Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wait, wasn't offshore oil drilling so safe even Hurricane Katrina couldn't cause a spill?

Original Link:

By Karl Frisch

In 2008, one of the most common lines of misinformation used by media conservatives favoring the lifting of the moratorium on certain offshore oil drilling was the false notion that no oil was spilled offshore as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Their strategy was quite simple...if they could convince people that there was no oil spillage offshore, even during the havoc brought by Hurricane Katrina, then they could convince people that offshore drilling was relatively safe for the environment.

Drill baby, drill!

As Media Matters noted in its 2008 myths and falsehoods about oil policies:

Proponents of lifting the moratorium on certain offshore drilling have on several occasions falsely claimed that no oil was spilled offshore during Hurricane Katrina -- with no challenge from cable news anchors; at least one Fox News contributor has also made this false claim. In fact, as Media Matters has noted, a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) by the international consulting firm Det Norske Veritas found that damage related to Hurricane Katrina resulted in 70 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume spilled of approximately 5,552 barrels of petroleum products. The study specifically identified damage from Katrina to 27 platforms and rigs that resulted in approximately 2,843 barrels of spilled petroleum products. The combined impacts of hurricanes Katrina and Rita on outer continental shelf structures in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the report, were "124 spills ... with a total volume of roughly 17,700 barrels of total petroleum products."

On Fox News' Fox & Friends, former Republican presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee falsely asserted, "When Katrina, a Cat-5 hurricane, hit the Gulf Coast, not one drop of oil was spilled off of those rigs out in the Gulf of Mexico." The claim has also been promulgated on MSNBC. NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell has twice allowed guests to claim that Hurricane Katrina did not result in any oil spills. On the June 24 edition of MSNBC Live, Mitchell did not challenge Sen. Richard Burr's (R-NC) false assertion that "there wasn't a drop" of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico due to a Category 5 hurricane. And during a July 15 interview on MSNBC Live, Mitchell did not challenge energy lobbyist and former Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) false claim that "[w]e didn't have one drop of oil spilt when we had the biggest hurricane in, you know, recent history, Hurricane Katrina."

However, on the July 17 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor David Shuster did confront McCain senior policy adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer about her past use of the false claim on MSNBC. Shuster said: "Earlier this week on this program, though, you defended offshore drilling and said, quote, 'We withstood Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and did not spill a drop.' In fact, the U.S. Mineral Management Service said that Katrina and Rita caused 124 offshore spills for a total of more than 743,000 gallons of oil and refined products spilled. So, Nancy, do you want to take back what you said?" Pfotenhauer replied: "Right. Well, I actually do. I was misinformed, and my embarrassment aside, the point is still that we had a remarkable performance."

Yes, they were completely wrong and willful in their misinformation though I doubt they lost any sleep over it -- what are a few lies between friends? Perhaps it isn't surprising then to see relative silence from the right-wing media chattering class over one the worst oil rig disasters in decades that occurred on April 20 just off the Gulf coast of Louisiana.

Sure, Fox News has run some reports on news from the Gulf coast spill but where is the back peddling on the misinformation that was once so rampant in right-wing media circles? I guess we shouldn't hold our breath to see any conservative radio talkers, pundits or Fox News hosts admitting that they were wrong back in 2008 -- after all, that would be the right thing to do, and they can't do that now can they?

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