Should the oil spill heading toward the Gulf Coast and the Florida keys make the nation rethink its move to allow more off-shore drilling? These writers think so.
This disaster couldn't have come at a worse time for the oil industry — not long after the president announced support for off-shore drilling and at a time when gas prices have spiked to above $3 a gallon once more.
Sarah Palin's comment over the weekend that she still wants "our country to be able to trust the oil industry" isn't likely to be a slogan for anyone's political campaign this fall. And yet we do indeed need to find a way to make the oil industry trustworthy — at least until hybrid or all-electric vehicles fill our roads. Then we'll have to deal with a crisis of generating electricity.
Don't worry, though. Congress is all over this. Hearings into the spill are on tap for the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee, the Senate Homeland Security Committee and possibly the Senate Commerce Committee. In the House, there will be three committee hearings — Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources and Oversight. Expect British Petroleum officials to squirm, as they should. Expect more election-year theatrics from self-righteous lawmakers. But don't expect a lot of squirming by the federal Minerals Management Service, which is supposed to monitor off-shore drilling.
The nation can't afford to shy away from off-shore drilling. Obama's original instincts were right. We don't abandon the idea of flying just because a plane crashes. But obviously, the nation has to find a way to better ensure the safety of off-shore rigs. A spill like this can hurt the economy far worse than high gas prices.
Meanwhile, we can all pray that the spill, which still spews 200,000 gallons a day into the Gulf and now covers 2,000 square miles, will somehow avoid causing major coastal damage.