Comparing 9/11 to oil spill is comparing apples to oranges

Many people — including President Obama — have compared the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Yesterday, a federal judge struck down the six-month moratorium on deepwater offshore oil drilling, and one of the moratorium’s opponents again used this analogy:

“Even after the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, the government only shut down the airlines for three days,” Louisiana said in court papers seeking to lift the ban.

I’m going to try to argue this tastefully, but I don’t think 9/11 and this oil rig explosion are interchangable — it’s comparing apples to oranges.

Although you can say both stemmed from failed safety precautions, the mechanisms were entirely different. Apples to apples would be if the airplanes themselves malfunctioned, which would have been a major concern for allowing airplanes to fly again. But instead, it was a matter of security.

For the oil rig, despite the fact that many reports claim government regulators knew the Deepwater Horizon wasn’t completely safe, in the end it was the equipment that malfunctioned. It’s this combination of both poor safety regulation and equipment malfunction that merits more intense scrutiny and research when it comes to deciding the future of deepwater offshore oil drilling.

Also, more than two months later, the original problem remains unsolved. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were incredibly tragic, but security was tightened (more thorough security checks, limits on liquids being brought onboard, random intensive security checks) and those events have not been repeated. This oil rig is completely different — the main problem here is the oil spilling into the ocean, and that original problem hasn’t stopped. Opponents of the moratorium want to resume drilling despite the fact that oil is still gushing into the ocean and no one has been able to stop it completely.

Can you imagine airlines being allowed to run as usual while the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were taking place? If you don’t even have a grasp on what is happening with the oil spill, why allow further drilling? Why risk another catastrophe? Why just bet (or more accurately, hope) that it’s a rarity when no one even knows how to stop it? And how would Americans have liked the moratorium opponents’ “just do whatever and hope nothing bad happens again” plan in the wake of 9/11?  

After 9/11, the airline industry had to make drastic changes to its policies. I can’t even type “after the oil spill” yet because oil is still spilling into the ocean, but the oil industry similarly needs to make drastic changes to prevent a similar disaster from happening in the future. More than anything though, I agree with my friend Nona — people just need to stop making analogies to 9/11 altogether.

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One Response to “Comparing 9/11 to oil spill is comparing apples to oranges”

  1. Bob Ber Says:

    That article was painful to read. Even more so than your other articles that reek of progressive, elitism. This was merely a jumbled mess of trying to make a week point supported by illogical opinions.

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