NEW YORK (April 16, 2015) – Next Monday, April 20, marks five years since the catastrophic BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and dumped millions of barrels of crude oil into the sea. Five years later, the impacts on the region are enduring, much work remains to reduce the risks of offshore drilling, and the industry is pushing to expand off more of our nation’s coasts.
Following is a statement from Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“The BP disaster brought tragedy and ruin to the waters, coasts, marine life, and communities of the Gulf, many of which are still suffering the impacts today. We can’t un-dump that oil or undo its damage, but we can do more to make the people whole and ensure it never happens again.
“That means saying ‘no’ to reckless drilling that puts polluter profits first and puts the rest of us at risk. We can’t afford to put the Gulf, the Arctic Ocean or the Eastern Seaboard in danger of another BP-style disaster that would threaten our communities and climate. The government must do all it can to reduce the inherent risks that come with drilling below the ocean surface and rein in the industry — not allow it to expand.
“And, fundamentally, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and the damage that they bring, from localized spills to climate chaos. We have an opportunity to create the kind of future we want to pass on to our children—one centered in clean, renewable energy that won’t leave behind a dirty and dangerous legacy.”
The flood of oil contaminated approximately 1,100 miles of coastline, roughly the distance from Savannah to Boston, and settled across at least 1,200 square miles of the deep ocean floor. It is widely considered one of the worst environmental disasters in American history.
Five years later, injury and accident rates in the offshore oil and gas industry have increased. The government has made some meaningful, if measured, progress in reducing drilling’s risks, but far more must be done. And the industry is pushing for new drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, which has been off limits to drilling since 1983, and the Arctic Ocean, where we lack the equipment, know-how or experience to prevent, contain or clean up a catastrophic BP-style disaster.
- NRDC’s Voices of the Gulf series, featuring local Gulf citizens: http://www.onearth.org/search/node/storycorps
- For a list of local events commemorating the disaster, go to Gulf South Rising: http://www.gulfsouthrising.org/
- Full coverage of the Gulf disaster five years later: www.onearth.org/gulf
o Environmental & Economic Impacts of the Gulf Disaster: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gulfspill/files/gulfspill-impacts-summary-IP.pdf
o Under the Surface infographic: http://www.onearth.org/gulfimpacts
o The Dean’s List – Five Years After the BP Oil Disaster: https://youtu.be/RD0faVYPjQU
- Check out NRDC’s Reddit AMA at 1:30 ET on Friday with NRDC experts, local Gulf citizens and Gulf Spill researchers from the University of South Alabama and University of Georgia.