So far, effective solutions to the growing environmental hazard caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have evaded engineers and scientists at BP, the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other private and public entities working to contain it.
As the spill enters its second month, however, anyone in the world with a television or an Internet connection can watch the crisis play out in real time in astonishing detail. For example:
- In response to a request by U.S. Representative Edward Markey (MA-D), who chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, BP has made a continuous live feed of the spill available on its website.
- Google Earth has created an interactive Gulf Coast oil spill map where you can compare the size of the spill to any city in the world.
- Another interactive map on the Washington Post website graphically depicts the spill’s impact in four states on fisheries, bird areas, and tourism and booms deployed to contain it.
“Waterworld” Meets the Real World - Hollywood to the Rescue?
With thousands of gallons of oil still spewing into the Gulf every day, BP has called on technology developed by Costner Industries Nevada Corporation, financed by film star Kevin Costner. BP says it is testing six devices that are designed to function as giant vacuum cleaners to suck up the dirty liquid and, using a high-speed centrifuge, separate the oil from the water. The Los Angeles Times reports that the actor has invested 15 years and about $24 million in the project, which he started while making the maritime film Waterworld. Meanwhile, Avatar director James Cameron has offered to make his submarine fleet available to cleanup teams in the Gulf.
The President Names a Bipartisan Commission
Looking to the future, President Obama used his weekly address to announce a Bipartisan Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, cochaired by former Florida Senator and Governor Bob Graham (D) and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly.
Graham said the commission will answer two questions: “What happened, and from this, what recommendations can we offer on future offshore drilling national policy.”
“A Gusher of Hearings”
The Associated Press reports that the disaster has unleashed “a gusher of hearings” on Capitol Hill, with five having taken place over the last week and at least 10 more scheduled. The first of these will be a May 25 House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on combating the oil spill.
To learn more about oil production and consumption, see our previous coverage of this topic:
The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Energy Consumption: The 2008–2009 Policy Debate topic