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Lessons From the BP Oil Spill: A Reading List

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Oil floats ashore at the Grand Isle East State Park on May 27th, 2010, on Grand Isle, Louisiana.

As the Trump administration rolls back offshore drilling regulations intended to protect workers and the environment, House democrats are calling for an investigation into how prepared the United States is to face another massive oil spill like BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Three leading members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce—Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Paul Tonko of New Yorksent a letter on Monday to the Government Accountability Office requesting an investigation into the federal government‘s planned response to future oil spills.

One of the focal points of the letter is the continued use of the chemical dispersants that were used in the clean-up of the BP spill. Chemical dispersants break oil down into smaller droplets. The idea is that breaking down thick oil slicks from the surface of the water and diluting them into tiny droplets will be safer for the environment than just leaving the oil as is after a spill. But their use is controversial. The lawmakers’ letter asks the government watchdog to explore what the federal government knows about the residual effects of the use of dispersants on the environment and human health.

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