As I write this, the latest news is that BP's "top kill" tactic seems to have stopped the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, at least temporarily. One can only hope that there are no more serious mishaps, and that the total volume of oil spilled stops growing.
If that's true, then public attention will shift to the question of blame and, whether or not that is ever resolved, later to onshore remediation. What's very likely never to get the notice it warrants is the huge damage done to the marine ecosystem, most of which is taking place off shore and below the surface. No dramatic pictures, so no continuing attention.
And the US government is unlikely to hold BP responsible for the full extent of the damage. Accountability is for public housing residents, schools and NGOs, not for international corporations. Corporate people get virtually all the privileges of human people, but no matter how egregious their actions never get incarcerated/suspended much less executed/liquidated. At worst, their public subsidies are cosmetically trimmed and their pet "regulators" get reorganized.
Somehow, it feels like there ought to be a teachable moment in all of this. (Anybody know a teacher?)