Or should I say, spills. BP’s oil spill is a disaster, the worst of its kind in our history. And BP has thus far proven wholly incompetent at cleaning up their own mess. What is also disturbing about the accident is that months before the spill BP admitted in a congressional hearing to having issues at the drill site (check ABC’s This Week from May 30th), and yet they continued to drill. They failed to prevent the accident and they have failed to have a plan in place in case of accident, which is why the cleanup is going so poorly.
Politically speaking, President Obama has had to take responsibility for the cleanup and is being criticized on both the left and right for his failure to show adequate remorse or do enough to aid in the cleanup efforts. Yesterday I read an ABC news story stating that in a recent poll, more Americans feel the federal response to the BP spill is worse than the federal response to Katrina. Read that sentence again and let it sink in.
The idea that the federal response to a natural disaster that destroyed a U.S. city and left most of its residents temporarily homeless and without food and water (and that was arguably a primary responsibility of the federal government to handle) was better than the response to an oil spill caused by a private corporation is astounding to me. Anyone else feel me on this or am I just taking crazy pills? It is absurd on its face, even without taking into account the fact that since Obama took office his opponents have attacked him for his big government ideals and have clamored for a very limited federal government.
I am not saying the federal response to the spill has been adequate, or that it even has been better than the response to Katrina. The point I am making is that the comparison is inapposite. BP is a private company that should be responsible for cleaning up its mess or should be made to by the government. I think it IS fair to criticize the feds for not adequately doing the latter, but to suggest that the feds have the same responsibility in this situation as they did in Katrina is simply misleading.
Once again, the MSM has failed to adequately frame the issue. Instead of focusing on the failures of BP and the feds to prevent and clean up the spill, and properly regulate pre and post-spill activities, respectively, the MSM focuses on the “horse race” aspect of the story. By “horse race” I mean who is winning the political debate on the issue. It is the same sort of thing that happened during the health care debate and it gets the public focusing on the wrong aspects of the story.
We should be thinking about ways to prevent something like this from happening in the future, referring to both the spill and the subsequent inadequate response. We should be thinking about the environmental impact of the spill, why we drill for oil in the ocean in the first place (dependence on foreign oil), and new ways to meet our energy needs. But this is another area in which Obama deserves criticism. He needs to come out and more strongly denounce offshore drilling (and shut the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd and Sarah Palin up!) and put the pressure on Congress to get a climate bill passed.
I hate to think politically about the spill, but the silver lining in this disaster is that it provides us an opportunity to move forward in the energy and climate debate and pass laws that promote more sustainable and cleaner energy production, whether that be solar, wind, nuclear or something else I am not thinking of. And let us not forget that oil is used to create products like plastics, which are a major environmental pollutant, so limiting their use is beneficial in that regard as well (for example, there is a dead zone in the Pacific twice the size of Texas that is mostly caused by discarded plastics, which are not biodegradable).