The Gingrey Plan

THE GINGREY PLAN…. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) of Georgia appeared on an Atlanta radio show over the weekend, and reflected on developments in the Gulf. Initially, the interview went fairly well — Gingrey distanced himself from Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) apology to BP and suggested the $20 billion escrow fund is worthwhile. He even had some unkind words for Tony Hayward.

But as the AJC‘s Jim Galloway noted, Gingrey added some additional thoughts on how he’d like to see the response to the oil gusher proceed.

“For the life of me, I can’t understand why BP couldn’t go into the ocean floor, maybe 10 feet lateral to the — around the periphery — drill a few holes and put a little ammonium nitrate, some dynamite, in those holes and detonate that dynamite and seal that leak. And seal it permanently.

“And although I didn’t ask him that question yesterday — I think I had three minutes — if we get another bite at that apple, I’m going to ask that question, over and over again. What is going on here?”

I’m not an engineer — nor, by the way, is Phil Gingrey, who’s an obstetrician by trade — but this seems like a spectacularly bad idea. I can appreciate outside-the-box thinking as much as the next blogger, but wouldn’t dynamite make the hole in the ground bigger? If containment is already incredibly difficult now, wouldn’t this make it impossible?

Again, I don’t want to present myself as some kind of expert on this — and I’m certainly open to clarification from more knowledgeable sources — but there was a rig, it exploded, and now there’s a gushing wellhead. If you blow it up with dynamite, it seems there would be no way to plug it, nor put a containment mechanism over it.

There are reports about using nuclear blasts and “letting its fiery heat melt the surrounding rock to shut off the flow” from runaway gas wells. But officials who’ve considered such an approach for the ongoing crisis consider this “crazy.” And Gingrey isn’t even talking about nukes; he’s talking about dynamite.

Josh Marshall added that Gingrey offered “a good example of why it’s good to have engineers running the relief efforts and not congressmen.”

True, but it’s worth adding that Gingrey will be helping lead the House Energy Committee next year if Republicans re-take the House.