Oceans 17: Keynote – Vinnie Tries to Please the Crowd

Anchorage 9/22/17

The Marine Technology Society brought a Trump administration official to the podium for a keynote speech and what Vincent DeVito had to say was an embarrassment. I felt like starting to shout “Bullshit!” “Bullshit!” “Bull Shit!” and repeating it until security hauled me out of the hall. It was an insult to have to listen to this man. I warn you right now that I am going to be using the “f” word here soon. DeVito occupies a new position called “Special Counsel on Energy” to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. What he said showed no understanding of ocean issues at all.

What his speech most strongly reminded me of was one I heard in 1981 from Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget head, Mitch Daniels. But Daniels came off as a cocky YAF weenie from the 1964 Goldwater days, talking down to us about how the government could be streamlined, just watch us. DeVito came across as a Mafia hitman allowed into a Chamber of Commerce meeting so long as he wore a business suit and didn’t cuss. I sat in the second row and watched the necks of the MTS officers pressing back into their collars as he spoke.

DeVito said the Trump administration was going to “bring back Alaska,” and lead the nation into “energy dominance, not energy independence, but energy dominance.” And this would be because of fossil fuel development. He characterized regulation as something the administration has “a lotta discretion” about doing or not doing. “New technology,” he said “makes regulation un-necessary.” He seemed to think that Shell’s Chukchi Sea failure would have been a success had it not been for the “administrative state run wild.” He never once mentioned Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig going aground in the Kodiak archipelago. He was asked by someone if there would be some sort of panel to look at lessons learned in the Chukchi, and he said they didn’t want any “so called committee,” that the administration could find out what was really going on by talking with the people who worked on the project. He went on to promise an “America first offshore energy policy.” Of course he promised a “responsible plan for responsible development” in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and he said they would “ignite” the energy production the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska “was always intended for.” Not a word about Teskhekpuk Lake, nor of the successful oilfields already developed there. And not a word about all the dry holes already punched in NPRA.

He showed himself to be a complete ignoramus and to not care in the slightest about carbon emissions. He was unapologetic to the point of brutality.

Years ago playwright Arthur Miller defined fascism as “enforced mediocrity,” and sitting there feeling forced to listen politely to this man’s crap I knew exactly what he meant. This, my friends, is fascism. Pure and simple.


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