What Can We Learn From the BP Oil Spill?

The one-to-two million gallons of crude oil (and natural gas) that have been leaking steadily into the Gulf of Mexico for the past fifty days are certainly a sobering environmental tragedy. The horrific explosion of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform on April 22 is now estimated to be six times times worse than the Exxon Valdez spill. Much sea-life and shoreline are at stake and thousands of jobs and economic recovery hang in balance.

I have been following the BP Oil Spill from the beginning and trying to make some sense of it. I’ve also joined the many people that have been praying for the peoples of the Gulf–that God would show them what to do to deal with this man-made disaster and its possible long-range effects on their lives.

There are a number of important lessons that are emerging from the catastrophe. I will share ten of them in relative order of importance (with “10” being the least and “1” being the most important lesson that can be learned). All of them are important.

#10 – Mistakes happen in a fallen world.

No company–including British Petroleum-should be held to an impossible standard. There is no such thing as perfection in a fallen world–just improvement.  As long as man inhabits a fallen world, there will be times of disaster such as this one. There are few victories in life without risk and potential danger. But they are worth pursuing with an eye on human progress–and our sights should remain high. Let’s just learn from the mistakes and vow to not make them again.

#9 – British Petroleum must held accountable. BP is responsible for the disaster.

Under present regulations, BP could be liable up to $1100 dollars a spilled gallon or 2.8 billion dollars. If criminal intent is found, the fine could be astronomical. Make British Petroleum pay for their mistake, but don’t punish them in such a way that they can’t continue to be profitable to be able to pay their debt back to the Gulf States. The six month moratorium on Gulf drilling is a bad deal–both for the energy industry and for many other dependent jobs in the area.

#8 – Good regulations and contingency plans are vital – follow them!

The Federal Government failed in its regulatory duties by giving dubious awards to the BP rig that exploded and by failing to implement a stenuous emergency plan that had been pre-approved. BP also lacked strong emergency plan measures (and delayed that plan twelve days after the disaster) that could have contained the extent of the oil slick damage. There is a place for good regulations–especially when risky ventures are taking place.

There are also some ingenious and creative clean-up plans run by enterprising Americans and even some foreign governments that both BP and the Federal Government are not allowing to be used in the massive clean-up effort. If there should be a moratorium on anything, it’s bureacratic red tape. Nothing could be worse than the oil being left to defile the beaches and eco-systems of the Gulf region.

#7 – Bad energy policy led to risky drilling. This is the Federal Government’s fault.

The main reason for this gigantic mess is that due to bad energy policies that have prohibited oil companies from drilling in many states, and in shallower waters, British Petroleum and other companies have been forced into deep waters where there is a much higher degree of uncontrollable circumstances. If this had been an oil-shale well in Wyoming, it would have been capped immediately. If it have been an explosion in Prudoe Bay, the fix would have been quick and the environmental damage limited due to its distance from civilization.

BP was drilling at 5000 feet below sea-level because our unwise politicians have not let them drill where it’s safer and better. It’s time to stop the nonsense about energy drilling and exploration in the fifty states and shallow waters off both coasts. Both can be done safely and effectively if we have the political will to do what’s right.

#6 – We should begin drilling in ANWAR immediately. The best defense is a good offense.

There is no logical reason whatsoever that we should not be drilling vast amounts of oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Preserve (ANWAR)–and the remedy should be started immediately. We have a vast reserve of oil and natural gas at our disposal in Alaska in an area that poses little environmental danger. It’s time to stop being politically correct and drill the wells and turn on the spigots in ANWAR as soon as possible.

#5 – Oil is essential to the modern world and should not be phased out.

Bikes and sneakers have petroleum products in them. Deodorant comes from oil and gas. Milkshakes have a chemical based thickener. Oil is everywhere. It’s in carpet, furniture, computers and clothing. It’s in the most personal of products like toothpaste, shaving cream, lipstick and vitamin capsules. Petro-chemicals are the glue of our lives–even in glue, too.

“It’s the material basis of our society essentials” says Michael Wilson, a research scientist at UC Berkeley. “This is the Petro-chemical Age.” 93% of American plastics start with natural gas or oil. Why? Because the element essential for life–carbon–is found there. The carbon atom acts as the spine with other atoms attaching to it in different combinations and positions. This makes it indispensable for modern life and production.

#4 – We must unleash safe energy independence production in all fifty states and in shallow waters.

There has been a growing “conspiracy” in this country for over thirty years to restrain the United States from becoming energy independent. This insanity can be blamed on the radical extremes of the environmental movement and its political allies. The results of this have been disastrous–and the Gulf Oil Spill only makes us more vulnerable to sky-rocketing prices due to shortages and bad policy.

“Renewable sources” cannot save us–at least not in the next fifty years. We can’t power our vehicles or civilization on wind and solar power. That is a pipe-dream that needs to be openly confronted. We need to unleash the best of industry to drill oil and natural gas wells in our states and waters; to build  nuclear reactors such as exist in France; to allow new techniques of oil-shale extraction to be implemented; to create new and better batteries; in short, to unleash a “Manhattan Project-style” explosion of all energy source solutions to curtail the forced dependency of America on foreign oil. It’s both crippling and nationally suicidal. Let’s Unleash, Baby Unleash! 

#3 –  The Federal Government is a lousy savior.

Both Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill proved the ineptness of the Federal Government to solve large problems. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, even though we had a strong leader in President Bush, the federal response was weak and late. The best work was done by local governments and private organizations and individuals. In the BP Oil Spill, the fact that Barack Obama is a politician and not really a leader added massive paralysis to the expected federal response.

Here’s the lesson: Governments are good at protecting their citizens in war, but they are lousy at most everything else they do. In this case and also in Katrina, the Federal Government should have made resources available immediately and then gotten out of the way of the local leaders and enterprising non-profits and individuals. “The era of Big Government is over.”

#2 – The EPA should be abolished or severely curtailed.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the worst federal entities in America. It serves no useful purpose except to retard business, innovation, and progress in America. It was created by President Nixon in 1970 and has been a curse ever since. Interesting, the first Earth Day during its inaugural year was scheduled on the centennial of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday– April 22, 1970. That little known fact tells you a great deal about the goals of the environmental extremists.

Adding insult to injury on American prosperity, the EPA has recently been instructed by the Obama administration to put draconian carbon emission restraints on American business and consumers–bypassing the difficult-to-pass Cap and Trade legislation that has stalled in Congress. This would be a huge mistake, and must be stopped by our current legislators.

Let’s go a step further and abolish the EPA. Talk about a new “morning in America!”

#1 – We must vote for pro-energy-independence leaders in 2010 and 2012

There is no way to recover from the BP disaster and become an energy independent America without getting rid of the anti-development leaders that now control Congress and the White House. The American Dream and destiny is under siege from those who would reduce us to mediocrity and poverty through unwise energy development and restrictions.

We must free ourselves from the energy slave masters and create a boom of energy invention, development, production, and independence in this nation.

In 2010, vote for congressmen and women and senators that understand that modern society is based on oil and that its potential must be unleashed.

In 2012, vote for a free enterprise-savvy president who understands the respective roles of business and government, and frees both of them to do their very best for the American people.

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