The tragic Deepwater Horizon accident and the ensuing oil spill that has become the new rallying cry for opponents of increased domestic energy production, will undoubtedly change the debate in Washington. But should it?

From what we can tell, this was an accident. While the finger pointing began before the families of the missing could mourn, here in Washington, some can’t resist but to turn one man’s tragedy into another’s political gain. The best and brightest minds in the world are working to contain the spill and clean-up the areas affected. We know this. The White House has said so, industry has said so, and most Americans would agree that everything is being done to get this under control and cleaned up. When that is accomplished, we’ll learn from it, and move on. That’s what America does. We address adversity head on, then move on.

Those responsible for this accident will foot the bill for the cleanup. And they should. Leaving not one penny to the taxpayer to pick up. Again, you would be hard pressed to find someone to dispute this or somehow argue that the government should expend taxpayer resources without full reimbursements.

What we also know is that politicians on Capitol Hill and political pundits who make of living off of talking about what they don’t know much about, are the least qualified to investigate and assign blame in this matter. As clearly stipulated by law, the United States Coast Guard and their able team of apolitical public servants will find out what occurred and issue a report. Let’s let them do their job.

Political witch hunting is a sport some in Washington have mastered. Unfortunately, when you add a tragic accident such as this on top of a hyper-partisan tone, politicos of all stripes don’t want to miss an opportunity to get on camera or mentioned in the newspaper. It’s a sad fact that plays out whenever something of this magnitude occurs.

Now let’s face a few other facts that some seem not willing, or wanting to address. Oil powers the global economy, and will continue to do so for decades to come. This in no way is a bad thing, as oil is a spectacular resource that we are blessed with. It enables us to live the lifestyle we live. It is the foundation for medical advancement and manufacturing. It allows us to move where we want, when we want. No other fuel can provide us with the versatility that oil does. And to use this accident as a medium to call for a new moratorium on domestic energy production will do more economic harm to our country than this spill could ever cause.

Let’s put the politics aside until this spill is contained and cleaned up. Let’s focus on the families and communities of those affected. And let’s let the experts investigate.

If there is one moratoria that should be adopted as this incident continues to play out, it’s on the sport of political witch hunting.

This Op-Ed was originally published on May 5, 2010 on National Journal.

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