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<Update 7/27: Oil spilled from BP's Gulf well is rapidly evaporating and/or being eaten by microbes, probably ending any danger that it will hitch a ride on currents around Florida and onto the East Coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. But huge undersea volumes of it remain - as do horrific environmental problems.>

Don't look now, but oil from BP's blown-out well is getting harder to find. ABC News reports that oil skimmers just two weeks ago were scooping up 25,000 gallons of oily water per day, but last Thursday captured only 200 gallons.

Of course, skimmers are literally only skimming the surface of an oil spill problem that still lurks deep underwater across a vast expanse of the Gulf. Consider that most of the 200-million gallons of oil, which gushed unchecked for nearly three months, never made it to the surface and when it did was bombed by more than a million gallons of toxic dispersants. In addition, the crude has been whipped apart by storms, tides and currents. Much has been eaten by microbes.

What's left, in the mile-deep zone between source of leakage and the surface is a situation never quite faced before. As ABC concludes:

Experts stress that even though there's less and less oil as time goes on, there's still plenty around the spill site. And in the long term, no one knows what the impact of those hundreds of millions of gallons will be, deep in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


Today supporters of clean energy and climate legislation released the following statement on the Senate's failure to address a clean energy and climate policy:

As we witness the worst industry-caused environmental catastrophe in our history, the deadliest coal mining disaster in 40 years, and sweat through the hottest first 6 months of any year on record, there's never been a more urgent time to move forward with a clean energy and climate policy.

There's no doubt that big oil, big coal, their army of lobbyists and their partners in Congress are cheering the obstruction that blocked Senate action on clean energy and climate legislation. Their cheers are cheers for China taking the lead in clean energy jobs, the Middle East getting more of our money, and America getting more pollution and fewer jobs.

At every opportunity, a minority of senators who are in the pocket of America's largest polluters in the coal and oil industries chose obstruction over working together to solve America's energy and national security challenges. As a result of their actions, the big polluters will continue to reap record profits at the expense of Americans.

As we look forward, one thing is clear: the Senate's job is not done. They must use every opportunity available to address clean energy and climate reform by working to limit carbon pollution and invest in new clean energy sources that are made in America, including protecting the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to crack down on polluters.

Ouch! I just woke up on the wrong side of the computer and rolled over onto the point Thomas Friedman makes about who is to blame for the Senate's failure to pass legislation that addresses climate change and our fatal attraction to oil.

We are all to blame, he concludes—Democrats, Republicans, environmentalists, deniers. The Etc. list is long and inclusive. In fact, the list is just as long as those who will suffer when the consequences of climate change come to roost.

The ultimate conclusion: "Do not mess with Mother Nature (she always wins)." Read the whole trenchant truth here. <Update 7/26: And while you're at it, here's another entrance to the guilt highway aimed at the Obama administration.>

City-dwellers are intimately familiar with the pros and cons of living with neighbors. Their heavy footsteps thunder overhead, their loud music penetrates the walls, and strange odors sometimes drift down the halls. These are nuisances, no doubt, but not all neighborly disturbances are so innocuous.

Consider, for example, communities across the country that live near chemical plants, paper mills and other polluting industries. Air pollution from these industrial neighbors often results in higher rates of asthma and other serious illnesses in local communities.

<Today (Thur.), I attended a Town Hall meeting in a Senate office building on the need for climate change legislation. Accompanying me was our fantastic summer intern, Trevor Hill, who is here in DC sponging up the politics and legislative procedures within our fight to protect the people, places and wildlife on this planet for an entire summer before he returns to Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

I'm live at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where Massey Energy CEO and chairman Don Blankenship is speaking in a special press luncheon today. Outside are protestors who are calling Mr. Blankenship to task for his oversight of the non-union company whose safety law violations -- over 100 citations from the U.S.Mine Safety and Health Administration this year alone -- led to a fatal explosion this year that took 29 lives and whose mountaintop removal mining practices have racked up thousands of Clean Water Act violations.

<Editor's Note: Our newest blogger, Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engelman-Lados, compiled this report.>

The response to the oil spill in the Gulf has exposed fundamental flaws in the current system for regulating the use of chemical dispersants. Since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded, BP has added nearly two million gallons of dispersants to the waters of the Gulf.


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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.