Fifty-six days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, with hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, more exploratory, off-shore drilling is still scheduled to commence July 1st in the Arctic.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Shell is scheduled to begin drilling in Alaska this July. The proposed drill sites are in areas noted for extreme storms, strong winds, moving sea ice, and subzero temperatures. These conditions would make it very difficult–if not impossible–for a successful response in the case of an oil spill.
It has been more than a month since the April 20th Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to an oil spill that, according to the Guardian, has already dumped 42-100 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, the news has been filled with stories about skimming, tubes, domes, Top-Kill, cut and cap plans, and economic and environmental degradation.
Courtesy Cheryl Gerber
Public beaches were closed Friday in Grand Isle, La., as oil, dead fish, and birds washed ashore.
The massive impact of this disaster is difficult to wrap our minds around, and yet it is increasingly important that we try to do so. This disaster is not an abstract story in the news. It is a tragic misfortune that affects people, economic chains, ecosystems, and the planet. Most importantly, it is preventable.
In permit applications to drill in the Gulf, BP said that it was, “prepared to handle an oil spill more than ten times larger than the one now spewing crude,” according to reports from Alison Fitzgerald of Bloomberg News. Bob Deans, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, categorized BP’s actions as, “overpromised and underdelivered. They told us they had a plan that could deal with the consequences of a worst-case scenario. They don’t.”
Even though the worst case scenario detailed in BP’s disaster plan was far worse than the Deepwater Horizon spill, this spill is a worst case scenario for the local economy and environment.