Want to promote ocean biodiversity? Increase offshore drilling.

Put this on the list of “I thought people knew this already:” offshore oil platforms are havens for marine life.

The original plan, mandated by federal environmental “experts” back in the late ’40s, was to remove the big, ugly, polluting, environmentally hazardous contraptions as soon as they stopped producing. Fine, said the oil companies.

About 15 years ago some wells played out off Louisiana and the oil companies tried to comply. Their ears are still ringing from the clamor fishermen put up. Turns out those platforms are going nowhere, and by popular demand of those with a bigger stake in the marine environment than any “environmentalist.” Every “environmental” superstition against these structures was turned on its head.

Marine life had exploded around these huge artificial reefs: A study by LSU’s Sea Grant college shows that 85 percent of Louisiana fishing trips involve fishing around these platforms. The same study shows 50 times more marine life around an oil production platform than in the surrounding Gulf bottoms. An environmental study (by apparently honest scientists) revealed that urban runoff and treated sewage dump 12 times the amount of petroleum into the Gulf than those thousands of oil production platforms. And oil seeping naturally through the ocean floor into the Gulf, where it dissipates over time, accounts for 7 times the amount spilled by rigs and pipelines in any given year.

The article compares Lousiana’s offshore marine environment with Florida’s (which has significantly more restrictions), and notes that the former is generally healthier than the latter’s, particularly when it comes to reef development. This should not be particularly surprising, given that oil companies have two positive incentives to preventing pollution around their sites. The first is, of course, that if they don’t the environmental lobby will do their level best to gut them; the second, possibly more important reason is that every drop of oil spilled is one drop of oil that cannot be sold. And oil is valuable, so maintaining a clean rig that doesn’t leak or corrode will maximize one’s oil-extraction potential. At least until you get to a situation where it’s not profitable to keep the site clean, but that only happens when maintenance costs threaten to wipe out profit, and the only real way that this could happen when it comes to oil is if somebody pushed the tax burden too high.

And, really, what nature-hating idiot would think of suggesting that?

Moving along, the author (who, by the way, wrote The Helldivers’ Rodeo, the book mentioned in the article) recounted the story of visitors from The Travel Planet who showed up at a Louisiana oil rig diving site first skeptical of, and then amazed at, the marine life that proliferated there. I don’t think that the below is the video of that visit:

…but it does show that oil rigs are not precisely the Gaia-destroying wasteland that apparently some might expect. See also:

or this:

Pretty, isn’t it? Nothing like seeing the environment enhanced by the hand of Man – and I can’t understand why anybody would be against coral and fish growth…

Moe Lane

Crossposted at Moe Lane.