Greatest Tragedy of Gulf Oil Spill Isn't Environmental

The New York Times reported yesterday that "the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than expected" and that "the immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf are largely gone."

While scientists continue to study the effects deeper in the ocean from dissolved oil, the Gulf is subject to natural oil seeps on a continual basis (although not of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon spill), and the warm waters of the Gulf break down the oil through natural biological processes that include bacteria eating the oil.

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People often underestimate the vast power of nature to respond to ecological threats through natural mechanisms. The greatest threat in the long run from the Gulf oil spill may not be ecological but rather economic and political. The Obama administration, eager to "not let a good crisis go to waste," is doing serious economic harm to Gulf residents through a moratorium on off-shore drilling. I suspect most Gulf residents would rather work than be dependent on handouts from a deal negotiated between the Obama administration and BP behind closed doors.

We may not know the full environmental impact from the Gulf oil spill for some time. The impact from government policies, however, is already being felt by many Gulf residents as they see their jobs disappearing as oil rigs pack up and head to foreign waters where they are more welcome.