What the World (and Some Celebrities) Are Doing About the Disaster in the Gulf
As the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico enters its third month, a variety of efforts to stop the flow of oil have come and gone, all inspiring governments around the globe to review their own energy policies, particularly with regard to off-shore drilling. While global trends showed a shift towards loosening regulation, all that could be about to change. Especially considering some of the people involved in the cleanup.
In perhaps the oddest byproduct of this environmental catastrophe, the media has turned its eye to a number of companies developing cleaning technologies for just this kind of spill. It might have been a fairly dry topic of conversation had it not somehow involved a number of celebrities not normally associated with any aspect of the disaster in the Gulf. One of the more prominent cleaning solutions considered so far has been a centrifugal cleaning system financed by actor Kevin Costner, whose brother is the scientist behind the technology. Already deployed by BP, it’s the just the first cleaning solution financed by mainstream celebrities.
Former NFL quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Drew Bledsoe have also helped to develop Ecosphere, another cleaning technology they are currently pitching to officials in the Gulf. Does it say something about the likelihood of this kind of disaster that celebrities may have foreseen it? At any rate, the eyes of the world have certainly taken note of the events.
Around the time the Deepwater Horizon was first reported, Canadian officials were already flexing their regulatory muscle when it came to off-shore drilling. This was particularly the case with Chevron, a driller in the Gulf who has been looking to tap off-shore oil in eastern Canada. As part of the deal, Chevron is now required to meet with regulators on a weekly basis in installing their rig. This after Canadian officials had actually began relaxing regulatory oversight of the oil industry. Having seen the events in the Gulf, Canada has now begun examining its financial cap placed on oil companies in the event of an off-shore spill, following President Obama's recent lead in the United States. With an upcoming audit of drilling taking place in the Arctic, Canada certainly seems to be paying attention to the Gulf.
In most of the world, however, regulation is generally left to the industry itself. While most countries set general standards for safety regarding the oil industry, they don't appear to enforce these regulations all that strictly. As in Canada, that leniency appears to be a more-recent trend for the industry, a trend that could halt in light of recent events in the Gulf. So while the United States may not be alone in how it governs the oil industry, the rest of the world is certainly taking a hint from the BP disaster. At the very least, they’ll have some celebrities prepared to help with the clean-up.
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.