Oil As Far As My Eyes Can See

Wow.There is literally oil as far as my eyes can see.While many of the folks here at GRN have been actively monitoring the BP drilling disaster and its impacts, I hadn’t personally made the journey until last week. It’s an overwhelming experience, to say the least. After landing and taking off from the water of Lake Maurepas to show off the abilities of the Albatross plane provided by the Blue Seals, we headed southwest to the Louisiana coast. Over the beautiful, lush wetlands already carved up by oil and gas canals, we made it to the barrier islands and turned east. I’ve read a lot about the immensity of the clean-up effort – some 1,500 vessels, tens of thousands of people, and millions of feet of boom. Unfortunately, on that Wednesday morning, the reality was a far cry from BP’s rhetoric.The first signs of oil were the dark orange-brown patches that were drifting ashore west of Grand Isle. Here, where the patches were finite and manageable, it was stunning not to see any clean-up vessels working to extract the oil from the surface of the water.As we continued on, the impacts only grew more evident, and the lack of response more infuriating. There were signs of infrastructure, like tents and porta-potties, for cleanup crews along Grand Isle and some of the surrounding barrier islands, but there were almost zero people . . . just oil. There was boom, but it appeared in many cases to be ineffective.Many of the wetlands back behind the islands still seem unaffected as of yet, and I screamed over the roar of the engines to our flightmates about the need to mobilize more resources to defend the coast.Passing over the mouth of the Mississippi River, we turned out to sea and headed towards “the source” of the venom that is poisoning the Gulf. Approximately 12 miles out, the slick began, and before long, it was all we could see in any direction. The clean up vessels were dwarfed by the size of it, and even the in situ burning seemed like an exercise in futility.It’s ridiculous that the best methods to clean up this mess currently in use involve dumping more chemicals into the Gulf and burning the oil into dark, black clouds. The nation must do better.As terrifying as it is to see the impacts of this disaster from the air, I was encouraged by the beauty and vibrancy of the in-shore marshes we flew over on our way out to the coast. We still have time to defend the coastal marshes, but the federal government must take over the efforts and act quickly.

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