Q: Could the oil spill really have far-reaching implications for America's energy future? Should it?
What happened in the Gulf should affect the thinking of every American. We trusted big companies who told us they knew what they were doing when the government allowed them to drill for oil in deep water. This same type of spill happened in 1979 for Pemex, the petroleum company of Mexico with the Ixtoc oil well blowout, with the major difference being the depth of the water. Currently BP is using the same methods used 30 years ago to stem the flow of oil, which was not stopped until a relief well was drilled. Why has there been no progress in all that time in fixing problems like this? That same year all of us thought that the nuclear industry had fail-safe systems in place and well trained operators at Three Mile Island.
One of the other lessons of the current oil well disaster is that there are no simplistic solutions like "Drill, baby, drill". President Obama approved more offshore oil permits because it will take decades to wean ourselves away from so much dependence on fossil fuels and toward much less hazardous and polluting sources of energy such as solar and wind. We have made some small steps in the long journey to become energy smart and independent, but we need to pick up the pace. Of course we are concerned about jobs, especially in these times, but other jobs will be created when some are eliminated.
Until someone we trust or a fairly selected panel of experts representing all Americans concludes that we do need to take action, it will be difficult to pass a meaningful Senate energy bill to coordinate with the House version. A public debate or forum would be a wonderful place to bring out the facts that the public needs to hear and weigh before we try to decide what is best for America and the rest of the world for current and future generations. Perhaps the tragedy in the Gulf will focus attention on our responsibilities to those who will come after us.