Wisconsin’s Theron Pretends Gulf Oil Disasters Never Happened

In the second congressional district of Wisconsin, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin is not being challenged by any candidate from within her own party in tomorrow’s primary elections. However, on the Republican side of the ballot, there are two candidates competing for the right to take on Representative Baldwin: Peter Theron and Chad Lee.

On the environment, Lee offers a mish-mash policy of political convenience, which combines a complaint that cap-and-trade proposals don’t do enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions with a pledge to prevent the federal government from doing anything much of anything at all to deal with the growing problem of climate change. Lee suggests that individuals and big business should be left to pollute as much as they find convenient, and that somehow, the problem will sort itself out.

Theron offers an environmental policy that is equally as insensible. Regarding sources of energy, Theron refuses to discriminate between new sources that are relatively sustainable, and dirty, outdated sources. Theron proposes investing in “clean coal” technology, even though no commercially-viable clean coal operation has yet to exist, and suggests “leaving nothing off the table”, with a continued reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

It’s when Theron discusses drilling for oil that his proposals become particularly separated from energy reality. Theron proposes “domestic drilling in the coastal plain of ANWR, drilling offshore and utilizing oil shale. This can be done safely and relatively quickly.”

An assertion that rapid expansion of offshore drilling and shale drilling can be done safely is easy to make, but not so easy to back up with facts. Theron’s campaign statement on energy ignores recent accidents involving these drilling strategies.

Of course, the Deepwater Horizon disaster springs to mind. The explosion of that drilling rig proved that assertions of offshore drilling safety were based upon fraudulent information. Then, even with what had been learned from the fatal Deepwater Horizon tragedy, another offshore drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico a little over a week ago. Theron doesn’t address these accidents when he claims that offshore drilling “can be done safely”.

Drilling from shale, hydrofracturing techniques have been associated with a series of safety problems, and are being resisted by local organizations across the United States. Most recently, problems with fracking, as the technique is also known, created a huge oil leak in North Dakota, endangering a source of drinking water. Theron fails to acknowledge these problems.

In Wisconsin’s 2nd district, both Republican candidates for Congress seem content to paper over serious problems with the environment and energy policy. This approach, however, brings solutions that are only paper thin.

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