At least 500,000 gallons of oil nearly 12,000 barrels spilled into the ocean and tidal wetlands along the Texas and Louisiana coasts after Hurricane Ike ripped up oil platforms, and ruptured tanks and pipelines, according to an Associated Press investigation.
That's about 5% of the oil spilled due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The hurricane's toll highlights the environmental risk in offshore oil.
Hundreds if not thousands of individual spills, from both companies and individuals, resulted from the hurricane, according to the AP. None are classified as "major" but together they add up.
Of about 3,800 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, 52 were destroyed and another 32 "severely damaged," according to the AP.
Both President Bush and Congress have allowed a federal ban on offshore oil drilling to expire, opening new areas along the U.S. coasts to exploration. Sen. John McCain has made increased offshore oil drilling a central part of his energy policy, should he be elected president, while Sen. Barack Obama has said he'd tolerate additional oil drilling only as part of a compromise that led to big investments in renewable and alternative energy technology.
Building additional oil platforms would put more regions at risk of spills during large storms, and though the science is still unsettled on this point, global warming could be spawning more frequent or intense hurricanes compounding the risk.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.