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Surprise from the EPA

In recent memory, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been more disappointing than gratifying in the eyes of environmental advocates.

Oil and gas extraction has been a thorn in the side of the EPA.

The organization has had to balance environmental concerns with economic woes.

The Obama administration has not made it easier on the EPA since it has been equally unwilling to take a real stand supporting or opposing the dangerous methods of extraction.

Yes, the Obama administration has maintained and prolonged the status quo of oil and gas extraction, development, and use; and yes, the EPA is subject to the Obama administration’s will, but the organization has a responsibility to the country to protect the environment even if it means disagreeing with the White House position.

Although the entire government has not been sympathetic to BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the only punishment levied against the oil giant was a fine, to be paid off within 5 years, totaling under $1 billion per year. This amount is a miniscule fraction of the total amount of profits the company makes, and is essentially just a slap on the wrist. However, the EPA managed to finally find a spine and administered an additional penalty to BP for the reckless behavior exhibited: the EPA announced it has “temporarily suspended BP Exploration and Production, Inc., BP PLC and named affiliated companies (BP) from new contracts with the federal government.”

Granted, it is a temporary suspension, and pre-existing contracts will still be honored, and it may result in being just a symbolic action, but the suspension represents the EPA finally taking legitimate action toward the oil industry’s reckless endangerment of not only the environment, but also its employees.

When an industry doesn’t even care about its employees, it comes as no surprise it won’t care about the environment. Perhaps with the newly found teeth of the EPA, the organization will be able to force the oil industry to start caring, and to start being responsible.

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