New Orleans’s Saint Charles Avenue is lined with oak trees whose broad branches drip Spanish moss and Mardi Gras beads from the pre-Lenten parades, and behind the oaks are beautiful old houses with turrets, porches, balconies, bay windows, gables, dormers and lush gardens. There are no refineries for miles, hardly even gas stations on the stretch I was on in mid-June, and the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded on 20 April and the oil welling up a mile below it were dozens of miles away as the bird flies. So there was no explanation for the sudden powerful smell of gasoline that filled my car for several blocks or for the strange metallic taste in my mouth when I parked at the Sierra Club offices uptown, except that since the BP spill such incidents have been common. As of mid-July, the spill is supposed to be plugged at last, except that the plug is temporary at best, and the millions of gallons of oil are out there in the ocean, on the coast – and in the air.
more from Rebecca Solnit at the LRB here.