After two years of trial, a federal judge in New Orleans is heading into the final stretch in deciding how much BP, the third-largest oil company in the world, will have to pay in fines for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Predictably, BP has been trying to muddy the waters inside the courtroom through legal maneuvers and outside the courthouse with expensive, feel-good advertising campaigns. BP continues to employ the big lie strategy: It’s all better. Nothing to see here on the Gulf Coast, folks. Move along.
We know that scientists are still finding oil and uncovering new damages from this catastrophe—from lung disease in dolphins to the destruction of critical wetlands.
To be sure, the long-term environmental damage isn’t as easy to show in pictures and video as those early heartbreaking images of pelicans and herons covered in oily brown goo. But the impact has been no less destructive to birds, fish, wildlife, and their wetland and undersea habitats.
How do you show a “bathtub ring” of oil residue the size of Rhode Island on the floor of the Gulf, where deepwater coral has been slimed? How do you photograph the continuing kills of Louisiana coastal insects that are the primary food for countless birds, fish, and other wildlife? How do you show what’s not there: the lack of dolphins because of reproductive problems?
Perhaps even more troubling is the mounting evidence that the damage from the oil spill has accelerated marsh erosion in a place where every square foot of wetland is essential to protect people and wildlife from storms and rising sea levels. The money BP is required to pay under the Clean Water Act will go a long way toward helping to preserve and restore coastal areas.
Holding BP fully accountable for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster is what the law lays out. And it’s the right thing to do for the Gulf’s ecosystems and economies. After five long years, justice is close. The Gulf has waited long enough.
Visit audubon.org/bp to raise your voice and hold BP accountable.