If you’re a public official, please don’t tell us the oil business is important in Texas and that accidents are just a cost of doing business.
The oil business is vital to the economic health of Galveston County.
The port of Texas City alone handles a million tons of cargo, mostly hydrocarbons, in the average week. It does so responsibly and safely.
The spill in Galveston Bay on Saturday is not a test of anyone’s loyalty to the oil business.
It is a tragedy that damaged businesses that belong to private investors.
It also damaged natural resources that belong to all of us. The damage was not done to things public officials own personally.
It’s not theirs to absolve of responsibility.
Ironically, private companies in the oil business were among those most damaged by this spill.
The closure of the ship channels and the Port of Texas City affected shipping companies and shippers, refineries and plants, which in turn affected their contractors and vendors.
The spill is not a test of loyalty to an industry.
It is, however, going to be a test of the community’s resolve to see that the responsible parties justly compensate the public for its losses.
It’s not clear how much damage was done to any natural resources — such as beaches, wetlands, wildlife and fisheries.
But the law sets out a process for making an assessment and awarding compensation.
If you’re a public official, you are expected to represent the public’s interest in the process. The proper thing to say about this spill is that you expect the people you represent to be made whole.