When America looks back on the Gulf oil spill disaster of 2010, there should be no surprises, because we have been here before. When all is said and done, we will likely find that BP did what every other stockholder-driven corporation does; cut corners to maximize profits. But this time, the damage cannot be repaired with a bailout from taxpayers. This time the damage goes much deeper.
After the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989, the ensuing investigation revealed that “oil companies cut corners to maximize profits. Systems intended to prevent disaster failed, and no backups were in place. Regulators were too close to the oil industry and approved woefully inadequate accident response and cleanup plans.
There was confusion over who was in charge — oil companies or government officials. Federal authorities eventually asserted themselves but lacked the equipment and personnel to stem the damage. Storms slowed the response and spread contamination. Cleanup technology was old and ineffective. Environmentalists questioned the toxicity of dispersants and asked whether oil companies were using chemicals to hide damage,” CBS News said.
Yet the parallels between the Deepwater Horizon and the Exxon Valdez do not end there. The controlling partner of the consortium responsible for the oil spill and clean up at Prince William Sound – was British Petroleum, now known as BP.
When the clean up crews left and the world declared the crisis over, most of the oil stayed behind. Hundreds of thousands of birds, otters, seals and billions of salmon eggs died, not only in the immediate aftermath, but in the years that followed. The animals that survived, suffered reproductive problems and shortened life spans. Some species never recovered.
Walt Parker, chairman of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission said that whatever was learned from the Valdez disaster was ignored. “It’s almost as though we had never written the report.”
America is doomed to repeated failure because our leadership does not have the integrity to do what it takes to prevent disasters, whether they be financial or environmental. The cozy relationships between business and government will remain. Rules will neither be created nor enforced. With the current political climate in America, promoting more freedom from rules and consequences, things are destined to get worse.
People will continue to die at the hand of corporate greed , our land will continue to be polluted, and our environment will be the savaged victim of our myopic vision – all in the name of corporate gifts for political favors.
Unregulated capitalism and government corruption are unraveling our democracy like threads on a tattered sweater. Soon there will be little left but a shapeless mound, and when it’s gone, only the ignorant will wonder how it happened.
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