Oil Spill Update Four Months Later
Still Cleaning Up the Deepwater Horizon Article by Anthony Taillie
An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig April 20 caused a subsequent oil spill that has only recently been subdued.
The BP-operated oil rig spilled a total of 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and resulted in the use of 1.8 million gallons of dispersant. Many experts have said that the ecosystem and economy of southeastern Louisana and the Gulf Coast area will continue to be affected for years to come, and many local watermen have already seen heavily decreased harvests of fish and other seafood.
Tourism has also slowed and the oil spill has had a significant impact on jobs that depend on the oil drilling industry, which will be felt throughout the world.
Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute, said the most important — and possibly one of the most devastating — effects of the oil spill will be the economic repercussions created by the federally imposed moratorium on the issuance of new permits for deep water offshore drilling.
“The moratorium is punishing everyone for one person’s mistake,” Smith said. Smith said that even if the moratorium is lifted in three to four months, the 34 oil rigs operating in the gulf at the time the moratorium took effect will likely relocate. Simply sitting in the gulf — as the rigs are currently doing — costs approximately $1 million per day. A move like this could cause about 90,000 people to lose their jobs. A de facto shallow water drilling moratorium could cause an additional 50,000 job losses.
Oliver Houck, a professor of environmental law at Tulane Law School, is organizing a lecture series on the oil spill this fall that will feature speakers from around the nation. “I thought maybe 20 - 25 people would be interested, but we already have 118 signed up,” Houck said.
The lecture series is open not only to Tulane law students, but also to members of the general public. Houck said the interest in the lecture series shows that people are interested in finding out what impact the oil spill has had and will continue to have on the region.
Houck said that he hoped that the lecture series will provoke further thought on the spill and motivate students to go out and perform further studies and research in the interest of making a positive change.
Doug Meffert, the chair of the Tulane Oil Spill Response Committee and a professor of river and coastal studies, said it is essential that the university work with both the community and the oil companies to make sure something like this does not happen again.
“The goal for the committee is to provide overall coordination as it links to curriculum,” Meffert said. “Our development mission is to connect people to the right faculty with specific areas of expertise.”
Meffert is dedicated both to making sure that people stay informed about the oil spill and also to assisting in the prevention of a similar disaster in the future.