Gulf Spill Likely to Leak Through August
posted at 5:34 pm on May 31, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
Malia Obama is in for a long, hot summer. So are the rest of us. The president’s daughter, who according to her father has an abiding concern about the BP oil leak, has probably already learned the latest prognosis, offered yesterday by a top official of BP: The leak may go unplugged until August. As if that news weren’t sobering enough, hurricane season begins this coming Tuesday. There is no telling what kind of havoc that might wreak on the Louisiana coast or what kind of damper it might impose on efforts to staunch the flow of oil.
The disaster, now in its forty-second day, has already dwarfed the previous worst oil spill in U.S. history, that of the Exxon Valdez, which dumped 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska. The Gulf spill is now also being called the nation’s biggest-ever environmental catastrophe.
“There’s no doubt that the ultimate solution lies on the relief well, which is in August,” BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward told reporters yesterday. He added that in the meantime BP needs “to be in the mind set of containment in the sub-sea, containment on the surface and defending the shoreline, in a very aggressive way.”
White House energy czar Carol Browner estimates that before the leak is finally contained, the oil flow spewing from the ruptured well may increase by as much as 20 percent.
In addition to the environmental implications, the leak threatens to destroy much of the $6.5 billion seafood industry that is the economic lifeblood of the Louisiana coast. Louisianians, for whom the botched Bush administration response to Hurricane Katrina remains an open wound, now feel similar rage toward the Obama White House, which they feel was late to respond and whose response they still view as inadequate.
As to whether the anger is rational, the government, as noted here, can do little at this point beyond supervising the containment efforts. It is a simple fact that BP has expertise in this area that government scientists don’t. At the same time, the desire to hold accountable a man so full of himself that he promised to stop the rise of the oceans doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable.
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