The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest in American history, is an environmental tragedy that has had devastating effects on thousands of lives; however, the oil spill is only one of a multitude of problems the Gulf of Mexico is currently facing.
Today, Environment Texas released Our Great Waters, a new report that outlines the regional, environmental, and economic significance of eight of America’s most treasured waterways. Because of its ecological significance, Environment Texas has named the Gulf of Mexico as one of America’s “Great Waters.” This report lays out the specific problems facing each of the eight water bodies and proposed legislative fixes. The release of this report comes a week before a key vote in the Environment and Public Works committee in the U.S. Senate.
“Water quality in the Gulf is not only threatened by the oil spill, but also by excess pollution from industrial facilities and corporate agricultural operations,” Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas said. “These facilities release pollutants into the Mississippi River and other waterways, which then flow to the Gulf.”
"The BP well is still spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf and it’s clear that the oil industry has failed to demonstrate that it is capable of preventing and cleaning up a catastrophic oil spill. Judge Feldman’s decision to allow oil companies to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf is like putting a drunk back in the driver’s seat after handing him a cup of coffee.”
As the damage escalates from the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Environment Texas criticized Senator Cornyn and Senator Hutchison today for voting in favor of legislation that would have blocked new rules requiring cars and light trucks to use less oil. A recent analysis found that the Senate measure rejected today would have increased Texas’s dependence on oil by more than 37 million gallons in 2016. The binding resolution, which was rejected by the U.S. Senate today by a vote of 47-53 and which was introduced by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, also would have cost Texans $99 million at the gas pump in 2016. The environmental and economic impacts would have been even greater over time.
“The Gulf disaster is a painful reminder that we must move our country off of oil. We’re extremely disappointed that today Senator Cornyn and Senator Hutchison voted instead to give another Washington bailout to Big Oil and other polluters,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “Rather than make tragedies like the Gulf disaster more likely and further delay our transition to a clean energy economy, Senator Cornyn and Senator Hutchison should instead help pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill through the Senate this year.”
Environment Texas announced today a door-to-door citizen organizing drive to push President Obama to hold BP fully accountable for the Gulf oil spill, improve safety at existing rigs in the Gulf and prevent plans to allow new offshore drilling. The BP oil spill is now the largest oil spill in U.S. history leaving eleven workers killed, oil in our wetlands, tourism and fishing economies in a shambles, and sea turtles and sea birds coated in oil. There is also the potential for wide scale dead zones throughout the affected areas.
“We are working to make sure oil companies, and not taxpayers, pay to clean up oil spills and compensate fishermen,” said Ross Barnard, Campaign Coordinator for Environment Texas.
After 35 days of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, it appears that BP is finally bringing some control over the river of oil gushing into the Gulf. U.S. Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt announced earlier today that the disaster has already released between 17 and 39 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf, a substantial revision upward in the official size of the spill and one and one half to almost four times the size of the Exxon-Valdez spill. In a press conference this afternoon President Obama cancelled a pending lease sale off Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, a suspension of drilling planned for the Arctic this summer, and continued the temporary suspension of deepwater drilling in the Gulf. Environment Texas reiterated its call for a permanent ban on drilling in new areas and thanked the President for canceling the lease sale off Virginia and delaying development of the Arctic leases.
Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger said, "In light of what is now the largest oil spill in U.S. history, we thank President Obama for canceling the Virginia lease sale and delaying drilling in the Arctic but he must do more to ensure this doesn’t happen again. If nothing else, the BP oil spill highlights the fact that if you drill, you will spill and the President needs to permanently protect the Gulf of Mexico and the rest of our treasured coastlines by banning drilling in new places”
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