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Why This Matters: I (Monica) was involved from day one of the response to the spill and through the early restoration work for two years after it ended, and we tried mightily to minimize the damage and begin restoration immediately. The concerns being expressed now are even more disheartening given the current oil glut, which makes the rush to drill more and in riskier places even more tragic. The bright spot is that there is money for restoring the Gulf thanks to the legal settlement with BP but it won’t be enough to make it all right. And it can’t fix the problems of lax government safety oversight and mismanagement.
The Gulf Has Not Recovered
NWF highlights the plight of a few species impacted. Dolphins are still struggling — with lung disease, are underweight and anemic and even dolphins born after the spill are negatively impacted. Twenty percent of the sea turtle population was killed by the spill, and 1 million offshore birds were lost and the populations have not recovered. And, according to Ian MacDonald of Florida State, at the time of the spill there were 1500 sperm whales in the Gulf and now there are only about 750 left. These sentinel species are still under stress. What is being attempted now is, according to David Muth of the National Wildlife Federation is “the largest restoration attempt ever in the world, with billions invested or committed to projects to help restore the Gulf and its ecosystem, and another $12 billion to be spent through the year 2032.” He told The Washington Post “’It’s an opportunity we cannot afford to squander,’ he said, adding that the projects create jobs.”
What Lessons Have Been Learned
Mark Davis, a professor at Tulane argued during Zoom panel organized by SkyTruth that everything “that happened in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could have been forseen…until we get policies in line with the risks we are running [in the Gulf] we are going to be incredibly vulnerable.” And Oceana in its report entitled “Hindsight 2020” wrote, “the industry’s safety culture has not improved, and government oversight remains deficient. If anything, another disaster is more likely because the industry is drilling deeper and farther offshore, which increases the likelihood of spills and makes responding to them more difficult.” As E&E News described the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, that was created to correct the prior conflicts of interest in the oil lease process, as “fractious, demoralized and riddled with staff distrust toward its leadership, according to multiple accounts from current and former employees.”
H/T to the NOAA Team from the Obama Administration for their hard work in the days, weeks, months and years after the spill right up through January 19, 2017. It was great to see them all — albeit by Zoom.
Why This Matters: This may ultimately about all that oil and gas, but the conflict today is overfishing. China continues to use its military to prevent Vietnamese fishing boats from harvesting in the disputed areas.
We know that rising ocean temperatures are causing fish stocks to migrate to cooler waters, and now we have new evidence as to why. A study by German scientists found that juvenile fish and fish that are ready to mate are especially sensitive to changes in water temperature, and as a result, up to 60 percent of all species may be forced to leave their traditional spawning areas as waters warm.
Why This Matters: Fish populations need functional habitat to survive and procreate.
By Jean Flemma and Miriam Goldstein Historically, the ocean has been overlooked in the climate debate. That makes no sense. Ignoring the 71 percent of the planet that creates more than half the oxygen we breathe and has absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat created by climate change can hardly lead to a complete […]
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