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They have left, the oil has not

By Tony Romain
On May 10, 2011

  • Tony Romain

It's been more than a year since the BP oil spill. After an entire year, things still aren't fixed, coastlines still aren't clean and wildlife is still in danger. A year is a long time and while claims from BP and a current lack of media coverage may lead you to believe everything is okay, it isn't.

Who is even to blame? BP may have taken the brunt of the blame for the Deepwater Horizon incident, but there's still controversy over who did what, or who  didn't do what. BP recently filed a handful of multi-billion dollar lawsuits against the companies Transocean, Cameron International and Halliburton. These claims were for various reasons, such as the failure of safety systems and procedures, production and supply of "unreasonably dangerous products" and even as far as faulty cement work. You know those companies aren't going to take a threat lightly, they countered with lawsuits of their own. This all happened right before the deadline for filing lawsuits in response to the oil spill.

I find that odd. The one year anniversary of the spill was marked as the deadline for filing such suits, and the way I see it, if there was any hint of a legitimate cause for these companies to file any kind of lawsuit, they should have been aware of them a long time ago and  shouldn't have had to wait this long. But everyone wants to make a buck, and the higher-ups in BP and the other companies are tired of losing money to something as silly and useless as restoring the Gulf Coast and putting better safety procedures in place. I mean, who needs those things, right?

It seems like BP is still trying to spread the blame, save some face and take some of the pressure off of itself. It's a little late to be     worrying about appearances. There are much more important issues at hand.

What about the cleanup effort? I've been doing a bit of research into the cleanup efforts and it seems the only effort being made now is picking up the visible oil. There are still beaches that have long stretches of land where there's oil an inch or two below the surface, but since there's no visible oil, it isn't a threat. There are a few places along the coastline that got lucky. Most of the oil was stopped offshore in certain areas thanks to the barrier islands   and timely response teams; but there are many areas that weren't so lucky.

Just because you can't see the oil doesn't mean it's not there. It's been a year, so by now the wind, waves and changing tides will have resurfaced a lot of sand and covered up some of the oil, but can we really afford to let that be a solution? The plants and wildlife that live in those areas are still affected. Is it really enough to write it off and say it will be alright if we just wait and let the oil degrade over time? What about the root of the issue?

Everyone is eager to go back to drilling offshore. They want to lower the price of gas and many people believe that getting oil from closer resources will help achieve that goal. I agree that gas is getting way too expensive right now; however, I also think that we, not only as Americans, but also as inhabitants of the planet Earth, need to chill out and stop using so much energy.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I found while researching the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill is the death toll. I'm not just talking about the 11 men who were killed in the rig explosion. Although that was a very tragic event, the death toll for providing our energy is much higher. We celebrated the Chilean coal miners' rescue last year, but in the same year's time since the oil spill, including those from Deepwater Horizon, more than 130 people have been killed around the world from energy mining related accidents. But they don't make as big of an impact on the headlines.

We can ease the ecological and economical damage if we learn to use less energy. The less we rely on fossil fuels, the less we pollute our own environments, the less we have to drill for oil or mine for coal and the less risk we can have on the lives of those workers. And it won't take much effort. Records and studies show we really aren't using as much energy as we think, but we can still be using less. Small things like turning off your lights during the day and driving more energy efficient vehicles (or not driving our vehicles as often) can make a huge difference if everyone pitches in. We all have the power to make a change.

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