The US-American government filed in a charge against BP and eight other firms involved in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico half a year ago. The aim is to let them pay for the economic and environmental costs of the catastrophe following the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform (the government calls a number of US$75 billion).
It is a welcomed step toward letting the culprit pay instead of the US-American society. Nevertheless, for the time being, it is also a step toward hypocrisy.
It is true that the actual catastrophe was caused by huge carelessness from the firms involved. They are the immediate culprits and have to pay for their greed. But: all that would not have happened if it were illegal to drill for oil offshore. And, going to even more indirect (but nonetheless important) reasons: all that would not have happened would the US-American people (as well as people in other parts of the world, for that matter) accept that we cannot maintain (let alone increase) the current oil consumption levels (and that without paying more for that stuff).
Offshore drilling will remain dangerous and risky, no matter how tight the regulations be. The only way to avoid further catastrophes is to forbid it. That is the governments’ task. They have to recognize their responsibility as well as that of BP & Co. But so do the citizens: we have to accept that consuming more and more oil (and not wanting to pay more for it) is the reason for the behaviour of governments and corporations that caused the catastrophe of Deepwater Horizon.
There is enough hypocrisy in the world. Let’s avoid it in this particular case at least.