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Terry Winckler's blog

There is now evidence that oil from BP's Gulf spill has entered the food chain at the microscopic level—proving that while the oil is mostly out of sight, it is not out of our lives.

According to an AP report today, larvae of the blue crab have been found to contain oil they absorbed and will pass on to larger predators that eat them. As AP says:

<Update (7/30): At least 40 percent of oil spilled by BP into the Gulf is unaccounted for, but that doesn't mean it's gone, warns a USA Today article. It's still out there, hidden and toxic.>

<Update (7/30): The New York Times, in a special report, provides strong evidence that dispersants have driven BP's spilled oil out of sight - but it still exists throughout the Gulf's water columns and remains lethal:

Scientists warn the oil's ecological impacts are shifting, not ebbing, thanks to massive volumes of dispersants that have kept the crude beneath the waves.>

After BP's undersea well was capped two weeks ago, oil from it started getting hard to see on the surface - so much so that even top government officials have publicly scratched their heads over what happened to it.

Could it have been blasted into nothingness by all those millions of gallons of dispersants? Did microbes simply gobble it up? Could the hot sun and warm waters of the Gulf just evaporate it? All those scenarios were suggested in the last few days by officials who sounded more perplexed than convinced.

But, no one is less perplexed and more convinced than an angry Mother Jones reporter who used a phone to find locals in Louisiana who are seeing thick mats and globs of oil coming ashore. Could it be that Plaquemines Parish President Bill Nungusser was right last month when he insisted that all the oil was being dispersed into the depths, where it coats the Gulf bottom, killing oysters, shrimp and fish before eventually washing ashore? 

Nungusser may be on to something. At least he's in the right ballpark when he starts wondering what all those dispersants are accomplishing.

 

 

<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.>

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