Government needs to get tougher on resource extraction companies

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2010

In light of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, does anyone still actually have faith in the permit process for natural resource extraction? BP is obviously at fault, but it is the government which failed to stop them from drilling there or failed to require them to come up with a proper plan for dealing with this kind of disaster. I'm guessing most people read the article the other day about BP being largely responsible for the pathetic attempt at curbing the damage of the Exxon Valdez spill. Decades later, what has really changed? Even before this disaster, BP's negligence caused a recent significant spill in our own state and caused another disaster which killed people in Texas.

It is obvious we cannot rely on our government, under the current system, to protect us for dangerous companies. Remember that the owners of the Pebble Mine keep chanting about how good the current permit process is. Do you really still agree? I certainly don't and I don't know how anyone can after the repeated disasters. And one last point: Pebble Mine proponents say that an independent study on the mine will undermine the current permit process. Obviously, the current process is a failure, so what's wrong with undermining. How could it be that great when it doesn't even allow for an independent review?

Of course, we're talking about two different industries here, but the government is the same and so is the mentality among companies. Our system allows companies too much freedom and leaves them with too little responsibility. These companies will continue to behave recklessly and arrogantly, getting people and other animals killed until they are either stopped from ever having the chance or they are shown serious consequences. We can't just hand them a portion of the bill. The system must change, and you can bet we're headed for the right changes when it makes a company squirm.

Reuben Rupp


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