Sharper pens than mine are writing extensively about the oil spill. They're doing a fine job of pointing out how the federal government has done everything but improve the situation. One thing I haven't heard much about though is this: water weighs eight pounds to the gallon.
So what? Why do I bother pointing out what every third grader knows? Because at eight pounds to the gallon, water exerts a tremendous pressure when you work at a depth of a mile. Everything you do, if you park a rig, drill a hole, a sink pipe - and whatever else needs to be done to extract oil - over that kind of depth, must be done in an environment that exacts mind-boggling pressure and complicates the simplest operations exponentially. A gushing well in shallower water would be much more easily capped because, working at decreased pressure depths, there is a wider range of equipment that is available to apply to the task.
Do oil companies not know this? Of course they do. They spend millions on research and development of the kinds of equipment that will function in that environment, and they spend millions more hiring the kinds of people who are willing to live on those lonely rigs.
Why in the world do they work at such depths then? Are they stupid? Why don't they drill in shallower waters where risks are lower and ruptures are more easily fixed?
Of course they're not stupid. They would gladly drill closer to shore where the depths are less and the risk is lower and their people are closer to home - but the environmental lobbies have made it impossible to drill close to shore.
Ironic, isn't it?