The effects of last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are still coming to surface. A new report this weekend shows that tourism in Louisiana remains low, business travel to assist with the cleanup is helping to offset the loss. According to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, "the issue is now dealing with the perception that is still out there that oil is still washing ashore." This latest report comes on the heels of the final report from the presidential commission that stated there are industry-wide problems that go beyond BP's negligence, indicative of the many setbacks Louisianans have in store for them as they look to rebuild. So what's standing in the way now?
Industry doesn't "get it": While the commission made some recommendations, "there are some reforms only Congress can make, like raising the liability limits for spills," says a New York Times editorial. Even if they can work out an oil spill bill, the "industry's role is crucial." They have to get on board, too. "To earn the privilege to drill for oil in public waters, it must engage in what the commission calls an 'internal reinvention.' Months after the gulf disaster, there are few signs that the oil companies or their lobbyists get it."
Let's get moving: "The commission is right that government oversight of offshore operations must improve to ensure that every company is operating in the safest possible way," says a New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial. "The key, though, is finding a balanced regulatory structure that does all that's possible to avoid another disaster while ensuring that this vital economic activity can continue safely and efficiently." The commission made some smart suggestions, but it'll take time to implement them all. We believe that "conducting safe oil exploration is possible and necessary." It's time to get started.
Some good can come of this: The biggest surprise from the spill is "how an essentially hare-brained idea to prevent oil from reaching the Louisiana marshes has evolved into a progressive project to protect New Orleans from future hurricanes," says William Sargent in The Boston Globe. After the spill, the state invested money to "construct sand berms to prevent oil from entering the marshes. "This is probably Louisiana's last and best chance to repair her ravaged shoreline, and not a moment too soon. It is only a matter of time before the next Katrina bears down on this low-lying and vulnerable coast."