The president of Taylor Energy, the company responsible for the 14-year-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, expressed concern in his March 8 letter, “Mopping up the ‘spill’ record,” that the Coast Guard “recently abandoned a decade of meticulous response actions and scientific collaboration to act recklessly.” This assertion is deeply troubling.
For six years, the public had little to no knowledge of this ongoing disaster. Since 2010, nonprofit advocates regularly have flown over Taylor Energy’s wells, often reporting oil slicks extending more than 10 miles. No camera was installed to monitor the bottom, nor has any continuous effort been made to contain the oil that is reaching the surface of the gulf. The ongoing flow of oil poses a risk to the marine life of the gulf.
Taylor Energy disagrees with the Coast Guard’s current estimates of the leak. This is not the first time independent analysis revealed much larger spill rates than were reported by the industry. During the BP disaster, independent analysis of flow rates was more than 10 times that of BP’s initial estimates. Industry self-reporting can be flawed; independent science is necessary.
I am glad the Coast Guard stopped relying on Taylor Energy. While Taylor Energy has spent millions capping busted wells, oil is still flowing into the gulf at an alarming rate. If this is the “meticulous response” we can expect from the oil industry, it is time we rethink efforts to expand oil development in the gulf and elsewhere.
Cynthia Sarthou, New Orleans
The writer is executive director of Healthy Gulf.