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Oil's hidden costs visible, but will it matter?

May 5, 2010 7:00:00 AM - thestate.com
America is seeing the usually hidden costs of fossil fuels - an oil spill's potential for huge environmental and economic damage, and deaths in coal and oil industry accidents.

But don't expect much to change. America and the world crave more oil and coal, no matter the all-too-risky ways needed to extract those fuels.

"We are absolutely addicted and we have no methadone. All we have is the hard stuff," said Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. "The reality is we're on it, this incident has happened and what we have to do is figure out how we can move forward."

The United States is increasing its dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. And more domestic oil has to come from offshore because the land is producing less. The alternatives of renewable energy aren't cheap and aren't progressing quickly despite three decades of energy crises and legislation.

Oil industry officials, such as former Shell Oil Co. President John Hofmeister, see the well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico as defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. A Democratic president had just opened up to drilling areas of U.S. coastline that once seemed untouchable. "Drill baby drill" has been replaced with the phrase, "Whoa, there."

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)