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Six Months After the Gulf Oil Disaster

By the Numbers
Explosion of Deepwater Horizon platform: April 20, 2010
Number of days that oil spilled before cap: 87
Amount of oil spilled: 206 million gallons
Amount of toxic dispersant Corexit used in the Gulf of Mexico: 1.8 million gallons
Number of dead birds collected: 6,100
Number of dead sea turtles collected: 605
Number of dead marine mammals, including dolphins: 97

Taking Action
The Center for Biological Diversity took swift action in the wake of the spill, including:

  • Exposing systemic regulatory problems: an immediate, extensive research effort into the offshore permitting process and the Minerals Management Service’s illegal use of environmental risk waivers in approving hundreds of drilling projects, which led to multiple breaking-news, front-page stories in major national newspapers.
  • Holding BP accountable: a $19 billion lawsuit against BP and Transocean for violating the Clean Water Act. The money would be used for the spill cleanup and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. A judicial panel in August ruled that the case will be heard in New Orleans, not Houston, where BP’s American headquarters are located.
  • Defending marine mammals: a lawsuit against government regulators for ignoring the Marine Mammal Protection Act when approving drilling operations, and another suit targeting the approval of powerful seismic oil and gas surveys that disrupt whale feeding, breeding and communication.
  • Saving sea turtles: a citizen petition and lawsuit in July that stopped the practice of burning sea turtles alive in “controlled burns” of surface oil slicks during the cleanup.
  • Protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna: a petition in May seeking Endangered Species Act protection for Atlantic bluefin tuna, which were spawning in the Gulf of Mexico when the spill happened. Within days of being petitioned, the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed to review the tuna’s status.
  • Fighting dangerous offshore drilling: publicly working to keep the Gulf drilling moratorium in place until the safety of wildlife and the environment is ensured, and to shut down Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s proposed nationwide expansion of offshore drilling. A lawsuit against Salazar for failing to assess the possible impacts of a large oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico’s endangered whales and sea turtles. Another lawsuit seeking emails, phone logs and meeting notes documenting Salazar’s interaction with oil-industry lobbyists.

What’s Next
The Center remains focused on the next phase of this disaster:

Offshore drilling policy changes: We’re working to ban the use of environmental waivers in the approval process; require compliance with the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act; require fully funded spill-response plans that match the magnitude of a worst-case-scenario spill; seek a continued moratorium on new drilling until the safety of wildlife and the environment can be ensured; and halt drilling plans in the Arctic, where spill response would be extremely slow and limited.

Energy policy: We’re pushing harder than ever to move away from reliance on offshore oil, gas and other fossil fuels for the U.S. economy in favor of cleaner renewable energy.



Controlled burning photo by John Masson, U.S. Coast Guard; oiled brown pelicans photo © José Luis Magana, Greenpeace