Are Congressional Hearings the Answer to Yellowstone Oil Spill?

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

There they go again—the oil industry scrambling in the wake of yet another environmental mess. This time it is ExxonMobil on the political and public relations hot seat after a 12-inch pipeline near Laurel, Montana burst last Friday spewing 42,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River. The resulting spill has fouled about 15 miles of the river and shoreline, endangered countless numbers of wildlife, and left residents of the area ill and angry.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass), the top Democrat on the House National Resources Committee, called on Tuesday for a series of investigative hearings on the spill and on oil pipeline safety in general and rightfully so. The public needs to know exactly what happened in Montana and why, and what will be done to protect us and the environment against similar disasters in the future.

Certainly, there will be a call for more stringent regulations and government oversight. But is that the answer?

We already know that the “big oil” and a majority of their Republican allies don’t think so. An unfettered oil industry, given carte blanche to pursue corporate interests and increased profits without pesky government regulators looking over their shoulder is what “big oil” and its supporters want.

On the other side of the debate progressive Democrats will be pressed by environmentalist groups that short of a complete end to oil production, will want draconian regulations imposed that will all but hamstring an industry crucial to the nation’s well being.

Clearly, what is really needed is legislation that strikes a thoughtful balance between protecting the environment and allows a vital industry to operate efficiently and responsibly.

To achieve such a compromise of competing interests requires lawmakers willing to forgo ideology in favor of common sense solutions. Unfortunately, that type of solid, statesman-like leadership is in short supply on the Hill and usually isn’t achieved without an outside prod.

We, at Turner GPA, pride ourselves in our ability to bridge ideological divides which helps us in crafting and advancing solutions that meet our clients’ needs and objectives and allows all stakeholders to feel like winners.

C.Z.T.

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