The massive oil spill that originated from a pipe 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana is growing in size daily and has already begun to move slowly into the Louisiana coastal wetlands. Some reports indicate that the spill may reach the shores of Alabama and Mississippi as early as Monday. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20th that claimed the lives of eleven rig workers and caused the rig to sink into the gulf led to the beginnings of what is now considered an oil spill that rivals the destruction capacity of the now infamous Exxon Valdez spill of 1989. The amount of damage to the environment and the gulf coast fishing and seafood industry is incalculable as much of the spill containment hinges upon British Petroleum’s (the oil and gas company held responsible for the spill) ability to plug the well that is continually gushing thousands of gallons of oil on a daily basis. While BP’s engineers have tried a variety of methods to do this nothing, as of yet, has been successful and some are anticipating the worst. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar talked about a troubling possibility on the popular NBC political talk show “Meet the Press” this Sunday,
“The scenario is a very grave scenario. You’re looking at potentially 90 days before you get to the ultimate solution, which is drilling a relief well 3 1/2 miles below the ocean floor. In that time, lots of oil could spread.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already restricted fishing for at least 10 days in waters most affected by the oil spill (New York Times, 2010) and further limitations on fishing are likely to be issued as the oil spill grows in size. Many local businessmen and restaurant owners here in New Orleans are fearful that their businesses will be critically affected by the enormous oil spill. Louisiana residents across the state are concerned about the contamination of seafood and while many fishermen have stated that worries about tainted seafood are premature the seafood industry will assuredly take a huge financial hit.
Friday’s Jazz Festival performance cancellation by the queen of soul, singer Aretha Franklin is rumored to be associated with concerns over the oil spills affect on our cities air quality. Most experts maintain that the concentration of toxins in a smoke filled casino is more damaging than that which is posed by the oil spill but whether or not air quality concerns will be an issue for possible vacationers is yet to be seen. Many expect that the queen of soul’s unexplained Jazz Festival abandonment won’t be the last disappointment this season to the New Orleans tourist industry.
In light of the horrible publicity that the oil spill has brought upon off-shore drilling President Obama has issued a temporary hold on all future drilling plans until a full investigation of the incident has been completed. Republican supporters of off-shore drilling reluctantly support the moratorium on off shore drilling but publically express their hopes that the temporary suspension doesn’t become permanent. Opponents of drilling cite this incident as overt evidence of why the practice off shore drilling should be ended.
Off shore drilling is a very dangerous and unregulated industry. This oil spill is a resounding wake up call to Washington that clearly illustrates the need for more regulation of industries whose operations pose enormous and disastrous environmental problems. It is irrational to expect companies whose main priority is the expansion of their profit margins to put into place safety regulations that will sufficiently curtail disasters of this nature. The president and chairman of BP America admitted that fail-safe mechanisms on the rig that were designed to prevent an oil spill had not worked as predicted and that a “failed piece of equipment” was to blame for the spill, what he won’t acknowledge is the fact that his company didn’t invest enough money into the proper research and testing of the fail-safe’s technology.
The president’s temporary suspension of off shore drilling is the appropriate form of action to take in this situation. The federal government must thoroughly investigate this situation and BP should be held liable for all damages caused by this spill including those caused to the Louisiana seafood and tourist industry. As a person who is concerned about the environment and a natural born New Orleanian who will undoubtedly be negatively affected by this horrendous spill it hard for me to come to terms with the fact that off shore drilling is a necessary evil, but this is the unfortunate truth. America is close technologically to harnessing the power of clean energy but we have yet to cross the threshold. Until we do we must efficiently utilize our own natural resources in order to limit our dependence upon the resources of foreign countries. The moratorium on off shore drilling must not end until government has put into place regulations that will ensure that the likely hood of a disaster like this ever happening again is extremely low. These regulations must be rigidly adhered to by the oil companies and stringently enforced by our government but off shore drilling must continue until our country can effectively cross over into the use of better and cleaner energy sources. Well that’s this examiner’s opinion what’s yours?