If you've read any of my coverage of the BP Gulf spill, you're well aware that there are still many lingering questions about the disaster. It was, after all, one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters in U.S. history. Some are straightforward: What will the longterm damage be to Gulf habitats and communities? What effect will the unprecedented amounts of chemical dispersants dropped into the Gulf ecosystem have on wildlife? On residents?
But the more intriguing one, the one that still riles me up every time a news item about the spill manages to elbow its way through the news cycle (quite a rare feat these days), is this: Why didn't anything change after the spill? There was no tightening of regulations on offshore drilling, no effort to incentivize cleaner, safer kinds of energy production, no nothing. Our political system was left unchanged. By way of comparison, legislation was immediately passed in the wake of the much-smaller Exxon Valdez spill to help hold oil companies accountable for their misdeeds.
So what gives? Part of the answer is explored in a new documentary (more a polemic against the oil industry by the looks of it, but hey, it's justified) about the spill, The Big Fix. Here's the trailer:
The film's evident hypothesis: The political influence of the oil industry has simply become too powerful, and is more likely to change government policy rather than the other way around.
I'll look forward to checking out the film, which is premiering in New York this week, and following up with a more in-depth review.
If you're in the area, the filmakers will be attending the first round of screenings, from December 2-8th at AMC Loews Village 7 cinema. See the Big Fix's Facebook page for more details.