My LA Times op-ed: “5 years after BP spill, little has changed to protect Gulf of Mexico”


Today, on the actual 5th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, I published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, voicing my dismay not only at the current state of the Gulf of Mexico but over the complete failure to take the necessary steps to make sure this never happens again.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Obama administration, for its part, has been a lot more aggressive about awarding new leases than developing stricter regulations for blowout preventers similar to the one that failed aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

New rules weren’t proposed until this month, and although they are clearly a step in the right direction, they don’t change the bigger picture. Indeed, the rules, which aim to upgrade oil-rig technology, took so long that some environmentalists worry they’ll soon be out of date. On balance, the culture of safety for offshore drilling has not substantially improved since April 2010.

Lax government standards for highly toxic dispersants are yet another problem. In 2010, BP sprayed 1.8 million pounds of Corexit onto the surface of the gulf to make the oil slicks disappear. Since then, a string of scientific studies has suggested that exposure to Corexit may have been more damaging to the health of cleanup workers and marine life than the initial exposure to spilled oil.

Despite these damning reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refuses to follow the lead of Britain, which banned use of the dispersant because of the risks to workers. That means the next time a large spill occurs in the gulf — or other areas where the Obama administration has proposed expanded offshore drilling, including a large swath of the Atlantic coastline — cleanup crews could make the same toxic, avoidable mistake.

Please read the entire piece, which makes the point that “five years later, the Gulf of Mexico is as vulnerable to accident as ever.” The first Gulf oil spill was unbearable, but that fact that some five years later neither government nor Big Oil has taken the necessary steps to safeguard our seas and prevent another massive accident is truly unconscionable.

Check out the entire op-ed in the Los Angeles Times:

To read more about our push to reveal the facts about the BP oil spill and for needed reforms in my book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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