Looking Back & Moving Forward: Two Years after the Spill

Amy K. Snider, AMCC

“Officials worked Sunday to try to stop oil leaks coming from the deepwater well drilled by a rig that sank last week near Louisiana, but they acknowledged that it could be months before they are able to stem the flow of what is now about 42,000 gallons of oil a day pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.”

oil spill, sick fish, Gulf Oil Spill, Protect Bristol BayThe spill you just read about is not happening right now, I was reviewing articles written two years ago. This quote from the New York Times brings to light the risky reality of offshore oil drilling, memories of events that fade quickly once the initial chaos subsides. For many Alaskans, this spill also brought back painful memories of the Exxon Valdez, an oil spill that shook the communities of Prince William Sound in 1989 — two major offshore oil disasters in the United States during my lifetime.

Reports released on the second memorial of the Deepwater explosion only begin to scratch the surface and mention that we will continue to understand the impacts in generations to come. Looking at the Exxon spill we know that this is true. "Two decades after the Exxon Valdez spilled … the herring still have not come back."

Wading though news stories and video footage of the Gulf of Mexico spill, pictures of oiled marine life and sea birds, sick fish, beaches showered with tar balls, lawsuit disputes, and discrepancies in the most basic of information surrounding the spill, I fear for the worst but hope for the best. However, Alaskan fishing families who were impacted by the Exxon Valdez have felt the long-lasting effects of oil spills on marine ecosystems accompanied by financial, physical, and psychological damage.

Bristol Bay’s North Aleutian Basin is a place of industry interest for offshore lease sales, and recent attempts in Congress to open it next year were recently warded off. Bristol Bay is also home to some of the last wild salmon fisheries in the world. Let’s work together to leave a legacy of healthy fisheries for future generations.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please take a moment to sign our open letter asking for permanent protection of Bristol Bay from offshore oil & gas development.

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