This is looking like its going to be a complete disaster. Check out this article in the Washington Post about the oil spill hitting the Louisiana shoreline.
I think Grist’s Tom Philpott puts in fine words how valuable of an ecosystem is being harmed by this spill:
“The Gulf of Mexico is a magnificent resource: a kind of natural engine for the production of wild, highly nutritious foodstuff. Here’s how the EPA describes it:
Gulf fisheries are some of the most productive in the world. In 2008 according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the commercial fish and shellfish harvest from the five U.S. Gulf states was estimated to be 1.3 billion pounds valued at $661 million. The Gulf also contains four of the top seven fishing ports in the nation by weight. The Gulf of Mexico has eight of the top twenty fishing ports in the nation by dollar value.
According to the EPA, the Gulf is the home of 59 percent of U.S. oyster production. Nearly three-quarters of wild shrimp harvested in the United States call it home. It is a major breeding ground for some of the globe’s most prized and endangered fish, including bluefin tuna, snapper, and grouper.”
Here part of an insightful post at Planet Forward by one of their members in Louisiana:
“Shrimp is big down here. If you’ve been to New Orleans, Lafayette, Baton Rouge or any of the small towns that dot the map, you’ve had some of the best meals you’ll find anywhere on Earth. Nearly all of them are smothered in shrimp. Order grits at breakfast and you’re asked if you want shrimp with that. Fried, boiled, or stuffed you better like shrimp. Don’t think people aren’t worried about the shrimp industry – both because of the economy and the gastronomy. There are stories of folks buying a hundred pounds of the crustaceans to cram in their freezers.
I heard a policy maker today say that the oil spill has already reached the Capitol building. He was talking metaphorically, of course, but regulation, safety and oil prices are even hotter topics today then they usually are.
It really is too early to tell what’s going to happen, but this is a disaster that is playing itself out in slow motion. Our local media are doing a good job at reporting what they know. Unfortunately, nobody knows a whole lot right now. A lot of oil is about to gum up the works, but how bad and for how long is anyone’s guess.”
Below is a useful press release from the Sierra Club which summarizes from of what facts about the spill and BP that you should know.
White House Suspends New Drilling
Oil Spill Hits Gulf Coast Shoreline
GULF COAST – As oil from a massive Gulf Coast offshore drilling disaster began to touch the shoreline, White House senior adviser David Axelrod announced on Good Morning America that “no additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what happened here.”
In response to the spill, Sierra Club has created an online Oil Spill Action Center with updated information, and volunteer sign-ups.
Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:
We are pleased that the White House is signaling a suspension of any new off-shore drilling during the investigation, but there should be no doubt left that drilling is too dirty and dangerous for our coasts and the people who live there. This offshore facility was supposed to be state-of-the-art. We’ve been assured again and again that the hundreds of offshore drilling rigs along our beaches are completely safe. Now, we’ve seen workers tragically killed. We’ve seen our ocean lit on fire, and now we’re watching hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic oil seep towards wetlands and wildlife habitat.
This same disaster could happen at any one of the hundreds of drilling platforms off our coasts, at any moment. It could happen at the drilling sites they’ve proposed opening along the beaches of the Atlantic Coast.
We don’t need to pay this price for energy. We have plenty of clean energy solutions already in place that will end our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, create good, safe jobs, and breathe new life into our economy. We can save more oil through simple efficiency measures than could be recovered by new drilling on our coastlines.
This disaster changes everything. We have hit rock-bottom in our fossil fuel addiction. This tragedy should be a wake up call. It’s time to take offshore drilling off the table for good.
Oil Spill Facts:
- The oil spill exceeds the worst-case scenario predicted by BP when it filed its exploration plan with the government. The spill is estimated at roughly 210,000 gallons a day. In BP’s exploration plan, the company outlined a worst-case scenario of 162,000 gallons a day.
- The disaster may have been prevented by a special shut-off switch, but BP did not purchase the switch and after drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling, decided the device wasn’t needed. [Wall St. Journal 4/30/2010]
- At its current rate, the spill could surpass by next week the size of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill that helped lead to the far-reaching moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts
- Some estimates show it could take 3-4 months to contain the spill. By that time, the spill could exceed the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
- 59 Fatalities, More Than 1,300 Injuries, 853 Fires. There have been nearly 60 casualties and more than 1,300 injuries on the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico alone since 2001. “Working in the oil industry is more dangerous than working in coal mines.” [CBS, 4/22/2010]
- $5.6 Billion In Profits. During the first quarter of 2010, “BP said its profit rose to $6.08 billion from $2.56 billion during the same period of 2009. Excluding the impact of energy prices on unsold inventories as well as $49 million of one-time items, and BP would have earned $5.65 billion, topping consensus estimates by about $900 million.” Profits increased 135% from 2009. [Bloomberg, 4/27/2010]
- 41% Raise For BP’s CEO. “Chief Executive Tony Hayward’s total remuneration and share awards rose 41% in 2009 on performance bonuses from improved operations which made the company one of the best performing oil majors in the fourth quarter, despite lower full-year profits due to the fall in the oil price.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/5/2010]
- $16 Million In Lobbying. BP spent $16 million lobbying in 2009. [Opensecrets]
- $3 Billion In The World’s Dirtiest Oil. Meanwhile the company invested $3 billion in 2007 in the dirtiest source of oil on earth: Canadian tar sands. “The result will be the development of a major new Canadian oil field and the modernization and expansion of the Toledo refinery to allow far greater use of Canadian heavy oil and to increase clean fuels production by as much as 600,000 gallons a day.” [Climate Progress, 12/18/2007]
- $900 Million In Alternative Energy Budget Cuts. In 2009, BP cut its alternative energy budget to between $500 million and $1 billion from $1.4 billion in 2008. “BP has shut down its alternative energy headquarters in London, accepted the resignation of its clean energy boss and imposed budget cuts in moves likely to be seen by environmental critics as further signs of the oil group moving “back to petroleum.” [The Guardian, 6/28/2009]