Oil Spill Threatens Third Coast Livelihood

On April 20th the British Petroleum oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded.  Though 126 people were saved by a coalition of rescuers lead by the US Coast Guard, sadly eleven people were lost.  But that does not appear to be the end of this tragedy as an oil slick is threatening the coast lines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida's Panhandle.  This is the same area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  Needless to say, this area is not ready for another disaster coupled with an unresponsive government.

Unfortunately, it looks like that is exactly what is happening.  According to a document that was leaked on Friday April 30th to the Mobile Press Register, the US Government has attempted to hide the fact that the oil spill has the potential to be an economic and ecological disaster.  The Obama administration, already under fire for what experts have called a lackadaisical response to the spill, produced a confidential government report that read, "The following is not public," continuing, "Two additional release points were found today (Wednesday April 28) in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."  How much higher?  At least ten times higher, roughly 150,000 barrels of oil a day.  One barrel is equal to 42 gallons of crude oil.

Coastal residents had been told to expect a spill of no more than 1,000 barrels a day even though it was clear to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the actual spillage would be between 5000 and 210,000 barrels.  The White House, NOAA and BP have refused all requests for comment on the leaked document by Gulf Coast media outlets.  This all comes on the heels of the discovery that BP, the company responsible for the well, greatly downplayed the chances of such an accident could ever happen calling it "virtually impossible" in a plan filed with the Federal Minerals Management Service in February of last year.

The U.S. Minerals Management Service has been steeped in controversy for over a year concerning allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct that began under former President George W. Bush and has continued under President Obama.  According to inspector general Earl E. Devaney the MMS operates under, "a culture of ethical failure.  The MMS is directly under the supervision of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  Not only has Salazar not been asked to step down none of the guilty parties have ever been charged with any crimes suggesting that the "culture of ethical failure" is far from over.

So while the power brokers in Washington DC continue their bureaucratic finger pointing and are undoubtedly trying to reap any political gain, the good people of the Third Coast are left to fend for themselves against overwhelming odds.  Again.
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