While we often criticize our government on this blog, it is important to remember that there remains great differences between this government and those around the world in areas like the environment. In an extraordinary decision, the United States Navy has decided to disassemble the $277 million USS Guardian, an important minesweeper, rather than further damage a coral reef by pulling it off the reef. This follows an equally impressive approach to drilling in the Antarctic by U.S. explorers.
USS Guardian (MCM-5) is a U.S. Navy Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship commissioned on December 16, 1989.
The minesweeper will be cut into small pieces and removed to avoid further harm to the ecosystem after it ran aground. It appears that the digital navigational chart in use by the Guardian had the wrong location of the reef by about eight nautical miles.
While conservatives have portrayed this as an example of environmentalists gone wild in the Administration, reports indicated that the ship was likely beyond repair due to damage to the hull. However, many argued for the ship to be ripped from the reef so that possible repairs could be made.
However, there was clearly a great deal of consideration given to the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and the damage that would increase from pulling the ship free. There should be little doubt as to how Russia or China would respond to such a circumstance.
An example of the different approach to the environment is evident in recent drilling operations in the Antarctic by the U.S. and Russia. Despite scientific objections to the contamination of a deep lake, the Russians pumped in more than 14,000 gallons of kerosene and Freon into the over 2 mile drilling hole to keep its drill from freezing. They insist pressure will force out the pollutants when they break through — a view rejected as reckless by scientists. In comparison, the U.S. drilling operation into a deep lake involves feeding the drilling hose through a collar of ultraviolet lamps to kill 99.9 percent of all microorganisms.
The willingness to spend such money to protect environmentally sensitive areas should legitimately be a source of pride for Americans.