NEW ORLEANS, La. (WPMI) Brent Casey's livelihood depends on old oil and gas rigs.
“We depended on platforms,” Casey told Local 15, “It was our bread and butter, for the diving industry and the fishing industry.
Casey runs a dive shop in Port Aransas, Texas, offering charter diving and fishing trips out to old rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that have become thriving coral habitats with flourishing sea life.
But his business has plummeted as those rigs have been demolished with explosives off the coast of south Texas, at an alarming rate according to Casey, under a federal policy called "Idle Iron."
“I'm out of business,” Casey said, “Those rigs were dive spots. Now it's all gone. And you can't bring 'em back. They have come and blown up all these platforms.”
Casey feels like it's too late for Texas, but thinks the rest of the Gulf Coast needs to wake up to what's happening and stop rig removals before it's too late.
“The war could be won,” Casey said, “We lost the battle, but the war's still raging. It's going to happen up the coast, from Louisiana over to Alabama. Guys, wake up to what's happening!”
Casey saw Local 15's undercover video and photos of an explosive removal of a rig, showing a large red snapper fish kill float to the surface.
“Finally it's come to the surface,” Casey said, “We've known all along what was going on, but there was no evidence of what happens after.”
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is the agency that oversees rig removals. BSEE officials contend the rig removals are for the good of the environment. During hurricanes, old platforms can topple and cause environmental contamination by leaking hydrocarbons, according to BSEE. The BSEE told Local 15 data shows up to 750 red snapper are killed in some rig removals. Oil companies and contractors who carry out the explosive removals are not federally mandated to report fish kills.
Casey feels like the BSEE is simply following the letter of the law without seriously considering how vital the rigs are to the environment and people like him.
"Whenever I ask them a question, they just say 'because it's the law'," Casey said, "You can't get a straight answer out of these people."