“We should not allow the Gulf’s past to become the Atlantic’s future.”

An aerial view of nearly empty Orange Beach, Alabama in the weeks after the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010. (© Julie Dermansky)

On the anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, SELC Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver reflects on implications for proposed drilling in the Atlantic.


“Five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, the continuing impacts on Gulf Coast communities stand as a stark reminder of why we should not allow the Gulf of Mexico’s past to become the Atlantic’s future.

The federal government is considering opening the South Atlantic to offshore oil and gas leasing for the first time in 30 years. Residents of the coastal communities up and down the Atlantic look at the plight of their Gulf Coast neighbors and are clear in their resolve. They do not want to follow down the path where oil and gas leasing leads.

Local governments throughout the Southeast continue to pass resolutions opposing drilling and seismic exploration, making clear that the industrialization of the coast is fundamentally incompatible with why locals live and work in these areas.

The legacy of the BP spill reinforces their resolve. Tar balls still wash up on Gulf coast shores while commercial fisheries struggle to recover. Nearly 10 million gallons of crude oil have settled onto the floor of the Gulf. By nearly every measure, the cleanup of the Gulf of Mexico can in no way be considered complete, and drilling cannot be considered safe.

Even without a catastrophic spill, the industrialization and infrastructure associated with drilling – rigs, refineries, pipelines, traffic - would irreparably change our coastal communities. Tourism and fishing, both commercial and recreational, are the economic backbone of states, towns, and cities along the coast. According to government estimates, ocean-dependent tourism in the Mid- and South Atlantic contributes between $6 billion and $4 billion annually to local economies. These economies rely on clean beaches and would be directly threatened by the changes brought by the oil and gas industry."

More News

2019 trends making and braking rooftop solar in the South

Solar is booming across the South as more homeowners turn to clean, affordable rooftop solar to meet their energy needs, and as state policy make...

Hikes that have our hearts at Shenandoah Mountain

Rugged trails, sparkling lakes, forest covered mountains, crystal trout streams, rocky cliffs. This is what makes Virginia’s Shenandoah Mountain...

SELC goes Above & Beyond to protect our health and environment

This has been an impressive year of results, even by the Southern Environ­mental Law Center’s historically high standards. Our solar initiative i...

Google permit to triple its freshwater use upsets S.C. neighbors

A request from internet giant Google to siphon up to 1.5 million gallons of water per day from a Berkeley County aquifer that provides drinking w...

Virginia’s already-approved program to cut carbon emissions needs budget restriction lifted

When it comes to addressing climate change caused by carbon emissions in Virginia, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that...

Cut Virginia Carbon

Virginians, we have the power to ensure clean air, protect health, and build a healthy economy in our state.  By signing the petition below, you...

More Stories