There’s no doubt that the oil spill in the Gulf Coast is a tragedy of epic proportions, but if you live anywhere in the U.S. outside the Gulf, you might comfortably assume that the spill won’t have much of a direct impact on your life or your wallet. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
David Koeppel has compiled a list for CBS Moneywatch of ways that the oil spill could cost consumers money. In particular, he notes two big items that could go up for most Americans because of the spill: gas and seafood. At the moment, gas prices remain unaffected, but if we ban offshore drilling in the future because of the spill, it could push gas prices up by 25-50 cents a gallon. Although at the moment, the administration's attempt to impose a temporary moratorium on offshore drilling has been overturned by the court. In the immediate future though, seafood is the bigger cost.
As we’ve reported before, the Gulf Coast is responsible for 80% of our domestic and wild seafood supply. But now that the oil has made fishing impossible in much of the Gulf Coast, seafood prices are beginning to skyrocket. Koeppel reports that prices for a pound of shrimp in cities like Houston and Salt Lake City are now up by $2-3, and in New York City, crabs can cost $1 more per piece.
But perhaps the most upsetting point made in the CBS article is that taxpayers may still end up paying for some of the cleanup efforts going on in the Gulf. At the moment, the government has spent $138 million on the cleanup, though the administration assures us that BP will reimburse taxpayers for that. Just a couple of days ago the administration slapped BP with a bill for $51 million, which is the third one they’ve sent. However, CBS spoke to several experts who doubt that BP would be able to pay for the recovery effort in its entirety, especially considering the long-term effects of the spill. “Gulf residents may eventually end up seeing tax hikes as states and municipalities attempt to recover and promote tourism.”
Even if BP does make good on covering all or the vast majority of costs, there is still the price that Americans could pay down the road on legislation that is being proposed because of the spill. The Senate is currently considering a massive energy bill that would reportedly cost the average American household as much as $146 a year.
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