The oil eruption in the Gulf of Mexico is belatedly receiving the attention it deserves from both the public and the president. Given its history the public can be expected to be behind the curve. The president cannot. While the financial responsibility for damage clearly belongs to British Petroleum, the enormity of the consequences takes the affair out of the realm of a purely business matter. It has been argued that since BP has better facilities and more expertise in this field than the government, it should be principal authority in dealing with the problem. This may make fiscal sense. But in the interest of national morale there’s a lot to be said for at the very least a prompt show of federal involvement, particularly in the case of the president. Confidence in its leaders can be a vital and valuable national asset, as Winston Churchill showed in the Battle of Britain.
In the final analysis this is more a scientific than a political matter. It’s my understanding that “relief wells” can diminish if not eliminate the effects of such an accident by drying up the oil in the area surrounding the main well. BP is now drilling them at the accident site, a process that is expected to take three months. Canada requires them to be dug prior to using the main well in its deep water projects. We don’t require this and I think most of us know why. In the light of what we’ve just learned, digging should begin ASAP at all such existing projects in American waters. But don’t bet on it.
Media spokesmen are already referring to this as the worst oil related disaster in history. I’ll go further and say it’s the worst man made accidental disaster of any kind in history. Dropping the atom bomb was intentional. In another context this incident is mankind’s most serious offense to date in its rape of the planet.
It should be clearer now than it was two months ago that we have no ethical or moral right to construct and utilize a facility unless and until we are certain of our ability to control or contain its potential consequences. Paradoxically those who with this premise are called conservative. On one hand they claim that we are being unfair to future generations in fiscal matters, while on the other espousing “drill baby drill” philosophy. We may be “the greatest nation in the world” in many areas. But a reasonable sense of priorities is not one of them.