Texas Spill: Oil and Water Still Don’t Mix


Up to 11,000 barrels of oil spilled into a Texas waterway over the weekend, the largest spill in the state in nearly two decades. The spill, from a hole in the side of the 807-foot tanker Eagle Otome, happened in Port Arthur, where the state’s petroleum and shipping industries meet. The incident is expected to close the Sabine-Neches Waterway—which is used to transport oil to four Texas refineries—for at least five days. In a healthy dose of irony, the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce’s motto is, “Where oil and water mix, beautifully.”

The spill comes as Congress ponders passing an energy/climate bill that’s expected to include some expansion of offshore drilling in the United States. Indeed, it may be the inclusion of more drilling that gives that bill a fighting chance of passage this year. Republican supporter Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and a number of moderate Democrats have voiced desire for expanded drilling, and the White House has floated drilling as part of a “grand bargain” to get something passed. The Senate framework from Graham, John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) includes drilling provisions. Even many environmental groups have now accepted that additional drilling will likely be necessary as part of a compromise to get a cap on carbon dioxide.

Proponents of drilling often tout how environmentally friendly their practices are these days. But Saturday’s spill is a healthy reminder that no matter what you do to oil, there’s nothing very green about it.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.