Greatest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history?

May 20, 2010 1:43:36 PM PDT
Is this the "greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the U.S.?" It is according to Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey. That assessment after researchers analyzed the real-time video of oil leaking from beneath the exploded Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Markey, who chairs the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, says that BP's estimate of 5,000 barrels of leaked oil a day is "dead wrong."

It's likely much more, he says. One plum apparently measures 10 miles long, three miles wide, and is now, said Markey, heading towards the current loop that could take it towards the Florida keys and then up the eastern side of the state.

Some of the leaking oil much of it is being captured now, finally. But the reputation of BP has not surprisingly suffered a huge hit. And it's a bi-partisan distrust.

Greenpeace activists scaled the corporation's headquarters in London, and hung a banner with the BP logo, but changing the company's (old) name to "British Polluters." You can see the protest banner by CLICKING HERE.

That Greenpeace did this isn't so surprising.

But now comes Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, blasting BP. That's surprising.

So many issues with BP starting with the explosion and the leak, and the lack of any emergency planning. And now, even the clean up is coming under fire.

This afternoon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered BP to use a less toxic and more effective dispersant to break up the oil slick.

So, just to get this right: The BP rig leaks weeks worth of oil into the Gulf, and then, to try to disperse the slicks, it uses toxic chemicals. For the record, BP execs have been saying that the dispersants are not toxic.

What a mess. And the hard truth is, it's just beginning.

We'll have the latest on the spill, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, ABC News tonight is reporting that reps from Afghanistan government and members of the Taliban are holding secret talks somewhere in the Maldives.

President Hamid Karzi has said he's open to negotiating with the Taliban, but the Obama Administration has been less than warm to the idea. Is there a deal coming? We'll have the latest at 11.

We're also keeping tabs on a huge scientific development today the creation of a synthetic cell. Is it the most "significant scientific achievement" in history, as some are suggesting? We'll see. But it is clearly big; or, as noted bioethics professor Arthur Caplan offered, the discovery shows that "the material world can be manipulated to produce what we recognize as life."

So what are the implications of all this? Political, moral, religious? We'll take a closer look, at 11.

And our investigative reporter Sarah Wallace continues her probe into the growing heroin problem in our area. Tonight, Sarah looks at the Catch-22 of treating addicts: Most insurance policies pay only for 28 days of residential treatment, not nearly enough according to most experts.

And what happens is that junkies go back to using, and the vicious cycle of treatment, use and addiction, and then treatment again, continues.

It's a disturbing story.

And finally, we pause to remember John Shepherd-Barron, who died today at 84. You've probably never heard of him; I hadn't. But you certainly know about his most famous invention. In fact, I'll venture that most of you have used it this month. Perhaps several times.

He invented the automatic teller machine, or ATM, back in 1967.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.