Friday, December 15, 2017
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: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17