Thursday, April 29, 2010

Smoke on the Water?

On Marketplace from American Public Media, Tess Vigeland reports on the Hobson's choice faced by environmental officials deciding how to address the April 20 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (News reports on April 29 suggest that the leak from the floor of the Gulf is now about five times greater than was thought at the time of Vigeland's report.)

View a detailed map of the spill and the burn area at the Joint Information Centre operated by BP, the Coast Guard, and other responding agencies.

Not since Capt. Hazelwood's 1989 DUI in Valdez has such a catastrophe threatened U.S. waters, though in 2006 a BP pipeline burst caused the biggest leak to date on Alaska's north slope.

As Vigeland points out, the remedy proposed for the current spill would prevent immediate damage to marine life, but with a significant impact on air quality. (Coincidentally, on the same day as this report aired, I found this collection of air-quality images from the Smithsonian Institution. Accompanying the images is commentary about China as a major source of air pollution.)

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