News reports since the April 21at explosion of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico have detailed the growing disaster looming for the coast of Louisiana. A variety of different methods have been used to try and contain, minimize, and control the oil slick that is moving ever closer to the Louisiana coast. But it’s not just the oil slick that poses a danger.
The Washington Post and The New York Times both have stories covering the Obama Administration’s escalating role in trying to clean up the still leaking oil. Merinews reported two days ago on the robot submarines that were sent to the ocean floor to attempt to activate a valve at the well head that is supposed to stop the ongoing flow of oil. So far it hasn’t worked.
The government has already used “booms, skimmers and chemical dispersants to try to control the oil.” They have tried controlled burns of sections of the oil. All of the methods used have not stopped the oil from continuing to flow at approximately 5,000 barrels a day, five times the amount originally thought.
According to Associated Press the leading edge of the slick could reach the Mississippi River Delta by this evening. Part of the problem is that the oil is so deep in the ocean that some chemical methods that will work with surface oil might not work with the deeper oil. Testing has to be done before the chemicals are used which takes time, something that is in short supply.
The National Wildlife Federation says that the Louisiana coast has “some of the most productive fisheries in the world, provides habitat for millions of migratory birds and many endangered or threatened wildlife species,” many of which will be damaged by this spill. An example of what that damage could be, is seen in the above picture of birds affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. That also means that the livelihood of many who live along the coast will be harmed. The area is still climbing out of the disaster that Katrina left behind.
All of this is simply a reminder that opening up more areas to gas and oil exploration will put other fragile areas in danger of the same disaster we are seeing here. BP is supposed to be in charge of the clean up from the oil spill but Exxon still had not cleaned up all of the oil spilled in the 1989 wreck of the Exxon Valdez in 2007.
As The New York Times has reported, the explosion of the oil rig is creating problems with the Energy and Climate Bill. Part of that bill calls for expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. So its not just the oil slick that puts our coastal areas in danger, it is the pending legislation.
This accident should be a reminder that ongoing and permanent damage comes from accidents like this. What our legislature is doing is betting our coastlands against our overwhelming need for oil. More money should be invested in ramping up alternative sources of fuel like biodiesel, ethanol from algae, biomass, or non food source plants rather than playing Russian roulette with our coastlands.