OTHER VOICES

Good news on oil leases

Posted July 01, 2012, at 5:39 p.m.

If we can get beyond the inevitable who-should-get-the-credit arguments, the record sale of oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico is good news. The Houston region should benefit from some of the jobs added, while the country will get an added measure of energy security out of the expansion of drilling offshore.

The record bids, totaling $1.7 billion, went for leases on 454 tracts covering 2.4 million acres in waters as deep as 11,000 feet.

The highest single bid was made by Statoil, the Norwegian national company, for a tract in the Mississippi Canyon in the Central Gulf. Houston-based Shell Oil submitted the highest total of bids, $763.8 million for 24 tracts.

The squawking about who deserves the credit probably stems from the high-profile presence of Energy Secretary Ken Salazar at the announcement of the new leases and his assertion that it proves “the Gulf is back.”

Many in the oil industry have accused the Obama administration of slow-walking or blocking new activity in the Gulf since the BP spill in April 2010 that led to a moratorium on new drilling. We prefer to move forward. It’s done.

What’s ahead is a challenge to the industry to demonstrate its commitment to drill and produce in the Gulf while meeting stricter environmental standards in the wake of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. We agree with the assertion that this robust bidding for the Gulf leases offers evidence of the industry’s confidence in its ability to meet that challenge.

This lease sale should signal a new day in the Gulf of Mexico, characterized by a firm commitment to bring these vital resources to market safely and with utmost care for the Gulf’s fragile environment.

Houston Chronicle (June 28)

Southern Baptist strength

It seems odd to still have to say in 2012 that an African-American has become the “first” something.

The Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans on June 19 became the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant religious body.

It’s quite a step for one of the nation’s more conservative denominations, and it should be another reminder for those who still haven’t gotten the message that ability, potential and leadership are not grounded in the color of an individual’s skin but in an individual’s ability to get the job done.

Formed in 1845 by men who defended slavery as biblical, the SBC in 1995 formally apologized for the role slavery and racism played in its founding.

It takes a lot of strength for an organization so steeped in tradition to admit that it was wrong.

And it also took a lot of strength for Luter to remain with the SBC when his peers were probably telling him there was no future in sticking with the SBC.

Luter’s election shows what can happen when people and organizations are willing to push racial perceptions into the background.

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn. (June 28)

The last Pinta Island tortoise

Like Mohicans and big spenders, there had to be the last of the Pinta Island tortoises. For some years it had been George, Lonesome George. Now he is no more, cut off in his tortoisy prime of 100 or so. For an unfurry animal, he had great appeal.

In some ways his was a privileged life. Not for him the name Ptolemy, with which so many of his smaller cousins had been landed. Latterly, George was lodged in a roomy corral with attractive lady tortoises, and if he failed to secure the Georgian succession it was not through a panda-like disdain for the mechanics of paternity. There have been other losses to the tortoise world — Timothy of Powderham Castle, aged 165, in 2004; Harriet, a giant Galapagos tortoise too, quite falsely believed to have been collected by Charles Darwin, aged 176, in 2006. They had their followers, but George stood alone. That was his sorrow.

The Telegraph, London (June 28)

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