By Julia Widmann, Waterkeeper Alliance
Ten years ago today, on the evening of April 20, 2020, the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. This horrific catastrophe killed eleven workers and initiated one of the worst oil spills — and environmental disasters — in history.
Today, we honor the lives of the eleven workers who were killed in the explosion. We stand with all workers who still unjustly work for low wages in dangerous conditions, all advocates who are fighting for an end to offshore drilling and a just transition to a clean and safe economy, and the Gulf community, which has not recovered from the health, environmental and economic impacts of the spill.
The Gulf is all too familiar with the harms of the fossil fuel industry; corporations have long extracted, transported, and processed fossil fuels in their backyard. Oil spills continue to poison the waters of the Gulf, including the Taylor Energy oil leak, which began releasing oil six years before the BP disaster and remains uncontained to this day. Gulf communities suffer from high levels of pollution, high levels of risk to their workers, and a declining seafood and fishing industry (and way of life). They also face the impacts of our global climate crisis, which threatens to drown and displace them as sea levels steadily rise and “100-year floods” become nearly annual occurrences.
The worst of all these impacts fall on mostly poor, minority, black and brown populations. COVID-19 is the latest crisis to illuminate the harsh reality of these environmental health impacts; your proximity to pollution greatly increases your likelihood of getting — and dying from — COVID-19, along with many other illnesses.
Waterkeeper Alliance is proud to support a network of courageous activists who fought to hold BP accountable ten years ago, and are still fighting today, as our current administration attempts to roll-back our regulations protecting our clean water and air.