Saturday, July 24, 2010

Misplaced Blame

The Gulf Oil Spill threatens the way of life of Gulf residents and marine life. Besides clean-up and capping the flow, investigating the cause of the spill in order to prevent future spills is an important task. A government panel is having hearings to investigate, and this past week they found that an alarm was "inhibited".
At hearings this week here, crew members have described repeated failures in the weeks before the disaster, including power losses, computer crashes and leaking emergency equipment...

Mr. Williams, who filed a lawsuit against Transocean in federal court in New Orleans on April 29, added several new details about the equipment on the rig, testifying that another Transocean official had turned a critical system for removing dangerous gas from the drilling shack to “bypass mode.”

When Mr. Williams questioned that decision, he said he was reprimanded...

Mr. Williams recalled that Mr. Hay added, “The entire fleet runs them in ‘bypass.’ ”

The Obama Administration has issued a drilling moratorium so that risks are minimized until investigations are completed that would either be able to confirm the safety of drilling operations or come up with new safety standards. The administration has also issued commercial fishing and shrimping bans. Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal has already lifted the recreational fishing ban and has been urging the federal government to lift the commercial fishing ban.

Some of the Gulf residents have been understanding of the bans, but many have become angry at the government for the bans and even for the spill itself. This is frustrating to me because as voters and taxpayers, people should take some responsibility of these problems rather simply directing their anger at the government. If they really wanted the government to determine the safety of the seafood faster, then they'd have to support giving more resources and funding to the FDA. Plus, at this stage, it may well be that the seafood is not safe, in which case there is not much the federal government can do.

Gulf residents insist that their livelihoods depend on oil and seafood and tourism, but if they knew they were so dependent on the well-being of the Gulf and the cleanliness of the beaches, then they should have paid more attention to the oil industry and the drilling operations. The local government and thus the local people need to be the first line of defense from local disasters. Instead, they want the economic benefits of the drilling while leaving the burden of regulating and cleaning up to the federal government. In fact, in order to attract businesses and economic benefits, local government tend to lobby the federal government to reduce regulations so that the cost of business is cheaper. Meanwhile, the tax revenues from people from other states pay for cleanup and what little regulation there is left.

People are upset that the regulators at the MMS "didn't do their jobs," but then they should have been more supportive of their jobs prior to the spill. Even now, many conservatives say there is too much government regulation. Everyone thinks someone else should take the blame and absorb the cost for the spill, but perhaps everyone has forgotten that this is a participatory democracy, and that you not only get the government that you deserve, but also the corporations and resulting disasters.

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