Lessons Learned (and Not) From Past Oil Disasters

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Workers unload oil boom lines to be laid by local fishermen May 4, 2010 in Hopedale, Louisiana. Many local shrimpers have been shut down but have been hired by British Petroleum (BP) to lay oil booms.
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The Deepwater Horizon disaster isn't the first time massive amounts of oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1979, an exploratory well, Ixtoc I, blew out in the same waters, amounting to the second largest oil spill in world history. And other spills in 1979, 1990 and 1993 have dumped thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. How do these past events inform what may come next, for both human residents of the Gulf coast and the environment as a whole?

We talk with Robert Emmet Hernan, author of "This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the Fifteen Worst Environmental Disasters around the World," along with Wes Tunnell, a coastal ecologist and an oil spill expert at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.