Thursday, October 21, 2010

Six months later

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 3:00 PM

April 20, 2010 — Six months later, BP is sued in federal court. The Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network Inc. and the Save the Manatee Club filed their suit Oct. 20 saying BP has violated the Endangered Species Act after its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico and leaked millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, its beaches, and its coastal wetlands, while destroying fisheries, habitats, economies, families, livelihoods and lives, beginning six months ago.

The suit is only the latest move to hold the old giant accountable. Lawyers are handling an anticipated hundreds of criminal and civil cases in the disaster’s wake, from the feds to nonprofits like Food & Water Watch and small businesses and residents.

Louisiana still has an oily taste in its mouth — six months after the rig disaster, BP continues to spin its story: Headlines and stories nationally and locally diminish the oil’s impact or suggest it isn’t the disaster predicted, and the blame game goes to the federal level as BP appeals for a liability cap. National coverage has shifted from seaside to courtside with testimonies from oil workers and executives at committee hearings.

Restaurants and seafood suppliers are bouncing back, whether by success of a blitzkrieg Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board campaign or the thumbs up from seafood inspectors. Supplies are more available and in demand, though there are still south Louisiana fishermen out of work, underpaid, and struggling harder than ever.

The Deepwater Horizon Response media team ended its duties last month, replacing it with the happier, less-complicated RestoreTheGulf.gov. The face of the spill, former National Incident Commander Thad Allen, also ended his position this month, handing duties to the regional incident commands. President Barack Obama, more than a month ahead of schedule, lifted the Gulf deepwater drilling moratorium as oil companies say they’ve cleaned up their acts.

And that disappearing oil? It’s still there: cleanup crews tackle the stuff embedded in wetlands, fish and other animals are coated in it, and, even months later, it’s washing ashore along our coast.

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