Posts tagged: oceans

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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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.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
11 November 2010, 1:04 PM
New report warns against using Gulf incident as Arctic guideline
Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's cold waters

A new report on the perils of offshore oil drilling reminds me of an old saying about how today's generals are always preparing to fight yesterday's wars.

The report, by Pew Environment Group, warns that the lessons learned in fighting the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill are not good guidelines to make drilling in Arctic waters safe. Says Pew: "the risks, difficulties and unknowns of oil exploration and development are far greater in the Arctic than in any other U.S. ocean area."

In other words, let's not be fooled by oil industry assurances that the Gulf spill has prepared us to face down a spill in the Arctic. It's a different battleground. What barely worked in the warm waters of the Gulf will surely fail in a sea of ice. Here's how Pew puts it:

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
10 November 2010, 12:48 PM
New report says oil by itself is less harmful than dispersed oil

And here's yet another clue to the question of what happened to all that oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's blown well.

A Canadian toxicologist reports that dispersants did break up the oil and make it less visible—but in doing so, the oil was allowed to contaminate a volume of water up to 1,000 times greater than if the oil was left alone. As a result, the oil, along with the dispersant, was made much more readily available to living organisms, including micro-organisms and wiildlife.

On the plus side, the dispersed oil also became more readily available for hungry bacteria that devoured much of it, said Peter Hodson, an aquatic toxicologist from Queen's University in Ontario. However, he said, as reported by nature.com:

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2010, 4:49 PM
A new and hostile congressional leadership is not new to Earthjustice

There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.

At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.

Yet, while the news is bad, we can take heart that the election was not a referendum on the environment. Voters still want clean water, healthy air, protected public lands, and action on transitioning from dirty power plants to a clean energy economy.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
26 October 2010, 5:23 PM
There's little reaction as BP's CEO lambastes company critics
BP's Tony Hayward (f) and Bob Dudley

Today's health headline is about how cigarette smoking causes Alzheimer's, but after reading the latest diatribe from BP's latest CEO, I wonder if there isn't another culprit -- oil.

Just a few months ago, at the height of BP's oil gusher into the Gulf of Mexico, then-CEO Tony Hayward drew angry public reaction—and ultimately had to resign—for making a number of insensitive statements, such as wanting his life back and saying the spill was tiny compared to the ocean. Even President Obama called for Hayward's head.

But, that was then when oil was flooding wetlands, tarring wildlife and leading the news. Since then, the oil well's been capped, the oil has mostly disappeared from public view (although much if not most of it has retreated to the ocean depths), and the public itself is no longer acting or reacting to what continues as America's biggest oil spill, nor is there any apparent reaction to the Obama administration's decision to let deepwater oil drilling resume.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
22 October 2010, 1:50 PM
Project will extract minerals at 1,600 meters below the ocean's surface

Following the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the idea of continuing deep water drilling sounded more than dubious. But, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar apparently found the idea perfectly sensible when he lifted the deep water drilling moratorium earlier this month, just weeks after the gushing BP well was finally shut down.

So, it hardly comes as much of a surprise that the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) similarly gave the thumbs up this week to a plan to mine minerals from the ocean floor off the island nation’s coast.

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View Buck Parker's blog posts
20 October 2010, 2:35 PM
Did BOEMRE miss the memo about relying on science?

Here's the latest on the Obama administration's approach to oil drilling in the Arctic seas.

In July, a court agreed with Earthjustice lawyers that a hastily approved federal oil development plan for the Chukchi Sea is illegal. The court said the Interior Department simply ignored gaps in scientific data about the natural areas and wildlife about to be disturbed by drilling rigs without making any attempt to determine whether the missing information might be important or could be obtained from other sources.

Interior and its Minerals Management Service (renamed to escape the stigma of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) readily admit that they don't know much about almost every species of sea bird, migratory water fowl, seals and whales, not to mention polar bears, that would be affected by oil and gas development in the Chukchi.

Rather than take the hint, however, Interior now takes the position that oil drilling should go forward anyway because they would have approved it regardless of the scientific data. Interior Sec. Salazar's recent directive that the department's decisions be based on the best science available, rather than political pressure, seems not to have reached BOEMRE's Alaska office. We'll help get the word to them.
 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 October 2010, 11:27 AM
Nation's biggest oil spill remains a mixture of tragedy and mystery

Today, six months from the day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded 42 miles off the Louisiana shore, much is still unknown about the effects of the nation's biggest oil spill, which gushed for 95 continuous days and spilled nearly 200 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. (See a visual timeline of the oil spill.)

In early August, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report on the whereabouts of all the oil from the spill. Its report shows that half still remains in the Gulf, unable to be removed by burning or skimming—some of it in residual forms that are tough to extract or collect (tar balls, oil washing ashore, oil buried in sand or stuck in shore vegetation), some of it dispersed by chemicals, and some dispersed naturally.

No matter in what form, that oil still exists in the Gulf and still poses a grave threat to wildlife and the health of ecosystems. Most of the dispersed oil exists in microscopic droplets floating in the depths of the Gulf waters, which serve as a breeding grounds for much ocean life in an area scientists refer to as the "deep water column."

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
18 October 2010, 9:58 AM
Satellites depict massive impact on spawning area

An estimated 20 percent of Atlantic bluefin tuna, spawned this year in the Gulf of Mexico, died because of BP's oil spill according to an assessment based on satellite images.

The European Space Agency, in league with the Ocean Foundation, reached that conclusion after collecting satellite images and other data from the start of the spill on Apr. 20 until Aug. 29. The nearly-200 million gallon spill occurred at the height of the spawn and affected one of two areas in which the tuna spawn.

Already under great stress because of overfishing and the impacts of longline fishing, the oil spill has put the tuna in such peril that the National Marine Fisheries Service is conducting its own year-long study into whether it should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
 

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
13 October 2010, 2:36 PM
We want to know. Preferably before the next oil spill
Third-generation shrimp fisherman Clint Guidry. Credit: Matthew Preusch/Gulf Restoration Network

Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazer lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling and declared the Gulf of Mexico "open for business."

We presume he was talking to the folks at BP, Exxon, and Shell—not so much to shrimp fishermen like Clint Guidry.

Like his father and grandfather before him, the 62-year-old Guidry has worked in Louisiana's shrimp industry for most of his adult life. But he simply doesn't know what the future holds for the family business.

A lot depends on the chemicals used as so-called dispersants in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill this summer. Did the 1.8 million gallons of chemicals dumped into the Gulf of Mexico send toxic-coated oil droplets tumbling from the water's surface and into the same areas of the ocean where Guidry's catch feed and spawn? Will it make the ocean creatures sick? What about the people who eat Gulf-caught fish?

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
12 October 2010, 12:37 PM
Deepwater moratorium ends just weeks after BP's spill stopped

Only days before BP's oil well blew in the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar was on the Gulf Coast wearing a 10-gallon cowboy hat and preaching the good news about oil drilling in the Gulf. Soon after his sermon, Salazar was eating those words, hat in hand, as millions of gallons of oil flooded coastal waters.

Well, today, the hat's back on and assurances are flowing. Salazar has lifted the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf just weeks after the BP well was officially shut down. Recall that President Obama imposed the moratorium as oil gushed uncontrollably and as revelations poured forth about scandal, duplicity and outright incompetence within the oil industry and the government regulatory system.

Salazar thinks he's fixed what ails the system by renaming the errant agency (from "Minerals Management Service" to "Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement") and carving it into three; and by issuing tough new regulations. In truth, these are good moves, but they don't add up to a cure of the fundamental problem: deepwater drilling itself.

"Deepwater drilling is intrinsically dangerous," observes Earthjustice attorney David Guest, who is our frontline attorney in dealing with Gulf oil spill issues. David is flummoxed that the federal government is preparing to turn the spigot back on only weeks after BP's was finally turned off. Says David: