This week, I spoke at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) on the topic of the future of oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The speaker before me, representing the oil industry, closed his presentation by solemnly reading the names of the 11 workers who died on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April, 2010, and suggested that it would dishonor their memories if we did not continue to drill for oil on the OCS.
I was appalled and angry. Here is what is at stake in OCS drilling from the consumer standpoint. The EIA has estimated that, if the oil industry gets to drill everywhere it wants to in the U.S., the price of gasoline at the pump might decrease by 3 cents by 2030. Is that worth eleven lives? Is a 3 cent price drop worth the billions of dollars in damages that people and businesses in the Gulf have suffered thanks to BP's Macondo well blowout? Are the worker's deaths justified by the many billions of dollars of profits that the major oil companies are reporting for the first quarter of 2011?
Here is how to honor the memories of the people who died on April 20, 2010 on the Deepwater Horizon: let's implement the recommendations of the President's Oil Spill Commission and do our best to make sure that not one more life is lost in the name of oil company profits. And let's get on the road to a clean energy economy so that dangerous, destructive extractive industries can't fund shills who dishonor the memories of the dead.