On Tuesday, “oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster hit Mississippi shores for the first time,” covering about two miles of Petit Bois Island’s beach. As ThinkProgress noted, the appearance of oil onshore led Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to shift his upbeat rhetoric about the approaching oil, acknowledging that “this could turn out to be something catastrophic and terrible.” But after Barbour visited Petit Bois Island yesterday and saw that the oil that came ashore had “been washed away by storms,” he returned to the positive spin, saying, “I don’t think the island was hurt one iota.” Barbour even downplayed concerns about animals being suffocated by the oil in the ocean, comparing it to humans being covered in toothpaste:
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Director Trudy Fisher said samples of what was apparently the same oil slick, taken when it was farther south of the barrier islands, were “nontoxic.” Fisher said water and weather had helped all the volatile chemicals in the oil evaporate. Barbour described the oil as “weathered, emulsified, caramel-colored mousse, like the food mousse.” “Once it gets to this stage, it’s not poisonous,” Barbour said. “But if a small animal got coated enough with it, it could smother it. But if you got enough toothpaste on you, you couldn’t breathe.” Barbour said he spoke with a member of President Barack Obama’s staff on Air Force One while he was on the island, after telling the administration in an early-morning conference call that oil had come ashore in Mississippi.
Despite what Barbour says, it isn’t just small animals that have been killed by the oil gushing into the Gulf. Though not all in Mississippi, as of June 2, “there are 604 dead birds, 253 dead sea turtles, and 29 mammals (including dolphins)” that have been found in relation to the drilling accident.