Federal Rules Continue Destruction of Coral Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico

Earlier this month, I shared an Alabama TV-news video showing hundreds of dead, floating red snapper, the result of federal rules requiring removal of non-producing rigs and allowing that via explosives.

Explosive charges offer the fastest and most efficient way to get rid of many of the hundreds of rigs that oil companies must, per federal mandate, remove in the next two to three years.

A new, more in-depth report (see video below) offers an informative and more balanced look at concerns with dynamiting rigs as part of the larger issue that the “idle iron” problem poses in the northern Gulf, and I recommend taking a look. For one thing, it puts into perspective the hundreds of snapper killed by such a detonation vs. the tens of thousands of snapper no longer killed as shrimp-trawl bycatch, as fisheries managers point out. (Though they fail to mention the long, difficult struggle on the part of the Coastal Conservation Association and others to force the feds to implement laws that finally addressed that bycatch.)

But keep in mind that, ultimately, this all goes way, way beyond a few hundred or even a few thousand dead snapper. I hope we don’t lose sight of what’s happening, week in and week out: that is, the federally required destruction of thousands of acres of unique, vertical, living coral reefs (which may well include coral species recently designated as endangered) and the entire ecosystems they support. So far, there’s no end in sight. And when they’re finally gone, they’re definitely gone, and the Gulf of Mexico, ecologically, will be much the poorer for our absurd overreaction to an oil-rig blowout years ago.