Monday, May 3, 2010

Rep. Gene Taylor: Gulf Oil Spill "Not As Bad As I Thought," Will "Break Up Naturally"

Rep. Gene Taylor has some, um, interesting views on an unfolding environmental catastrophe that threatens much of the Gulf of Mexico, including his state of Mississippi.

After an airplane flyover tour of the disaster site on Saturday, Taylor had the following to say:
“At the moment, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” he said, shortly after returning from the three-hour tour.

Taylor told a group of reporters waiting at Atlantic Aviation he was less concerned about the spill after witnessing its movement firsthand.

“This isn’t Katrina. It’s not Armageddon,” Taylor said. “A lot of people are scared and I don’t think they should be.”

He described the spill as a light, rainbow sheen with patches that look like chocolate milk.
And what's going to happen to all of this chocolate milk, in Taylor's expert opinion?
“It’s breaking up naturally; that’s a good thing. The fact that it’s a long way from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, that’s a great thing, because it gives it time to break up naturally,” he said.
No, really. Just one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the spill would likely eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster in magnitude (and on the same day that a respected oceanographer said that it likely already has), Taylor looked out the window of an airplane and predicted that nature might just be able to clean itself up after BP's monumental spill. Taylor's commentary has already been nominated as one of the more outlandish statements made by a public figure in the wake of the disaster.

If only the world really worked that way. Here's what actually happened the last time a spill of this magnitude occurred in the wake of the Valdez incident:
Crude oil from the tanker still lingers on some beaches a full 21 years later. Some marine species never recovered. Families and bank accounts were shattered. Alcoholism, suicide and domestic violence rates all rose in hard-hit towns.

About 1,300 miles of Alaska shoreline was affected by the spill, including 200 miles that were heavily contaminated, according to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Responders found carcasses of more than 35,000 birds and 1,000 sea otters. That was considered to be a fraction of the bird and animal death toll because carcasses usually sink to the seabed. The council estimated 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales died along with billions of salmon and herring eggs.
Estimates are that the new BP spill's cost could dwarf the Valdez cleanup efforts. And signs are already emerging that the BP spill will exact a heavy toll on the already-hurting economies of Gulf Coast states. In a heart-wrenching video, Louisiana fishermen are seen here heading out on a much more pressing mission these days: laying down miles upon miles of oil booms in a desperate effort to, as one fisherman put it, "just try to save something."

Which raises an important question for Rep. Taylor: On what planet do you spend most of your time?