When an oil production platform caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana coast last week, a collective gasp would have been appropriate – from the residents of coastal Louisiana, who are no strangers to offshore oil rig disasters, from the fossil fuel industry, which is priming itself for a golden age under the incoming Trump Administration, and from the American public, whose oil reliance remains unchecked despite increasing awareness of both the massive downside of fossil fuel use and the increasing availability of clean, renewable energy sources.
If anyone was holding his or her breath, he or she soon exhaled. The rig fire was extinguished, no lives lost, no oil reported spilled. The people of the Gulf Coast, the oil industry, and the environment dodged a bullet, because the woefully inadequate, even counterproductive cleanup measures that were in place during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster have not been improved since that catastrophe killed eleven rig workers and ravaged human health and the environment throughout the region.
As GAP’s ongoing investigation into the Gulf Disaster has exposed, the damage from that disaster, incidentally, has still not been fully remediated; the effects are being felt nearly seven years after the incident. Worse still, the industry continues to argue that significant changes are not necessary.