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by Dustin Bleizeffer on March 15, 2011
Earlier this week, the call for keeping a cool head over the still unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan seemed equally as loud as the call for alarm. For good reason, nations are not — with the exception of Germany — scrambling to power-down their nuclear power fleets. Health care professionals in the U.S. were not recommending that everyone along the West Coast ingest a potassium iodide tablet.
However, there is such a thing as playing it too cool — especially a month or two from now. If a major radiation release is avoided, there will be a temptation to write off the Fukushima Daiichi accident as an inevitable part of doing business, and to regard calls for increased regulatory scrutiny as reactionary and a ploy for the anti-nuclear agenda. Call it reverse-reactionary syndrome.
Last spring the offshore oil and gas community declared their very future was in jeopardy when President Obama imposed a moratorium in response to the BP oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and ultimately dumped about 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Yet the moratorium, lifted in October, affected 36 exploratory rigs, and oil production was mostly unchanged during the moratorium, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
The oil and gas industry can make a case that increased regulatory scrutiny can slow new discoveries, but it’s unreasonable to insist the BP disaster did not justify a temporary moratorium to assess the situation. [. . . ]
It’s important to be realistic about our reliance on energy, and the difficult choices made in the cost-benefit analysis that goes into every energy source. In this debate there’s always somebody tempted to declare ‘isn’t all of society to blame for the Gulf oil spill and Japanese nuclear crisis?’
No, somebody should be accountable.
“There’s a reason we have these strong laws for environmental protection. They are not a plot to have government intervene in our lives. … The fundamental, underlying question is how to protect public health, and the public welfare,” said Bruce Pendery, staff attorney for the Wyoming Outdoor Council.
Environmental violations are serious, and they should have serious consequences. Whether the public response to Japan’s nuclear crisis will be a measured level of scrutiny, an emotional punishment or an overconfident rejection of industry reforms remains to be seen. [. . .]
Read the full story on WyoFile here.