Scientists grade responding agencies two years after Gulf oil spill impact

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 18 at 6:42 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

THIBODAUX, La. -- It's a report card two years in the making. Friday will mark the second anniversary of the start of the Gulf oil spill, and the ongoing impacts of the BP oil spill are still front and center for some of the hardest hit areas along the Gulf coast.

"It's going to take years to figure this out," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana State Health Officer. "But it takes all of us together asking difficult questions and trying to get them answered."

Attempts to answer some of the questions came during a scientific conference on Wednesday at Nicholls State University, called "Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill -- A 2012 Report Card."

So where does Louisiana stand post-spill? The conference's moderator and LSU environmental sciences professor Dr. Ed Overton offered his thoughts.

"I'd give it a B, B+," he said.

This, despite the fact he said that fish with lesions, dead dolphins and damaged deep sea coral are still appearing in the Gulf. Dr. Overton said two years later, Barataria Bay remains a concern.

"A lot of oil got into Barataria Bay," he said. "When it gets into marsh, you can't clean it up very effectively."

The Presidential Oil Spill Commission, which put out a massive post-spill report on needed changes gave out letter grades of its own.

For the Obama Administration, a grade of "B."

"They took action and began to put some regulations in place and some new procedures. I know it was controversial," said Presidential Oil Spill Commission member Dr. Donald Boesch. "They slowed down activity until these things could be put into place, but the net result is that some improvements have been made."

The commission also gave a passing grade to the oil industry. It earned a "C+."

"Collectively, they've put together a new center for off-shore safety, to try to work together with the government to try and develop independent audits and high standards of operation," Dr. Boesch said.

Congress, though, did poorly, earning a "D."

"Congress hasn't moved any legislation to codify, put in law, any of the new improved procedures," Dr. Boesch said.

One bright spot: the RESTORE Act, which could help funnel billions to the coast for post-spill restoration, if it can make it out of Congress and to the president's desk.

 

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