Saturday, 29 January 2011

BP Gulf Oil Spill – Impact on America's Environment and Economy

Jun 7, 2010 Patrick Szabo
The Oil Slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24 - NASA
The Oil Slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24 -NASA
Learn how the BP Gulf Oil Spill has affected the environment and American economy in the Gulf of Mexico region through understanding the devastation caused.
The place that so many people call home and the first vacation destination for others is now being ruined by something the entire world needs: oil. The one resource that can be found in so many man-made products is now destroying the Gulf of Mexico and its beautiful ecosystem.
On April 20, 2010, the global energy company of BP’s oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, suffered an explosion causing a massive amount of oil to spill into the Gulf. Through the use of particle image velocimetry, Steven Wereley of Purdue University estimated that since then there has been an average of one Exxon Valdez spill in the unbelievably short time of every 2.4 to 3.5 days, dumping about 100,000 barrels of oil into the water every day. Within only nine days the oil slick reached the Mississippi Delta.
The environmental effects of this spill are already more dynamic than anything ever seen before in US history. Economically, the oil spill has already taken a tremendous toll on BP and the United States and will continue to do so as relief efforts for oil cleanup and environmental restoration continues.

Read more at Suite101: BP Gulf Oil Spill – Impact on America's Environment and Economy

Gulf of Mexico Losing its Environment

Inhabiting the Gulf, there are tons of species of creatures that are affected already or going to be affected by this spill. In her 2010 GlobalPost article "10 Animals Most at Risk from Gulf Oil Spill," Julia Kumari Drapkin writes that there are 10 species that are in danger of the oil. Some of them include the North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, whales, dolphins, pelicans, oysters, shrimp, and blue crab. The Bluefin Tuna, which are famous for sushi, spawn in the Gulf of Mexico around mid-April to mid-June. Since the oil has been spewing into the waters where they hatch all throughout this time, they are now in danger of becoming extinct.
Marine animals like whales and dolphins not only live in the water, but need to surface to breathe. Therefore, the oil within the water is not the only threat to them. As they surface above the water to breathe the fresh air, the toxins that the oil gives off are inhaled.
The Brown Pelican recently came off the endangered species list in 2009 and is in grave danger yet again. Their breeding season is in the spring, during the spill, and their eggs are now incubating. The oil is posing a significant threat to this tropical bird.
A vital part of the seafood industry are the vast assortments of oysters, shrimp, and crab. Oil and hydrocarbons are toxic to oysters and will remain a problem to them as hydrocarbons can be retained in coastal sediments for months or even years. Shrimp and blue crab are directly influenced by coastal marshes which are being infiltrated by enormous amounts of drifting oil. It doesn’t seem like there are many marine or coastal animals that remain to be unaffected by this disaster.

Economic Impact of the Spill

According to Charles Colgan of the National Ocean Economics Program, about $1 billion of the United States’ GDP is attributed to fishing in the Gulf area along with $13 billion in tourism and $11 billion in oil. This region accounts for about a fifth of the nation’s oyster production and 75 percent of the domestic shrimp output. Tourism is the main factor, though. This is especially true for Florida, where the state relies completely on revenue from tourists and has no state income tax. This loss of tourism could devastate Florida, and the entire Gulf region.
Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is being sternly questioned as representatives and citizens alike are quickly withdrawing their support for it. This could be one of the last stands for offshore drilling in the United States. To make matters worse, the cleanup of the spill will likely take decades to even come close to completion. The money for this will have to be taken from somewhere other than BP, too, because as of now the company is spending an average of $7 million per day attempting to stop the leak and continue with cleanup.
According to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a $75 million cap is in place which limits the amount of money to be spent by a company that has caused an oil spill on retribution to private parties. Since the Gulf spill, however, many US Senators have tried to pass a bill raising this cap to $10 billion so that BP would be forced to pay up to $9.25 billion more. Kenneth Baer, Communications Director for the Office of Management and Budget, embraced this proposal by stating, "We support efforts to raise the cap."

Gulf Oil Spill Has Affected Everyone

Not only has the BP oil spill affected the region’s environment and inhabitants, but it has largely influenced the American economy in the Gulf region and will continue to do so for many years. The United States now has to deal with the catastrophic consequences of a disaster caused by a company that supplies something that keeps the nation, and world, turning.

Read more at Suite101: BP Gulf Oil Spill – Impact on America's Environment and Economy