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Indybay Feature
BP Oil Spill: Response, Restoration, Recovery, Reform
by Kaitilin Gaffney
Friday May 7th, 2010 4:20 PM
The Deepwater Horizon disaster and what California can do to prevent it from happening here
BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform sank on April 22nd about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, triggering a crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and reminding us here in California of the importance of our state’s strong historic stance against new oil development off our shores.

For decades, Ocean Conservancy has worked with fishermen, conservation colleagues and coastal communities to reduce the risk of oil spills in California. We have sponsored oil spill prevention and emergency response legislation in Sacramento and fought to require tug escorts for cargo ships and those containing chemicals and to establish vessel traffic safety lanes to reduce the likelihood of ship collisions. Yet the 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill is an all too recent reminder that our coast remains vulnerable to future spills.

Ocean Conservancy also has a long history on the ground in the Gulf region protecting and restoring marine resources. For years we have worked alongside the same fishermen who now fear that their livelihoods may be destroyed by this disaster. Some of the ecosystems we helped bring to the brink of recovery are now being decimated by a creeping black slick. Our expert team in the Gulf is deploying rapidly to help respond to the crisis — assessing the impacts, advising on plans for restoration, and developing a toolkit to help ensure that those most affected receive the assistance they need. Intense and sustained efforts will be required to help fish and wildlife populations, habitats, and the communities that depend on them rebound.

At the same time, action is also needed in Washington to help ensure that affected communities receive the assistance and compensation they require, and to put in place reforms to prevent this tragedy from ever being repeated. Santa Barbara Congresswoman Lois Capps has introduced legislation that would create an independent commission to investigate the cause, response and impacts of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion, and make recommendations. Despite BP's Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil Company is plowing ahead with plans to begin exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic this July. An oil spill in the icy waters of the Arctic would be almost impossible to clean up, and in most parts of the harsh and remote Arctic coast, there is almost no infrastructure in place to support response vessels and crews. We must weigh in now and tell the Obama Administration to stop plans for drilling the Arctic this summer.

Finally, we support a bill released on May 6th by East Bay Congressman and former California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi that would permanently block all new oil and natural gas drilling leases off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and California.

For more information about the Deepwater Horizon disaster and how you can help, visit our website.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Kaitilin Gaffney
(davezaches [at] gmail.com) Monday May 10th, 2010 9:47 AM
It sounds as though the critical area is the Arctic Ocean. The crying need at this moment
is for a halt to proposed oil exploration and/or production drilling. As Ms. Gaffney points
out, there is very little possibility for response, rescue or clean up teams in the Arctic,
with sparse population and few capable vessels. It would be nothing like the army of
responders, and the navy of fishing and other vessels responding in Louisiana and the
environs.

The remaining oil in the Prince William Sound, 21 years later, is testimony to the lingering
disaster to fish and wildlife. The Exxon Valdez wreck remains with Alaskans, and all of
us, to this day.

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in the Arctic are world treasures. The potential of
creating an oil spill disaster far outweighs the small amount of oil to be produced.

Dave Zaches, Monterey, CA
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