Palin Says ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Was Right

From CBS News, an excerpt of a Palin twitter message:

“Extreme Greenies:see now why we push’drill,baby,drill’of known reserves&promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?”

There seems to be some revisionism going on; fortunately, electronic databases can highlight dissemblement or (perhaps too convenient) forgetfulness. Ms. Palin is now claiming that her “drill, baby, drill” statement did not refer to offshore drilling. Here are some quotes that indicate that she did explicitly refer to offshore drilling. From Media Matters, a quote from Palin in Loveland, CO, October 20, 2008.

And whether Joe Biden approves it or not, we will develop clean coal technology and we will safely drill for the billions of barrels of oil that are warehoused underground, including our offshore sources. We will drill here and drill now. (Cheers, applause.) Drill, baby, drill. Drill, baby, drill.

Regarding an inability to remember, here is an item from Reuters:

Ixtoc’s blowout caused the world’s worst ever oil spill. More than 140 million gallons of crude poured into the Gulf of Mexico, eventually washing up on beaches in Texas, hundreds of miles away. That is roughly three times more than what has so far spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

That disaster made plain what could go wrong in deepwater drilling. After all, it took Mexico’s state oil company Pemex PEMX.UL 297 days and the drilling of two special relief wells — the industry’s slow moving but only certain fix for blowouts — to intersect and cap the raging Ixtoc well, located in 150 feet of water.

But a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents related to the Ixtoc spill, as well as interviews with many experts, shows that regulators for years downplayed the possibility of a similar disaster occurring in the United States.

“I remember people saying ‘this would never happen if an American company was operating,'” said John Farrington, a retired researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who was part of a U.S. government-funded research cruise around the Ixtoc slick in September 1979. “There was a lot of wishful thinking going on.”

In fact, a combination of politics, money and hubris encouraged the industry to drill ever deeper. Warnings from researchers in the aftermath of Ixtoc that little was known about how crude spilled deep under water might behave or that runaway deepwater wells could be more challenging to cap fell on deaf ears.

It seems to me that we need to heed Jim’s point about the dangers of groupthink, technology-based over-optimism, and agency problems (managers taking risks exceeding that desired by shareholders) as well as externality issues [1] [2]. And to remember the past.

About Menzie Chinn 83 Articles

Affiliation: University of Wisconsin

Menzie Chinn is Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Visit: Econbrowser

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