BP’s most recent failure to contain the massive Gulf Coast oil spill will add millions, if not billions, of dollars to the company’s remediation bill. 

But American consumers will also feel the pain as gas prices rise. How else can Big Oil recoup the money it has lost from the spill? 

Meanwhile, in other financial news, fishermen are losing significant income, and fishing may be banned for an extended period. Coastal towns that survive on tourism dollars will be forced to close recreational areas. 

The economics of our dependence on fossil fuels has always posed a fascinating paradox. 

“In the last month, we have seen a 15.61% decline [$80+ per barrel to less than $70 per barrel] in the price of oil per barrel, yet the price of gasoline at the pump remains in the stratosphere—$3 and higher, in most instances,” says George R. Cook, MBA, executive professor of marketing at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. “I find it interesting that when the price of oil skyrockets, the next day the price of gasoline at the pump shoots upward, as well—but the reverse is not true. When the price of oil plummets, as it is doing now, the price of gasoline at the pump continues to remain high. Where is justice in this game? 

“All we get are excuses from the oil companies about why it has to remain high,” Cook adds. “The real reason is that the oil companies’ philosophy is, ‘Sock it to the consumer,’ while they line their pockets with gasoline profits in the upper stratosphere. Here is an area for Congress and the administration to look into and set up commissions to investigate. Try helping the average consumer for a change.” 

But Congress has too much on the line to cut its ties with Big Oil, whose lobbyists have contributed $143.8 million to congressional campaigns over the last decade’s election cycles (73% to Republicans, 27% to Democrats), according to the watchdogs at opensecrets.org

Clearly, money impedes our transition to a clean energy future. As long as our elected representatives choose their wallets over their constituents’ well-being, nothing will change—and we’ll stand by as the political machine rapes our planet.