Don't worry about it, just spray some chemicals over the top.

ShutterstockDon’t worry about it, just spray some chemicals over the top.

Oil companies can keep on spraying toxic oil dispersants willy-nilly over toxic oil spills in Louisiana waters.

An effort to encourage — not to require, just to encourage — oil companies to use nontoxic alternatives to dispersants when cleaning up their spills was killed amid oil industry opposition in the Louisiana state Senate.

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When BP sprayed dispersants over oil slicks from its 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the company sickened residents and cleanup workers and added another layer of environmental catastrophe to the cataclysm in the Gulf. Yet dispersants like Corexit — which push spilled oil down from the water’s surface and into the water column, where fish and dolphins and other wildlife live — remain perfectly legal in the U.S. And they are being used here and elsewhere around the world by oil companies exhibiting utter indifference to human suffering and environmental damage.

They will continue to be used with reckless abandon in Louisiana, with state officials and oil companies not even needing to pretend they are considering other alternatives. That’s because members of a Senate environmental panel have voted down legislation that would have required Corexit and other dispersants to be used only as a last-resort measure. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Senate Bill 145 by A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, would have stipulated the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality must first consider the use of non-toxic solutions in the case of another disaster mirroring the 2010 BP oil spill.

Crowe told the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality the bill wouldn’t ban the use of dispersants, such as Corexit, in the event of an oil spill, but rather would codify a process state environmental officials already use when mitigating a disaster.

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“We’re trying in a very fair and reasonable way to say, if there’s a catastrophic event, as huge as the one that we experienced here a few years ago, we don’t want to completely take off the table some drastic measure such as what we used then,” Crowe said. “But we simply want to … provide for a more reasonable, responsible, safe mediation process.”

But the three-person panel was apparently moved more by the testimony of oil industry official Mike Lyons. From the same article:

“I’m here as an industry that needs every tool it can get … to respond to emergency conditions. Dispersants are one of those tools,” Lyons said.

Lyons said while Crowe had “good intentions,” the bill gave preference to companies peddling nontoxic solutions. …

“I don’t think that’s the precedent that we want to set,” Lyons said.

Goodness, no. Why ban something that poisons the environment and hurts people, when allowing it to be used helps oil companies bury their spills at sea?

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