To support the Big Oil agenda of increased offshore drilling, conservatives have been telling the American public that there weren’t any major spills caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for an entire month. The following video shows Sen. McCain (R-AZ), Wall Street Journal writer Stephen Moore, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer, former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), and Sen. McCain (again).
They appeared on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox Business Network, Fox News, and MSNBC, but were never challenged for their false claims.
As the Wonk Room has reported, the clear satellite evidence of major spills was borne out by final reports. In May 2006, the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) published their offshore damage assessment: “113 platforms totally destroyed, and 457 pipelines damaged, 101 of those major lines with 10″ or larger diameter.”
Unsurprisingly, this devastation caused significant spillage, according to the official report prepared for the MMS by a Norwegian firm:
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Caused 124 Offshore Spills For A Total Of 743,700 Gallons. 554,400 gallons were crude oil and condensate from platforms, rigs and pipelines, and 189,000 gallons were refined products from platforms and rigs. [MMS, 1/22/07]
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Caused Six Offshore Spills Of 42,000 Gallons Or Greater. The largest of these was 152,250 gallons, well over the 100,000 gallon threshold considered a “major spill.” [MMS, 5/1/06]
In addition, the hurricanes caused disastrous spills onshore throughout southeast Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast as tanks, pipelines, refineries and other industrial facilities were destroyed, for a total of 595 different oil spills. The 9 million gallons reported spilled were comparable with the Exxon Valdez’s 10.8 million gallons, but unlike the Exxon Valdez, were distributed throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Gulf Coast states, many in residential areas. The most massive spills included:
– The Bass Enterprises Cox Bay spill of 3.78 million gallons of oil, the largest spill caused by the hurricanes
– The Murphy Oil spill in Mereaux, LA of 819,000 gallons of oil, contaminating 1,700 homes and the local high school
At the time, the Houston Chronicle described the devastation as “among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.”
Cross-posted in The Wonk Room
David Kurtz asks, “What is it with the Gulf of Mexico? It’s become a breeding ground for GOP myths about oil,” noting that Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) is the latest peddler of the “not a drop” myth.