The $20 billion fund set up this week by BP to compensate victims of the continuing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico won't make everything right -- but it's a good start.
BP has a responsibility to restore the environment that's been ruined by the millions of gallons of oil spewing from the deepwater well. It must also offer financial assistance to all of those who can no longer earn a living from the now polluted Gulf water. BP will also compensate oil field workers for lost wages. That, too, is the right thing to do.
BP came to this decision after being pressured by President Obama. Regardless of the motive, this fund should give the people of the Gulf hope for economic survival through this disaster.
The $20 billion compensation fund will be run by Kenneth Feinberg, the mediator who oversaw the 9/11 victims compensation fund.
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg offered an apology with the promise of cash. He said BP would "look after the people affected, and we will repair the damage to this region and the economy."
While BP is ultimately responsible, this nation must accept that this type of disaster is a risk that must be taken to meet our energy needs.
In the wake of the Gulf leak that began two months ago, Obama imposed a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. While the length of time can be debated, it is prudent to take steps to ensure all wells already drilled, as well as future wells, meet standards to ensure another disaster won't occur.
In a speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday, Obama called on Americans to "seize the moment" to "end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels.
"The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now," he said. "Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America's innovation and seize control of our own destiny."
This, of course, is far easier said than done. Alternative forms of energy are simply not as cost effective as oil. Beyond that, wind turbines and solar panels aren't going to fill the gas tanks of America's cars.
The reality is this nation is dependent on oil now and will be for years to come. Deepwater drilling is one of the ways for this country to tap into its supply of available oil.
Drilling should be resumed.
However, changes should be made from the lessons learned in the BP mess. Plans need to be in place -- and funds set aside -- to react swiftly to leaks to prevent them from becoming catastrophes.
The $20 billion promised by BP will be of great help to those who have been harmed, but it would have been far better if this problem were fixed hours or even days after it started.