Republicans Block Oil Drilling Safety Reforms

| by Jerome McCollom

Remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? I sure do. It poisoned the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, killing millions of fish and other aquatic life in the process. It ruined and hampered the businesses of thousands of individuals. Indeed, there are people still struggling to get paid for the screw-up by BP and Transocean.

Indeed, a report by the U.S. Coast Guard stated about the leadup to the spill and what allowed it to be caused:

"These included poor maintenance of electrical equipment that may have ignited the explosion, bypassing of gas alarms and automatic shutdown systems that could prevent an explosion, and lack of training of personnel on when and how to shut down engines and disconnect the [Deepwater Horizon] from the well to avoid a gas explosion and mitigate the damage from an explosion and fire."

What nation was this platform registered to and technically at least, in charge of safety inspections? The Marshall Islands, or a group of islands with a national GNP lower than the value of the platform itself. A group of islands halfway across the globe from where the platform was located, and was supposed to ensure to regulate it for safety. Absurd, of course. The only reason the platform, as is common practice against differing industries, was registered to the Marshall Islands was because it allowed for little or no oversite for the its corporate owners.

The fact is, digging for oil under a mile of ocean is risky. It's not easy and there are environmental, economical and health risks if it goes wrong. This is one of the reasons we have a U.S. Congress, which after the reasons for a big spill become known, should step in to ensure that the risk of such accidents are reduced. But, unfortunately Republicans in Congress voted overwhelmingly to block any reform and regulation of oil drilling since this horrendous spill.

Last year they blocked to increase the liability of oil companies who pollute our nation's waters and oceans with their spills. They have opposed the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking for natural gas. I think drilling should be part of our energy solution, but why is one of our major political parties ignoring common sense solutions? Did they not see the platform on fire last year? Did they not see the beaches littered with oil sludge? It is one thing to be the party of big business, it is another thing for those elected officials to vote no differently than if the corporate exectutives themselves were in office.

They say they are pro-business, but don't they care about the small businesses harmed by such a spill? Do they not care about the fishing industries or the tourism industries, or the other industries harmed?

They aren't the party of business. They are the party of large, influential and large donor businesses.