We enter week nine of entertaining the Endeavour jackup rig as an uneasy guest at the end of the Homer Spit. Tonight, Buccaneer Alaska officials will meet with Homer and area residents for the first time to answer questions and make plans known.
In light of the recent showing of the documentary“Alaska: Time and Technology,” many in Homer will have keener, more finely tuned questions when they attend the informational meetings. We recommend the film to all readers for a background reference to oil and gas work in Kachemak Bay. It harkens back to a time when the oil industry moved into Homer to talk about their plans to drill in the eye of St. Augustine and elsewhere nearby. After oil spills and numerous other mistakes, even the Alaska Legislature was persuaded to make the Bay off limits to such development.
That was in the 1970s. Now, 2012, most of us have so little experience with oil companies, it’s hard to know what questions to ask.
As Buccaneer officials answer questions about their proposed West Eagle Unit on East End Road and drilling work in Cook Inlet, we hope they will not give us a few of the industry’s most favored and cliched responses:
• Trust us, we have more to lose than anyone if something goes wrong. It’s our investment.
• We are using the best, most sophisticated equipment technology offers.
• Ensuring our safety should assure you of the environment’s safety.
• We’re here to provide jobs.
• Americans, and Alaskans, need this fuel.
Though the responses carry notes of truth, people today are more experienced with what happens when that “best of technology” equipment fails. Safety, we trust, would be a company’s priority. Jobs, we know, are important. And yes, as the question of natural gas shortages plagues southcentral, we realize the importance of drilling for more.
Where oil companies go wrong is when they lean on these answers and gloss over the deeper points of inquiry: What is your blowout contingency plan? Why didn’t you take public testimony sooner?
There’s also a give and take. Let locals give advice, recount tales of experience when things went wrong. Developers who take in local knowledge save themselves money, time and embarrassment.
Here’s to our hope for productive dialogues as people asked what to us are some of the most pressing questions of the day.
On Friday when the Homer Tribune’s internet went down, along with many other businesses and individuals in Homer, it struck as a chance to take stock of how immersed we are in the digital age.
No surprise there, most people will say.
And yet, measuring by degrees, the dependence of the internet on our modern business practices is worth a good hard look now and then. No internet meant a mail blackout for the better part of an important work day in the week. That meant no content was making its way in. No questions could be answered, because they weren’t received.
The flip side meant a good day to concentrate on the business of editing and shaping what is already on hand, without the distractions of email or monitoring our Facebook page or side research excursions that grow into more time-consuming pursuits, albeit, fascinating at times.
We would like to use this as a time for a gentle reminder to readers. We say it fairly frequently, but probably not as much as we should. Go ahead and give us a call. Want to write us a point of view piece? Sure, email will work most the time, but it doesn’t hurt to give a follow-up call. The same goes for letters to the editor, public announcements and story ideas.
We appreciate our readers, and don’t want to miss out on receiving your information.
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