Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blame BP, lack of gov't oversight, for drilling catastrophe

If a company is able to prevent a disaster by spending a significantly small portion of its profits, should they feel obligated to do so?

Should that same company be held responsible for the damaging effects in the event of a manmade disaster happening as a result of the financial shortcuts that they took?

These are the questions -- with seemingly obvious answers -- that we must ask ourselves in light of the oil rig disaster within the Gulf of Mexico. The company in question, BP, could have paid for a device that could have stopped oil flow in the event of a rig explosion. Two other countries, Norway and Brazil, require this device, commonly called an acoustic switch, which is triggered by sound waves. The United States does not require it.

Requiring that this device be installed on all oil rigs would be a great start towards ensuring that this mess never happens again. The government must also regulate companies without granting exemptions on environmental concerns, making every effort to make certain companies are conducting business within the boundaries of the law.

BP was operating at a depth too deep to be extracting oil. They were careless with their work and didn't properly install the equipment necessary to ensure they could stop an oil leak in the event that one happened. What's more, 11 people lost their lives in the explosion, a debt that can never be repaid.

The company should be held responsible for all damages done to the environment, for the health concerns that will undoubtedly rise from this event, and for the jobs lost as a result of this catastrophe. The government, too, can share some blame, for having failed to properly regulate BP and all other offshore drilling facilities, as well as failing to enact stronger regulations that could have prevented this widespread leak.

This "incident" will have long-lasting effects. We can't let those who were responsible get away with it. BP must be held to account, and the government must change its laws to reflect what the people require: a safer, more dependable way to extract resources.

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