WLOX TV, Jackson County, Mississippi is reporting that “State lawmakers have given the green light to drilling in waters just south of the barrier islands, and in certain areas of the Mississippi Sound.”
There is an estimated 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas in state waters. It has been calculated that extraction of this gas could result in a windfall of up to $523 million, and most will likely go toward education in the state.
But all is not well in light of this news. Environmentalists like Raleigh Hoke, Gulf Restoration Network, do not agree that it is a good thing.
“The bottom line is that these drilling rigs will be seen from pretty much any city or town on the coast on a clear day and definitely from the barrier islands,” Hoke said.
Apparently Hoke did not read fully, the statement from WLOX. It said, “drilling in waters just south of the barrier islands”. The barrier islands are several miles from the nearest mainland. In fact, according to Google Maps, the closest barrier island is Ship Island. It is at least eight miles away.
I grew up in Metairie, LA. I have made hundreds of trips to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I know the landscape. These islands are barely visible from land. How can oil rigs that are beyond the islands be visible from the mainland? How far away beyond the islands will the rigs be located? Certainly, they will not be close. If the nearest rig is one mile from the islands (according to the guidelines), then we are talking about rigs that will be at least twelve miles away from shore. That much distance places the area at sea level far over the horizon.
From Wikipedia: “For an observer standing on a hill or tower 100 feet (30 m) in height, the horizon is at a distance of 13.2 miles (21.2 km).” This is due to the curvature of the earth. This is a good example to show the relationship for a person on the tenth floor of a hotel.
Now, let’s consider the apparent size that an oil rig would appear at that distance. Linear perspective is described mathematically as H = 1/d * a, where H is the apparent height, d is the distance, and a is the actual height of the object. A rig that stands 50 feet above sea level, that is 12 * 5,280 feet, or about 62,000 feet away, will appear to be approximately 8/10,000 of a foot in height, or 9 thousanths, or almost 1/100th of an inch. In other words, it is a speck if it is visible at all!
Are we then talking about the vistas available from the penthouses of the tallest coastal hotels being kept free of minutia? Perhaps! But if we are, then one must ask if we are to hold the nation hostage to the most imperceptible of vacation amenities of maybe a few dozen visitors?
At some point, there has to be a trade-off. I’d say we are far, far beyond that point.
Mississippi is perhaps the poorest state in the union. We will most likely remain that way due to our rather small population and limited industry. But are we to be prohibited from any growth at all? Our educational system is faltering in this sparse economy. Mississippi has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Shall we also be hamstrung by the whims of environmentalists who do not present a realistic perspective, and very often do not even live in the area they pretend to protect?
Some who showed up at the hearing were even more critical, like Maxine Ramsay.
“I feel that the oil companies are running our country into the ground per se, and I just don’t like it,” Ramsay said.
Again, she doesn’t like it. She feels like this. No sound scientific data to support her position.
She complains about the rigs possible placement within a mile of the islands. I addressed this arrangement above. But, Maxine, that’s where the gas is! It does nobody any good to drill where there is nothing but sand and rock.
Hoke and Ramsay have a great opportunity to make of themselves an example. They can adopt a lifestyle whereby they can heat their homes, propel their cars, and transport their food without benefit of drilling for oil and natural gas. While they’re at it they should refrain from using all wood and paper products so we can save our trees and be good, little environmentalists!
Meanwhile, we’re going to drill! See you on the Coast! I hear the crabs are best about now!