(It will be difficult to type this column since I have my fingers crossed.)
Some 100 days ago, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing eleven men and setting off a chain reaction of scientific, political, economic and energy fueled debate that has consumed the media and blogs everywhere. The tragedy that was the Deepwater Horizon, the floating oil rig that was responsible for the worst oil spill in American history, maybe be a story that is now about to enter its next chapter.
The spill is effectively capped, having been stopped from leaking about two weeks ago. It will be permanently sealed by the end of the month. Observers say that there is little visible oil on the surface of the Gulf. A combination of the use of controversial oil dispersants, evaporation, summer tropical storms and oil eating microbes, along with clean up efforts, has rendered much of the Gulf relatively clean.
The overall effect of the spill has yet to be seen. Truthfully, it will be years, maybe a decade before the full effect of the damage is known.
A good portion of the Gulf has been reopened to recreational fishing. Some areas have been cleared for commercial fishing. There are flickering signs that some tourism is coming back to the area, and the First Family is expected to pay a visit to the Gulf later this month.
And now the blame-game begins in earnest. President Obama has been hammered relentlessly by conservatives for his handling and the Federal response to the spill. Most of the accusations have been false (see Jones Act) but that certainly isn’t anything new. BP is replacing their CEO with one who hopefully can keep his foot out of his mouth and the $20 billion “slush fund” escrow account should pay the bill for the damage.
Well, like the little kid that sticks a bobby pin in a wall socket, this incident should shock us into taking the appropriate measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
But it probably won’t.
In the highly toxic partisan atmosphere of the country and Washington, gaining consensus for solutions is probably out of the question. Certainly, strong measures are required to make sure this never happens again, but logic has a way of escaping those inside the Beltway.
But the real burden in the aftermath of this disaster doesn’t lie with politicians and pundits, it lies with folks like you and me. If we breathe a collective sigh of relief and go on about our business, it will happen again. It is up to us, the citizens, to keep this issue on the front burner with the flame turned up.
This tragedy didn’t happen in our backyard, but it happened in our neighbor’s yard and we can’t let those that have been elected to represent us forget their responsibilities.
William Stephenson Clark