Sterling walking through beach clean up. Alabama, on ISD. Photo Patrick Ruddy.

Sterling walking through beach clean up. Alabama, on ISD. Photo Patrick Ruddy.

A bi-weekly stream of news regarding the Gulf Coast oil catastrophe

By Matt Walker
Photo by Patrick Rudy

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Ben Franklin said that. Back when you could trust a fat old white dude in an ascot. (At least one of 'em.) And the more this Gulf Coast spill continues, the wiser our favorite kite-flying, beer-swilling, quote-spitting, forest-streaking founding father becomes. Every bit of news in the past week indicates a stunning lack of preparation and oversight — and we're paying it for it more than ever.

Even BP has as now racked up $3 billion in clean up costs. (That's exactly 30 million 'Benjamins.' ) But at least they're still making $50 million a day, which is getting off easy compared to other Gulf Coast industries. The oyster business is down fifty percent . Sterling Spencer's hometown of Gulf Breeze — a bustling tourist town most summers — stayed deserted for July 4th. Even . And that's just the beginning, as the tarballs have officially hit Texas —every Gulf Coast state now feels the sting — and NOAA say there's a 60 to 80% chance they'll be in South Florida inside the next four months.

“Tourists collected buckets of tar in Kelly Slater's own Cocoa Beach, some the size of a roof shingle.”

But they could've blown that call already. On July 6, tourists collected buckets of tar in Kelly Slater's own Cocoa Beach, some the size of a roof shingle. In fact, Lori Wilson Park — home to twin picnic pavilions honoring the nine-time champ – was one of the strike zones. Testing will show if they're BP-related or from another source, but Sunshine State's tourism will pick up the tab in the meantime.

Meanwhile, BP and the feds keep skewing numbers and predictions to paint the rosiest picture possible — while failing to prepare for the worst-case scenario. In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, the company has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day. Whether that was simply a miscalculation or wishful thinking, we don't know. (Hell, we don't even know how much oil is even out there or how it's spreading.) But when the powers that be promise that the relief well is ahead of schedule to finish in August, consider the source. Next consider the fact that even a completed will doesn't mean the spill is over. Then consider that another 27, 000 abandoned gulf wells could be leaking with no federal oversight.

All of it adds up to another scathing critique of an industry that consistently promises safety to coastal residents — then repeatedly fails to take the most basic steps to guarantee that safety. And if you still think Big Oil honestly never thought such catastrophes could occur, note that 35 years ago British Petroleum released a board game called Offshore Oil Strike. Among the 'hazard' cards? “Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean-up costs. Pay $1million.” (If only the real game was so simple — and so cheap.)

So, is there any good news at all? Maybe. At least the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders are donating calendar proceeds to the recovery effort. So what's your excuse for not doing anything? Drop the pom-poms and pick up your phone. Call the White House line ( 202-456-1111) and say 'no more offshore drilling' and do the same for your state legislators (find them at ) Then keep tabs on surfing's phantom menace at It's your choice: spend an ounce on prevention right now – or spend a few million pounds in cure down the road.