18 months after the disastrous oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico is open for deepwater drilling. Two hundred miles off the coast of Texas, pipes running two miles deep will bring oil and natural gas to Royal Dutch Shell’s floating platform named “Perdida”, which means “lost” in Spanish. So named because of its remoteness, this platform will eventually connect to 35 deep wells in a 30-mile radius and is predicted to produce 100,000 barrels of oil a day. In November, the first of these wells (this one, 9,627 feet below the surface of the Gulf) began pumping oil, proving that there is no longer any part of the Gulf too deep to tap (Huffington Post, 1/6/12).
Many Audubon members will remember Melanie Driscol who used to live in the Ithaca area. You may view a video of Melanie’s recap of the Christmas Bird Count from Grand Isle, Louisiana on http://www.youtube.com, 12/22/11. This video clip shows the resiliency of nature but also uncertainty over the long-term effects of the oil spill on the ecosystem.
According to a Reuters report on January 4, 2012 from London’s The Economic Times, “BP has called on contractor Halliburton to pay all costs and expenses it incurred to clean up the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which the oil major previously put at around $42 billion.” Halliburton cemented the failed well that caused the United State’s biggest offshore oil spill.
The first Department of Justice hearing on the BP fine will take place February 27 and there is disagreement in Congress about how the money will be distributed (www.coastalnewstoday.com, 12/30/11). The Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economics of the Gulf Coast States Act – RESTORE Act, S.1400 and H.3096 would require that 80% of the fines paid by BP (which could be between $5 billion and $21 billion), go to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for restoration of habitat and scientific study. Others in Congress have other thoughts about where this money could be used.