One Year After the BP Gulf Oil Spill, Not Much Has Changed: Oil Is Still Washing Up, Congress Is Sitting on Its Hands, Oil Industry Profits Are Gushing

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment America

WASHINTON, DC — One year ago, on April 20th around 9:30 PM BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in flames, claiming the lives of eleven men and starting the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Before the well was capped 87 days later on July 15th, more than 200 million gallons of oil had been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. More than 1,000 miles of the coastline were oiled, thousands of birds and sea turtles were dead or dying, tourism and fishing along the Gulf coast trickled to a standstill, and billions of dollars of damage to our natural resources and economy was done. For three months Americans watched helplessly as the oil gushed out. Despite the efforts of tens of thousands of workers and billions of dollars spent on stopping the well and cleaning up, less than 15 percent of the spilled oil was ever cleaned up. 

Today, oil continues to wash up on the Gulf’s shores from large bottom deposits, scientists keep finding areas of deep water death, unusual mortality continues for marine mammals like dolphins, fishermen face lower demand for seafood harvested from the Gulf due to fears of contamination, and Congress has not passed a single piece of legislation responding to the oil spill. Oil company profits, even BP’s, continue to grow.  

Mike Gravitz, Oceans Advocate for Environment America, said the following: 

“In light of the BP oil disaster, Congress should permanently protect our sensitive coasts and valuable oceans from the kinds of environmental and economic devastation the BP spill brought to the Gulf of Mexico. After the spill, the Obama administration sensibly renounced its intention to allow drilling off parts of the Atlantic coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico and instead decided to protect the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf coasts from drilling. 

“But under the cover of high gas prices, Congress is considering legislation that would expand offshore drilling, while doing nothing to make the hazardous practice safer. To add injury to insult, at a time of high government deficits, Big Oil and their allies in Congress are defending the billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies they receive every year while average citizens are asked to tighten their belts.  

“Offshore drilling threatens our country’s vibrant coastal economies. A recent study by Environment America based on government data, shows that coastal businesses generate more than 225 billion dollars and support more than 4.5 million jobs in coastal tourism and fishing. Drilling threatens those businesses and jobs.

“If we want to cut gas prices and save our coasts, it’s time for Americans to transition off oil and move urgently to renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power. We need to increase gas mileage, improve building efficiency and expand public transit. These are the policies that will get us off oil and remove the stranglehold that oil companies have on our country so we never see the likes of the Gulf catastrophe again.”