Arguments for limitation and regulation of offshore drilling were drowned out in the 2008 election cycle by chants of "Drill, baby, drill!" Two years later, a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bringing environmental calamity to shorelines, wildlife and people from Louisiana to Florida.
Prior to the BP spill, were you one of the "Drill, baby, drill"-ers? We're not in a position yet to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, so I can see the necessity for offshore drilling. We can't go about it in a gung-ho way, though.
What consequences should BP face? The consequences should be severe, but at least two or three companies are involved in that site. There needs to be an investigation to determine who is culpable for what.
What could the government have done differently? Better oversight. The regulatory agency supposedly doing that was literally in bed with the oil industry.
Have you ever caused a big mess? Back in college one summer I was an irrigator in a city park. A goof on my part flooded the foundation of a rec center under construction.
Have you ever added your voice to the "Drill, baby, drill" chorus? No. As the BP spill demonstrates, the attitude of "screw it, let's go" is irresponsible.
What lesson should we learn from this? It could have been prevented if the government exercised its oversight responsibility. It failed to do that, and this is the result.
Given this disaster, should future drilling policy reflect economic or environmental priorities more? They're connected. Do one right and you do the other, too. The environment has to come first, though.
What's the worst mess you've caused? I used to drain my engine oil directly onto the ground.
National team program manager, USA Triathlon
Do you support "Drill, baby, drill!"? No. Offshore drilling creates revenue and jobs, but other things have to be considered.
Does demand for oil trump environmental risk? That's a hard one. I heard a news story on [National Public Radio] where one of the governors down there cited statistics about offshore drilling creating more revenue than the fishing industry.
What consequences should BP face? There'll be huge fines, and the negative PR will be an enormous penalty for them.
Rate the government's performance in this disaster. It acted as quickly as it could. There has to be more regulation and proactive planning for emergencies, though.
What lesson does this teach us? The effects of a destroyed environment are a lot longer-lasting than the economic effects of limiting offshore drilling.
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