Impact of The Oil Spill in The Gulf
    2010-06-12 08:20:48     APTN      Web Editor: Jiang Aitao

(Video APTN)

At the same time they are venting their fury at BP over the Gulf of Mexico spill and its calamitous environmental effects, Louisiana politicians were rushing on Thursday to the defence of the oil-and-gas industry and pleading with Washington to bring back offshore drillingnow.

As angry as they are over the disaster, state officials warn that the Obama administration's temporary ban on drilling in the Gulf has sent Louisiana's most lucrative industry into a death spiral.

They contend that drilling is safe overall and that the moratorium is a knee-jerk reaction, similar to if they decided to ground every airplane in America because of a single crash.

They worry, too, that the moratorium comes at a time when another major Louisiana industry, fishing, has been brought to a standstill by the mess in the Gulf.

"You have the fisheries that are down because of the oil on the shores, and then you have the oil industry that's going to be down because of the moratorium. You know, it's a double whammy against us," said Drake Pothier of the Houma, Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, a government task force of scientists said that before BP cut and capped the blown-out well a week ago, it may have been spewing as much as 2.1 (m) million gallons (7.9 (m) millions litres) of oil per day or twice as much as the government's previous worst-case estimate.

The bigger number is just an estimate, and scientific teams are still coming up with more complete numbers.

The oil-and-gas industry is the backbone of the Louisiana economy, bringing in (b) billions of US dollars in revenue for the government and accounting for nearly one-third of the nation's domestic crude production.

It took a heavy blow when the government imposed a six-month offshore drilling moratorium in the wake of the spill that has sent tens of (m) millions of gallons (litres) of oil into the Gulf in the biggest environmental disaster in US history.

The government imposed the ban while it reviews the safety of deepwater drilling in light of the BP disaster.

Louisiana lawmakers have railed against the moratorium, saying it could put more than 100-thousand people out of work, shatter businesses and destroy livelihoods.

A bill asking the administration to shorten the moratorium passed the Legislature unanimously.

But persuading the administration to take such action could prove to be extraordinarily difficult at a time when globs of oil are fouling marshes and beaches, images of oil-soaked birds are a fixture in the news and no apparent end to the spill is in sight.

A flare burns from a drill ship recovering oil from the ruptured British Petroleum (BP) oil well over the site in the Gulf of Mexico on June 9, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana. The spill has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history. As the oil continues to spread, officials have announced a ban on swimming along a six-mile stretch of Florida beach. [Photo: Spencer Platt/GettyNorthAmerica/CFP]

Nature and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres around the Gulf coast are now regularly receiving oiled birds and turtles. Many of them can be saved, care for, and released back into the wild, but not all of them.

Workers at the Audobon Nature Institute in New Orleans were rehabilitating a number of small sea turtles on Thursday and hope to be able to return them to open water soon, although the threat of them encountering oil again remains high.

"These turtles are very healthy. They have been de-oiled. We're continuing to monitor them. We're giving them the best care possible, the best food possible. My feeling is they stand an excellent change of returning back to the environment," said Michael Ziccardi, Wildlife Veterinarian-UC Davis.

BP is capturing more oil from the bottom of the sea each day, and expects to siphon even larger quantities by early next week once more heavy equipment arrives.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the crisis for the government, said BP could be taking in 1.17 (m) million gallons (4.42 (m) million litres) a day by next week, up from the current daily rate of 630-thousand gallons (2.38 (m) million litres).

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and US Senators on Thursday met with the families of the 11 rig workers who were killed in the April 20 explosion.

Billy Anderson, father of Jason Anderson who died in the accident, said that while people are worried about the damage the oil leak is doing to the environment they should not forget that 11 innocent men died in this tragedy.

"We can't get our boys back. We can clean up pelicans. We can clean fish, and they will live and they will continue to live. We can not do that for our family members we lost. We can't wipe the oil off of them and wash them with soap detergent and get them back," he added.

Meanwhile Gulf Coast leaders are tallying up the economic damage.

Gulf communities already are seeing the livelihoods of thousands of fisherman, property owners and tourism workers jeopardised by the leak.

A 134-year-old oyster fishing company in New Orleans will likely close its doors in the coming days.

The owner of P&J Oyster Company thought Thursday would be the last day he'd have workers shucking unless some oyster beds in the region were re-opened for fishing.

The Mayor of Grand Isle, Louisiana pleaded for help from US senators on Thursday while testifying at a hearing on the oil spill on Capitol Hill.

Mayor David Camardelle say he has mothers in his town worried about feeding their children. Camardelle has used some of his meagre 500 US dollar a week salary to pay to feed families out of his own pocket.

Fishing and tourism contribute 10 (b) billion US dollars to Louisiana's 210 (b) billion US dollars economy, while energy contributes 65 (b) billion US dollars.

The Energy Department estimates that 25 (m) million barrels of oil production will be lost in 2011 because of the six-month moratorium.

That's less than what the country burns in two days, but production will drop even more if the ban is extended to a year or more, as a number of analysts expect.


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