As the first slicks of oil have officially made landfall, British Petroleum is lowering a four story box over the leak, and using pipes to channel the oil up to a processing ship. This operation is extremely difficult due to the fact that the oil is leaking from about a mile underneath the surface. If it is successful, it will greatly reduce the approximated 200,000 gallons a day that are currently leaking from the seabed, although it will take about a week to become operational.
The Breton National Wildlife Refuge is a chain of islands off the coast of Louisiana that became protected in 1904 by Theodore Roosevelt for its menagerie of bird life. Workers are using booms to try and protect the shore and the animals that inhabit the area, but serious environmental degradation is inevitable.
In the meantime, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced there will be no new offshore drilling permits issued until this spill is further investigated and the cause is determined. Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been working on a bipartisan climate bill, worries that this moratorium on drilling in the wake of the spill could make passing a climate bill nearly impossible. His bill had measures to greatly increase Americas pursuit of offshore oil reserves. It is clear that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which could be the worst in American history, will have a huge influence on whatever climate bill emerges and the future of offshore drilling. For now lets hope the containment device works and further oil slicks can be thwarted from reaching our shores.
Photo: Two fishing vessels drag an oil boom after trapped oil is set ablaze in the Gulf of Mexico (Jeffery Tilghman / U.S. Navy).