EcoMeme: Fire on the Water


In a bitter twist of fate, right around Earth Day, one of the worst-ever oil spills in the U.S. began. It started on April 20th, when a Transocean Ltd.-owned oil rig called the Deepwater Horizon, which was drilling for black gold on behalf of BP (British Petroleum) exploded. The rig sank into the water off the shores of Louisiana, taking oil rig workers’ lives and spewing pollution into the water.

Today, the tarry crude oil bleeding from that site is nearing the ecologically rich shores of Louisiana, home to threatened and endangered species including bald eagles, mottled ducks, leatherback sea turtles and blue whales.

Scientists and conservationists have tried everything to prevent the oil from hitting land, including burning it off. That raises questions, for us, about air pollution vs. water pollution, and the rock-and-a-hard-place decisions from hell that ecologists must be facing now, in Louisiana.

But nothing’s worked. And it now appears inevitable that the BP spill, as it continues to leak crude oil into the Gulf, will impart worse damage than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, bringing more pain not just to the creatures and plants, but to the people living in a region that has yet to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

The blogosphere has been in collective mourning for the people, sea creatures, tourism and fishing industry in the region, as a result.

If there’s a silver lining to be had, the spill may have inspired enough environmentalists, and reasonable people to question (and hopefully block) President Obama’s plan to expand offshore, oil drilling in protected areas in the U.S.

In light of the oil industry’s everlasting failure to guarantee the safety of the waters through which it drills for, and across which it transports the non-renewable fuel, we’re asking you to study up and get the word out: it’s time to break our oil addiction, and work to immediately conserve what’s left of our coast, watershed and habitat in the U.S. that’s pure, and sustaining.

Basic Reading:

“BP basically misled everybody about the size of the spill – by a factor of 5 – and hence their ability to control it. It was NOAA – which is to say the Obama administration – that realized BP was lowballing the leak, and that the problem was beyond the company’s resources, and that much broader action was needed. The leak rate is now estimated at more than 200,000 gallons a day – which means it will exceed the Exxon Valdez disaster within 2 months. I just heard on ABC news that 400 species are threatened and that Louisiana coastline contains 40% of the US wetlands.” – From the ongoing coverage of all things BP-Oil-Spill by Climate Progress, a blog that focuses on all climate change issues. Via Climate Progress

“The search for the 11 missing workers was called off days ago, but the oil well they left behind continues to produce 42,000 gallons a day of oil that has now spread into a slick covering 28,600 square miles of the Gulf. In hopes of restricting further spread the Coast Guard will, you’re going to love this, set fire to the sea”¦Meanwhile, oil companies are already planning more drilling in the same area.” – Daily Kos considers the impact of the spill, and its political and industrial roots. Via Daily Kos

“The state departments of Health and Hospitals and Environmental Quality said the strong odor blanketing much of coastal Louisiana and the metro New Orleans area is “possibly” the result of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The agencies have requested continuous air quality testing and monitoring from the Environmental Protection Agency, and DEQ officials said they have increased the frequency of air sampling at its Kenner and Chalmette monitors.” – The Times Picayune is providing extensive, feature reports on the oil spill cleanup attempts, and issues. Via Nola

Further Resources:

The website of Clean Ocean Action, an environmentalist group, which is against offshore oil drilling expansion in the U.S.

Questions You Should Be Asking About The Oil Spill – Business Insider

100,000 Strong Against Offshore Oil Drilling, a Facebook Community

This is the latest installment of EcoMeme, a column featuring eco news, tech and business highlights by columnist Lora Kolodny.

Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video