A year and a half since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 people and initiating the worst environmental disaster the country has ever seen, the oil company is headed back into the Gulf of Mexico. That’s right. On Wednesday, the federal government gave BP approval to launch its first deep-water drilling since the disaster.
According to the Houston Chronicle, under the permit issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the British oil giant has permission to begin drilling at its Kaskida field about 192 miles off the Louisiana coast. And not only do operations have the green light to begin immediately, but BP plans to drill the newly approved well in 6,034 feet of water – about 1,000 feet deeper than the Macondo well.
That wasn’t the oil giant’s only good news for the week. CNN Money said that on Monday, BP reported “better-than-expected earnings” for this quarter, with profits nearly doubling from the same quarter last year, from $1.8 billion to $4.9 billion. The company’s net revenue increased by about 31% to $97.6 billion.
Recovery hasn’t come as easily to the Gulf, whose diverse wildlife and fragile habitats continue to feel the impacts of the toxic oil and chemical dispersants. Just today, researchers announced a potential tie between the BP oil disaster and the continued surge of dolphin deaths in the Gulf. A cluster of bacterial infections may be an indication of exposure to oil by the marine mammals, who have been dying in numbers far higher than normal. The St. Petersburg Times reports that from March 2010 to last week, 580 bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales have died and washed ashore in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The total for last year was 265.
That investigation is continuing, but one thing we do know for sure: as long as we continue to hand over our country’s treasured coasts and fragile waters to Big Oil, we can continue to expect tragedies like the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Because if 205 million gallons of oil spewing into Gulf waters isn’t enough to teach us better than that, what is?