BP Oil Spill To Destroy Life on Earth As We Know It
Now it’s official: according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst in American history.
Since April 20th, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing eleven workers, thousands of barrels of oil have been continuously spewing into the Gulf waters. The exact numbers have been in dispute since the incident occurred, but it now seems clear that British Petroleum has been grossly underestimating the extent of the spill. In the past six weeks, its two attempts to cap the leaking well have failed. In the meantime, the company has been pouring tens of thousands of gallons of Corexit, a toxic chemical dispersant banned in the UK, into the Gulf to break up the visible patches of oil. Workers spraying the chemical have reported nausea and vomiting, but BP has chalked up their complaints to “food poisoning” and even prohibited them from wearing masks.
As of this writing, the oil continues to leak, and has been making its way inland to beaches and marshland. The livelihoods of fishermen are being destroyed, and the negative impact on the eco-system is sure to be severe.
Democrats are starting to clamor for the government to take over BP and its disaster control operations. In The Huffington Post, Bob Cesca notes that even Republican Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, has been changing his tune. A critic of President Obama’s health care reform bill and the corporate bailouts, Jindal is now demanding that government take a stronger role in dealing with this crisis. Cesca observes, “Now that crude has begun to wash upon the shores and wetlands of Republican red states, any superficial bumper sticker griping about socialism has been temporarily forgotten.”
But this disaster defies an answer as easy as mild state socialism. Could the administration actually do a better job? Does the government even have enough resources to safely halt the spill and take on the cleanup? Obama’s cautious hesitation throughout this ordeal is truly revealing of the limited options available when multinational corporations have become as rich and powerful as they are.
The long-term focus should be on sustainable forms of energy that don’t involve repeated “accidents” that damage local eco-systems. In the meantime, let’s hold the executives and shareholders responsible for the damage that they’ve not only created, but also deeply worsened.