Gulf oil spill one year later

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today marks the anniversary of the explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the largest oil spill in the history of the oil exploration in the Gulf.

Until that disaster occurred, it appeared that exploration efforts were on track to greatly increase as a part of an energy policy devised by President Barack Obama. Not long before the disaster, the president announced a plan to increase domestic oil production while at the same time trying to find ways to reduce American dependence on oil, especially foreign oil.

Interests off the West Coast of Florida and along the East Coast of the United States immediately began the process of developing arguments to be used in efforts to limit, if not completely prevent, oil exploration in those areas. Then the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred, killing 11 workers aboard the rig and sending oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

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The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon seemingly ended the president’s effort to expand exploration and nullified the need for opponents of oil exploration off the Florida West Coast and along the East Coast of the United States to marshal their arguments against offshore exploration.

Exploration for domestic sources of oil is still needed — in areas where it can be done as safely as possible, and among those areas should be the Gulf of Mexico. Also, companies doing the exploration need to be held to the highest standards of safety possible and federal agencies charged with policing that safety need to be reinforced and held accountable for their decisions. Both industry and federal standards for ensuring safety need to be constantly updated to insure no more such disasters occur.

And both oil exploration and efforts to reduce American dependence on oil need to continue apace and not be abandoned. Oil is a finite resource and the places where it has been stored by nature beneath the Earth’s surface are becoming more difficult to find and more dangerous to tap, but until other sources of energy can be developed, we must seek oil where we can find it.

By reducing our dependence on oil over the time needed to develop domestic alternative sources, we can steadily become more reliant on sources of energy available domestically. Also, by supplying our own energy sources we should be able to increase domestic employment with the jobs created to support that energy production and to produce the goods and supplies needed for that production.

As with many disasters, there are lessons that needed to be learned. Hopefully, we have learned ours and can proceed to seek and produce the energy we need more safely, and in time, produce it from renewable and domestic sources.