You would think the change would have been almost automatic after such a disaster. But the oil industry was so powerful that Congress gave it until 2015 “” 25 years “” to comply. Even now, single-hulled oil tankers like the Exxon Valdez, which now operates as an ore carrier in Asia, can ply U.S. waters.
That was just one example of how the industry’s influence has slowed or stopped regulations that might have cut into profits.
This week, the Wonk Room has traveled the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Pensacola, learning how the people of the region are preparing for the oil disaster growing off their shores. Over two weeks have passed since BP’s “safe” Deepwater Horizon exploratory rig exploded 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and unleashing an unstaunched undersea torrent of oil. Scientists shudder to think of the potential ecological catastrophe, and previously pro-drilling officials are scrambling to respond to the disaster.
Meanwhile, the residents of the coast express a mixture of resignation and determination. The people are tied together by the effort to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, whose devastation is still evident all along the coast. Once-thriving seaside resorts are quiet, backwater communities decimated, and the joyous spirit of New Orleans still has a somber current, five years after the global-warming-fueled storm scoured the Gulf Coast.
The Biloxi NAACP has its headquarters on Main Street, next to a Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen. Biloxi NAACP President James Crowell discussed his city and the threat of the BP oil disaster with the Wonk Room in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. He described how the oil’s destruction of the sea puts the culture of the city — from the fish called “Biloxi bacon” by locals to the shrimp boils at every family gathering — at risk. Crowell also discussed the health, economic, and environmental dangers of this catastrophe, which will hit the most vulnerable residents the hardest:
A lot of people have health problems now, from Katrina. We’re likely to see more health problems with the oil coming in to the waters of Biloxi. There’s still people suffering from mental cases of anguish because of that Katrina. This just doubles that, something else for them to worry about.
Watch the interview:
Biloxi, MS, is a city of sharp contrasts, from mega-casinos on its white beaches to the endemic poverty of Main Street a few blocks away. With the Keesler Air Force Base, casinos, and the port and fishing industries providing an economic engine, Biloxi has some of the best elementary schools in the state and a highly-trained blue-collar workforce. But as the seas rise and storms strengthen, the peninsular city is on the front lines of global warming — it has lost 12 percent of its population since Katrina, and home insurance rates have become ruinously expensive. Biloxi also suffers the fate of being in a state run by Gov. Haley Barbour (R), a corrupt oil-industry lobbyist who fights on the side of pollution and tried to reject the federal stimulus.
By Climate Guest Blogger on May 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm
One step closer to a clean energy future
Yesterday’s bi-partisan passage of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 in the House is a critical milestone on the road to economic recovery, alleviating America’s jobs crisis, and lessening our energy use. The alliance behind this $6 billion rebate program to encourage Americans to invest in more energy-efficient homes is nothing short of historic. CAP’s Tina M. Ramos and Bracken Hendricks have the story.
Over a year after the Recovery Act of 2009 was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Energy says that $32.5 billion of the $36.7 billion it was authorized to spend is “spoken for,” and nearly 5,000 projects have been funded. The department has selected all but 1 percent of the proposals that will receive grants and contracts. So far, however, only $3.5 billion has actually been spent, and the money has only directly created 22,841 jobs.
We knew Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had declared war on reality. Now he has declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry as well. We hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the University of Virginia have the spine to repudiate Mr. Cuccinelli’s abuse of the legal code. If they do not, the quality of Virginia’s universities will suffer for years to come.
With a few exceptions, the Washington Post‘s editorial page has not been friendly to climate science. So it’s refreshing to see the paper take on the chilling McCarthyite witchhunt that Cuccinelli has launched again the much-vindicated climate scientist Michael Mann:
By Climate Guest Blogger on May 7, 2010 at 9:33 am
BP has long touted itself as a “green” company interested not only in oil and other fossil fuels, but in renewable energy like wind and solar. But as Rebecca Lefton reported on ThinkProgress last week, BP barely invests anything in clean energy “” most of its green campaign is actually just a massive advertising gimmick to conceal the truth about the company.
Edited by Joe Romm, we cover climate science, solutions and politics. Columnist Tom Friedman calls us "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named us one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." Newcomers, start here.