Sixty days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig (located approximately 52 miles off the coast of Louisiana), the full extent of the damage continues to unfold. What began as a “small leak” (according to BP) is now known to be a gaping hole in the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, spewing anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons of oil DAILY.
Researchers are finding traveling “clouds” of oil as far down as 3,660 feet BENEATH the surface of the Gulf and it is completely unknown what impact these oil patches are having on deepwater species and ecosystems, both long-term and short-term.
Some experts are debating whether the fragile Louisiana wetlands can contain any more oil, much less recover from its current level of contamination. Some are worried that the underwater oil patches are depleting oxygen levels vital to the lives of deepwater species. And some have been speculating about the release, build-up, and flammability of methane gases underwater.
To date, 350 sea turtles (which are considered an endangered species) and more than 800 birds have been found dead and now that a sperm whale carcass has been found, there are concerns that sperm whales (also endangered) are at risk as well. This is the worst environmental disaster is U.S. history and I suspect Americans are so angry with BP because deep down inside they know that we, as consumers, are complicit in this tragedy.
The Gulf of Mexico contains more than 8,000 known species of marine animals and plants and is responsible for a quarter to a third of America’s edible seafood. Nonetheless, 3,600 natural gas and oil production rigs are currently licensed and operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Of these, 33 are deepwater oil wells. A little more than a month after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, President Obama ordered a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. As Floridians brace themselves for tar balls and animal carcasses, oil rig operating companies filed a lawsuit on June 9th in Federal Court to have the moratorium lifted so that these 33 deepwater wells could continue drilling. The outcome of this lawsuit is unknown.
Meanwhile, the latest CNN poll found that sixty percent of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling the oil spill. Although Obama secured a 20 billion dollar fund for victims of this disaster, Americans have been underwhelmed by his other actions to date.
President Obama put together a commission to determine the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and to suggest safety and environmental protections for the prevention of similar disasters in the future.
I’m no environmental expert, but I have a theory on how to prevent another Deepwater Horizon deepwater drilling disaster: ban deepwater oil drilling.
We are not going to end our dependence on oil until we stop using it. We can’t stop using it until we fully commit to exploring, developing, and using alternative energy resources. Why hasn’t the President put together a Commission on this?
We spent 2.3 billion dollars to bailout the financial industry. Why can’t we spend that much on the creation of a national agency devoted strictly to the research, development, and implementation of green technology (an agency that recruits and trains hundreds of thousands of Americans around the U.S.)? I don’t know if this is plausible, but a Commission could certainly consider it.
Finally, President Obama asked the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to develop a long-term restoration plan for the Gulf Coast… in his down time.
The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for conducting all the affairs to conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including: recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, mobilizing, and demobilizing of seamen AND MARINES. The Secretary is also responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that are consistent with the national security objectives established by the President and the Secretary of Defense. I imagine this is a demanding job when we are engaged in two wars.
Obama’s selection of Mabus for this task begs the question: if the President leaves Gulf Coast restoration up to a man who cannot make it a priority in his life, is it a priority in the President’s life?