- - Friday, January 13, 2012

Not so long ago, BP was the goat of big business in the eyes of many people for the disastrous April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Conservationists such as myself who also recognize that big business, including big oil, is what fuels our economy, have had our radar finely tuned to the efforts and progress of healing the Gulf’s environment and economy since the spill.

The results have been nothing short of amazing in such a short amount of time since the disaster. The Gulf’s economy has rebounded dramatically, and it appears the environment is well on its way to a healthy recovery. We owe a huge debt of gratitude for the herculean efforts of BP for this.

BP has spent well in excess of $20 billion cleaning up the Gulf and compensating its residents for the damage of the spill. BP undoubtedly will spend billions more in the coming years. The corporation’s stewardship and successful efforts to restore the Gulf make one of the greatest stories not being told.

In less than two years from the spill, the seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat, the majority of beaches are pristine, tourism is on the rebound, wildlife is flourishing, health hazards have been reduced dramatically, and small businesses are recovering.

This is not to imply that everything is perfect in the Gulf. It isn’t. Much more work needs to be done. What it does imply is that in less than two years after one of the greatest man-made environmental calamities, tremendous strides forward, spearheaded by BP, have proved quite effective at reducing the ugly stain of the spill.

The lessons learned from the oil spill are being implemented to prevent future oil spills. But we must remember that drilling for energy, the lifeblood of our economy and quality of life overall, is always a risky business that is complicated and made even more risky when oil companies drill in deep water.

As Americans, we want our energy prices to be as affordable as possible. No one wants gas prices at the pump to rise, as we know this leads to higher prices for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. We also want our air, water and soil to be clean. There’s the conundrum, the Catch 22. We want to have our cake and eat it, too. We would do well to remember this each time we fill up or turn on a light switch.

The future of automobile transportation may be with alternative energy, such as battery power or hydrogen fuel cells, but efficient applications of those energy technologies are decades away, realistically. Until then, the roughly 250 million cars on the road in America will be reliant on oil, and that requires risky drilling, processing and transporting.

Big business, especially big oil, rarely gets a public acknowledgment of thanks or nod of approval for its corporate stewardship, conservation efforts and vision. BP deserves our thanks for what it has done in the Gulf so far and what it already has pledged to do in the future.

Thanks, BP. Keep up the good work. The Gulf needs you. America needs you.

Ted Nugent is an American rock ‘n’ roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of “Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto” and “God, Guns & Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Regnery Publishing).