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Pinedale Online > News > June 2010 > Why not put a ‘bounty’ on the spilled oil?
Why not put a ‘bounty’ on the spilled oil?
Can we turn a disaster into a potential gold mine?
by Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online - Editorial
June 23, 2010

I’ve been thinking about the oil spill and wondering if we can possibly turn it into a potential economic benefit?

People are motivated by money. We have a bazillion people who say they want jobs and need work. We also have a big problem and a lot of work that needs to be done to clean up areas impacted by the oil spill disaster. No one company will be able to handle that big clean-up job. Why not find a way to combine people out of work, with the work that needs to be done, to accomplish two needed goals?

What’s missing in the current picture is the financial incentive to motivate a bunch more people to jump in and work on the effort.

Why not put a "bounty" on the spilled oil?

Using the "ant theory", think of thousands of people out in the field working independently across the impacted areas, covering ground a little at a time collecting the oil and cleaning the land. Ants aren’t big and don’t seem to do a lot by themselves, but combine their industrious efforts and they can get an amazing amount of work done before you know it. Put people out crawling all over the land cleaning up a little bit as they go and a lot of progress could be made over time on the clean-up efforts. We’re talking years, but people could have long-term, meaningful jobs and eventually visible progress would be made.

BP did the hard part. They punched the hole in the ground and got the oil to come up to the surface where it can be reached. That takes millions of dollars per well to get that part of the job done. We now have a valuable resource sitting in our laps on the surface waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it. Is there any reason we shouldn’t be encouraging the public to go after it and cash in on it?

The technology has been available for years finding ways to separate oil from other products, so this is not a new challenge for the industry to take on removing seawater, sand, dirt, and other things mixed in with the oil to clean it. I don’t know what the commercial products for this stuff are, but I bet there is something of value that can come from a lot of it. Make it a valuable commodity to be collected, and all kinds of people will jump in to cash in on the opportunity for free money. Scouts, church groups, caring individuals, civic organizations, Rainbows, environmental groups, school classes, anyone looking to make a little bit of extra cash would go out and work on clean up in areas. Some would contribute only short-term efforts, others might turn it into a long-term business opportunity. I can’t think of another thing in our country right now that resembles the CCC days labor projects of the 1930s and 40s to get a large number of people out employed and doing meaningful work.

The beauty of it is it would be totally uncoordinated and voluntary. No one would have to coordinate or supervise the effort or the workers. No job descriptions would be required. It would be free labor that wouldn’t cost the taxpayer or government a dime. People would come on their own to look for where help was needed. Towns and landowners would figure out their own needs assessments. Who knows what creative new technologies and cottage industries might be created as people come up with new ways to clean the cruddy oil from the land, help wildlife, and recover the merchantable product into something they can sell and make money from?

Americans are creative and entrepreneurial, and they love getting something for free. Putting a bounty on that oil would turn it from unwanted trash into a commodity that has value, which would incentivize people to jump in to help with the clean-up effort. Who knows, this spill disaster might turn into the next "gold rush" and an economic boom for our country.

Pinedale Online > News > June 2010 > Why not put a ‘bounty’ on the spilled oil?

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