Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. And while I wish it was a distant memory, I’ve been thinking about it all too much lately.
The recent Exxon tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas has evoked vivid memories of the BP spill. Exxon is following BP’s playbook very closely, and like BP, is successfully controlling the entire response effort.
Given all the recent research revealing wide-spread ecosystem impacts in the Gulf, I had hoped the government would show more leadership and transparency this time. But they ceded control to Big Oil, again. And unfortunately, like with the BP spill, it may be years before we uncover what really happened in Mayflower.
Three years after the BP disaster, I’m still waiting on data that I requested from agencies back in July 2010. Back then, I submitted over 50 Freedom of Information Act requests to federal and state agencies attempting to get information on wildlife impacts, research initiatives, and the structure and operations of the response team. I’m sad to report that I’m still waiting on responses to most of them.
Meanwhile, the few responses I have received horrifically illustrate the destruction BP didn’t want you to see, including hundreds of images of dead turtles that were withheld during the spill.
I wish I could say these are anomalies, that oil spills are rare and the government is skilled at responding to them. Sadly, that’s not the case. Oil spills are not avoidable or unlikely, and the destructive they cause is not well controlled or understood by the government.