Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Disaster in the Gulf: One Year Later

Today, April 20, marks the one year anniversary of the start of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 men, pouring 4.9 million barrels of oil and untold amounts of natural gas into the Gulf, causing billions of dollars worth of damage, and devastating the marine life and ecosystem of the Gulf.  This is was the worst spill in our nation’s history.  The National Commission on the Oil Spill concluded in January 2011 (click here for the Commission’s final report and video of findings) that the blowout and spill were preventable and a result of management failure by BP, Transocean, and Halliburton.

Instead of learning from our mistakes and requiring stronger offshore drilling regulations as well as turning toward energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables and, Congress is voting on bills that would allow immediate, unprecedented, and expanded offshore drilling in the Atlantic coast. For more information, click here.  

COA will be attending Congressman Frank Pallone’s press event today to call to stop the weakening of offshore drilling regulations and to defend and protect our oceans.  

In addition, COA is concerned that the efforts to assess the impacts and costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster may be underestimated given the challenges involved and complexity of the task.  The government is proceeding with the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process, which uses scientific and economic studies to identify injuries to natural resources and lost public uses that have resulted from the spill.  As part of this process, the government also works to develop a plan to restore the damages to these public resources, which is then implemented and monitored for its effectiveness. 

COA is concerned about the lack of data that has been made available to date and lack of meaningful public participation in the NRDA process, as explained in more detail by the non-profit Natural Resource Defense Council here.   

For more information, the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has created an Online Clearinghouse for Education & Networking: Oil Interdisciplinary Learning (OCEAN-OIL): , which includes a compilation of resources on the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Resources now available on OCEAN-OIL include:
*       Reports from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - all 30 official reports and additional background
*       Articles (100+)  hyper-linked, encyclopedia style
*       Videos (150+)
*       Glossary (400+) related to oil spill causes, impacts, clean-up, and prevention
*       Acronyms (75+) to help decode the language of oil spill science
*       External links (80+) to  government sites, image galleries, news sources, industry, environmental groups, education, and journal articles
*        Photo galleries: Images by renowned photojournalist Gary Braasch and others
*        Deepwater Horizon by the Numbers: Publication-quality graphs
*       Databases - Statistics, technical diagrams, maps, and other data

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