The BP oil spill began April 20 with an explosion that killed 11 workers. Ultimately, more than 127 million gallons spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling the surface, the depths, shorelines, seafood, birds, turtles and other wildlife; and upending the local fishing and tourism economy in the Gulf. Now, four and a half months later, another rig has exploded, Mariner Energy's Vermilion rig 380. Thirteen workers evacuated, apparently to safety, according to press reports.
It's unclear, according to the Washington Post, how much oil is spilling, but there's a growing slick spreading from the site of the explosion.
It is clear that offshore oil drilling, whether in the Gulf of Mexico, the Niger Delta or off the coast of Alaska, is dangerous. Within hours of the explosion, environmental groups and lawmakers began to call for tighter regulations of the oil industry regulations that were not enacted even after the BP oil spill became the worst accidental spill in world history.
"President Obama should need no further wake-up call to permanently ban new drilling," said Mike Gravitz, oceans advocate for Environment America, noting that the Kalamazoo River oil spill was also an underappreciated summer disaster. "He should radically strengthen oversight of the existing offshore oil industry to prevent more accidents like the one today, but also permanently protect the coasts where we dont drill now."
"After the 13 workers on this rig are safe and sound," said U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a leading voice in Congress for tougher oil drilling regulations, "we have a duty to them and all oil workers to make sure the oil industrys drilling practices are also safe and sound."
"Instead of pursuing more dangerous, dirty, outdated offshore drilling, we could be investing in clean energy and a 21st century transportation system that would create good, safe jobs and infuse new life into our economy," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "How many disasters will it take until our leaders decide to act? We don't want to see one more oil disaster. The BP disaster was supposed to be the wake-up call, but we hit the snooze button. Today the alarm went off again. Oil is just too dangerous and dirty. It's time to move America off of oil and onto clean, safe energy."
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