Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2 Items on the BP Oil Spill

President Obama has given his speech about the BP oil spill, but here are two things I want to add...

Reminder: This Oil Spill Brought to You By Private Business
While some may want to assign blame for the failure to cap the leak and clean up the spill on the government, I'd like to send out a friendly reminder that this spill was brought to you by BP - a private, for-profit company and nobody else. As far as cleaning up their mess, they assumed responsibility for that, but have failed and now the government is involved.

Look...since the mid 1980s, the Federal government under Republican and Democratic leadership has gone on a massive deregulation binge, particularly in the financial, energy (read: oil and coal), pharma and environmental industries. This was done under the now obviously false premise that only private enterprise can do things correctly and government will invariably screw it up. It also helped a relatively few people make a spectacular amount of money.

Well, I submit that now we've seen the ultimate result of all that in the past two years as private enterprise has hand delivered to you the housing crisis, the banking crisis, the stock market crash, negative drug interactions and recalls and now the biggest oil spill and environmental disaster in the nation's history.

Government has a role to play in regulating industries that impact so many Americans, and if I blame Obama and Congressional Ds for anything it is not re-instituting more aggressive regulations for key sectors of our economy.

Question: If This Spill Hadn't Happened, Would the Oil Still Cause Massive Environmental Problems?
This spill is horrible. Awful. It has killed people and animals and had a terrible impact on the environment. However, what if the oil leak never happened? Would that oil still have a negative - albeit not as immediate as a spill - impact on the health and well being of people, animals and the planet?

If it was processed into fuels for autos and airplanes and petroleum products for industrial use would those uses still not disgorge huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the environment? And, would not those pollutants lead to diseases and other health problems for people, animals? Sure, not as immediately as a spill, but would they not still have an impact?

My guess is yes, it would.

And that brings up the major takeaway I have from this whole thing...we GOTTA get off oil. For more than a century it has been an essential ingredient to building a modern world. Fine. But we have the the means to move onto something better and we should for many reasons - health, jobs, security are among them.

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