Florida's Fingers Crossed Over Gulf Oil Spill
Nightmare is easing, but the toll and cleanup are at hand
We have our fingers crossed here in Florida that the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is finally plugged. This has been a nightmare summer for all of us.
Now we begin the grim tasks of assessing the damage to vast stretches of some of the most productive wetlands and shorelines in the world—wetlands that no one knows how to clean up.
We will see what toll the oil and dispersants take on wildlife. And we will see how oil, sprayed by dispersants and now floating around in the water column, behaves in storms.
Our other task is to make sure that the government and the oil industry learn from this disaster.
Earthjustice has filed nine lawsuits related to the Gulf oil spill, and we will see these through in the coming months—or years. This pollution tragedy exposed serious gaps in America’s regulatory system. It has failed to protect the environment, the wildlife, and the public from harm.
Our aim is to formulate genuine and effective safety regulations. We want real disclosure about the risks of oil well blowouts—not the make-believe scenarios that oil companies have submitted to lax regulators year after year. And we will show that the inherently limited oil spill containment capability proves that some areas should simply be off limits to oil drilling.
Through legal action, we are making the case for effective oil spill response—not the fictitious documents which greatly underestimated the potential for catastrophe from blown-out oil wells. We have seen starkly that the oil industry has spent 30 years improving its techniques to extract oil, but has done nothing to improve its methods of containing a spill or cleaning it up.
We have been blindsided and shocked by the massive pollution of our Gulf. Our shock is now giving way to resolve—resolve to make sure this never happens to the places we love again.
David Guest worked at Earthjustice from 1990 to 2016, as the managing attorney of the Florida regional office. His countless legal battles were, in one way or another, all about water. His motivation to protect Florida’s water came from years of running boats in the state’s rivers and lakes, which convinced him that waterways are many people’s spiritual connection to nature.