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Letter to the editor:

Oil spill is a numbers game

Tue, May 1, 2012 (2:01 a.m.)

Environmentalists, supported by the mainstream media, prefer to express the BP Gulf oil spill in gallons — namely, as a 200-million-gallon spill.

Petroleum traffic is normally expressed in barrels. But 200 million gallons sounds much more dangerous than the 5 million barrels that were spilled — which, by the way, is about the daily quantity of our petroleum imports.

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Discussion: 20 comments so far…

  1. Let's get back to work! The tree hugging EPA and environmentalists are crippling the economy and the job market. Since when does America let something like this hold us back? It's time to move ahead with drilling and production on federal lands!. Let's get moving Obama!.

  2. "Oil spill is a numbers game".

    Mr. Jeric obviously prefers to use volume units that make the BP oil spill appear less dangerous. But describing the spill in U. S. gallons is more descriptive to the general public because most have a mental picture of the size of a U. S. gallon. Many fewer people have a mental picture of a petroleum barrel.

    The volume of a "barrel" is also a commodity-specific unit and is not uniform. A barrel of petroleum is 42 U. S. gallons while a barrel of beer is 31 U. S. gallons. The term "barrel" is also used for cement and cranberries and both differ in size.

    Even with lipstick on the pig, the BP spill is a $**tload of oil.

  3. An oil spill is a bad thing and BP should be held responsible. It is also true that the world runs on oil and that isn't going to change anytime soon. We should invest in clean energy but we still need to develop and use our fossil fuels. That's a rational policy but it isn't the one we are following.


  4. Michael, How fast the world moves away from oil, urgently needed because of CO2 emissions from burning it, is impeded by attitudes such as yours. Besides, what you write is most likely irrelevant to the reality of using up a finite resource:


    "The "tipping point" for oil supply appears to have occurred around 2005, says Murray, who compared world crude oil production with world prices going back to 1998. Before 2005, supply of regular crude oil was elastic and increased in response to price increases. Since then, production appears to have hit a wall at 75 million barrels per day in spite of price increases of 15 percent each year.
    "As a result, prices swing wildly in response to small changes in demand," the co-authors wrote. "Others have remarked on this step change in the economies of oil around the year 2005, but the point needs to be lodged more firmly in the minds of policy makers."
    For those who argue that oil reserves have been increasing, that more crude oil will be available in the future, the co-authors wrote: "The true volume of global proved reserves is clouded by secrecy; forecasts by state oil companies are not audited and appear to be exaggerated. More importantly, reserves often take 6 -- 10 years to drill and develop before they become part of the supply, by which time older fields have become depleted."
    Production at oil fields around the world is declining between 4.5 percent and 6.7 percent per year, they wrote."

  5. Bob, So what do you call the economic activity generated by cleaning up the mess left behind by short sighted people polluting our common air, land, and water? In your world this is bad how?

  6. The oil companies are tax cheats and trashed the gulf of mexico. It's crazy to suggest these slobs will give us jobs. Don't let these bums touch anything they started two wars and crashed the economy.

  7. The number we should be most concerned about is 395; that is parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A green house gas which absorbs and emits infrared radiation warming the air. Burning fossil fuels causes this.

  8. What would be an acceptable amount of crude oil to dump in your backyard? Would a thousand gallons spread over the olive trees and date palms be ok? How about a mere 20 barrels? I'm sure the kids and the dog wouldn't mind.

  9. Rusty57: The natural gas molecule is fairly complex while CO2 is a very simple molecule. And, as expressed as a percent 395 parts per million would be 0.0395% or just over one third of one percent. Just an FYI.

  10. Republican oil bosses caused this spill and lied about the flowrate. I hope you lose the next election and some of you get locked up.

  11. I see Mike Kelly is saying he is driving an electric car powered by Solar electricity and would be willing to pay $10 a for a gallon of gas but it is not for me, though i do own a Hybrid Lincoln.. The Gulf oil spill was no big deal, the warm water bacteria ate up the oil and if you did not realize it there are many underwater natural, oil wells spewing oil everyday into the gulf. Alaska is where they need to be real careful because of that cold water, but drillers in the North Sea have what it takes to handle a spill, the real problem was President Obama would not let the oil recovery ships from other countries in the gulf, he was trying to keep the jobs Union. That was the FAILURE. Good luck living without Oil! You "green" stop the oil company" people have no clue! You can't have it both ways.

  12. pay some taxes oil company dead beats !

  13. Jim Reid enjoys being wrong:
    "What's the problem with motor oil?

    Oil doesn't dissolve in water. It lasts a long time and sticks to everything from beach sand to bird feathers. Oil and petroleum products are toxic to people, wildlife, and plants. One quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of water, and one gallon of gasoline can pollute 750,000 gallons of water! Oil that leaks from our cars onto roads and driveways is washed into storm drains, and then usually flows directly into a lake or stream. Used motor oil is the largest single source of oil pollution in lakes, streams, and rivers. Americans spill 180 million gallons of used oil each year into the nation's waters. This is 16 times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska!"
    From here:

  14. John Thompson starts to get to the problem of math innumeracy by conservatives but fails to note the error at the heart of such arguments. This would be that a small amount of a substance means it cannot do harm. Can anyone here think of substances in small amounts that can cause harm either individually or collectively?

    Meanwhile the idea that because CO2 is a small fraction of the atmosphere it is therefore incapable of being harmful is conclusively and completely debunked here: