We’ll Learn Much About the Impacts of the BP Spill In the New Year…Some Good, Some Bad and Some Just Downright Ugly


There are several personal “in the year ahead” stories making the rounds this week, and one of the better ones comes from Jeff Dute, the Outdoors Editor for the Mobile Press-Register in Alabama.

Mr. Dute notes that, while the government and BP sound the “all-clear” (my words not his), we’re only beginning to glimpse potential long-term impacts on fish, and only starting to expand sampling efforts. He warns that “… [if fish] sampling turns up a significant reduction in numbers returning that can be traced to contact with the oil and/or some form of prevalent oil contamination, it could forewarn of uglier days ahead, possibly on a scale we can’t imagine.”

He also notes that the current all-clear expectations could backfire, writing that: … concerted federal, state and local efforts continue to ensure the public that Gulf seafood is safe to catch and eat and our beaches will be clean when spring break arrives… while estimates vary wildly about how much oil remains, where it is and what will become of it, the worst thing that could happen to tarnish image-building efforts would be a large quantity of crude just showing up with a bunch of dead fish or shrimp or anything else floating in it.

But Dute also makes the point, with some elegance I might add, that this disaster certainly showed everyone how important the Gulf’s natural beauty is, both culturally and economically. To that I would only add that, indeed, that is the case among locals – but I remain uncertain that it’s a value fully appreciated at the national leadership levels.

Read Mr. Dute’s piece here: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/01/jeff_dute_on_the_outdoors_awai.html

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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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