Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 14 May 2010
Blogpic It should come as no surprise that one of the first questions out of people's mouths after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and consequential oil spill is, "What's going to happen to the offshore drilling plan?"
I've heard a lot of folks pronounce this spill as the death knell to Obama's plan, but I find that hard to believe.
This is a massive spill (although the rate at which oil is being pumped above the seafloor is now in dispute), and we won't know the extent of the damage for a very long time. However, tragedies like this one serve as lessons learned. After the Exxon Valdez disaster, we got double-hulled tankers. That action may seem like a no-brainer now, but unfortunately, it often takes disaster on a massive scale for our government (or the international community, when it came to double hulls) to force industry into significant investments.
Hopefully, after Deepwater Horizon, our government will require sonar-activated blowout preventers. During the Bush administration, there was some talk of requiring these preventers on all rigs in U.S. waters, but the oil industry pushed back and said the $500,000 investment was too high, so the Minerals Management Service backed down. Now that cost seems laughable.
Sadly, it seems that for many decades at least, our government has been more in the business of protecting corporations than in protecting its own people. This is just another example of how that has come back to bite us. And the government officials who made it all happen? Happily retired. Good for them.
So what do we do? Well, we have to do what fishermen have understood and been doing for the last couple of decades: get involved in the process. Otherwise, you are sure to be left out, left behind and left in a lurch in the long run.
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