Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"What we usually see in oil industry accidents like this is a gross understatement of the amount released and an immediate assurance that everything is under control, even if it's not," said one local. (Photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)

'Status Quo': Shell Spews Nearly 90,000 Gallons of Oil into Gulf of Mexico in Latest Spill

'This spill shows why there is a new and vibrant movement in the Gulf of Mexico for no new drilling'

Nika Knight

Royal Dutch Shell's offshore drilling operations were pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, ultimately releasing nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the water off the Louisiana coast.

"We have allowed the [Gulf] to be perpetually treated as a sacrifice zone—a place where we tolerate pollution and disasters to continue our dependence on fossil fuels."—Michael Brune, Sierra Club

The company said the spill was spotted above an underwater pipeline system, although specific details regarding the leak's cause were not made public.

The spill left a 13- by 2-mile sheen on the water, NBC reports. While the company assured reporters and government agencies that wells in the area had been shut off and the spill was being contained, local observers expressed deep skepticism.

"What we usually see in oil industry accidents like this is a gross understatement of the amount released and an immediate assurance that everything is under control, even if it's not," said Anne Rolfes, founding director of anti-offshore drilling group the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "This spill shows why there is a new and vibrant movement in the Gulf of Mexico for no new drilling."

Locals opposed to offshore drilling argue that oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico have become tragically commonplace. "According to the federal National Response Center, the oil industry has thousands of accidents in the Gulf of Mexico every year," the Louisiana Bucket Brigade said.

This latest disaster occurred mere weeks after the six-year anniversary of BP's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf and on the very same day that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a hearing on the agency's next Five Year Plan for the Gulf of Mexico.

Thursday's BOEM hearing focused on the environmental impact statement of oil drilling in the Gulf. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade reported that locals discovered and collected tarballs in the Gulf's Grand Isle last month—demonstrating that "BOEM's environmental impact assessment is inadequate."

"It's unacceptable that oil spills have been permitted to become the status quo in the Gulf," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune in response to this latest disaster. "From Deepwater Horizon to the Taylor Well to Shell's latest disaster, we have allowed the region to be perpetually treated as a sacrifice zone—a place where we tolerate pollution and disasters to continue our dependence on fossil fuels."

Activists nationwide are urging President Obama to put a stop to all oil and gas leases in the Gulf to prevent such disasters from continuing.

Indeed, the global environmental campaign Break Free from Fossil Fuels has planned a march in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to call for an end to offshore drilling.

"This practice must end now," Brune said. "Hundreds of thousands of people have mobilized across the country, and thousands more will march in Washington, D.C. this Sunday calling for President Obama to protect our waters and coastal communities from offshore drilling."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

UN Chief Warns Humanity Is 'Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation'

"Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Jake Johnson ·


Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·


'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo