On April 20, Deepwater Horizons, an ultra-deepwater oilrig, caught fire and exploded, killing eleven British Petroleum employees and seriously injuring many more. Two days later, the rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving an open hole almost a mile under the oceanâ€™s surface that has gushed an estimated 5,000 gallons of oil each day since.
After watching BPâ€™s best efforts fail to stem the flow of oil, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Sunday that it would take about 90 days for the current plans ÂÂâ€“â€“ building a second well to relieve pressure by harvesting underground oil â€“â€“ to stop or slow in the leak.
In those three months, the Deepwater Horizons leak is supposed to become the worst ecological disaster in our nationâ€™s history.
Though controlled burns did not begin on the oil slick until four days after the initial spill, the Obama administration has stressed its devotion to the problem, likely trying to avoid the kind of political backlash former president Bush saw after hurricane Katrina.
This spill threatens to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of coastal residents who make their living from the waters and beaches of the Gulf, whether for fishing or tourism. It is clear to us that this disaster constitutes a threat to national security and demands the full attention of the federal government. It is also clear that this should never have been allowed to happen at all.
The failure of BP to stop the leak and the lack of clear and immediate action by the U.S.Â Coast Guard have revealed that no adequate plan was ever put in place to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.
If companies like BP are to be given license to harvest oil from our public waters in the future, they will have to prove to the American people that they can ensure the safety of those same waters and the millions of people who share them.