BP Oil Spill: 6 Month Anniversary

By: American Sailing Association

Clearwater, FL

Six months ago today the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded while extracting oil from the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo prospect, principally owned by BP. We’re all very acutely aware of what happened next: a catastrophic oil spill that within 10 days covered an estimated 3,850 square miles. This event is traumatic in itself, and especially so when you consider the ravages already sustained by the Gulf Coast in the last 5 years. There are some of you who live and work in this region and who even rely on the Gulf for your livelihood. The rest of us know that the Gulf is a global treasure and no expense must be spared to restore it.

Though it has given way in the headlines to more immediate matters, the disaster is far from over. Therefore, I thought it was worth the time to try and get a handle on the latest developments.

–On October 5th, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which will coordinate future efforts. In charge of the task force is EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who grew up in New Orleans. According to the Times-Picayune, the first meeting of the task force is set for Nov. 8th, at a location in the Florida panhandle that has not been decided yet.

–On October 15, Jackson wrote on the White House’s blog: “Whether we face an immediate, emergency situation like the BP spill, or the gradual accumulation of challenges and degradation, our responsibilities to address the problems and find solutions are exactly the same. In each case, our efforts are focused on getting real, measurable results in the restoration of waterbodies that millions of people depend on.” (Read the entire thing here.)

Here’s hoping that a large-scale, long-term approach will yield those “real, measurable results.” So far the right things are being said and done. The creation of this Task Force shows that the issue is not being forgotten. However, the hard work is just beginning. We sailors are patient people, people who know that progress takes time, but we expect vigilance. Hopefully vigilance is what we’ll get.

I’d love to hear comments from all of you: If you’re in the Gulf area or have been recently, what have you observed? How is the spill affecting maritime lifestyle?