By Vladimir Gladkov
After a yearlong drilling moratorium the oil giant BP and its partners resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – which two years ago became an arena for an extremely devastating environmental disaster. As unbelievable as it sounds the companies, guilty of completely destroying the marine and wildlife habitat of the Gulf and dealing an enormous amount of damage to the local businesses, managed to find a compromise with the US government. This scenario became an extremely unpleasant surprise for the ecological activists, charmed by the election promises of Barak Obama. The situation with BP vividly demonstrates that despite all its pledges, the White House still supports the corporations, no matter how disastrous their activity is to America.
An explosion on a Deepwater Horizon drilling platform became the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, causing serious damage to the environment as well as to the local fishing and tourism industries. As the result of the accident 11 workers were killed and millions of gallons of oil were spilled into the ocean. Before the well was capped, the spilled oil caused ecological crisis, polluting the coastlines of four states and poisoning countless fishing grounds. According to experts the amount of economical and environmental damage still could not be fully assessed.
For nearly two years BP and its partners were trying to blame each other for the catastrophe. And even being investigated, the companies managed to demonstrate examples of extreme hypocrisy. For example, Transocean – an offshore drilling firm directly responsible for the disaster, cited the year of the catastrophe as the company’s best year for safety ever and awarded its top executives with million dollar bonuses.
Now BP and its partners, who still continue to face legal challenges, seem to have come to a compromise, allowing them to not only resume drilling in the Mexican Gulf but also to expand oil exploration and production around the world, including Mexican and Cuban waters.
The announcement of an agreement between BP and lawyers representing individuals and businesses hurt by the disaster came on Friday. The experts claim that the reason for such an amnesty is a rapidly escalating demand for energy worldwide.
“We need oil,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of the Rice University energy program. “The industry will have to improve and regulators will have to adjust, but the public will have to deal with the risk of drilling in deep waters or get out of their cars.”
The energy problem indeed became a key point of the presidential campaign. While Republicans keep blaming Barak Obama for sky-rocketing gas prices, the President tries to assure the public that he not only takes measures to lower the prices but also puts great efforts into applying new safety standards to oil production.
“We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and approved more than 400 drilling permits since we put in place new safety standards in the wake of the gulf oil spill,” – said Obama during his speech in New Hampshire last Thursday. It is hard to take this statement seriously, considering the fact, that BP is expanding the drilling area in Mexican and Cuban waters, where the process of oil production would be beyond American control, but any accident would still hit the US shoreline.
While Barak Obama is unable to keep his promises it would be naïve to expect any reasonable ideas from his Republican contenders, who played a crucial role in the process of blocking the safety laws. “The Republicans and the oil industry are maintaining the speed-over-safety mentality that led to the BP disaster in the first place,” – says Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, also known for his criticism of the White House’s response to the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, it seems that independently of the election’s results, America would keep its course toward new ecological disasters, which risk irreversibly changing the face of our planet.