The worst environmental disaster in American history. Ever since the Obama Administration came up with that handle for the Gulf oil spill it has reverberated through the media echo chamber. But, is it true?
Not even close.
Before we begin to separate hyperbole from fact, let’s keep in mind that the full environmental impact of the BP oil spill is still not known. It could turn out to be the worst environmental disaster in American history, but to do that things would have to get worse, much worse.
For starters, even though the Gulf oil spill is larger by volume than the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, the gulf is much larger by volume than the sound. The Valdez was much closer to shore so the environmental impact was far greater. Who can forget the horrid images of oil-drenched birds and fish washing up on the oil-soaked shore? Although we’ve seen isolated images of sea creatures and birds laden with oil on the Gulf Coast, those incidents have been the exception and not the rule. The vast majority of the Gulf Coast still looks like the postcards of pearly white beaches and azure blue waters that have lured tourists for decades.
While the president exaggerates the spill to push cap-and-trade legislation, his own EPA has been busy collecting water samples from the Gulf Coast and posting the results on their website. With the exception of a handful of samples, the vast majority of the water tests have come back negative. The water samples have been classified by the EPA as “low,” meaning they tested “below EPA risk-based guidelines and state water quality standards for protection of aquatic life.” The handful that tested above “low” only tested “moderate” which means the levels may pose a danger over a long period of time.
Hmm. Where is the environmental disaster?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not celebrating the oil spill. It’s very sad that such a large amount of oil has been spilled. But let’s not blow things out of proportion.
If you want to talk about a disaster then let’s focus on the economic disaster. That is, no doubt, very real. Fishermen are out of work because of the ban on fishing, which is having an impact on other businesses that depend on the fishing industry. For that, BP has set up 39 processing centers to sift through claims and cut checks.
However, the rest of the economic disaster falls at the feet of the Obama Administration. The moratorium on drilling will have an untold impact on the economy of the Gulf and will almost certainly spread to the rest of the country by way of higher gas prices. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who called for the moratorium, tapped a team of engineers to review his decision. The panel came back with an overwhelming opinion that it was the wrong approach.
Instead of lifting the moratorium, the administration ratcheted up the rhetoric. Any administration official who publicly addressed the spill automatically recited the “worst environmental disaster in American history” line.
Repeating it incessantly doesn’t make it so, nor does it do any favors for the tourism industry. It’s obvious their focus is not the people of the Gulf. As Rahm Emanuel famously observed, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” The selected images being carefully crafted by the mainstream media are emotionally evocative. Obama hopes to churn that emotion into money through the Democrats’ devious and economically destructive cap-and-trade scheme.
Indeed, if we fall for it, that would be one of the worst disasters in American history.