The Gulf oil spill that’s been going on for 9 years!


I’ve written many times about the aerial flights in the Gulf by Bonny Schumaker of the group On Wings of Care. Since the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in 2010, Bonny has spent considerable time here on the Gulf Coast, documenting the truth about the BP oil spill. It was Bonny who played a key role in alerting both federal authorities as well as the media to the presence of continuing oil sheens at or near the Deepwater site, long after the BP spill had been supposedly capped.

But in here flights over the Gulf, Bonny has also documented ongoing sheens and signs of pollution at another site that you’ve probably never heard about unless you live in southern Louisiana.  It’s called the Taylor Energy site, an offshore oil rig north of the Macondo field that was operated by a well-known locally based oil firm (whose founder built the world’s largest Ronald Reagan statue, but that’s another story…). The platform and its 28 wells were destroyed by an underwater landslide during Hurricane Ivan which took place in 2004 — or nearly nine years ago. And it’s still leaking today.

This week, had a good look at an environmental nightmare that will not end:

In one of several underwater investigations that followed, three plumes of oil and gas were found seeping from the sea floor in the vicinity of both the well casings and the downed platform 900 yards away.

Oil has been spotted at the site ever since, although the Coast Guard and Taylor Energy officials have insisted that a multimillion-dollar effort undertaken to remove the platform wreckage and plug nine of the wells has limited the pollution today to a trickle.

Several environmental activists, however, contend far more oil is leaking from the downed platform.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Appalachicola Waterkeeper, represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, are still pressing a federal lawsuit filed in February 2012 that attempts to enforce provisions of the Clean Water Act against Taylor Energy for failing to halt the flow of oil. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan earlier this month refused to dismiss the suit on grounds that the three organizations had no standing to enforce the federal law, but is considering other motions by Taylor Energy aimed at dismissing the suit.

Taylor Energy sold its assets in the years after the accident, which does not help matters. But the real problem here are the federal regulators who won’t do their jobs and enforce the environmental laws that are on the books, such as the Clean Water Act. The Taylor Energy fiasco is the epitome of the ecological onslaught that we deal with in the Gulf, and the risks are even greater as the drilling moves to deeper waters, in order to feed America’s addiction to oil. It’s a reminder that the Deepwater Horizon mess was not a one-time, one-off event — just the most dramatic example of a generation of callousness and neglect in the Gulf of Mexico.

To learn more about On Wings of Care, visit:

To read the latest about the Taylor Energy spill from, please check out:

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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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