Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Politics and the Gulf oil spill: separating fact from fiction on the one-year anniversary

A heavily-oiled heron is seen after being rescued from the waters of Louisiana's Barataria Bay, which were laden with oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
A heavily-oiled heron is seen after being rescued from the waters of Louisiana's Barataria Bay, which were laden with oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and led to a massive oil spill that resulted in 5 million barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. The massive environmental catastrophe sparked plenty of political debate, on everything from the safety (and regulation) of deep-water drilling in the gulf to the United States' energy dependence on oil. 

Through it all, PolitiFact checked dozens of claims from politicians and pundits related to the Gulf oil spill.

Most recently, PolitiFact checked Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that "the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office" came to just one. We gave that one our lowest rating, Pants on Fire.

We also checked several recent claims from President Barack Obama including this: "Oil production from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico reached an all-time high" in 2010. We found that Obama was indeed correct about the record-high levels of Gulf oil production in 2010, but he ignored a downward trend that began in 2010 and that is projected to deepen over at least the next two years. We rated his statement Half True.

We also checked Florida politicians, including a claim from then-Sen. George LeMieux that the White House refused international aid during the crisis. We found he overstated things. The State Department accepted aid offers from four countries -- Mexico, Norway, Netherlands and Canada. But the country did either struggle to act on offers of foreign aid. We found LeMieux's claim Barely True.

Those are just a sampling of the many fact-checks we did related to the Gulf oil spill. For the full list, head to our subject tag on the oil spill.