As citizens, homeowners, and fisherman scramble to protect their property and livelihoods from the impending arrival of hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil, the National Guard has been mobilized as the oil slick miles in length approaches the coast. Current estimates on the amount of oil escaping from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico suggest that the total spill will exceed Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez accident by the third week of June.
Earlier today, Bloomberg News reported, “Louisiana closed some coastal waters to shrimping and expects to close its entire eastern coastline to fishing to protect health and safety, said Randy Pausina, spokesman for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Oil washed ashore on the Louisiana coastline last night, and it is predicted to hit Mississippi by tomorrow and Alabama and Florida by the end of the weekend.
“This has a danger of becoming an utter ecological disaster,” Ken Medlock, a fellow in energy and resource economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, said yesterday. “This is going to result in remediation costs and is going to be burdensome, to say the least.”
States of emergency were declared by the governors of Florida and Louisiana. Earlier today, Florida Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency in six Panhandle counties, saying the oil spill “threatens the state of Florida with a major disaster.” Crist’s order affects Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf counties. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana declared a state of emergency in his state Thursday.
The Disaster, now in its tenth day, came only three weeks after the decision by the Obama Administration to allow offshore drilling along a huge portion of the east coast of the United States. In an New York Times article from March 31, 2009, “But even as Mr. Obama curries favors with pro-drilling interests, he risks a backlash from some coastal governors, senators and environmental advocates, who say that the relatively small amounts of oil to be gained in the offshore areas are not worth the environmental risks.”
As the predictions of the magnitude of the disaster grow more and more dire, the White House has addressed the issue in a statement from the President, “I continue to believe that the domestic oil production is an important part [of U.S. energy policy]. “But I’ve always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment.”
The White House also announced that no additional drilling will be authorized until its determined what happened aboard the rig, owned by Transocean Ltd., White House senior Advisor David Axelrod said today on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched a team of lawyers to New Orleans to meet the U.S. Attorney and spill responders.
But, is this all coming just a little too late for the residents, wildlife, fishing industry and environment of the Gulf Coast?
This Disaster is EXACTLY the environmental risk which forms the central reason for opposing offshore drilling along our coastlines. There are safer alternative energy resources to pursue in this country, ones which provide little downside to the environment, wildlife and investments of tens of thousands of residents of each state along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.
As a Floridian I can find no comfort as this disaster approaches our shores. I only hope that I will be permitted to help as things progress.