Gulf Oil Spill Becomes More Hype Than Reality

Although Still a Tragedy, Spill Is Now Reported to Not Be as Bad as Originally Claimed


Dallas - More than two weeks after BP began capping a spewing oil rig, it seems that much of the resulting oil spill has disappeared, and evidence suggests that environmentalists may have tried to take  this most unfortunate event and make it seem worse than it really was, according to NCPA Senior Fellow, H. Sterling Burnett.

"The Gulf oil spill was bad, a disaster for so many reasons, there is no question about that," said Burnett, "but environmentalists hyped the spill - in the absence of good evidence - and called it 'the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history' and tried to  manipulate events for their political advantage. Even mainstream media is now reporting that the spill appears not to have been as bad as predicted."

"Environmental lobbyists tried to use the spill to twist the arms of Senators to pass the largest energy tax in history," Burnett continued. "Cap and trade had nothing to do with the safety of offshore oil rigs, yet they attempted to link the two in the public's mind. Fortunately, neither the public, nor ultimately, many Senators were buying it." 

Environmentalists also pressured the Obama Administration to shut down new offshore oil and gas production after the spill, which the Administration gave into," Burnett noted. "However, the Administration's moratorium was struck down twice as illegal, because it was not supported by enough evidence and was beyond the bounds of presidential authority. But in the meantime, workers were furloughed or laid off and the public coffers suffered a significant loss of revenues.

The public is now finding out that far fewer miles of beaches and wetlands have been coated with oil than predicted, Burnett said. And far fewer birds and other wildlife have been harmed by the spill than other smaller spills. We still don't have reliable estimates on how much oil was spilled. We know that it was almost certainly a larger amount than BP and the government originally claimed, but also considerably less than gargantuan claims by environmentalists.

"Certainly, it's too soon to tell what long-term harms, if any, may result from the spill," Burnett said. "But for the moment, it appears that we can all be thankful that the predicted doomsday scenarios promoted by the green lobby have not materialized. The spill, as bad as it was, was another instance of environmentalists playing the role of Chicken Little. The sky was not falling, though we did experience some rough weather."