore wind industry." We surely need this kind of progress.
Bea Donis, Tampa
Obama honors coal miners, vows safety April 26
Disaster and sorrow
The forces of nature are always present in a mine. The forces of human endeavor to provide safety are limited. Yet where humans could make a better attempt at safeguarding against the always-present gases, it appears that a laxity in testing still prevails.
My father, Ilija, lost his life in March of 1925 when a blast in a mine in Fairmont, W.Va., shook the surrounding mountains. I was only 6 months old at the time and don't remember him. Every time I learn of a mining disaster, there is a sadness in my heart, knowing that there will be still another.
Milka Bamond, St. Petersburg
Soldiers deserve as much
The president gave a wonderful speech, and others waxed eloquent about the terrible loss of life in a West Virginia coal mine. And so it should be.
How about the loss of life and limb of our troops? I think the same, public outpouring should be held for them every week, or at least every month. Better yet, how about taking them out of harm's way?
John Culkin, St. Petersburg