When Hurricane Ivan sank an oil rig owned by Taylor Energy in 2004, it dumped hundreds of barrels of oil a day. And it doesn't stop.
Eight years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico devastated communities, wildlife and livelihoods along the Gulf Coast. As dying dolphins and oil-soaked grasslands dominated the headlines, the human toll was catastrophic. Now, it appears that a new disaster is unfolding that could soon overshadow that horrible event to become the worst environmental disaster in American history.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused a landslide that sank an oil rig owned by Taylor Energy. Since then, between 300 and 700 barrels of oil have been poured into the Gulf of Mexico every day. Let's put that in perspective. The Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled nearly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. To date, the Taylor spill has released up to 140 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.
What's even more surprising is that, 14 years after the Taylor oil rig sank, federal officials estimate that uncapped wells could continue to pollute the Gulf for decades, perhaps even a century. It's a nightmare scenario that should terrify anyone who cares about the health of wildlife and the people who live along the Gulf Coast.
Meanwhile, the damage caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon leak remains a reminder of the chaos an oil spill can unleash on marine wildlife, coastal communities, and local businesses that depend on a healthy ocean.
With these tragedies still fresh in our collective national consciousness, you would think that no administration would seek a drastic expansion of offshore oil and gas development.
Unfortunately, you would be wrong.
Even as the scale of the Taylor Energy spill comes to light, the Trump administration is preparing to announce the next iteration of its draft plan for offshore oil and gas development. It will be a revision of the plan announced last January that proposed to open a surprising 98% of federal waters to oil and gas development.
That reckless plan was met with fierce opposition from representatives of both Republicans and Democrats, small businesses and large industries, and coastal and interior residents from Alaska to Florida. Several bills were introduced in this Congress, many of them bipartisan, to prohibit or severely limit drilling in almost all regions of our outer continental shelf.
A vast majority of Florida voters just passed a state constitutional amendment permanently banning offshore oil and gas development in their state's waters. They are rightly not ready to put their beaches and marine environment in jeopardy, which generated $ 88 billion and 1.4 million jobs in 2016.
In Alaska, the state legislature, Governor Bill Walker, the congressional delegation, the North Pacific Fisheries Stewardship Council, and Alaska Native tribes united in strong opposition to the leasing of oil and gas in important and sensitive marine habitats. in all its state.
On the east coast, states are fighting to prevent the risk of offshore oil and gas development. Senators from Maine cited the state's $ 1.7 billion lobster industry, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper spoke about the $ 3 billion a year in visitor spending, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, made reference to 60% of the state's population that lives along its coastline.
Millions of us made sure the Department of the Interior heard our opposition to putting our way of life and livelihoods at risk to benefit oil companies during public comment periods on the proposed expansion. These views must now be taken into consideration before launching the next iteration of the 2019-2024 offshore oil and gas development proposal.
Donald Trump's "energy dominance" narrative should invest in renewable energy innovation rather than relinquish dominance in that growth.
Original article (in English)