As hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil are fouling the Gulf region, now is the time to seriously reexamine who is ultimately responsible for the "drill, baby, drill" consequences we now face. If we consider offshore drilling important to our domestic energy supply, we must also accept the occasional unwanted consequences and the accompanying environmental damage as the cost of doing business. But whose business is getting done?
When Toyota makes a mistake, the government is quick with hearings and fines, as they should be, and Toyota knows that they are completely on the hook for whatever damages are suffered by their customers, whether they were caused by accidents in manufacturing, or by design flaws. Why should it be any different for oil companies? Why is it that when oil is being pumped, processed, and sold, and profits are being made, those profits belong to Big Oil, but when they create a disaster, then suddenly it’s "our" oil?
Why should you or I have to pay a dime to clean up this horrible mess? Because of politicians like Doc Hastings, that's why. Big Oil money fills Hastings’ election coffers, as does Coal industry money, with moments precisely like these in mind. Exxon Mobil avoided paying the full and complete costs associated with the Exxon Valdez disaster by dodging this way and that in court. (There are still places along the Alaskan shore, where if you dig 6”, you’ll find oil). Then, just like today, Big Oil counted on friends in Congress to resist any legislative fixes to the responsibility process we currently have.
If you were to follow this process all the way to its conclusion, you would most likely see BP make promises about accepting their responsibilities for cleanup but, just like Exxon Mobile, they would never fully live up to those responsibilities. This clean up process could drag on for years, even decades, in the recovery effort and run into the billions of dollars in losses and damages. Meanwhile, you and I as taxpayers will see the bills and will have to cover them.
I understand that Congressman Hastings' office has sent "observers" to the Gulf region for a first hand report. I assume he is doing his due diligence as ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee. If BP has to be legally forced to pay the costs that I predict they will attempt mightily to avoid, the legislation must come out of Rep. Hastings’ Committee. Will he side with corporate giant BP, or us, the taxpayers?
I would urge everyone who supports Rep. Hastings, and who is completely comfortable with his coziness with the Oil and Coal Industries, to ask his office whether he will use his influence to make sure BP pays its full share. I want to know why my fellow countrymen's lives, and some of our most precious and fragile ecology, are being destroyed by a private business that cannot be held responsible. Don’t you?