Deepwater Oil Drilling
The oil in our earth was created 300 to 400 million years ago. In the span of 200 years since the Industrial Revolution, we have used up most all of the oil that is easy to access, driving us to drill in ever harder to reach places, such as the Arctic or in deep water. By definition any drilling deeper than 500 feet is considered "deepwater" but some rigs go as far as 10,000 feet (or 3 kilometers).
In addition to the greenhouse gas pollution from our reliance on oil, deepwater drilling poses two specific problems:
- Due to intense water pressure under such extreme depths it is difficult to respond when something goes wrong. After the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in May 2010 it took three months to cap the gushing geyser. As a result, up to 4.9 million barrels or 210 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico.
- Due to such extreme depths, oil "spills" cover a much bigger area by the time they reach the surface. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, scientists reported immense underwater plumes of oil below the surface, as well as an 80-square-mile (210 km²) "kill zone" surrounding the blown well, killing fish, shellfish, birds, dolphins and whales. Oil polluted coastlines of four U.S. states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Generations of families in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have supported themselves by harvesting the rich sea life in the Gulf - fish, shrimp, crabs and oysters. Somewhere between 35 to 40% of these fisheries were forced closed due to deepwater oil "spill." The estimated loss to the fishing industry was around $2.5 billion. Bluefin tuna populations had already been in decline when 20% of the juvenile bluefin tuna were killed by oil poisoning the Gulf's most important spawning area. The tourism industry, upon which other Gulf Coast families rely, was also badly hurt. Prolonged exposure to the toxic mixture of petroleum and dispersants (used to "clean" the spill) has resulted in numerous illnesses. Yet again, a smaller group of people pay the price so that the rest of us can continue our addiction to oil. It is time to shift our economy away from oil towards more sustainable sources of energy.
As long as we depend on oil we risk bigger and bigger ecological disasters. Tell Congress to End Tax Breaks for Oil Companies
For more information contact environment @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
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