“‘I am frightened,’ says David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ‘This is a very, very big thing.’ How bad will it get?…

“2. A seafood shortage
One-fifth of U.S. commercial seafood comes from the Gulf — including 75 percent of our shrimp. George Crozier, executive director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, says that the crude oil entering coastal estuaries areas may cause a dramatic drop in ‘seafood recruitment’ (as he calls it) for years to come. Louisiana commercial shrimpers have filed a class action suit against BP and its partners. This is already ‘the worst case scenario for shrimpers, oyster harvesters, crabbers — all the commercial fisherman,’ says a local expert.

“3. Higher gas prices
The 210,000 gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf each day is is a fraction of total U.S. oil consumption. But, if it takes BP weeks to stem the gushing, as seems likely, the spill ‘may be the final catalyst to push U.S. gasoline prices…solidly above $3 a gallon,’ says Charley Blaine at MSN Money.”

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“But whatever the magnitude of the spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, it is unlikely to seriously impede offshore drilling in the Gulf. The country needs the oil — and the jobs

There is another reason why offshore drilling is likely to continue. Most of the big new discoveries lie deep beneath the world’s oceans, including in the Gulf of Mexico. For the oil companies, these reserves are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and represent the industry’s future…

“‘A fossil-fuel free future isn’t inconceivable but it is decades away,’ wrote Samuel Thernstrom, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, on The Times’s Room for Debate blog. ‘Meanwhile, we can’t drill our problems away, but drilling still has a role to play.'”

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