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About 30 years ago, after some prodding from environmental groups, Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. He gave a ringing speech at the time, hoping that this gesture would help build a solar revolution. He established a Solar Energy Research Institute and put Denis Hayes, the director of the first and subsequent Earth Days in charge.

Today, an offshore oil production platform exploded into flames in the Gulf of Mexico. The platform that exploded is located just 50 miles west of the Deepwater Horizon site in what is considered shallow waters.

Fortunately, the 13 workers on the platform are alive—though one is reportedly injured. The workers, who went overboard to escape the flaming platform, were rescued in the water with special emergency flotation suits.

All of you have had that errant neighbor who decides to throw a party at 2 a.m., and the next day you are groggy and temperamental—not your best self.

Now imagine having to contend with that loud noise 24 hours a day—as marine animals in the Gulf of Mexico must because of oil and gas drilling surveys.

Earthjustice joined a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Service) to challenge its approval of these surveys.

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.

 

 

As the U.S. intensifies its efforts to permanently cap the Gulf oil spill, there has been heated debate about the role of fossil fuels in our energy future.

President Obama used the spill to highlight the need to diversify our energy sources and invest more heavily in clean renewable energy, while Republicans have warned that any attempts to curb activities such as off-shore oil drilling will have dire economic consequences on an already battered economy.

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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.