Today is the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, an event that triggered the nation’s worst-ever oil spill. The well leaked for three months and dumped over 200 million gallons of oil into the sea. The explosion itself killed eleven men; the resulting pollution killed a stupefying amount of wildlife, including 800,000 some birds.
And despite billions paid out by BP in fines and restoration costs, the economic impact of the disaster remains wide-reaching and ongoing.
But possibly even more outrageous than the spill itself is how little has been done by government to prevent a similar disaster. The oil and gas industry has stayed active in Washington, and managed to fend off serious efforts to curb drilling: Congress has passed zero new laws–not one–to restrict offshore drilling or force it to be safer. The Obama administration has approved over 1,500 offshore drilling permits since the spill.
And back in January the administration announced a plan to open newareas in the Atlantic and Arctic for offshore drilling. As my colleague Tim Murphy noted today, Louisiana’s oversight of the oil industry is rife with ludicrous conflicts of interest that raise serious doubts about the state’s ability to make drilling safer.