If you’re mad about the spill, think about what you’re driving.
Electric-drive cars, especially those running on electricity instead of petroleum, could play a key role in reducing the need to drill. The good news is that electric cars and plug-in hybrids are finally coming to market, but they are trickling out while the spill in the Gulf gushes out. The current spill is not an isolated event. Between 2001 and 2007, there were 356 oil spills of varying degrees of seriousness on federal lands and waters.
What’s taking so long for hybrids and plug-in cars from displacing gas-burners? You could point to oil company profits, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. “For the oil companies, [Gulf of Mexico] reserves are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and represent the industry’s future,” Jad Mouawad writes in today’s New York Times. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for a third of the nation’s domestic oil supplies, and is the fastest growing source of oil in the United States.
If the public is not outraged over the oil industry profiting at the expense of the environment and the livelihood of Gulf residents, then maybe anger at the government will be helpful. Lisa Margonelli, also writing in today’s New York Times, explains that the federal Minerals Management Service considered requiring relatively inexpensive equipment to allow offshore drilling rigs to shut down spills using remote control switches. But the agency decided it wasn’t necessary.
But ultimately, disgust with the oil spill should turn to introspection. Nothing will change as long as the average driver—not just hybrid and EV owners—fails to connect the dots. As Margonelli writes, “Every gallon of gas is a gallon of risks—risks of spills in production and transport, of worker deaths, of asthma-inducing air pollution and of climate change, to name a few.”
That’s why her other clever idea, while tongue-in-cheek, is about the best we can muster right now: “We should print these risks on every gasoline receipt, just as we label smoking’s risks on cigarette packs.”