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Bemidji Pioneer Editorial: Preventing future oil spills again

It may be years before the full extent of damage will be known from the BP oil spill in the Gulf. It is a delicate ecosystem, one in which oil plumes 10 miles long by 3 miles wide do not belong.

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil continue to flow from the broken oil well on the floor of the Gulf, with BP trying procedure after procedure to stop the flow.

The cause for concern comes from the April 20 explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig, killing 11 workers. The rig itself sank two days later, but oil has been gushing ever since.

It seems BP was never prepared for this extent of a disaster. It has an emergency plan, a 500-page document that falls short of handling catastrophes.

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District, held hearings on the oil spill Wednesday. Republicans attempted to pin the blame on the Obama administration for lax regulations, but they need to look further back to the George W. Bush administration for who crafted those lax regulations.

Private industry needs to be held to task as well, for its urge to cut corners to ensure profit. There is no doubt that stricter regulations are needed, but that enforcement be provided that the private industry adheres.

"I think it's inflammatory to call it the Obama oil spill, and wrong," Oberstar said.

The key is to enact measures to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again. It also should not stop us from seeking more domestic oil from our coasts. It is still desperately needed to cut our dependence on foreign oil.

But it must be done safely with protection of the environment squarely in mind.


The Bemidji Pioneer and the Echo Press are owned by Forum Communications Company.