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Time Running Out for BP and the Gulf

June 8, 2010

To the editor:

On day 50, as BP tentatively announces that they may be able to capture 20% of the leaking oil from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico, time is running out.

My patience, and that of the American people, is running out. The patience of the fishermen, hotel workers, seafood processors and residents of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are already exhausted. As pelicans die by the thousands, fish and sea mammals are also doomed by swimming through and ingesting oil on the surface, or in underwater plumes. New computer models, reportedly, show the massive oil spill reaching the Florida Keys and being carried up the Atlantic Coast by the Gulf Stream. Oil on the beaches of Long Island by July, then New England, then Europe by September.

BP has forfeited the right to run this crucially important operation. My concern has long been that BP’s interest is not the same as the national interest, or the best interest of our environment. That has been evident in the callous and flippant remarks of BP’s Tony Hayward, such as “I’d like my life back, too” when discussing his 11 employees who died in the explosion. Or his early dismissal of damage from the gushing well because “the Gulf is such a big ocean.” Hayward’s language has even caught on with Admiral Thad Allen, talking about the new cap and riser “producing” 11,000 barrels a day. Any talk about production shows that they are still thinking profit, not environmental protection.

It is time for the Obama Administration to declare a national emergency, gather the assets needed, and get this well shut down fast.

The phytoplankton and other tiny organisms at the bottom of the marine food chain are essential for all higher marine life. Krill and shrimp and herring feed tuna and whales and sharks. Floating seaweed helps to transfer carbon dioxide into oxygen. Oil and dispersants are toxic chemicals that concentrate in the food chain, and the amount released by this catastrophe will probably result in the largest mass killing of marine life in recent history.

A terrible crime, a grievous sin against nature is being committed, getting worse by half a million gallons or so per day. The immediate blame must be on BP, Transocean, and the officials who licensed the well without a guarantee that a backup plan existed for catastrophic failure. We must hold them accountable. We must clean up this spill. And we must finally move away from the polluting technologies of the past into a clean, sustainable energy future.


John Hall (NY-19)


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