The Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico was not an isolated event. The exploding rig was especially tragic, but the truth is that the oil industry produces pollution every day. In fact, the little spills associated with oil extraction, transportation, and consumption add up to about 195 million gallons every year. That’s as much as one Deepwater Horizon gusher.
• As we saw in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, extracting oil from the seafloor is dangerous business. BP and Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon were drilling for entry to a new oil reserve when it exploded into an enormous fireball. Everyday drilling and extracting—that is, bringing the oil to the surface—result in chronic leaks adding up to 11 million gallons of oil pollution annually.
• Transporting oil is also a major source of pollution. Sometimes ships intentionally discharge what’s known as oily ballast water—the thousands of gallons of dirty water used to keep a giant transport ship stable. Otherwise, despite all the best attempts to keep the black gold on board, moving oil around inevitably results in spills to the tune of 44 million gallons a year.