Earth needs a Band-aid

Moriah Schervone ('11)/ Eastside Global Commentary Editor

The Earth has hemophilia, and on April 2o, she got stabbed. Instead of blood, there is oil, and lots of it.

A little over two months has passed since oil began to surge into the Gulf of Mexico from the oil well, Deepwater Horizon, yet the end of the mess is not even in the foreseeable future. The only other topic mentioned in the news as consistently was Michael Jackson’s death. 

Finger pointing is so excessive at this point that the arms of the major parties involved are getting tangled, like in a game of Twister. The United States government is blaming BP; BP is blaming the owner and operator of the rig, Transocean; Halliburton, the company that worked on the well on April 19 is also being thrown into the mix. As of now, the media is looking cross-eyed at the situation.

Most fingers are directed at BP, and not without reason. Simply compare BP to other oil companies. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), BP has the most enforcement citations of any other company, and has been fined for tens of millions of dollars —more precisely, 87,430,000 dollars. When searching “Exxon Mobil fines” on the OSHA website, on the other hand, no documents are found.

This situation can be compared to the Exxon Valdez spill back in 1989. Then, there was a limited amount of spilt oil that affected the area. When 11 million gallons of oil entered the ocean in Alaska, the biggest problem the Exxon had was cleaning everything up. The oil company spent a total of 2.1 billion dollars to get rid of the oil.

Today, with over 2.5 million gallons of oil gushing out of the ground every day, both the federal government and BP need to get their act together.

Despite many safety violations, BP should not be the only party blamed for the continuation of the spill. BP should concentrate on capping the leaking well and stopping any more oil from entering the ocean. The government— more specifically, the administration— should concentrate on the clean-up at hand. If leadership is not exercised, the oil will surely reach our beaches. President Obama should be a fixture in the Gulf right now and should facilitate whatever the States and Coast Guard need, rather than play golf or go to sporting events. As a leader he should take charge of the situation in the Gulf Coast, or appoint someone who will. The environment and people are being hurt more than ever, and as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said, “Every day that this oil sits is one more day that more of our marsh dies.”

When Katrina hit New Orleans, the media and the people attacked former President Bush for not doing enough to help those affected. Obama should get the same treatment, if not a more severe one. In May, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “We are going to stay on this and stay on BP until this gets done and this gets done the right way.” It has been over 65 days, and the situation has not been pacified. Rather, it continues to rage.

There is no Band-aid or easy way to clot this hemophilia. But one thing is certain— leadership is necessary, and the blame game and void tough talk will not cap the well or clean the oil.