It’s been one year to the day since the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed 11 rig workers and then proceeded to dump an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Considering how poorly our government handles these kinds of disasters—Hurricane Katrina, anyone?—it might not surprise you to know how bad things still are in the Gulf. But do you know just how bad?
To begin with, 66 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline still remain heavily or moderately oiled, meaning crucial and sensitive species of plants and animal are still in grave danger. In fact, since the spill initially happened, 250 bottlenose dolphins have washed ashore, dead.
In Washington D.C., politicians have basically sat on their hands in the wake of the spill. Though Obama initially pronounced a moratorium on offshore oil drilling to prevent another immediate disaster, that moratorium has since been gradually rolled back. Beyond that, though more than 100 oil spill-related bills have been introduced to Congress since Deepwater Horizon, not a single one has passed.
Back in the Gulf, where the real damage took place—and still continues—things are better, but still pretty bad. Many people in Louisiana, where African-Americans for decades relied on income from fishing and oyster ships, have been stuck seeking handouts from BP, the company behind the oil spill that ruined their former income streams. Worse still, the money being paid out is, according to recipients, being handled inefficiently, adding stress to an already troubling process.
In a letter to the chairman of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which handles the tens of thousands of claims filed by residents seeking compensation, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange recently wrote, “Quit dragging your feet and stalling the large majority of claims to a point where victims are so desperate that they settle for anything. Remember, your job is to compensate the victims—not magnify their problems by playing games with BP's money (to BP's benefit).”
It’s Strange’s belief that BP is stalling paying claimants in this time of tremendous financial need, the company’s hope being that people will settle for far less than they’d be paid if they weren’t in dire straits. It’s the final slap in the face in a year that’s been miserable from the outset.