Idle Iron

Photo by arbyreed, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/153277616/">via Flickr</a>.

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There are more than 1,000 idle oil and gas structures in the Gulf of Mexico, platforms and other iron detritus abandoned years ago and left to collapse into the waters. Now Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is calling on the Department of Interior to force oil companies to dismantle and responsibly dispose of their old rigs.

Grijalva, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, pointed to a 2007 report from Louisiana State University for the Minerals Management Service (now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) that found there are 1,227 idle oil and gas structures in the Gulf that aren’t serving any purpose right now. “Structures that exist on a lease that have not produced in the last year do not serve a useful economic function,” the report concluded. Dismantling the rigs would create jobs for Gulf residents, Grijalva argues. It would also help clean up the region and make the Gulf safer.

“Gulf residents should be put to work removing idle iron as soon as possible,” wrote Grijalva. “This would revitalize the regional economy in several ways. By removing outdated structures, Gulf workers would help the structures owners comply with existing regulations and ensure that cleared areas are open to potential future opportunities.”

In addition to all those idle rigs, there are more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf, many of which may be inadequately sealed. Dealing with all this old and abandoned oil infrastructure is yet another task that should be prioritized in the wake of the Gulf disaster. Interior asked for additional funding in the 2011 budget to fund new positions to help deal with “aging infrastructure, hurricane damage, and idle iron,” which would be a good start.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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