The impact of the BP oil spill is only now being felt, and yet we have demands from the oil industry and Britain, not only to “lay off” our criticism of BP (because British pensioners could supposedly starve to death if we don’t), but to allow any and all new drilling (because Louisiana residents will supposedly starve to death if we don’t).
We are facing the prospect of the death of the Gulf, the destruction of entire species of animals, as well as the utter devastation of a way of life for many people in the Gulf, because we can’t take a moment to ponder these events without immediately demanding that we proceed, business as usual.
The state and federal governments could be using these events as a way to face the harm that our dependence on oil is causing us. They don’t though. They can’t even stop new oil wells from being drilled in shallow water, completely forgetting that more oils spills occur in shallow water operations than those in deeper water, such as the Deepwater Horizon. We mustn’t take time to understand how such a profound breakdown in safety can occur with one oil well, in order to ensure it doesn’t happen again. No, to do so would cost somebody somewhere, and our current crop of leaders—across both parties—doesn’t have the balls to take a stand if doing so might cost a vote.
What is the true cost of the current oil moratorium? Is it the Gulf’s fault that the British pension systems are too heavily invested in one company? A good pension is one that has a diversity of investments, just for contingencies such as this. And frankly, would the British people feel so sanguine if the oil spill were happening in their backyard?
As for those “thousands” of Louisiana residents facing unemployment because we’re not allowing new drilling—what employees? These wells haven’t even begun yet. We’re not stopping the existing platforms. We’re not forcing people currently employed in oil platforms out of work.
And what about the employees in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida that are dependent on tourism? Do they not matter? Or is Louisiana, frankly, playing a Katrina card in order to garner sympathy? Doing so rings hollow, because the oil spill is dumping one environmental disaster on another—if Louisiana politicians are really concerned about the state’s way of life and welfare of the people, they would be in the forefront of demanding the oil moratorium. Instead they call for increased oil drilling out one side of their mouth, while condemning the federal government for not doing enough to protect against oil spills, out the other. I can understand the hypocrisy of the Louisiana politicians; I just can’t understand why they continue to think we’re so stupid as to not see it.
Louisiana unemployment? Ask Michigan about dealing with unemployment. Ask Missouri. California. We are all facing deep problems with unemployment. Unemployment that, ironically, could actually be helped by the oil spill. Why? Because increasing the cost of oil increases the cost of transportation, and eventually those companies that moved their manufacturing overseas may see profits eaten up by transportation, and move the jobs back here.
I could wish our leaders would stand firm on this moratorium—even extend it to not allowing any new offshore oil drilling, period— but I have faint hope that any resolve will last beyond next Fall’s elections.