Successfully Moderating the Gulf Oil Crisis

This past summer, the summer of my eighteenth birthday, I was naturally eager to try my hand at a bit of gambling. So, I went down to the local casino, did some slots with the old ladies, played a couple hands of blackjack and came away quite amused at the whole spectacle. However, upon leaving the casino, I encountered a disheveled looking man who begged me to front him some money. You see, he said he owed a large amount to the casino, and needed some money so he could continue gambling to try and win it back. Plus, he enticed, I would get half of whatever he won. So when I heard this week that BP is petitioning the Obama administration for permission to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in order to help pay for the massive costs they accrued in the cleanup of last year’s major Gulf oil spill, I couldn’t help but think that I know exactly how the president must feel. Were this a simple issue of right and wrong or crime and punishment, the correct course of action for the Obama administration would be quite clear. Naturally the answer to BP’s request to resume drilling in a region where the results of the environmental cataclysm they caused are still being felt today should be a resounding NO. However, just as I was enticed by the promise of a share of the winnings by that shady casino derelict, our government is being increasingly persuaded by a need to wean our dependency on foreign oil. BP is audacious enough to ask for permission to resume drilling because they know that the U.S. needs their domestic oil production, and by most accounts needs it very badly. Other companies have already been granted reluctant permission – albeit under strict new safety requirements – to resume drilling in the Gulf; companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron, according to The New York Times. Now we are forced to play the timeless game of ethics versus profit, of forgiveness versus just deserts, of … well, you get the point. The president will have rabid environmentalists closing in one side even as angry citizens – some of them probably those same rabid environmentalists, ironically enough – complaining about rising gas prices are closing in on the other. I’m not saying I endorse one extreme or the other here, as that will get us nowhere. If BP is allowed too leniently back into the fray, the results could be disastrous. By that same token, however, if they are shut out and denied for too long, our fuel situation is not going to get any better. So, just like I told the man I encountered at the casino, I propose that the United States tells BP to get help. Better yet, give them the help they need to run their facilities safely and efficiently, and once that can be assured, then release them back into the Gulf with confidence. It would be like an oil driller’s support group of sorts, if you will. That night at the casino, I was tempted to jump to extremes; to yell at this man to go get a life or to reluctantly go along with his tempting scheme. However, I took the middle ground, told him he needed to get help, and what do you know – three months later I see him working behind the counter of a local convenience store, looking as happy as ever. If the U.S. follows that same path of sober moderation with BP, their success in resolving the situation is one bet I’d definitely be willing to make.