The Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network Inc. and the Save the Manatee Club filed a federal lawsuit against BP on Oct. 20, saying the oil giant violated the Endangered Species Act after its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the water, onto beaches, and across coastal wetlands — while destroying fisheries, habitats, economies, families, livelihoods and lives after the April 20 rig explosion.
The suit is only the latest move to hold BP accountable for the catastrophe. Public and private attorneys are handling hundreds of criminal and civil cases in the disaster's aftermath. Meanwhile, BP continues to spin its story: Headlines nationally and locally diminish the oil's impact or suggest the disaster isn't as bad as once thought. The blame game plays out at the federal level as well; BP only last week decided to waive its liability cap. National media coverage has shifted from the shores to the courts, including testimony from oil workers and executives at committee hearings.
Restaurants and seafood suppliers are bouncing back, thanks to a combination of a Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board campaign and a thumbs-up from seafood inspectors. Supplies are more available and in demand, though many south Louisiana fishermen remain out of work, underpaid, and struggling harder than ever.
The Deepwater Horizon Response media team shut down last month and has been replaced by the happier-sounding, less complicated RestoreTheGulf.gov. The face of the spill, former National Incident Commander Thad Allen, also stepped down this month, handing off his duties to regional incident commands. President Barack Obama, more than a month ahead of schedule, lifted the Gulf deepwater drilling moratorium as oil companies say they've cleaned up their acts, if not all the mess.
And that "disappearing" oil? It's still there as cleanup crews work to remove oil embedded in wetlands. Many fish and other marine animals remain coated in oil, and, months later, some oil continues to wash ashore. — Alex Woodward