It’s not just the Gulf. It’s not just money.
Source: Esquire (April 25, 2016) – Six years ago this month, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew its top and broke the Gulf of Mexico. Like so many things, this was a very big story until the day that it wasn’t. All that ended was the coverage. The story went on.
Scientists have learned much about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the past six years, but our understanding of its impacts is still just beginning to take shape. We are still documenting the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill from decades ago. We need continued research and monitoring, as well as population modeling, to fully understand the ecosystems’ losses and resilience. In the meantime, the best way to protect our coasts—and the people and wildlife living there—is to prevent disasters such as these before they happen.
I have no idea why, but the most poignant revelation in this report has to do with the disaster’s effects on pelicans. Evidence of oil contamination, or contamination by the chemical dispersants used in the spill’s aftermath, was found in 80 percent of pelican eggs.
That’s where the pelicans winter. That’s the reach of what happened in the Gulf six years ago. We haven’t even begun to plumb the long-term effects of a spill that happened six years ago. A little more than a week ago, the administration announced new rules regulating offshore drilling. The new rules fell into the predictable political slanging match. Various sublets in the Congress howled on behalf of their patrons.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, said the federal move is “bad news for Louisiana, and certainly has the potential to kick our oil and gas industry while it’s down.”
A recent industry-funded study warned of dire consequences if the rules went into effect as proposed.
The economic analysis by Wood Mackenzie, a business research firm, found the regulations could raise drilling costs by 20 percent or more. In worst-case scenarios, the analysis said exploration could drop by as much as 55 percent, and less drilling could translate to $70 billion in lost state and federal tax revenues by 2030 and up to 190,000 lost jobs.
Last year, a study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute estimated the regulations would cost the industry $31.8 billion over 10 years.
The government estimates the cost of compliance will be much lower, at about $890 million over 10 years.
The pelicans are not amused.