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.
The state of Washington announced a deal with Canadian-based TransAlta Corp. last week to "clean up" pollution from mercury and oxides of nitrogen. But the plan is sorely lacking.
A coalition of faith, environmental and public health groups are working to see the TransAlta coal plant, the state's largest single pollution source, converted to cleaner fuels or shut down by 2015. Coalition members were not impressed by this sweetheart deal and have already taken their case to the courts.
Federal District Court Judge Donald Molloy heard arguments yesterday on whether the federal government's decision to delist wolves in the northern Rockies was illegal. On the line is the ability of Montana and Idaho to allow wolf hunting, which is not permitted when a species is listed as endangered.
Late last week, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana over the state's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal for strip mining at Otter Creek without examining the environmental impacts of the decision. The decision was supported by Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has been dubbed the "Coal Cowboy" by the national media.
According to the report, climate change effects include the thinning of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, rising sea levels, thawing permafrost, vanishing mountain glaciers, and warmer ocean temperatures.
A lovely new book arrived recently at Earthjustice headquarters. Salmon in the Trees is a beautiful, coffee-table book from photographer Amy Gulick, featuring essays by several natural history writers. The book explores the interconnected ecology of America's largest temperate rainforest, the Tongass National Forest.
Facing a $2.8 billion budget shortfall, there is a movement afoot in Olympia, Washington to repeal a generous tax break enjoyed by the state's largest polluter, the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia.
The tax break was given to the company in the 1990s provided they kept coal mining jobs in the state. In 2006, TransAlta closed the local mine, laid off 600 workers, and began purchasing coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana.
Just south of Burlington, Vermont, the residents of the Wake Robin retirement community came together recently to share memories of living in leaner times. Driven more by survival instincts than environmental concern, the experiences of our elders provide valuable lessons in green living.
Earthjustice and our allies in British Columbia and Montana convinced a UN committee in 2009 to come investigate serious environmental threats facing the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park which lies on both sides of the U.S and Canadian border.
After sending a team to investigate last fall, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will recommend a moratorium on mining in the Flathead Valley of southeastern British Columbia and the development of a conservation and wildlife management plan for the region. (Video after the jump.)