One year ago today, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico because of a runaway oil well. The accident killed 11 rig workers and spilled nearly five million barrels of oil into the gulf, the biggest maritime oil spill in United States history.
In a statement Wednesday, President Obama said that his administration had made progress in cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico and improving regulation of offshore oil drilling. But, he acknowledged, “the job isn’t done.”
The president said that 2,000 workers are still cleaning marshes and beaches and performing other tasks to mitigate the damage from the accident. He also noted that federal officials continue to monitor the safety of seafood harvested from the gulf. On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that all waters of the gulf have now be reopened to fishing. At the height of the spill, millions of acres of gulf waters were off-limits to fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen, costing millions of dollars in lost revenues. (The process of claiming damages from BP has been troublesome for many of those affected.)
Even as the president listed the extensive response efforts and tougher regulations that will now be imposed on deep-water drilling, he also said that he plans to expand domestic oil and gas development as part of an overall energy strategy of reducing oil imports by a third by 2025.
I remember where I was, attending an SSC meeting in Charleston, SC. I remember the explosion was treated like any human disaster ... we didn't realize what sort of environmental effect there might be.