Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Environment News: Effects of the Gulf Oil Spill: One Year Later

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JOHN EHRENREICH, BONIFAY WATER SPORTS, PENSACOLA BEACH, FL: “Worse than any summer I remember, even worse than hurricanes.”

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico -- and now the question remains, just how bad is it?

Many news outlets agree the environment along the coast seems back to normal, but experts say the truth lies far below the surface of the Gulf.

The Washington Post cites studies saying the oil is still out there -- floating as tar balls, underneath beaches, draped across marshes, and lying on the bottom of the Gulf.

“While the scientific and legal wrangling over the meaning of this growing mountain of data promises to drag on for years, even ardent environmentalists and cautious government officials agree on one point: The direst predictions of catastrophe sounded during the blowout have not come to pass.”

And the environment wasn’t the only thing affected -- According to the Public News Service, more than 300 residents along the coast have reported health problems believed to be associated with the disaster and cleanup.

Although BP argues there are no long-term health risks from the incident, a blogger for The Root doesn’t believe it -- and says, the company needs to take responsibility.

“BP and the government should also address the immediate needs of Gulf citizens. That includes monitoring citizens' health for exposure to oil and dispersants… and ensuring that seafood remains safe and sustainable.”

But in terms of economic impact, the news is more encouraging. The Wall Street Journal says the oil spill spurred economic development when lawyers and media flocked to the area right after the spill -- and although that has died down, there are more jobs, not fewer, along the Louisiana coast.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, THE NEWS HUB: “Should we take this as a sign that the economy has been more resilient down there than people have feared?”
LESLIE EATON, WSJ DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF: “I think that’s exactly right. I think that lots and lots of people were hurt really badly, but I think some of the big industries that people thought would just dry up and blow away, especially the energy industry, just didn’t do it.”

While it’s hard to know how long the environmental and economical issues will linger, almost all news outlets agree---the whole incident is far from finished. A blogger for The Telegraph writes,

“The task of assessing the true toll is only now starting. It is highly charged, both commercially – since the result may decide how much may have to be paid in compensation – and politically, since Barack Obama, damaged by his hesitant handling of the crisis, has been over-eager in declaring it over.”

According to The Washington Post, federal and gulf state officials have currently taken tends of thousands of samples from the gulf’s waters, seafloor, marshlands, beaches and wildlife to investigate the damage of the environment.

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