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In the wake of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Earthjustice is calling for a halt to further exploratory oil drilling off America's coasts -- especially in fragile Arctic waters. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen issued the following statement:

The tragic explosion and loss of life on the exploratory drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that offshore oil drilling comes with continued risks to workers and the environment.

The disastrous spill of oil from an exploded Gulf of Mexico drill rig is threatening many sea creatures , among them species that Earthjustice has worked to protect for years—including Kemp's Ridley, the world's most endangered species of sea turtle—and the western Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The Ridley is among five sea turtles that live and breed in areas of the gulf being invaded, or soon to be, by the massive spill. By Monday, oil is expected to start fouling beaches in Florida where the turtles haul out to lay eggs. Earthjustice sued to protect the turtles from being incidentally captured by longline fishing that targets other species. Last year, in response, the National marine Fisheries Service ordered a 6-month emergency closure on longline fishing.

Oil has already spread across areas of the Gulf where endangered western Atlantic bluefin tuna breed at this time of year. As with the turtles, Earthjustice has been trying to protect the tuna from longline fishing. Bluefin tuna spawn in the same gulf waters fished by longline vessels. Because spawning bluefin are highly stressed, most hooked bluefin die even if they are released.
 

(Earthjustice Media Director John McManus remembers what it was like covering the Exxon Valdez oil spill as a CNN journalist)

The oil now washing up on the Gulf Coast reminds me of the last big oil spill America lived through, the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago.

On March 24, 1989 a supertanker that had just topped with oil left the port of Valdez and crashed into a submerged rock reef in Alaska's Prince Williams Sound. Eleven million gallons of north slope crude oil gushed from the side of the ship into the Sound.

<Update: By Monday, Florida's panhandle and western beaches will be seeing the same oil spill assault that Louisiana is now enduring, authorities say. Florida officials are concerned that it may cripple its $65 billion tourism economy, environment and fishing industry.>

<Update: Louisiana's $3 billion fishing industry jeopardized by oil spill, reports Wall Street Journal.>

<Update: President Obama said he is putting on hold plans to resume offshore drilling until a full investigation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been conducted.>

As oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill moves onto the Louisiana shoreline today, pressure is building against President Obama's plan to expand oil drilling off the shores of America. <Update: The drumbeat of political opposition to offshore drilling is getting louder, reports The Atlantic.>

USA Today was blunt in its lead headline: "Should oil spill end Obama's offshore oil drilling plan?"

Meanwhile, a local citizens action group, Gulf Restoration Network, was on the scene in Louisiana reporting on the sights, smell and damage already occurring along environmentally sensitive shorelines. The group is organizing an outpouring of volunteers offering to help clean up the oil.
 

<Update: Go here for today's oil spill news.>

Oil from the Gulf of Mexico offshore drill rig explosion has just started hitting sensitive areas of the Louisiana coast, according to a locally based citizen action group, the Gulf Restoration Network. The group told Earthjustice that it was going out to investigate by airplane and by boat, but had no further information. Authorities hadn't expected the spill to hit land until later tonight or Friday.

Here is a link for local information, news and photos. The New York Times offers a visual depiction of areas and wildlife most endangered by the spill. The Los Angeles Times put together this snapshot of what's at stake. Earthjustice will provide a daily, updated report on the spill as events progress.

Today, after disclosing that the spill was five times worse than previously reported, the federal government and state of Louisiana both made crisis declarations. The White House dispatched top officials from the Homeland Security Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department to the Gulf Coast, while Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency.
 

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

The latest news reports suggest the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sunk earlier this month is much worse than anticipated. The oil slick, which is now the size of West Virginia and getting bigger by the day, could hit Louisiana's coastline by this weekend. Experts say the oil continues to leak at a rate of about 5,000 barrels per day, more than five times original estimates.

As a crude oil spill bigger than West Virginia wreaks havoc on the Gulf of Mexico’s underwater ecosystems and makes its way to the U.S. shore, a rescue task force continues unsuccessfully to contain the pipes and seal off the leak caused by a giant oil rig explosion last week which took 11 lives.

Global warming not only is real but is "primarily human-induced," the U.S. State Department has concluded in its draft 5th Annual U.S. Climate Action Report.

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.

Today, the Obama administration sent a mixed signal on offshore oil drilling, a move guaranteed to raise concerns from native groups, environmentalists, and communities living near some of the most sensitive and biologically diverse coastal areas. Obama and Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a plan to halt oil and gas leasing in Bristol Bay off Alaska's southwestern coast and to postpone future lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off Alaska's northern coast, while needed missing information is gathered.

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.