Skip to main content

oceans

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.

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.

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.

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.
 

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.)

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.
 

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.

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.

As animal births go, sea turtles arguably top the cuteness scale. Watching a hundred teeny turtles emerge from the sand, scrambling straight towards the sea in a gleeful mad dash for the future is nothing short of incredible:

From the sandy shore, each season’s new hatchlings embark on the same journey that their forebearers have made for more than a hundred million years. This year, though, there was a 200-million gallon surprise lying in wait for Alabaman and South Floridian hatchlings: the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

Pages

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.