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New Spill Total Estimate
Government estimates released today now put the total oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico at somewhere between 89 million and 176 million gallons. Seems like a pretty large range to us. For comparison, and to give you perspective on how big this environmental disaster has become, the Exxon Valdez spilled just 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound in Alaska.

New Cap Being Lowered into Place
Over the weekend, a team of robots removed the old cap, cleaned up the site, and prepared for the installation of a new 150,000-pound metal cap over the leaking well. The well may still leak with this new cap, but BP claims they will be able to funnel more oil to ships on the surface.

A permanent fix may still be more than a month off when the relief wells can reach the original well and hopefully plug the hole from the inside with drilling mud and cement.

Most people have heard of Facebook and Twitter, but what about Foursquare? I'm not talking about the playground game that involves bouncing a big ball from one square to the next. Foursquare is a new social networking tool that allows users to check in at specific locations using their mobile phones and broadcast their whereabouts to friends via Facebook or Twitter. Earthjustice is using this tool to engage the public and enlist their help in protecting our environment.

Most uses of Foursquare have centered around its gaming aspect—users compete for the title of "mayor" for the most check-ins at a location and earn little virtual badges of honor—but Earthjustice is turning heads by using Foursquare to help raise money for our legal work.

Every time a user checks in at a designated Earthjustice ad in one of San Francisco's BART train stations, a major donor will donate $10 to help our attorneys protect the environment. It's a simple way to engage with the public using social networking tools, while allowing them to do their part to help our environment.

So far, we've gotten great traction from social media sites and blogs, including several articles on the popular social media site Mashable. See what the buzz is all about by taking a look at our ads!

Six months after the media hoopla known as "Climategate," we begin to see more clearly and fully how our news establishments, both here in the United States and abroad, have failed us on reporting scientific fact and doing what they were created to do: uncover the truth.

<Update 7/9: The 5th Circuit Appeals Court decided not to intervene on an emergency basis - and reinstate the administration's moratorium on offshore drilling - unless deepwater drilling is actually going to resume, reports Patti Goldman, vice-president of litigation for Earthjustice. The shoe is now on the oil industry's foot. If they choose to resume drilling, they risk another quick trip to the 5th Circuit.>

<Update 7/8: A 3-panel appeals court has refused to reinstate a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of California.>

The immediate future of deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is at stake today in a federal appeals court, where Earthjustice and the Obama administration are arguing to reinstate a moratorium put in place after the BP oil well rupture. Oil industry advocates convinced a federal district court to lift the moratorium last month.

With oil gushing into the Gulf at an estimated 2.4 million gallons a day, our argument for the moratorium should be obvious—we can't afford this kind of risky drilling until the BP oil spill is fully quelled and we know exactly why this devastating incident occurred. We already know that the approval process for the BP well and others in the Gulf was corrupted by a too-cozy relationship between the oil industry and regulatory agencies, especially the Minerals Management Service.

Until the government can clean up its regulatory act, and the industry shows that it can clean up—and prevent—major oil spills, we will continue to argue against resumption of deep water drilling. And let's be clear—the moratorium only affects a small number of drilling operations in the Gulf. The vast majority continue to operate and are not affected by this court action.

If the appeals court refuses to lift the moratorium, the Interior Department said it will institute a revised, new moratorium in short order.

Late yesterday Earthjustice attorneys stepped in to defend a set of critical energy efficiency standards in the state of Washington.

These efficiency gains—which will save consumers millions of dollars, reduce harmful global warming pollution, and set a strong example for other states to follow—face an industry-group lawsuit aiming to dismantle them.

The baseless industry challenge to these energy efficiency standards would cost Washington residents money, and threatens to stand in the way of significant pollution cuts in Washington.

Ed Abbey, never one to mince words, once observed, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

Gus Speth, a founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute; one-time head of the United Nations Development Program; former dean of the Yale graduate environment program; and soon-to-be professor at Vermont Law is a little less strident but no less tough: "Economic growth may be the world’s secular religion, but for much of the world it is a god that is failing—underperforming for most of the world’s people and, for those in affluent societies, now creating more problems than it is solving."

The quote comes from a long piece in Solutions magazine that ought to be read and pondered by every policymaker, every politician, every economist, and every voter in the world. Will it be? Of course not. Secular religions are rarely challenged, but this one has to be, and soon.

One more quote. Dave Brower had his own spin, "economic growth is a sophisticated way of stealing from future generations."

In 1970, the Clean Air Act first took aim at toxic air emissions from industrial facilities across the United States. Forty years later, it finally hit a major target.

Actually, 28 major targets. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today agreed to review and update Clean Air Act rules that rein in emissions of nearly 200 hazardous air pollutants released by 28 kinds of industrial facilities.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

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.