What We (Should Have) Learned From the Exxon Valdez

25 years ago the Exxon Valdez spilled?11 million gallons?of crude oil into the pristine Prince Williams Sound.

Here are several things we should have learned from that:

 

 

  1. Oil is really dirty and hard, if not impossible to clean to up.
  2. Accidents happen, and we shouldn’t transport or extract oil where an accident will cause irreparable damage
  3. Arctic temperatures, weather and wildlife make it a risky place to drill and transport oil
  4. Oil companies tend to put profits above environment and health considerations

Unfortunately, since the Valdez spill, we continue to rely on fossil fuels, and this has resulted in many spills that cannot be cleaned up. Four years ago the Deepwater Horizon oil spill spewed?250 million gallons?into the Gulf of Mexico, one of our richest fishing areas. Last Saturday (03/22/2014) a barge accident spilled 170,000 gallons in a river south of Houston. Since 1990,??110 gallons of petroleum products have spilled?from the nation?s mainland pipeline network.

 

Source: Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Source: Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

 

These accidents happen on a regular basis, and they are always difficult, and in some cases impossible to clean up. But we do need the energy that these products supply, however, there are other sources of energy that carry none of the risks of these fossil fuels. This includes renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro. In addition, bio-fuels can also be used to supplement energy from these sources, so eventually we will be able to have energy that supplies all of our needs that doesn’t risk destruction of the environment and future generations.

Written by

I am an environmental journalist and have written on the national parks and Alaska.

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