Just days ago, millions of people across the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, patting themselves on the back for environmental achievements and pledging to ‘go green’ with even more ferver than the year before.
While the rallies and festivals celebrated Mother Earth, others watched in horror as an oil drilling rig that had exploded days earlier, burned and sank off the coast of Louisiana.
The sinking of the drilling platform caused the pipeline that had connected it to the the sea floor to rupture, opening up an oil leak that is currently estimated to be gushing 42,000 gallons (1,000 barrels) of crude per day into the waters of the Gulf.
Eleven of the rig’s workers are still missing, and today, four days after the rig sank, oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.
The now 600-square mile oil slick is spreading rapidly across the water and could envelope delicate marine ecosystems in just 36 hours, although British Petroleum, the company that commissioned the platform, could take months to clean up the spill.
All this is the result of dangerous and uneccessary offshore drilling, yet in a statement Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the explosion was no reason to give up plans to expand offshore drilling.
“In all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last,” Gibbs told reporters.
This statement is astonishing in two different ways:
1. Gibbs admits that he’s not even sure whether there have been previous oil spills. This shows how important he thought it was to be prepared for this particular press conference. (Here are 10 to get you started).
2. This pathetic excuse-for-an-excuse sends the flippant message that dozens of human lives, thousands of marine species, and unknown years of environmental damage (and the reality that this can and will most likely happen again!) are not a sufficient reason to stop offshore drilling.
This statement and the attiudes that perpetuated it are unacceptable, and New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg weren’t afraid to say so.
“Big Oil has perpetuated a dangerous myth that coastline oil drilling is a completely safe endeavor, but accidents like this are a sober reminder just how far that is from the truth,” the two Democrats said in a joint statement.
There’s still time to prevent future spills. The oil rig that sank Thursday was designed to drill deeper than earlier generations of rigs and was one of the largest ever built. Neither of those attributes are what we need.
What is needed are millions of determined American voices to tell President Obama “no” to offshore drilling and “yes” to stronger fuel efficiency standards, smart growth, solar recharging stations for electric cars, and investment into public transportation — all of which reduce our need for oil in the first place.
Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.
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Please stay tuned to Care2 Causes for more information about the Gulf Spill as it develops.
Deepwater Horizon on fire
Image Credit: United States Coast Guard