RALEIGH – Ladies and gentlemen, you’re N.C. House Minority Leader Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake):
— Darren Jackson (@JacksonforNC) August 20, 2018
While it’s pretty clear there are a lot of political questions the House minority leader doesn’t properly understand, in our view, there are a few things worth pointing out about this tweet.
How did Rep. Jackson get to the beach? A car?
Aside from the obvious irony of protesting the extraction of fossil fuels off the coast while traveling to the coast using fossil fuels, taking that car ride from Raleigh to one of North Carolina’s fine beaches sounds…well, risky.
A quick search reveals that the lifetime risk of dying in car crash was about 1 in 645. Yet Mr. Jackson still got in his car, presumably with his family, and traveled more than 100 miles to the beach and back? Why would he want to risk a catastrophe for a trip to the beach?
Well the answer is simple – he, or someone in his family, driving the car is a (again, presumably) a rational actor with a faculty of spatial awareness and judgement such to minimize risk of accidents, maximize safety, and adjust to unforeseen dangers.
In short, the risk of the car ride is worth it, because humans can adapt to minimize danger or undesirable outcomes. Everyone instinctively knows this, and that’s why they take the risk and get behind the wheel of a car nearly every day.
The reward -our incredible beaches. We genuinely hope the Jackson family enjoyed the trip.
So let’s look at offshore oil drilling – what’s the risk?
According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the lead federal agency charged with improving safety and ensuring environmental protection related to the offshore energy industry, primarily oil and natural gas, on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (exactly where N.C. offshore drilling would take place), the rate of oil spills and extraction accidents continues to be incredibly low.
The last available report published in 2016 (the next is scheduled for 2020) shows a remarkably small amount of risk in offshore drilling.
“No additional large spills impacted the spill rates for OCS platforms. The volume of oil handled has increased, leading to spill rates for OCS platforms continuing to decrease for spills ≥1,000 bbl.”
That’s per BILLION barrels of oil. The current level U.S. production is north of 3.5 billion barrels in a whole year.
“The rate, calculated at 0.22 spills [of greater than 1,000 barrels] per billion barrels (Bbbl), adjusts for trend early in the spill record by excluding spills prior to 1974. The rate for spills ≥10,000 remained steady at 0.06 spills per Bbbl when examined over the same period.
When comparing the most recent 15-years data (2001 through 2015 data) to the 1996 through 2010 rates in Anderson et al. (2012), spill rates remained at 0.25 spills per Bbbl for spills ≥1,000 bbl and 0.13 spills per Bbbl for spills ≥10,000 bbl. These rates include a spill from Hurricane Rita (2005) and the Macondo well spill in 2010.”
So, the answer to Rep. Jackson’s question is just as simple as why he chose to absorb the risk of a car ride to the beach. Actually, it’s even more simple because the risks are so much lower.
Many reasonable people, and lots of them that live and work on the coast, understand that the risks are small and are mitigated further everyday by human ingenuity. In exchange, people are able to drive their gasoline-powered cars, on roads made of petroleum, to jobs and vacations and stores that are all more productive, relaxing, and rewarding because of our responsible exploitation of the natural resources right beneath our feet.
They are not for “risking it.” They are for safely utilizing it for prosperity, jobs (that don’t involve dependency on catering to tourists), economic growth, quality of life, and on, and on.
Democrats would do well to understand this, but then it might be too ‘risky’ for their political careers on the Left.