It’s been a year since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 people outright and destroyed an entire ecosystem. It’s the worst environmental catastrophe to ever hit the US. The US celebrates Earth Day on Friday, yet, I never hear one politician make hay over the “lessons of 4/20”. This is because policy makers refuse to learn the lessons. They’d rather sell oil and tainted seafood than deal with the real issues of the disaster.
Most of the coastline of Louisiana is still coated with oil either right in the marshes or just below the surface. The Oyster populations are way down. Dead Dolphins and Sea Turtles are washing up onto the beaches in record numbers. Where is the outrage? Where is the move to seek justice? Where are the calls about what we’re going to leave to our children?
No one who could make this right is carrying the banner to do so. Thousands of small businesses that rely on the Gulf are still hurting and going under. Those that are hurting include people who fish, oyster, shrimp, and run services businesses that support other businesses or tourist trade. It’s an ongoing tragedy and one that’s been ignored for the most part. The Times Picayune editorial staff and even Republican Politicians in the area who are obsessed with drilling for oil and the oil industry here aren’t shying away from pointing fingers and blame. BP is doing the same half-assed job of cleaning up that they did of drilling on the Deepwater Horizon. There is no justice and no peace down here on the Gulf. Real people are dying and local economies are going under. There has been more guffaw in Washington DC over defunding Planned Parenthood than making things right for people impacted by the BP Oil Gusher. Just ask Congressman Markey who has tried endlessly to pass bills to make it right and hasn’t got one through yet.
The oil lurking just under the soil in the marshes of Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area is a testament to that. The area was thick with roseau cane a year ago, Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham told reporters this week. “It was a thick, luscious, green tropical marsh,” he said. Now it is “weathered, stressed, unhealthy.”
The shoreline has visibly retreated in the past year, shrinking several yards from where the water line had been marked in the days after the spill. That is discouraging to Louisianians and ought to worry all Americans, given the importance of our coastal wetlands to the creation of fish and other marine life.
The state created the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area nearly 100 years ago, and it has been an important refuge for migratory birds. Now, the state is using air cannons to keep the birds away from the oily marshes.
This is just one spot on the Gulf Coast that is still suffering from the massive amount of oil that spilled from BP’s well last spring and summer.
In some locations, we are losing 5 feet of marshes and shore line a day. Deep Horizon oil is everywhere and making things much worse. All you have to do is talk to the people that live in the affected areas like Grand Isle or Plaquemines Parish or Barataria Bay to see and hear about oil oozing along the coastline.
The noise of the cannons, combined with the swish and flash of metallic strips flapping from poles above the cane, are designed to keep birds from settling into the oily area.
“This is the very terminal end of the Mississippi Flyway,” said Todd Baker, biology program manager for Wildlife & Fisheries. “You get a wide variety of birds, waterfowl, neotropical migrants, raptors, all of them. When they come through, this is the first piece of land they see. When they leave, this is the last place they rest up before they jump across the Gulf of Mexico.
“The hazing cannons are not foolproof,” Baker said, as a Louisiana red-winged blackbird chirped from atop a cane stalk a few yards away.
About 15 miles away as the birds fly — or 30 by boat — Graves used a shovel and his hands to dig about a foot beneath the surface of a spit of sandy beach at the end of South Pass, turning over black-stained sand that smelled like diesel.
Here’s some testimony from people whose health has been impacted by working on the clean-up. There will probably be lots more of them in the coming months in years.
What does it say about a government that will not make right injustices done to so many people for the benefit of a profit-seeking company? What does it say that our media only shows up to report this story on anniversary days? How do we explain to our children that we no longer have an entire lifestyle or set of animals and birds or group of human beings because oil is more important than anything?
The silence of Congress is deafening and deadly. They’ve been more concerned with gutting the EPA than learning the lessons from this deadly oilspill and its omnipresent aftermath. Shame on them and every one else who has forgotten their fellow Americans and the country they profess to love. This is killing people and it’s killing our land. We should be talking about the lessons of 4/20 daily. Instead, we’re just learning how much more Congress loves their donors than the people they are supposed to represent. It’s a damn shame.
I just got a tweet from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). This comes days after complaints that the government isn’t approving Gulf drilling permits quick enough. I should also mention that the Obama Administration has approved the fourth deep-water drilling permit since the BP oil gusher approximately one year ago. So, here’s information from the NWF where they are tracking THREE separate incidents in the Gulf right now.
At this point, we’re following what are likely three different incidents in the Gulf:
- Oil coming ashore west of the mouth of the Mississippi River near Grand Isle
- Reports of possible oil east of the mouth of the Mississippi in Chandeleur Sound
- A large amount of sediment mixed with a small amount of oil at the mouth of the Mississippi
The Times Picayune reports on the first oil occurring near beleaguered Grand Isle, LA and a Houston company has accepted responsibility for that one. TP also reports on the second oil sighting near the Chandeleur islands. That’s a picture of it at the top of the thread.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman said the Coast Guard had received no reports of oil-like material east of the river, but a group of environmentalists, engineers and scientists flew over Chandeleur Sound on Monday and Tuesday, and shared photographs and detailed descriptions with The Times-Picayune showing black, streaky plumes over a 20-mile stretch from just east of Quarantine Bay to just west of the shoal remains of Curlew Island.
While the oil industry whines it’s not getting to drill quickly enough, it’s becoming evident that their record of maintaining and inspecting existing rigs is pretty pathetic. Also, we’ve seen no push by the administration or any one in Congress to implement the recommendations of the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Furthermore, BP is not living up to its obligations to deal with its damage to the wetlands done by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Louisiana’s congressional delegation has asked BP for $15 million to restore oyster beds and fisheries. Louisiana is ponying up $12 million of state funds to begin some kind of effort. BP is still supposedly cleaning up the damage still but has no projects active to restore wetlands.
BP set up the GCRO to deal with the spill. On Tuesday, the GCRO opened up its New Orleans office, in an effort to show they are still working on the oil spill.
“BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization is really centered on four things,” Utsler said. “The first and foremost is continuing the completion of this response.”
Dan Favre is with the environmental advocacy “Gulf Restoration Network.” The group has a similar name to BP’s GCRO, but with a totally different take on the response.
“Unfortunately, the response is clearly lacking,” Favre said. “We’re coming up on the one-year memorial mark of the beginning of BP’s disaster here in the Gulf. And so it’s just crazy that there hasn’t been any action to actually start to repair the damage that’s been done.”
That is true, in part. BP set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for their restoration organization, but a year after the spill, only one of their restoration projects is so far underway.
“One of those is already in progress in Mississippi, in terms of wetland restoration,” Utsler said. “Other projects are in discussion in readiness for being approved and agreed to with NRDA [Natural Resource Damage Assessment] trustees, the states and ourselves to conduct.”
However, none of those projects is currently underway in Louisiana — arguably the state hardest hit by the spill. Utsler said they are working on a list of projects, with pending approval. Yet, some environmental groups believe the federal government needs to step in to move the restoration along.
“I don’t think we can leave it to BP to do it on their own accord,” Favre said. “I want to see Congress and the administration actually make BP pay for Gulf ecosystem restoration, by levying the maximum fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act and then allocating those resources directly to environmental restoration in the Gulf.”
It seems somewhat premature to allow these businesses continued access to drilling in the Gulf when they obviously haven’t maintained the rigs, inspected rigs for problems, and shown signs of good faith following damage to the ecosystem and people living in the Gulf. I think the administration should ask for implementation of the recommendations before allowing any more new permits. We also need to look for patterns of abuse so that operators with bad records are not allowed new permits. That’s just one shrimp lover’s opinion. But then, there’s Michelle Bachmann that wants to do away with the EPA and she’s a congress critter. Newt Gingrich–oil industry suck-up extraordinaire wants that too. I just want my seafood and vacations in warm Gulf Waters to be safe again.
Oh, and honk if you’ve seen or read any of this on MSM from the village.