Kent Bush: Offshore drilling always a matter of risk and reward

Kent Bush

Policy decisions shouldn't be made based on anecdotal evidence.

British Petroleum's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has led to a change in attitude when it comes to offshore drilling.

A couple of years ago, Republicans chanted along as Sarah Palin led the "Drill, baby, drill" cheer.

Now, as black gold washes onto the shores of Alabama and Lousianna as though a cosmic Jed Clampett had missed a shot at a huge rabbit on the ocean floor, proponents are silent at best.

Because Palin backed the idea, Democrats were against it. That is until President Barack Obama recently decided to broaden the area where offshore drilling is allowed. But when the unfortunate explosion produced an oil slick that will damage fishing grounds and wildlife habitats for years, politicians began running for the hills.

Obama immediately put an end to the expansion of offshore drilling projects. California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also removed his support from expansion because he doesn't want any black sand beaches on the west coast.

Offshore drilling was always a matter of risk and reward. We need the oil and the oil is there. If offshore drilling is a good idea when gas prices are climbing toward $4 a gallon, then it should still be a good idea when the Gulf Coast is hosting a Texas Tea Party.

Were experts unaware of the possibility that an offshore rig could fail in any of several ways causing just this sort of problem?

Forgive the sports analogy, but under this logic, the first time Drew Brees threw an interception, the New Orleans Saints would never have passed again. That logic wouldn't win a Super Bowl.

If it is a bad idea when oil is killing oysters, then it was a bad idea before. If we thought the oil we gained was worth the slight risk of a catastrophic rig failure, then it is still a worth it even though the worst-case scenario happens to be today's reality.

One incident - no matter how good or how bad - is not enough to establish a policy.

He knows what he doesn't know

My son is only six but he argues like a cable television news anchor.

It doesn't matter what his mother or I say, his answer starts with "But mom." or "But dad."

No matter which expert fatherly advice I give or how hard I work to train him in how to properly respond, it hasn't made a dent in his genetically predetermined thick skull.

So when we headed to tee-ball practice he was trying to explain where one of his friends lives. It is an apartment building. There are five apartments all on the ground floor.

Blake assured me that apartments were tall and he continued to search for a more suitable description than I could find.

I couldn't do anything but laugh. I explained to him that I understood his point but just because some apartment complexes are tall, doesn't mean all apartment buildings are tall.

Blake was upset that he seemed to be coming up on the wrong side of this argument.

But it isn't his fault. Those darn public schools are failing him.

"Look, Dad!" he yelled incredulously. "I don't know a lot of things. I'm just in kindergarten and they didn't tell me that in class. OK?"

Apparently, Robert Fulgham was wrong. It appears he needs to know some things that he won't learn in kindergarten.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta Gazette in Augusta, Kan. Contact him at publisher@augustagazette.com.