Oil Spill: Focus on Containment, Clean Up, Causation

Nicolas Loris /

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unfortunate and terrible accident that poses economic and environmental challenges to the Gulf coast. The fact that the explosion took eleven lives is regrettable and condolences to friends and families who lost their loved ones. Many questions are yet without answers; the most general and pressing being: what went wrong? Along with stopping the leak and containing the oil slick to minimize, the imperative concern is to figure out what went wrong. There will be lots of finger pointing and calls for action but Members of Congress and the White House should refrain from making any rash political decisions.

Despite accusations that BP cut corners on preventative measures, BP America Inc. President Lamar McKay maintains that’s not the case saying, “My belief is that that does not have anything to do with it. I believe we’ve got a failed piece of equipment. We don’t know why it failed yet in this contracted rig.” Whether that’s the case remains to be seen and will require a thorough investigation. The company is spending $6 million a day to reduce the environmental impact with burnoffs, oil booms, chemical-filled barriers and other dispersant chemicals and is attempting to activate the blowout prevention mechanism that was supposed to go into effect when the rig exploded. Answering this question must be at the top of the priority list.

After the “what happened and why” questions follow the “who’s to blame” ones. The obvious responsible party is BP and the company has vowed to pay for the clean up costs for “legitimate and objectively verifiable claims for other loss and damage caused by the spill.” This should include reimbursing the taxpayers for government resources allocated towards the problem, which thus far includes the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Management Services.