Texas Uses BP Oil Settlement to Help Whooping Cranes
After the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the effects are still lingering almost 2 years later. The surrounding states that were mostly affected by the spill include Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. Out of all the states, Texas is the first one to use some of its settlement money issued by BP investors to put towards habitat conservation and coastal reclamation efforts.
The BP oil spill, also known as the Deepwater Horizon spill, was marked as the biggest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry leaking nearly 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulfs ocean waters. The leak came after an explosion of the offshore drill Deepwater Horizon that was operated by oil giant BP. An investor of BP, MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, agreed on a settlement price of $6.5 million with the state of Texas. A portion of the money will be going towards purchasing 80 acres of the Goose Island State Park in Arkansas, Texas – in hopes to create a safe habitat for endangered whooping crane birds.
Whooping cranes are a highly endangered bird species with dangerously low populations of only 437 in the wild and 165 in captive, according to a 2011 report by the American Birding Association. A lot of the spaces they would frequent were compromised by the BP oil so putting money towards a safe habitat for them is money well spent.
Cleanup after the BP oil spill prompted thousands of participants to skim water surfaces, facilitate controlled burns, apply dispersants to break up the oil, and deploy containment boom to control the spread of the oil. Shoreline cleanup teams set out on the beaches and marshlands to locate and rehabilitate turtles, birds, and other wildlife that were affected by the oil spill.
Two years into the spill the true effects it has had on wildlife and eco systems is partially unknown. The measure used to define restoration goals in the Gulf of Mexico is referred to as “baseline condition.” BP has played an active role along with governments and communities to reclaim the sensitive regions of the gulf to baseline conditions. A second year assessment will be conducted this year as a part of the Oil Spill Pollution Act and will entail a more comprehensive analysis of the full extent of the damage. People really won’t know how bad the effects have been and what this means for the future of the areas wildlife and biodiversity until the reports are released later this year.
Don Pitts, state coordinator for the Kills and Spills Team for Texas Parks & Wildlife said this regarding the Texas conservation efforts, “Habitat preservation is one of several different opportunities we utilize,” Pitts said. “We either like to preserve or protect, or create additional habitats in order to offset some of these damages.”
Texas coasts were not as badly affected as the other states involved. Those states will be receiving much higher settlement amounts due to the nature of the impacts. For further detailed information on the known effects of the BP oil spill, check out the National Wildlife Federations reports and statistics.
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