Today marks the one year anniversary of the greatest environmental disaster in United States history, an explosion of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 crew members and over 4,5000 animals, and spilled nearly 5 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
On this day, people continue to remember the disastrous effects of the spill on the environment, the people, and the local economy by continuing to speak out about restoring the damage. National and regional leaders are urging Congress to hold BP accountable by pushing legislation that would require money paid by BP under the Clean Water Act to go toward Gulf restoration and aid. Under current law, fines paid by the BP for the spill go to the Federal Treasury rather than being used to help restore the ongoing affects that the spill has had on the region.
Advocates are also calling for change within the oil industry in order to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future. The White House commission that investigated the disaster has been lobbying Congress to commit more funds to oversee the oil industry. The commission’s final report on the disaster suggests that the oil industry, Congress, and the Obama administration must start to impose stronger environmental and safety regulations. These include raising the liability cap on offshore oil spills, making America’s safety regulations for deepwater drilling tougher, requiring companies to demonstrate that they have the capacities to deal with risky wells, and giving more time to government regulators to approve oil drilling licenses.
Although the industry has made some improvements since the spill, critics say they have not been enough, that deepwater drilling has not become safer and there is much left to be done.