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Impacts, Perception, and Policy Implications of the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil and Gas Disaster

November 2010

Citation: ELR 11058

Author: Elliott A. Norse and John Amos

I. Background

In many places, truth is what economic interests or government say it is, and the media and legal institutions are their facilitators. But countries with a robust nongovernmental sector have made the decision to welcome (or at least tolerate) unblinking, independent scrutiny as a way to create both more just societies and more effective economies and governments. When disseminated publicly, the analyses of skilled nongovernmental observers can provide crucial perspective and a useful reality check on powerful economic interests and government. As scientists (JA is a geologist; EAN is a marine biologist) who worked on aspects of oil and gas drilling for the industry and the federal government, respectively, and now, as chief executive officers of small environmental nonprofit organizations, we offer this Article on what is seen as the greatest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. Our purpose is to help people remember this very recent past, and thereby avoid being condemned to repeat it. Because this event is so recent, almost none of the work we cite has appeared in the peerreviewed scientific literature.

Elliott A. Norse is President, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Bellevue, Washington. John Amos is President, SkyTruth, Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

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