From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

This Earth Day falls a year and a day after one of the worst environmental disasters to hit the United States. The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig took the lives of 11 rig workers and released 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

What have we done with the lessons learned in that year? Not so much.

Still missing: a comprehensive energy policy that would significantly reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and place more reliance on alternative or renewable fuels.

There has been some improvement. Cleanup efforts continue, but most of the mess has been removed or has disappeared through evaporation or microbes. The disaster was extensive, but the damage turned out not to be quite as devastating as some expected (although not all of the victims have received full compensation and some effects will certainly linger).

Beaches are open again. Commercial and recreational fishing is back in action. Deep water drilling is probably safer than it was before the explosion; the federal government’s inspection program is tougher and more independent.

But critics say this all could happen again – that, in fact, another disaster is inevitable. That’s the risk of drilling in ocean waters. The feds recently approved the 10th deepwater drilling permit since the disaster.

Some of that is necessary in the short term. But in the long term, relying on fossil fuels is unsustainable.