Posts tagged: oceans

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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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
14 July 2010, 10:57 AM
Companies embrace sustainable fish practices as overfishing affects business

I used to love the taste of Filet ‘O Fish sandwiches. That scrumptious tartar sauce and the delectable white fish flakiness coupled with deep fried crunchiness—and let's not forget the chewy bun. Oh so yum.

But then I noticed that the fish started tasting a little differently. Turns out McDonald’s used to only use North Atlantic cod for its sandwiches but had to change to a different supplier in the late 1980’s after cod-fishing grounds became so overfished. Now the sandwiches are made from a motley mix of five different whitefish species.

The depletion of fish from our oceans is the result of an increased appetite for fish—as well as advances in technology to catch seafood. The result has been detrimental to our ecosystem. The Wall Street Journal writes that restaurants are now galvanizing and moving toward more sustainable fishing practices due to the effects of overfishing on business. These measures are way overdue: according to a recent United Nations study, nearly all commercial fisheries will produce less than 10 percent of their potential by mid-century—unless something changes. And since the article states that the annual seafood demand will rise to at least 150 million metric tons in two decades—something’s got to change fast.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
13 July 2010, 11:31 AM
Secretary Salazar issues new rule, hoping to persuade the judge
Sec. Ken Salazar

The Obama administration, having been thwarted in its attempts to declare a six-month moratorium on new deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday issued a new moratorium order, citing new information on the causes of the recent well blowout and other matters. According to a question-and-answer news release from the department:

"What are the differences between the May 28 deepwater drilling moratorium and the new deepwater drilling suspension?

"Like the deepwater drilling moratorium lifted by the District Court on June 22, the deepwater drilling suspensions ordered today apply to most deepwater drilling activities and could last through November 30. The suspensions ordered today, however, are the product of a new decision by the Secretary and new evidence regarding safety concerns, blowout containment shortcomings within the industry, and spill response capabilities that are strained by the BP oil spill.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
09 July 2010, 10:10 AM
Nothing is too strange when oil is forecast
Navy blimp is oil spill eye in the sky

Whoever would have thought that Florida would be issuing daily oil forecasts as if they were predicting weather? Check out today's advisory from the state governor's office:

Forecasts are for winds and currents to move oil in the Gulf of Mexico westward and projections are Escambia County beaches will remain largely oil free for the next several days.

After 81 days of continuous oil flow into the Gulf from BP's blown out well, this wee statement symbolizes the new norm for people who must accept the spilled oil as a routine part of their lives. It's much worse of course for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, whose residents are forced into hand-to-hand combat with the invading oil. Some pretty exotic solutions are just now coming to their aid:

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
08 July 2010, 11:39 AM
We can't risk another oil spill like BP's

<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.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
06 July 2010, 7:00 AM
Fish and Wildlife Service failed to see any real danger

It's hard to imagine—as we watch birds, turtles, dolphins and other animals struggle and die in the oil from BP's blown-out well—that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported just three years ago that drilling in the Gulf of Mexico posed little risk to animal life.

A memo to that effect, unveiled by the New York Times and reported by AP, was sent by the agency to the Minerals Management Service as part of its assessment of various Gulf drilling operations, including the Deepwater Horizon operation that blew out April 20. Oil from the well continues gushing at an estimated 2.4 million gallons a day.

We long have known that the MMS was too friendly with the oil industry—a fact that came to public light when the BP spill occurred and led to federal investigations and a shakeup of the agency. But, it is especially troubling to find how willing the FWS was to endorse MMS's flawed oversight. The FWS is, after all, the one agency whose mission is to protect our endangered and threatened wildlife.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 July 2010, 10:20 AM
Earthjustice demanded ingredient information, will seek expert opinions
Dispersant sprayed in Gulf of Mexico

<Update 7/1: EPA has released results of its first round of chemical testing of dispersants used in the Gulf. The report downplays toxicity, but as scientist/blogger Richard Denison points out - the report offers little new information and still leaves unresolved the bigger questions, such as what toxicity occurs when dispersants and oil combine, and what happens when that highly dispersed oil/dispersant brew is spread across vast areas and throughout the water column.>

<Update: A month after promising to test the toxicity of dispersants used against the Gulf oil spill, the EPA has yet to complete those tests - meanwhile more than 1.4 million gallons have been dumped in the Gulf with unmeasured consequences, reports Mother Jones. EPA's position is that the dispersants are less toxic than the oil, but that raises the question: are we just adding to the total toxicity of the spill?

<Update: Check out the latest information on the toxic potential of ingredients in oil dispersants>

The government wouldn't dare let a doctor give out an experimental drug without years of extensive testing, yet it has allowed British Petroleum to flood the Gulf of Mexico with more than a million gallons of a secret chemical compound in an untested experiment on human communities, hundreds of animal species, and myriad ecological systems.

We're talking about Corexit and other dispersants, made up of classified chemicals and spread over and injected into Gulf waters to break up BP's oil spill. The spill alone is in many ways unmatched in human history, scientists say, and because of dispersants may be wreaking special devastation in the Gulf. Aside from the fact that dispersants never before have been used on such a vast scale, we have been forced to guess at the danger they pose because BP and the dispersants' manufacturer refused to reveal the ingredients.

Today, after Earthjustice demanded the information through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Environmental Protection Agency finally provided a list of what's in these chemical compounds. Now, we can turn to experts to assess their danger. Our clients, the Gulf Restoration Network and Florida Wildlife Federation, who have long worked to protect the Gulf, must know what is happening to its rich fisheries, sea turtles, birds, and entire ecosystem.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 July 2010, 8:11 AM
With 140-million gallons of oil in the water, monster skimmer is needed

<Update 7/6: High seas have disrupted testing of the "A Whale" oil skimmer, the Coast Guard reports.>

<Update 7/1: Speaking of whales, a number of whale sharks have been spotted in the oil spill area, which is particularly bad for them, as they are plankton eaters—meaning they sieve the oil-laden waters. The species is among six described as most threatened by the spill, according to AOL. Other species listed are sea turtles, bluefin tuna, sperm whales, dolphins and brown pelicans.>

A record described as "notorious" in a USA Today headline is being reached today in the Gulf of Mexico as BP's oil spill tops the estimated 140-million-gallon mark. The previous record Gulf spill was 139 million gallons in the 1979 spill off Mexico's coast—but it took a year of gushing to get there. BP's spill has been gushing from its blown-out well since April 20 at up to 2.4 million gallons a day.

Even as that unhappy record is being achieved, the federal government has brought on scene the latest attempt to clean up the oil. A monster skimmer ship—3 1/2 football fields long and 10 stories high and named the "A Whale"—chugged in today, especially equipped to skim as much as 21 million gallons of oiled water per day—if the EPA gives the go ahead. The ship has never been tested.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 June 2010, 4:51 PM
Gulf spill area like a cauldron waiting to be stirred
Tropical Storm Alex

<Update 7/1: All BP oil spill cleanup and containment efforts are on hold as wind and waves from the former Hurricane Alex push through the oil spill area. Although the storm stayed 600 miles to the west, it still had enough punch to not only stop the cleanup but actually push oil deeper into coastal wetlands and onto beaches.>

<Update: Alex has been upgraded to a hurricane and continues on course, veering away from any direct contact with the Gulf oil spill area, but still disrupting containment and cleanup efforts. Tar balls "big as apples" have been pushed deep into wetlands by the storm, reports AP. >

Wind and waves from Hurricane Alex are stirring up more questions than havoc so far at the BP oil spill site, hundreds of miles away. Pundits, scientists and outright guessers just can't agree on what's going to happen to that stew of oil and dispersants when a storm makes a direct hit on the spill scene.

Much of their uncertainty has to do with the chemical makeup of the dispersants, which have been strewn like a giant lab experiment over thousands of square miles of spilled oil, and shot into the oil at seabed level as it escapes. After Earthjustice demanded answers from the EPA, the agency revealed the ingredients, but toxic effects of those ingredients—especially in combination with the oil it binds to—are hard to tie down. And there seems to be nothing but conjecture when it comes to figuring out the added factor of hurricanes.

At this moment, it appears Alex will temporarily halt oil containment/clean up efforts, which are recovering about half of the estimated 60,000 barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf every day. By the time it hits land Wednesday, probably near the Mexico/U.S. border, the storm will have lobbed enough energy eastward to push globs of oily goo deeper into coastal wetlands and along a much broader expanse of beaches in relatively untouched states such as Florida and Mississippi.

But, imagine if Alex's 75+ m.p.h. winds were directly ravaging the spill area, pulling trillions of gallons of that toxic water into its vortex and raining it down over a many-states area.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
28 June 2010, 4:48 PM
Their message is clear: No more Gulf oil spill disasters

This past weekend I gathered with my neighbors at a nearby beach to attend a local Hands Across the Sand event, a worldwide effort to oppose offshore drilling and champion clean and renewable energy. The movement began, eerily enough, in Florida. Just a few months before the tragic BP oil spill, thousands of Floridians joined hands to protest the local and national governments' efforts to lift the ban on oil drilling off the shores of Florida.

Not surprisingly, today that movement has spread far and wide as people witness daily the threat that oil drilling presents to America's coastal economies and marine habitat. On Saturday, protestors around the world gathered at one of the more than 800 events held to clasp hands, drawing both a metaphorical and actual line in the sand against the threat of offshore drilling.

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View John McManus's blog posts
28 June 2010, 3:47 PM
Earthjustice asks court to reinstate moratorium on offshore drilling
5th District Court of Appeals courtroom

While oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's blown-out well, a six-month offshore drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration is being argued in the courts.

Last week, oil industry groups got a New Orleans judge to issue an order blocking the moratorium. The administration is appealing that decision—assisted by the intervention of Earthjustice—at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earthjustice and a number of conservation groups, had unsuccessfully argued alongside the Obama administration that the moratorium was appropriate in order to identify and fix problems that created the current oil spill.

Now, the state of Louisiana has jumped into the action at the appeals court to oppose the moratorium, never mind many of their finest wetlands are covered in oil and their fishermen and visitor industry workers are left high and dry.