As Oil Gushes Off the Gulf Coast, a Search for Answers

“Over eight weeks into the calamitous oil spill, on the eve of President Barack Obama's speech on how his administration plans to make BP compensate the growing numbers of small businesses wiped out or threatened by the Gulf Coast disaster, we have to consider the bigger context of this crisis. Of course BP should pay. According to Wall Street reports, the company has over $8 billion in cash on hand and was poised to pay out over $10 billion dollars in dividends to its investors. But is this situation unique to a single company? The thirst for oil is soaked into the fabric of our lives -- fuel for transportation, petroleum-based plastics, fertilizers for food, and direct investments in big oil through pension funds. Boycotting a single company is not the answer,” says Asia Society Associate Fellow Simran Sethi.

“We must look to individual and systemic solutions that will wean us off our petroleum-based economy. This includes immediate lifestyle changes that reduce our reliance on petroleum, a demand for legislation that increases renewable energy resources and halts offshore drilling, increased shareholder activism, and a commitment to supporting media outlets that have attempted to bring us the full story on this crisis. Without information, we are limited in what we understand and what we do. I urge President Obama to not only hold BP accountable, but also articulate the steps his administration will take to build a cleaner, green economy and ensure the mantra of ‘drill, baby, drill’ is forever silenced.”

Simran is an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or