One Year Later, What’s Changed?: BP Anniversary Finds Oil in the Gulf, Oil Companies Still Profiting & Congress Pushing Drillin
One year ago, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon devastated Gulf fisheries and coastal ecosystems, claiming the lives of eleven men and upending thousands more as upwards of two hundred million gallons of oil poured into American waters.
Lest early amnesia set in, this was the worst oil disaster in our nation’s history. Over 1,000 miles of shoreline were heavily or moderately oiled at the peak of the spill. Over 84,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico were closed to fishing – roughly the size of Utah. Oil covered over 40,000 square miles of the Gulf. Gulf state fishermen are still reeling, losing over $172 million in just initial sales through last October. It could take Louisiana oyster beds from three to ten years to recover. And most importantly, the Gulf tourism economy is still reeling. An economic consulting firm puts damage to tourism in the Gulf over the next three years as high as $23 billion.
Today, oil continues to wash up on the Gulf’s shores from large bottom deposits, scientists keep finding areas of deepwater death, unusual mortality continues for marine mammals like dolphins, fishermen face lower demand for seafood harvested from the Gulf because of fears of contamination, and Congress has not passed legislation responding to the oil spill. Oil company profits, even BP’s, continue to expand and grow.
The BP disaster was a tragedy for the Gulf of Mexico. But now, a year later, we have a political tragedy in Congress, as the House pushes more off-shore oil drilling. We aren’t going to be able to drill our way of our energy crisis – we already played that hand, and lost. Instead of pushing more drilling, we should be protecting our coasts.
We learned last year that the Jersey Shore is at risk from more than just MTV producers. The actions of neighboring states, and even within the Gulf, could place our $38 billion tourism economy at risk. The Jersey Shore is our treasure -- and doubling down on drilling is a false solution.We can’t turn away from this disaster, because we’re still addicted to oil. And we’ll never be able to guarantee that a BP-like disaster won’t happen again. What we can do is to start to drive down our oil addiction by making our cars more efficient.
Setting fuel efficiency standards of 60 mpg would save more than 44 billion gallons of oil every year and save consumers more than $100 billion at the pump. That’s more than ten times the amount of oil we could get by opening the Atlantic Coast to deep water drilling, which would threaten all of New Jersey with the possibility of another catastrophic oil spill. It would also be the largest single policy ever enacted to reduce global warming pollution. The great news is that some car companies have the technology right now to increase fuel efficiency – and say that they can meet these standards. For New Jersey drivers, strict fuel efficiency standards would save drivers $3.8 billion at the pump and cut our oil use by 1.2 billion gallons in 2030.
We need to drill… in Detroit, not off our coasts. Our coast line is not the next frontier for the oil industry – it is our national treasure.If we want to be serious about energy independence, we need to increase fuel efficiency standards- not put more of our coasts in harm’s way.Drilling off-shore won’t save us money at the pump – but it does put our Shore economy at risk. It’s the ultimate raw deal – for the environment, the economy and consumers.