Nearly two months have passed since a chaotic oil rig erupted in the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing a torrent of oil that has been flowing since then. British Petroleum is the company "in charge" of the mess and have attempted several times to cap off the flow of the oil well -- unsuccessfully.
Environmental problems aside, BP's problem has caused a great deal of inconvenience for several other industries -- notably tourism and fishing. "Black gold" or "Texas tea" is now spreading all over the Gulf to the coastlines of Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. The water is turning black, much like one would expect to see in a cartoon. Numerous tourist hotspots are seeing a large increase in cancellations of those who had planned on being in the area, but now have no desire to vacation in an area with black, oily water. The situation has become desperate enough to where famed singer Jimmy Buffett is putting out ad spots promoting the state of Florida as a solid vacation spot despite the reports of black water encroaching the coast.
The fishing industry expects a massive loss in the areas. The oyster business in Florida alone is an $80 million industry annually. Those who have jobs in that particular area are scrambling to collect as many oysters as possible before oil reaches the area where they collect. In all fairness to BP, they are providing funds to offset the hit businesses and employees are going to take as a result from the oil leak (approximately $84 million to date), but experts predict years could pass before the oil is cleaned up sufficient for fishing to recover. In the mean time, productive jobs will be lost at a time when the economy has yet to find its way out of the recession.
BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, has vowed not to quit in the wake of this incident and intends to see it through until they have restored the Gulf of Mexico to its previous condition. He also claims BP is collecting much of the oil as it escapes the well, providing some relief from the problem. Sadly, even with the current mechanical "cap" in place, estimates state somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 gallons of crude oil are escaping every day. Experts predict BP might not have a handle on the situation for months.
With this situation going on since April, my question is why isn't the federal government stepping in to either assist or take over an ecological and economic disaster? BP claims they are working with federal agencies, but I haven't really seen much of this in the news. If their is cooperation going on, what a sad testament it is to our abilities as a nation. We can put men on the moon, create microchips that can process trillions of calcuations in seconds, and pinpoint locations of single individuals on the globe, but we can't plug a hole in the ocean? Granted, I'm not an engineer, but this baffles me. I know people are fearful of the federal government stepping in and taking over, but is this not a situation where we should put the full resources of our government into stopping this mess? Somehow, I doubt states rights advocates would voice much dissent in this situation.
I would presume President Obama would want to put an end to this as quickly as possible, as critics are now stating this could be his "[Hurricane] Katrina." Though not his fault, Obama should be putting more pressure on BP to wrap this up. Maybe the president is using a "behind the scenes" approach in this regard, but I currently see this as a domestic policy failure. Stop standing on the sidelines and check into the game please!