Oil Spill Threatens an Already Endangered Climate Bill

More

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. 

Jump to comments

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down