Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Collateral Damage

I’m sure the wealthy BP executives breathed a sigh of relief when it was determined that the oil found two miles away from the Deepwater Horizon rig was from another well.  That new oil was characterized as “drips” in comparison to the gusher that was recently capped.

Lost in this discussion is the liability for these spills that come from abandoned wells.  There are thousands of such non-producing wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and there’s a potential for these “drips” to accumulate and cause additional damage.  We need to ensure that there is legislation in place that does not allow a drilling company to wash its hands of responsibility after a well has been capped and abandoned.  As corporate ownership changes through mergers, acquisitions, and divestments, this environmental stewardship responsibility must remain with those who are responsible for the abandoned wells.

Any significant leakage of oil into the Gulf has an impact on its fragile ecosystem.  While this has been going on for some time, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe brought this inconvenient truth to the front pages.  Introducing toxins into the environment is deleterious, whether it is done quickly as in the recent disaster, or slowly over time as we have been seeing with these abandoned wells.

This country needs to increase its effort to wean itself from energy sources that are ripped out of the environment and pollute our air and water.   The only acceptable solution is a concerted effort to invest in and develop clean wind, solar, and thermal energy.  This won’t happen overnight, but without a commitment to clear and measurable goals it will never happen.

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