Our Heritage Foots The Oil Spill Bill

Who is going to pay for the British Petroleum Gulf oil spill?  If history teaches us anything, most of us already know the answer to that question.  While congress may lift the ceiling on how much BP will have to pay out, that is little consolation to those who will ultimately pay the most.  BP is now facing bankruptcy as their stock has tanked, but that doesn’t help those who will eventually foot this bill.

While watching a news video of the oil spewing into the Gulf it was crystal clear to me that BP, at this time, still doesn’t have a clue as to how to not only stop the oil flow but also how to at least contain it.  I thought of the processes involved with building a house.  First you pull a million permits and during the entire project you have inspectors coming and going.  Do something wrong and you’re forced to start over and do it again until you get it right.  Your house isn’t complete and ready to live in until all inspections have been passed.

When building an oil rig and setting up the drilling logistics, who inspects that to make sure it’s safe for humans and the environment?  Is it the EPA?  Is it some form of government commission?  Or is it someone from the company that owns the operation?

Here’s what we know:  The Minerals Management Service and the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the BP rig on nine occasions and never found any major issues.  There was one occurrence in 2008 when seawater got into the propulsion system and forced the evacuation of about half of the crew.  Other than that, the rig was considered safe. 

One interesting fact is the U.S. Coast Guard had limited control over this particular rig because it flew the flag of the Republic of the Marshal Islands.  Being a foreign flag, rigs are bound to regulations imposed by a non-governmental group of inspectors called a “classification society”.  Coast Guard inspections are follow-ups from monitoring done by this classification society.

The rig is located in the Macondo Prospect, and that location is considered to be in United States waters.  Don’t you think that even though this rig flew a foreign flag, they should be governed by U.S. inspections?  I’m not saying faulty inspections were in play in this disaster.  It just seems to me that something isn’t right, just like British Petroleum not allowing independent scientists onto the scene to more accurately calculate how much oil is actually being released into the Gulf.

This entire scenario is big business and big government playing a game of Super Bowl-sized proportions.  The people and the wildlife that will ultimately pay for this mess are the mindless spectators that are paying huge ticket prices to watch this game unfold.  Unfortunately there will be no real winner.  Not even a decent half time show, either.

We comfortable Americans are finally beginning to wake up and understand the seriousness of this situation.  Most of us stayed asleep while those affected by the Exxon Valdez spill watched as Alaska was devastated.  That spill was far away from most of us, but today Alaska still feels the effects of that spill.  What’s potentially worse in the case of this BP spill is how this oil can reach almost all of us in this country.  It’s not going to be contained to the Gulf.  The Mississippi River and the jet stream will make certain of that.

While BP and the United States government haggle over who will pay and how much, the brown pelicans, the turtles, crabs, dolphins, countless species of fish and seabirds, and all the other millions and millions of species of wildlife that  have called this region home for centuries continue to pay the ultimate price.  It sickens and saddens me so deeply that these defenseless keepers of our planet have fallen prey to a reckless oil company that feeds on our inability to find better sources of energy.  It’s time for governments around the world to recognize that not only do they serve the people of this planet, they also serve the animals of this planet, many of whom were here well before us. 

They’re the ones paying the ultimate price for this tragedy.

Pictures of some of the animals in peril

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