Paper, Plastic or BP Oil?

An oil soaked bird. From: Korean Federation for Environmental Movement/

Some of the oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico may soon be out of the water, and incorporated into our everyday lives. BP PLC plans to sell the crude to raise money for wildlife protection.

The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, igniting the worst oil spill in US history. The crude has devastated the Gulf, but now BP will use the captured oil to help protect it. BP receives 65% of the net revenue made by selling the Gulf oil under its operating agreement, and plans to donate its share of the money to the wildlife fund. According to the Associated Press (AP), BP will put the oil into the world’s economic supply chain, bringing it to gas stations, construction sites and grocery stores.

Scientists estimate that between 40 million to 109 million gallons have seeped into the Gulf. Four million gallons of crude have been taken from the well, while 18 million gallons have been skimmed from the surface of the ocean.

Julius Langlinais, professor emeritus of petroleum engineering at Louisiana State University, reasoned to the AP that “Oil is oil.”

Langlinais explained to the AP that the barrels of captured crude could easily be swapped with the barrels of other oil companies who then send it across the globe. And once it hits a refinery, the oil could end up in gasoline, diesel, heating oil, asphalt and plastic.

The simple decision to use a plastic bag to pack your groceries could have you supporting oil, and using the very crude that once blackened the Gulf.

This is going to be a rude wake up call for those who have demanded a stop to drilling for oil and a boycott of all things BP.

Is selling the oil for charity the right move, though? What this tragedy has shown us is that we must find an alternative to oil. We must not let our lives be so dependent on it anymore. The survival of the environment is counting on us to change.

BP putting the captured oil right back into the economy doesn’t demonstrate a move forward. It only highlights how much our life styles need the oil, and basically states that crude isn’t going anywhere. BP should find another way to donate money to help the Gulf and wildlife, and not contradict the lessons of this tragedy by keeping us locked in oil’s grasp.

The very fact that we will be using the oil without even knowing it is testimony to just how blind we are to the crude around us.

“I think it’s an eye-opening experience for people who don’t give it much thought when they finally realize how much their lives depend on oil,” Langlinais told the AP.

BP’s donation only opens our eyes to a tragedy that has been hiding in plain sight all this time: Oil is everywhere, and we had no idea.


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