Offshore Drilling -STOP IT NOW!

Photo AP

May 1, 2010

Offshore drilling in the Gulf of New Mexico is a bad idea, and always has been a bad idea. I have signed every petition for the last two years to stop more off-shore drilling and rigs from being erected near our beautiful coastline. Florida Senator Bill Nelson gets it, but others in the House and Senate, and even President Obama appear not to understand the dangers of expanding offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe now they are starting to get it too.

The massive oil spill off the shore of Louisiana is an environmental nightmare. An April 20th explosion on the British Petroleum's rig took 11 lives and threatens shorelines in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency in 6 counties as the oil continues to flow into the beautiful gulf. A million and a half gallons have already leaked according to Coast Guard estimates.

Stopping the leak could take 60-90 days. (Are they serious?) It is estimated that 200,000 gallons of oil are leaking from three separate spots every day. At the end of the day Friday the spill was a staggering 3,850 square miles. If Katrina was the worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf, then this has to be the worst man-made disaster.

Volunteers are working to clean oil off of dirty seabirds. Who even knows what has happened to the fish, shrimp, oysters and marine life that is underwater? The fishing industry is life blood of many coastal towns, and its destruction threatens the Gulf states' economies. Much of the seafood that supplies restaurants and reaches tables across the nation comes from this area.

The Audubon Society said that many species are in peril including the brown pelican, reddish egret, mottled duck, royal tern and snowy plover. Also, at risk are the sperm whale, blue fin tuna, the tarpon fish, several species of sea turtles.

Beaches, bays and estuaries are in the bulls eye of this spill. Some scientists predict that the currents will take the spill to the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast. This is incredible. The Florida Keys are gorgeous with coral gardens and protected areas. It makes me furious just thinking of the turquoise waters turning brown.

British Petroleum is under investigation. Also, under investigation for the spill is Halliburton. The Los Angeles Times reported that Halliburton responsible for cementing the deepwater drill hole, as well as the possible failure of equipment leased to British Petroleum.

The latest on the spill from the Associated Press:
The Deepwater Horizon well is at the end of one branch of the Gulf Stream, the famed warm-water current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic. Several experts said that if the oil enters the stream, it would flow around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern seaboard.
"It will be on the East Coast of Florida in almost no time," Graber said. "I don't think we can prevent that. It's more of a question of when rather than if."
At the joint command center run by the government and BP near New Orleans, a Coast Guard spokesman maintained Saturday that the leakage remained around 5,000 barrels, or 200,000 gallons, per day.
But Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, appointed Saturday by Obama to lead the government's oil spill response, said no one could pinpoint how much oil is leaking from the ruptured well because it is about a mile underwater.
"And, in fact, any exact estimation of what's flowing out of those pipes down there is probably impossible at this time due to the depth of the water and our ability to try and assess that from remotely operated vehicles and video," Allen said during a conference call.
The Coast Guard's Allen said Saturday that a test of new technology used to reduce the amount of oil rising to the surface seemed to be successful.
During the test Friday, an underwater robot shot a chemical meant to break down the oil at the site of the leak rather than spraying it on the surface from boats or planes, where the compound can miss the oil slick.
From land, the scope of the crisis was difficult to see. As of Saturday afternoon, only a light sheen of oil had washed ashore in some places.
The real threat lurked offshore in a swelling, churning slick of dense, rust-colored oil the size of Puerto Rico. From the endless salt marshes of Louisiana to the white-sand beaches of Florida, there is uncertainty and frustration over how the crisis got to this point and what will unfold in the coming days, weeks and months.
If nothing else, this disaster should serve as a warning to stop the off-shore drilling.