Wednesday, August 31, 2005

After The Flood

In the wake of the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration decided to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to help Gulf Coast oil refiners who are struggling with shipment losses. The timing couldn't be much better; the economy would be in much worse shape without some form of relief for the oil industry, and while I'd like to see gas prices fall a bit more, this is better than nothing. (It doesn't help that us West Virginians have to deal with an additional gas tax, but that's another issue altogether.) The tapping is a loan, meaning that the companies will be required to give an equal amount back to the government later

One thing that will probably get environmentalists in an uproar is that the EPA is going to temporarily lower diesel fuel sulfur restrictions and gasoline evaporation rules nationwide. Also, the agency will temporarily allow the sale of higher-polluting gasoline in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana because the hurricane states can't fulfill the Clean Air Act and still provide consumers fuel. Personally, I figure that this can't hurt too much in the short run and will likely help stabilize the gas situation. Considering that there isn't any electricity to get the refineries up and running in some locations right now, every little bit helps.

Also, it looks like one reason Bush hasn't tapped more oil is that the world is willing to do the work for him. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah pledged to boost output to 11 million barrels (from 9.5 million, insert pointless Michael Moore conspiracy theory here), and European nations are considering releasing their own stockpiles to help the markets.

But of course, the whole AP article underscores the gravity of the devastation in New Orleans. Towards the end of the story, a rather eerie quote from Bush to his advisors pops up in reference to the city:
It's totally wiped out.

I haven't had much time to watch live TV coverage of this, but what I have seen and heard is unreal. For more information on Hurricane Katrina, these are the best three places I've seen online for coverage: Drudge, Fox News, and the Washington Post. Fox and the Post both have links that will help you to help those in need.


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