Mission (only sorta) Accomplished: oil resurfaces in Gulf

Deepwater Horizon Response
Controlled burn of spilled oil in the Gulf (Photo by Deepwater Horizon Response on Flickr)

Remember all that oil in the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon disaster that seemed to magically disappear in July?  It’s baaaack.

There was great suspicion that the missing oil would resurface at some point.  After all, 200 million barrels of oil just doesn’t get magically reabsorbed by nature. Yet only three days ago, the Coast Guard declared there was little recoverable oil left on the water and only trace amounts of dispersant detectable.  It’s then more than a little embarrassing that on Friday, Louisiana fishing boats spotted miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the coast of Mississippi.  Perhaps ironically, the Coast Guard is being dispatched to evaluate the situation.

Still, the visible oil spill lull was enough to get the media spotlight off the cleanup effort.  It was also enough for President Obama to announce earlier this month that he was lifting the moratorium on deepwater drilling.

While new safety regulations are in place for companies seeking permits to drill, there is concern that the new rules amount to little more than a promise to actually enforce the rules that were already in place—this time for sure.  It’s hardly a coincidence this announcement comes just weeks before the mid-term elections, and Democrats will now be able to take credit for putting some 10,000 people back to work in the Gulf region.

It’s hard to imagine events unfolding this way if oil had been constantly washing up on pristine beaches and the media was continuing to relentlessly cover it.  But we live in a time a ridiculously short attention spans.  Nature conspired to allow the media to head to the next news cycle, so this happing is barely registering on the radar.  After all, Lindsay Lohan is back in rehab.

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