Marshall: Another "Isolated" Event

How many isolated incidents constitute a trend?

That's a question sportsmen should be asking themselves today after another oil rig off the Louisiana coast exploded. When the BP's Deepwater Horizon exploded four months ago - killing 11 workers, eventually pumping 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf and causing the costliest environmental disaster in the nation's history - we were assured by the oil industry and the Drill-Baby-Drill! crowd this was an isolated incident. Now it doesn't seem so isolated.

Fortunately this time there was no loss of life, and while a mile-long oil sheen has been spotted from the site, early reports indicate this probably won't amount to a big leak. Besides, since the rig stands in less than 400 feet of water, any repairs should be much simpler than at Deepwater Horizon.

But it's a good time to point out the industry's claims about its safety record has been revealed as mostly hogwash.

Federal government records show there have been more than 1440 offshore oil disasters in the last decade, as this report and map by the National Wildlife Federation clearly shows.

I guess those 1440 incidents can be considered isolated because they did not happen simultaneously nor all in the same spot. But according to my calculator, that's about 140 per year, which comes out to more than 10 a month, more than two per week, one every third day. Of course, you could say that January is isolated from December, and Monday is distant from Friday.

You could if you worked in the oil industry, or the oil industry loaded your campaign war chest with dollars. I'm just sayin . . .

Well, I don't work for oil, and I'm not running for office. But I do live in south Louisiana, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the damage from offshore oil and gas isn't restricted to ocean critters. As any coastal Louisiana sportsmen can attest, the onshore component of the offshore industry is often devastating to fish and wildlife habitat. Louisiana has lost more than 2100 square miles of coastal wetlands in the last 70 years, and state scientists estimate anywhere from 38 to 58 percent of that is due to directly to oil and gas exploration, pipeline construction and canal dredging.

It didn't have to be that way, but oil and gas has always fought tighter environmental regulations and they continue to do so (See: CLEAR Act).

They keep telling us they don't need any rules to make them protect our environment while they're mining our oil in our oceans, because these accidents are isolated events.

I guess they mean they don't happen every day.