When the ExxonMobil pipeline burst a few weeks ago, the small community of Mayflower, Arkansas was soon devastated. With approximately 84,000 gallons of oil and chemicals flooding the streets and invading local water sources, residents of this small American town are now exposed to tremendous health hazards, relocation costs, and basic life disruptions.
So far, 22 families have been evacuated from the town and relocated at great expense, likely for weeks to come. Local bird populations have been covered from this oil spill and will likely see their populations decimated in the aftermath. Beyond the immense human and animal devastation caused by this unnatural disaster, the most shocking and saddening part of the story is that Exxon is exempt from paying for the damage they cause.
Due to a loophole in national policy, Exxon will not have to pay for the damages of this catastrophic spill because of the type of oil being leaked. The kind of oil spilled by Exxon is not covered in national law and thus they will not have to repay the costs of their destruction. In addition, Exxon does not know what caused the pipeline breakage and thus will not be able to fix the problem to protect against future disasters.
Local residents have also been critical of Exxon’s clean up “efforts,” which have been slow and unproductive so far. If Exxon’s irresponsibility and general disregard for human and animal life aren’t enough, the oil giant is also actively preventing ground and air media from entering the town and covering the story.
Unlike dirty oil, solar power will never spill or harm living creatures. Energy generated from solar panels comes directly from the sun and is completely clean without any externalities or damaging effects. By increasing America’s solar capacity, we would drastically reduce the need for dirty oil pipelines and improve our national energy independence.
Economists, scientists, and environmentalists alike have been calling for the dirty oil pipelines to be abandoned in favor of shifting toward renewable energy sources like solar power. This Exxon oil disaster could have easily been avoided, unfortunately, it was not, but there is still a chance to prevent the same mistakes from future oil projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. Install solar, powered by the sun, not dirty oil drilled from the crevasses of the earth.