Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Damage from BP spill still surfacing

The latest discovery by local scientists researching the BP oil spill is a reminder to the drill-baby-drill crowd that the nation's energy policy cannot return to business as usual. University of South Florida scientists have found that millions of amoeba-like creatures that form the basis of the Gulf of Mexico's food chain have died. The news underscores the need for long-term monitoring and restoration and for the nation to get serious about diversifying its energy to renewable sources and cleaner supplies.

USF researchers have been at the forefront of the scientific effort to map the environmental impact of the April 2010 spill caused when the BP-leased offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and later sank in 5,000 feet of gulf water about 52 miles south of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and releasing more than 200 million gallons of oil. The USF team has dug up core samples from the gulf bottom ever year since the accident, and it plans to return this year and next to compare the findings. They discovered that the die-off of tiny foraminifera stretched through the mile-deep DeSoto Canyon and beyond, following the path of the discharge of oil. The sediment samples had the same chemical signature as the BP oil.

The findings add to the understanding of the complexity and interconnection of the gulf's food chain. The foraminifera are consumed by clams and other creatures, that provide food for varieties of fish that have been found with lesions. The research team is examining the connection between diseased fish found in the gulf after the BP spill and the impact on fisheries. These studies are vital to measuring the health of the gulf and to helping Florida and other coastal states recover economically.

The new studies may also shed light on the government's decisions in the cleanup. In the heat of efforts to cap the broken well, the government authorized BP to apply 800,000 gallons of the oil dispersant Corexit directly to the undersea wellhead. That had never been done before. The dispersant broke the oil into tinier units to keep it from washing ashore. But researchers say that may have caused the oil to deposit instead on the gulf floor where it killed the foraminifera.

The immediate lesson is that it will take years — if not decades — for a complete picture of how the BP spill damaged the gulf and that the nation cannot quickly walk away from the worst environmental disaster in its history. BP needs to be held accountable for the damage over the long term. And the federal government and the states need to acknowledge that offshore drilling remains highly risky, despite the post-spill safety reforms. This is no time to open more of the gulf to the unknown danger of oil drilling. Developing renewable energies and working harder on the conservation front must be the nation's new priority.

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
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