An Expensive and Messy Road

By Noah Graff

The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragic fiasco. Everyone can agree on that, but now that it’s happened, the U.S. government is confronted with the decision of how to go forward.

It has imposed a six-month moratorium on drilling in more than 500 feet of water in the Gulf. President Obama has also put on hold plans to expand drilling off the coast of Alaska.

This decision is based on the claim by environmental groups that we still don’t have a good understanding of why the disaster occurred and what other safety negligence is occurring in other similar wells.

On the other hand, halting offshore drilling salts the wounds of the people in the Gulf region, whose lives are already a mess from the destruction from the spill and recent natural disasters. Many of the people living around the Gulf have jobs in the off-shore drilling industry. The region’s tourism has been crushed, houses destroyed, the livelihood of fishermen stripped, and now drilling for oil, one of the few resources still sustaining the people of the region is being taken away too. Many people are more angry at the government than they are at BP.

One of BP’s main competitors in the gulf, Chevron, has distanced itself from BP and says that a six-month moratorium on drilling is an overreaction because it has much better safeguards for its wells. While this may be true, Chevron recently was involved in an onshore drilling accident involving a Chevron pipeline in Utah that leaked what officials estimated was hundreds of barrels of crude oil into a Salt Lake City creek and threatened to contaminate the Great Salt Lake.

The moral of all this—drilling for oil is a dangerous, dirty game that the government should have been monitoring much more closely. To fix the disaster and attempt to prevent it from happening again will be expensive and messy—kind of like mending the economic debacle of 2009.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Photo from Seattle Times

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