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How Oil Drillers Saved the Whales

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Watching a parade of migrating whales as they leap and frolic in the warm waters off Honolulu, it’s worth remembering that these creatures owe their very survival to a much-derided 19th century Pennsylvania oil driller named Edwin Drake. His story should reassure present-day pessimists of the near miraculous power of technological advancement and pursuit of profit to save the environment.

That power is often obscured by controversies that seem to suggest an inevitable conflict between development and technology on the one hand and efforts to protect the environment on the other. The ferocious fight over the Keystone XL Pipeline offers only one prominent example, but the unheralded history of U.S. oil production provides a crucial corrective.

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Read the full column in USA TODAY.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Bourgeois Views  •  Feb 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    The mining and oil companies make all kinds of statements about how safe their methods are, and then when we find out there’s still a problem, there’s nothing that can be done to correct it. That’s usually after the particular project has finished getting what it can out of the ground, no longer has revenue, and has gone bankrupt. The end result is that government has a big mess and no funds for cleaning it up. So if environmentalists seem a bit unfair in their criticism of the Keystone Pipeline, that’s why.

    • Dan  •  Feb 22, 2014 at 2:01 am

      But you forget that the government doesn’t clean it up. The corporations that made the mess clean it up. If we keep the government in the role of the enforcer and regulator rather than the innovator, we’ll continue to evolve and improve. A regulator is a POOR innovator.

  2. Tom M.  •  Feb 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Environmentalists, Democrats, Liberals, Progressives….whatever, they all have the same mindset. No matter what the facts are, they stick their heads in the sand, and continue that same old lame story, let the government take care of it. Where has that led to positive results? Department of Energy (they don’t produce any energy), HUD, with a 50 billion dollar budget (they don’t build housing), The United States Post Office (how are they doing), Amtrack, Obama Care…you could go on and on. “A fact, to a toe-tag liberal, is like Kryptonic to Superman.” Yes, let the government take care of it, all we have to do is to borrow more money from the Chinese, and of coarse let’s take it from the rich…the 99 %

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