The Gulf- now what?

Earlier this year we all watched in horror as a drilling accident spilled enormous quantities of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  As is common when large-scale accidents occur, when time goes by the public tends to forget about them and the collective outrage lessens.  Unfortunately, when this happens then the outcry for legislative action also lessens and an opportunity for real change is lost.  The Nature Blog Network (of which Slugyard is a member) is trying to prevent this.

N8 from the Nature Blog Network spells it out:

During the 2010 lame-duck congressional session, the U.S. Senate should pass legislation dedicating Deepwater Horizon disaster Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties to environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast.  Without Senate action, billions of penalty dollars will likely disappear into the federal treasury and never reach the Gulf Coast. But clearly, this money should be used for environmental restoration in the region that was most directly affected by the oil disaster.

Congress comes back this week for the short lame-duck session.  They failed to pass a oil spill bill before the election, and if they don’t do it during lame duck, it’s not likely to happen next year, or the year after, which would mean that they failed to address the biggest marine oil disaster in our history.  Dwell on that.

They will have done nothing to hold BP legally accountable for the environmental destruction they’ve wrought.  Nothing for the ecosystems.  Nothing for the threatened and endangered species.  Nothing for those of us who care about them.

Without adequate funding to begin addressing the oil disaster and a host of other challenges, the United States’ great Gulf Coast will continue to decline.  Please join us in calling on U.S. Senators to dedicate CWA penalties to environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast during this year’s lame-duck session. Again, if it doesn’t happen now, it probably won’t happen at all. And that failure would compound the disaster for birds, other wildlife, and millions of people across the country.

Here in the Willamette Valley, we aren’t likely to have an oil spill and so it isn’t easy for us to relate to the harm inflicted upon the Gulf.  But, in an attempt to understand and personalize it I’ve thought about what would happen if we DID have an oil spill here.  We would have lost mergansers, geese, frogs, herons, wasps, ducks, bald eagles, and ospreys– and those are just the animals I’ve blogged about in the past 6 months!  Life would be irreparably harmed- that is what happened in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez accident.  That is what will happen in the Gulf.

How do we prevent future accidents?  I know that is a complicated question- we are a society built around easy access to inexpensive fuel.  Drilling is going to occur.  How do we make it safer?  I am not an expert in drilling, but I am an engineer.  A prominent  engineering trade publication, Engineering News-Record is calling for a review of the use of licensed engineers in the drilling process.  It appears that corners have been cut and this may have led to the inevitability of this accident.

Call your Senator.  Call your Congressman.  Ask them to fund the recovery of the Gulf.  Ask them to ensure that companies are required to use engineers to keep the public safe.

Let’s do everything we can to find justice and, hopefully, prevent future spills.

  1. Hey, I could not agree more with making the polluters pay and that the money they pay should go directly towards the clean-up or other environmental improvements.

    However, we should take note that the US gets a large amount of it’s oil from Nigeria and more oil from Nigerian wells and pipes leaks out every year than the total Deep Water Horizon spill. It seems that the US and Europe don’t care. It’s Africa!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/30/oil-spills-nigeria-niger-delta-shell

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