When Hurricane Ivan blew across the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, it severely damaged an offshore platform and 28 associated oil wells owned by Taylor Energy Company. The site has been leaking oil ever since, without any discernible spill response from Taylor or the U.S. Coast Guard. Environmental groups monitoring the site – at the surface and via satellite – estimate that “hundreds of gallons have leaked from the site each day for the last 7 years.” Some experts put the total release at well over a million gallons, with no sign of stopping and no effort on the part of the responsible party to minimize the ongoing environmental damage.
A consortium of Gulf Coast environmental groups – including the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) – has had enough, filing suit against Taylor Energy in federal court yesterday. From a Feb. 2 LEAN press release:
Louisiana Environmental Action Network and its Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper program along with Waterkeeper Alliance and several Gulf Coast Waterkeeper organizations filed suit in Federal Court today, February 2, 2012, against Taylor Energy Co., LLC under the citizen suit provisions of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation Recovery Act, for ongoing violations stemming from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has continued to flow for seven years.
The lawsuit is part of a new campaign to demand a higher level of accountability and transparency on the part of oil companies and the regulators charged with overseeing their operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The Taylor site – which has been leaking for seven long years – has become an ugly symbol of our government’s failed regulatory efforts in the Gulf and beyond. More from the LEAN press release:
“The plaintiffs filed suit to stop the spill and lift the veil of secrecy surrounding Taylor Oil’s seven-year long response and recovery operation,” explained Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Neither the government nor Taylor will provide a single document related to the spill response, citing privacy concerns.”
Amid reports of dead sea mammals, poor shrimp seasons, record setting Gulf dead zones and dire predictions for coastal land loss; the groups bringing the lawsuit feel that something must be done to try to address the continued degradation of the stressed Northern Gulf. They see themselves as citizen enforcers of environmental laws. “If the government won’t enforce the environmental laws that protect our communities and shared natural resources” Orr said, “then we will.”
The environmental groups are blasting Congress (and rightly so) for failing to enact the reforms recommended by President Obama’s spill commission on the heels of the BP disaster in 2010. More from the LEAN release:
“The Taylor Oil spill is emblematic of a broken system, where oil production is prioritized over concerns for human health and the environment,” said Justin Bloom, Eastern Regional Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Nearly two years after the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill, none of the comprehensive reforms recommended by the National Oil Spill Commission have been enacted and Congress has yet to pass a single law to better protect workers, the environment or coastal communities.”
True enough. There is no doubt that Congress has shirked its responsibility and reneged on its pledge to aggressively pursue reforms that will keep our citizens and our environment safe. Some things never change – particularly when Big Oil is involved.
I applaud the consortium for its efforts in stepping up to lead where our government has failed to do so. We’ll keep an eye on this lawsuit as it winds its way through the court system, and bring you updates as they emerge.
Read the LEAN press release here: http://leanweb.org/our-work/water/waterkeeper-organizations-file-suit-to-plug-taylor-energys-ongoing-7-year-gulf-oil-spill
See more footage of the ongoing Taylor Energy leak at the “On Wings of Care” website: http://www.onwingsofcare.org/protection-a-preservation/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2010/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2011-spring/218-20111230-owoc-gulf-mexico-taylor-oil.html
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