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Friday Finds: Australia Plans World's Largest Marine Reserve


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15 June 2012, 3:41 AM
Plus: Testy turtles, gas pump fallacies and Alberta oil spills
Seaside in Victoria, Australia (Shutterstock)

Australia announces world’s largest marine reserve
Just in time for this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Australia has announced its plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, reports the BBC. The protected zone will cover more than a third of Australia’s waters (about 3 million square kilometers) and will include restrictions on fishing as well as oil and gas exploration. The announcement comes on the heels of another big environmental win, courtesy of the Australian government, which last week announced that it is putting a stop to a billion-dollar coal project that could negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. Though this latest move to create a marine reserve didn’t quite go as far as some environmentalists groups would have liked, it’s a great first step in building resilient oceans, which are already being battered by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and now ocean acidification. Find out more about Earthjustice’s work to push for building resilient ocean ecosystems.

Turtle couple that’s been dating for decades calls it quits
After more than 100 years of companionship, a pair of Giant Turtles at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits, reports the Austrian Times. According to the zoo staff, the century-long love fest came to a seemingly sudden end after the female turtle, Bibi, attacked her partner by biting off a chunk of his shell. Afterwards, Bibi continued attacking the male turtle until he was moved to a different cage. Since there have been no apparent changes in the turtles’ routine, the zoo suspects that Bibi may simply want to be single and nothing—including “romantic good mood food” and couples —will change her mind.

“Drill, baby, drill” philosophy crushed by facts
The amount of crude oil produced in the U.S. is at the highest levels since 1998, yet gas prices have not decreased and may actually be increasing, reports Grist. According to the Energy Information Administration, oil production has hit a 14-year high, mainly due to increased drilling in Texas and North Dakota. Despite this, gas prices across the country remain near the $4/gallon range, hardly the cheap gas that the fossil fuel industry has been promising that we'll get as long as we ramp up drilling. So what gives? Grist explains the reasoning behind this odd phenomenon best:

Gas prices are linked to the price of oil, not production. Oil is bought and sold in a massive global marketplace, in which U.S. production is just a small percentage. It’s like if you sold your home-squeezed orange juice alongside mass-produced Tropicana. Even if you double your production to three gallons a day, that’s not going to reduce the price of orange juice in the grocery store.”

Alberta oil spill raises concerns over pipeline safety
Last week, a damaged pipeline in Alberta, Canada, spilled up to 3,000 barrels of crude oil into a large river system known as Red Deer River, one of the province’s most important waterways, reports Reuters. Though reports of fish and other animals covered in oil are already being reported, at least one baby beaver has survived and is doing well. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the pipeline’s owner, Plains Midstream Canada, has had a spill. In fact, the company is currently in the process of cleaning up last year’s 28,000 barrel spill in Northern Alberta. The company’s most recent blunder shines the spotlight back on the inherent riskiness of crude oil transports like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to Texas. Many environmental groups, including Earthjustice, oppose Keystone because of the environmental costs of tar sands mining, including destruction of forests and wetlands, the creation of toxic wastewater ponds, and, of course, the contamination of waterways and critters in the event of a spill.

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