Today marks the anniversary of the tragic Macondo disaster which took the lives of 11 men and did large amounts of damage to the surrounding environment, the extent of which has yet to be determined. The remaining pains reach deep into the livelihoods of Louisiana’s businesses and its people, and are poised to affect the American psyche for decades to come.
Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that the tragic accident was a rare incidence in an industry that, despite the high risks involved, has operated safely. A disaster of this size understandably causes heightened risk perception by affected parties and observers, yet we should not allow excessive risk perception to dictate our energy policy. It’s important to realize that the lingering shock and the remaining pains from the oil spill are naturally resulting in elevated security measures on the part of oil producers, in addition to serving as a wake-up call for US regulators who created a feel-safe environment while shielding producers from bearing full liability for their actions and simultaneously getting cozy with the industry.
Ed Crooks, a Financial Times editor, whose inside story of BP’s response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill won the UK Foreign Press Association’s print and web news for “rigorous and balanced” journalism, reflects upon the spill, explaining that:
A year on, it is clear that the most apocalyptic prophecies were far removed from reality. BP has not come close to having “killed” the Gulf of Mexico, as was sometimes said last year. Catches for fish and shrimp – prawns, as the British know them – have generally been good, often ahead of last year’s levels, and the US government’s Food and Drug Administration has pronounced them safe to eat. Prices are sometimes down from pre-spill levels, possibly because of lingering nervousness about contamination, but some shrimpers say they are still making good money.
However, the resulting moratorium and ongoing “permatorium” on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico continue to hurt Louisiana businesses who struggle to make ends meet. The Heritage Foundation and the Institute for Energy Research released a video today, telling the story of one small business owner, Leslie Bertucci, whose company, R and D Enterprises, which supplies equipment to transport chemicals to and from deepwater oil rigs, is still sitting idle. Watch her story:
Al Jazeera also reports that idle rigs in the Gulf are leaving US workers worried how much longer they will be able to hold out until business picks up again:
It is crucial for the health of the American economy that safe drilling be allowed to resume in the Gulf of Mexico. It is important not only for Louisiana businesses and workers, but for the nation as a whole which continues to bear $4 a gallon prices for gas at the pump. President Obama’s rhetoric on far-off electric cars as a solution to our transportation needs is misplaced, when American families need a President who will show leadership in sensibly meeting America’s energy and environmental needs today, not decades from now.