When’s the next big oil spill?

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The collision of the oil tanker Genesis River and a pair of tug-pushed chemical barges in the Houston Ship Channel (as reported in yesterday’s Trade Only Today) brings to mind a serious question: Is it only a matter of time before we experience another truly disastrous oil spill?

While an unknown amount of Reformate, a gasoline blend stock, has leaked into the water from the barges (one barge capsized, the other nearly cut in half), some 25,000 barrels of the liquid are in each barge. Fortunately, the tanker leaked nothing. But it’s been hard to determine the exact amount of Reformate released into the water from the barges because of evaporation. That said, fishermen are being warned not to eat any fish caught in the expanse of Galveston Bay.

Last month marked the ninth anniversary of the infamous BP Deepwater Horizon blowout that uncontrollably spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months. It was the worst pollution incident in American history. Given that fact, one would assume government regulators would move quickly to correct the errors that led to that calamity. Not so. Instead, it took six years (until April 2016) to adopt badly needed new regulations for blowout preventers and other control equipment.

With those regulations finally in place, can we now be confident going forward that our beaches and fish will be oil free? Sure. . . and we can also believe the claim by cops in Pinar, Argentina, that mice must have eaten 1,200 pounds of pot in the evidence locker. Or, is that too much to swallow?

Anyway, just three years after the new regulations finally went into effect under the Obama administration, they’re now being revised by the Trump administration, and apparently not for the better. Key mandatory requirements are about to be dumped in favor of “standards” written by none other than the oil and gas trade association. For example, the critical blowout preventers that could have saved us from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy will now be tested less often. The all-important third-party reviewers of oil drilling safety will no longer need to be certified by the government, in effect reducing this critical independent oversight.

These latest actions, coupled with the downright failure of regulators to tackle needed protocols on the makeup and use of oil dispersants (covered in Dealer Outlook, April 30, 2019) lead me to believe another such catastrophe may be more a matter of when than if.

While I am a strong advocate for less regulations on businesses, I am also an avid boater, angler and conservationist. In that light, the reduction of regulations developed over six years to, hopefully, prevent another environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon defies common sense and good stewardship which we rightfully expect from our various agencies.

NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK

Making certain your boat is equipped with the proper safety gear; taking a free safe boating course in person or online; and always practicing proper life jacket wear when underway. These are just some of the good messages every dealer should convey to customers next week as we mark National Safe Boating Week (May 18-24).

Backed by the National Safe Boating Council, the annual Safe Boating Week campaign calls attention to boating practices as the nation’s boating families get ready to head out for summer fun on our waterways.

“We are excited to join forces with partners around the world to encourage everyone to wear a life jacket when on the water, and always boat responsibly because the best boating experience is a safe boating experience,” preaches Peg Phillips, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council.

Dealers can plan on participating in the attention-grabbing kick-off set for this Friday, May 17. It will be “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day.” This is a fun, educational way to heighten life jacket awareness and highlight the various styles, too. Dealers can encourage team members as well as all customers to wear their life jacket to work, snap a picture, and share their photo on social media with the hashtags #lifejacket2work and #safeboating.

“Wearing a life jacket is the simplest safety step a boater can take, just like a driver wears a seat belt in a vehicle,” sums up Phillips.

The Safe Boating Campaign actually continues throughout the boating season with local outreach efforts including “Ready, Set, Wear It Life Jacket” events on various dates. These family-friendly events teach boaters about the importance of always wearing a life jacket, along with helpful care and maintenance information. Dealer and customers can find out about campaign partners in their local community by going to: www.safeboatingcampaign.com/become-a-partner

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