More than a month after the Deep Water Horizon rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico, we can only begin to comprehend the scale of this human, environmental, and economic catastrophe. It took eleven lives. It continues to wreak havoc on the delicate ecosystems in and around the Gulf. It has endangered huge swathes of our coastal economy from Texas to Florida, and possibly beyond.
Estimates vary, but the ruptured well is spewing 39,000 to 58,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf each day. It will take years to recover from this disaster. Even in the darkest days, we must remember that with many crises come opportunities. Opportunities to learn from our mistakes. Opportunities to seek a better future. This oil spill compels us to take an honest and much-needed look at our dependence on fossil fuels.
As we deplete accessible oil supplies, we will have no choice but to stretch the limits of safety and prudence to find new reserves. We will be forced to go to ever-deeper waters to quench our insatiable thirst for oil.
In the days since April 20, we have seen the cost of our dangerous addiction to oil. It is a cost too high to bear.
Many of us feel a great deal of anger at the spill and those responsible for it. This anger is justifiable, and we must hold BP accountable. They must clean “every drop of oil off the shore” as they have promised to do. But anger should not be our only reaction. Here’s another idea: instead of getting angry, let’s get smart. Every TV set in the country is tuned to coverage of the oil spill. Public dialogue is focusing on this disaster. It is an unprecedented opportunity to have an honest discussion about the costs of – and solutions for – our fossil fuel addiction.
We must take a decisive stand for alternative, renewable, sustainable energy, and we must do it now.
This is a theme I have been pushing the entire campaign. In my primary debate in April, I discussed how the pursuit of alternative energy resources should be among our foremost priorities. On Wednesday, President Obama issued a powerful call to action: we must renew our dedication to passing legislation that comprehensively addresses our climate change and fossil fuel dependence problems. I fully support this effort.
There are a number of viable alternative energy resources and technologies that could supplement and diversify our energy portfolio and allow us to move away from the human, economic, and environmental risks of fossil fuels. I look forward to discussing them in the weeks – and blog posts – to come.