It’s been 16 months since the BP oil spill wrought havoc on the Gulf Coast. Much progress has been made on the promises to clean up the mess and help the victims. New safety rules have been imposed on the drilling industry. Now it’s time for Washington to make good on the pledge to restore a coastal environment that was severely damaged even before the spill happened.
A new NYT op-ed offers a forceful argument on this point. Following Hurricane Katrina, promises were made to restore coastal marshes, rebuild barrier islands, and reverse years of man-made degradation to a unique and productive ecosystem that happens to be one of the world’s great fisheries. These promises were never fulfilled.
Last month, a Senate committee overwhelming endorsed legislation that would direct 80 percent of the civil penalties to long-term environmental restoration in the Gulf. Now we need the full Senate to approve the bill and Congress to endorse a similar measure introduced last week.
Scientists say there is not a lot of time left to reverse the damage before the rebuilding job becomes insurmountable. Rebuilding the Mississippi Delta will create jobs, strengthen the region’s defenses against future hurricanes and ensure the future of a $23 billion recreational and commercial fishery. This time, Congress must deliver.
Photo: Pete Souza / U.S. Government Work