Oil Spill Threatens an Already Endangered Climate Bill

The Gulf Coast oil rig that exploded and sank last week is officially leaking oil into the ocean. It initially seemd that BP, who leased the rig, and Transocean, who operated it, had escaped the political complications and financial strain that would accompany an oil spill -- for whatever reason, oil did not seem to be seeping from the well.

Upon further investigation this weekend, the Coast Guard found that the well is leaking 1,000 barrels of oil a day, a spill the Guard has deemed "very serious." The oil sheen surrounding the sunken rig has spread from five to 400 square miles, though Louisiana's coast has not yet been affected. The Coast Guard has deployed four unmanned vehicles 5,000 feet below the water's surface in an attempt to activate a "blow-out preventer" that would help plug the leak.

If response teams can't get the spill under control within the next few days, it may affect climate politics. With Lindsey Graham pulling out of the Senate climate bill and taking potential Republican allies with him, Democratic leaders need every vote they can get. They can't afford to lose coastal Democrats Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, who criticized Obama's recent expansion of offshore drilling and threatened to withhold votes on a climate bill unless it included protections for New Jersey's shoreline. In a statement last week, they called the Louisiana spill a "sober reminder" of the risks of offshore drilling. 

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Just In