Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: BP oil spill dangers persisting

A new study by the University of South Florida underscores the need to continue monitoring the impact of the 2010 BP oil spill. Researchers testing the toxicity of the Gulf of Mexico found that a portion of the spilled oil could have moved southeastward toward the Tampa Bay area, potentially affecting marine life in ways that might not be known for years. This is the latest reminder of the importance of tracking the spill's long-term impact.

The researchers made more than a dozen trips in recent years to examine the health of the water column and sediment in the wake of the spill in April 2010, which released 205 million gallons of oil. The team found that water currents might have pushed some of the dispersed oil to a shelf off the west coast about 80 miles from the bay area, and that organisms in these waters "might experience DNA damage" that could lead to mutations in the coming years.

The researchers were careful to hedge their findings, calling the movement of the BP waste "likely" and "consistent" with the damage while acknowledging that "other explanations" exist for the "problematic" toxicity in the gulf waters. Still, the USF team reported that the "acutely toxic" water was not found on the western shelf until nearly a year after BP managed to shut down the runaway well.

As one of the few studies of the impact to the west Florida shelf, USF's findings, published this month by Environmental Science & Technology, raise new questions about the long-term damage from the discharge. As the report noted, the exposure "at all levels of the marine food web" may have complex effects "that are difficult to predict at this time." And one area ripe for more rigorous review was the federal government's decision to allow the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants to break up the oil. That might have speeded up the cleanup effort. But the use of dispersants, notably undersea, raises environmental questions that have not been adequately addressed.

USF has contributed significantly to a fuller, public picture of the environmental fallout of the BP disaster, which has serious implications for the quality of life and economy of this state. This report is another in that record of public service. Federal and private agencies that are still assessing the spill should recognize USF's report as but the latest acknowledgement that the disaster will require continued monitoring. The impact on gulf waters, its fisheries and coastal ecosystem could take years if not decades to become clear, and the government should not be quick to reach convenient conclusions and move on.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18