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Report Reveals BP Disaster Part of Industry Pattern

August 2, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Next week is the tenth anniversary of the one of the worst oil spills ever to hit Florida beaches and, while Congress debates a response to the ongoing BP oil disaster, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has released a report detailing a decade of serious oil spills, fires, leaks and loss of life that have affected every state.

Report author Tim Warman, who is executive director of the NWF global-warming solutions program, says the history shows that the BP spill is not just an accident, but part of an industry pattern.

"We have problems at every step of the use of petroleum products. Generally, the public doesn't hear about these, outside of their local areas, until you have a big disaster."

Warman says the report includes a snapshot of where oil disasters have occurred, in the form of a map, and many sites are off the Florida coast.

"We've included that map in the report, actually, and it shows that there have been accidents in every state in America, and if you look at the Gulf of Mexico where the BP spill is, you can't really see the Gulf through the number of small dots we have, indicating where accidents and leaks have occurred."

Warman says Congress needs to invest in safer sources of energy, cap global-warming pollution from oil and gas production, and increase industry liability for disasters - all moves that industry leaders claim could drive them out of business.

"The report, I think, tells a really important story. It's a story that the petroleum industry is inadequately regulated, and they do not take full responsibility for the problems that they cause."

On Friday, the U.S. House passed legislation that removes liability caps on oil and gas companies, and also bans new offshore drilling permits for any company that has had major environmental or safety violations in the past seven years.

While Florida has kept the oil drilling industry at arm's length so far, the report found at least five incidents in the state involving natural gas distribution that led to deaths or significant injuries. Oil and gas industry leaders claim production is safer than ever, and that it is essential if the U.S. wants to be independent of foreign fuel sources.

The report is available at www.nwf.org

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL