By AMANDA VENDER and ELAINE MATTHEWS
Over 200,000 gallons of oil a day were flowing into the Gulf of Mexico as of early May 2010 following an explosion at an oil well and rig off the coast of Louisiana. Towns on the Gulf Coast in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida prepared for environmental disaster as the oil moved toward shore. Oil kills wildlife, including marine mammals, sea turtles and birds, and threatens delicate wetland ecosystems. People who make their living fishing for shrimp, oysters and fish are losing work due to a fishing ban in the area.
Eleven workers died in the April 20 oil-rig explosion. The rig was drilling for the company BP (British Petroleum). The deeper the well, the more difficult it is to stop leaks. As reported in The New York Times, a BP executive admitted that the leak may be ten times higher than 200,000 gallons a day.
While President Obama confirmed that BP is responsible for clean-up, he also said that the U.S. government is helping. The explosion came shortly after Obama announced that he would allow new oil and gas drilling in waters off the Atlantic, Gulf and Alaskan coasts in order to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil for energy. Defenders of the environment are against new oil drilling. Adam Rivera of the group Environment Florida told the Panama City News Herald, “The more you expand drilling, the greater the risks become.”