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Having negotiated an end to a ban on any new oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico waters that it tainted with a gigantic spill in 2010, BP last month won 24 of the 31 bids it offered for new leases there. All told, a bit over $42 million. Although BP was only the No. 5 spender at the auction, its successful bids were another step on the road to recovery for the world's third largest oil company.

Too bad the same can't be said for the gulf.

For bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, bluefin tuna, pelicans and other creatures, the situation remains grim, according to a National Wildlife Federation report released Tuesday. Researchers cited by authors of the report—Four Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster: Still Waiting for Restoration—found that 14 animal species continue suffering from the spill. But the full effect is unknown:

“We do know that the Gulf oil spill disaster is far from over,” said Doug Ink­ley, a senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation.“The impacts on the Gulf and its wildlife are continuing. We also have a long way to go ... in understanding the full impacts.” [...]

"The oil is not gone: There is oil on the bottom of the Gulf, oil is washing up on the beaches, and oil is still on the marshes," he said.

Last year, a large oil mat traced to the spill washed up on the Florida Panhandle and oil from the well appeared in Tampa Bay.

The most dramatic effects have been on bottlenose dolphins. More than 900 strandings of the mammals have been recorded near the site of the well and, the NWF report states, dolphins are still dying at three times their normal rate. More than 500 ridley sea turtles have washed ashore in the area.

Read more about the NWF report below the fold.

BP, which lied to the government and everyone else about the volume of flow gushing from the well, called the NWF report a "piece of political advocacy—not science.

"For example, the report misrepresents the U.S. government's investigation into dolphin deaths; as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's own Web site states, that inquiry is ongoing," BP said in a statement provided to National Geographic.

"The report also conveniently overlooks information available from other independent scientific reports showing that the Gulf is undergoing a strong recovery."

In fact, a scientific study published in the December issue of Environmental Science and Technology found extreme ill health in dolphins in the vicinity of the well compared with dolphins elsewhere. BP's predictable response to that report was a version of you-can't-prove-the-spill-caused-that. That's true since dolphin health in that area had not been studied before the spill. But the scientists found lower levels of pesticides and flame retardants from agricultural run-off in the dolphins they studied, so the health anomalies could not be chalked up to that.

Sarah Gonzalez-Rothi, a Gulf restoration policy specialist with NWF, doesn't accept BP's everything-is-going-swell claims. “Despite what the oil company would have us believe, the impacts of the disaster are ongoing,” she said. “Just last year, nearly 5 million pounds of oiled material from the spill were removed from Louisiana's coast. And that's just what we've seen. An unknown amount of BP's oil remains deep in the Gulf with untold consequences for wildlife.”

No surprise. Even 25 years later, impacts from the Exxon-Valdez spill are still being felt. That was at least 11 million gallons. The BP spill was at least 210 million gallons.

But drill, baby, drill continues to be the nation's mantra even though the party of the guy who invented that phrase at its 2008 convention didn't win the election.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 07:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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