Last week, Obama administration officials admitted that the Deepwater Horizon blowout is the worst oil disaster in American history, exceeding the Exxon Valdez spill, as they estimated that the gusher had spewed between 15 and 40 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Around the same time, however, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) declared that the oil pumping into the Gulf is “not an environmental disaster”:
Young said: “This is not an environmental disaster, and I will say that again and again because it is a national phenomena. Oil has seeped into this ocean for centuries, will continue to do it. During World War II there was over 10 million barrels of oil spilt from ships, and no natural catastrophe. … We will lose some birds, we will lose some fixed sealife, but overall it will recover.”
Last month, Gulf Coast marine scientists told The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson that the ecological impact of the accident will be “devastating” because “oil’s bad for everything.” The massive amount of oil threatens several endangered species, coral reefs, and the fragile ecosystem of Louisiana’s coastline. The exact impact of the oil is more uncertain than in other spills because “for the most part, researchers have studied the aftermath of surface spills. The Deepwater Horizon blowout occurred at 5,000 feet, dispensing crude oil from seafloor to surface.” “This is uncharted territory in terms of assessing the effects of a spill from a deep well like this,” Judy McDowell, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts told the Christian Science Monitor.