Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fish Story: John McCain and the Oil Rigs

We really do pity politicians on the stump. They either offer endless iterations of the same points - Obama has recycled bits of his convention acceptance speech until they seem like tics - or they have to find a way to square too many circles to appeal to the widest possible audience.

But there are also unexpected grace notes. Here's McCain trying to merge offshore drilling with environmental concerns (we think):

And by the way, on that oil rig — and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this story — you look down, and there’s fish everywhere! There’s fish everywhere! Yeah, the fish love to be around those rigs. So not only can it be helpful for energy, it can be helpful for some pretty good meals as well. [We're not sure if McCain means good meals for the fish or for people who catch the fish - maybe both.]

This is kind of sweet and not a terrible way to bond with an audience. We couldn't find a study to show whether it's good, bad or indifferent for fish to cluster around oil rigs. But we would note that fish around oil rigs is not an argument to have oil rigs nor is their absence a reason not to have them. It sounds like an argument for the rigs' environmental friendliness, but it could also be an argument for their disruption of the ecosystem.

Plenty of people want offshore drilling, so there's no particular benefit to gilding the haddock. And since there doesn't seem to be evidence that the fish' presence means anything, the environmental argument floats away on the tide.

But it is charming, especially McCain's eagerness to talk about it. He's like a kid seeing his first shooting star.

2 comments:

Josh said...

Marine life just love offshore oil hardware. It's bloody annoying in fact. We have a video from a remotely operated vehicle inspecting a subsea well. Suddenly, this giant creatures straifs the ROV at close range. It was a whale scratching its belly on the flowline!

Since then, subsea engineer have had to designed the Xmas trees with extra beams on the cages so that the whales will first go for them rather than the flowline.

Anonymous said...

It sure does look like the blog author has has very negative views on offshore oil and gas production that are not backed up with any significant knowledge of how the environmental impacts compare with other energy sources, particularly energy for transportation applications. That's a bit of a concern for an advocacy blog on nuclear energy. Google "artificial reefs."