Thursday, March 3, 2011

Putting a Bounty Out For BP: The Importance of Environmental Regulations

Letter to the editor:

Is April 20, 2010 already ancient history? I certainly hope not. In case you have forgotten, this date marked the beginning of the infamous BP oil spill. Of course, the massive leak wasn’t capped for more than two months after it sprung. The spill was one of the worst environmental disasters brought on by human hands in our entire history. It is estimated that more than 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico each day. The damage was vast and devastating, affecting many species of wildlife and wearing out various ecosystems. This does not include the people who rely on the Gulf as their only source of income.

The U.S. Department of the Interior supervises the Minerals Management Service, in charge of reviewing the environmental impact of such drilling operations. Unfortunately, the government did not do its part in properly assessing the dangers of drilling in deep water. Those responsible for preventing a disaster like the spill from happening were too busy enjoying the perks given to them by corporate executives with BP. As a result, a catastrophic spill that could have been avoided instead did immeasurable damage to our environment.

It angers me deeply that we allow money to cloud our moral judgment so badly nothing else seems to matter. Money has the power to influence otherwise good people to look the other way while blatant criminal acts are committed. Money carries enough weight to determine the way our government governs. We allow corporations to have free reign under deregulation to do as they please. We act as though they have our best interest at heart when in fact we know that the only interest of any corporation is profit. It never seems to matter who gets hurt as long as the money keeps pouring in and investors are happy.

Not even 6 months after the oil stopped pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, BP managed to turn a profit. Early November of 2010, BP reported a net profit of $1.79 billion. During the clean up, BP was said to have been losing $16 million a day. However, they were bringing in $66 million in profit per day. In 2009, BP made $14 billion. So even if the clean up cost them that same amount, they would only have to go a year before making a profit again. Clearly, it took much less than that. Despite the long-term damage caused to the environment, BP will continue on with barely a scratch.

For the sake of our very existence, we must change our priorities as human beings. The planet can’t survive forever under such frequent abuse. How much more evidence do we need before we realize the importance of regulating corporations? In theory it should all make perfect sense. We elect our government officials to carry out our wishes. We don’t elect our corporate executives. So why are we so opposed to letting the government regulate corporations like BP so they can’t get away with such atrocities? If the bottom line for a corporation is profit, why do we believe for a second that they care about our best interest? These are just a few of the many questions I ask in frustration and with the utmost concern for my planet. Will we learn before it's too late?

Dan Savino

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