Category: BP Oil Spill/Gulf of Mexico

The state of our oceans, in a clamshell

Our oceans, long taken for granted, are being stressed by pollution, over-fishing and climate change. Plastic gyres, swirling pools of plastic refuse, occupy several spots in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The largest one, in the North Pacific, is estimated to exceed the size of Texas….These linked, but disparate problems — pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, jobs at risk — won’t be solved easily. That’s why several environmental and conservation groups working around the globe have formed the Global Partnership for Oceans. The groups hope that together they can work to save the marine environment before human pressures cause natural fisheries to collapse.

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BP oil spill clean up by the numbers — post gusher

With the elections nearing, fall weather setting in and the holidays soon to follow, that BP oil spill horror is receding in the public’s rear view mirror.

But the U.S. government remains doggedly committed to the clean-up, according to Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft, who updated a handful of reporters today.

Here’s the scoop, by the numbers.

  • 11,200 people remain engaged in the oil spill response across the Gulf of Mexico. That’s down a lot compared to the 48,000 who responded at the peak of the disaster, but remains more than those who worked recovery at the peak of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
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The BP oil well is capped! And now back to work


Now that BP has successfully capped the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, almost everyone has a tempering comment on this fragile victory. Soon after the oil flow into the ocean was stopped Thursday afternoon using the latest “sealing cap” device placed over the well, BP officials began cautioning about too much celebration.

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New oil incursion at Raccoon Island blackens the future for pelican chicks

Brown Pelicans at Raccoon Island show contact with oil. (Photo: Marc Dantzker, Cornell Lab of Ornithology).

Gulf-area biologists and researchers from Cornell University have discovered that birds on previously unaffected Raccoon Island have been newly oiled, apparently because of waves of crude driven in by winds from Hurricane Alex.

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How to — and how not to — help dolphins during the oil spill

You’ve probably encountered those “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs in national parks. Well, it’s true of dolphins also.

NOAA has put out notice that the public should not feed, corral, swim or approach dolphins in the gulf, even if they appear distressed from possible exposure to the oil spill.

But residents concerned about suffering or stranded dolphins should call in about them on the federal government’s wildlife hotline at 866-557-1401.

While they wait for a response team, they can and should:

  • Stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Keep a safe distance from the head and tail.
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Tar balls turning up in Lake Ponchartrain and Galveston

Tarballs and an oil sheen were spotted on Lake Pontchartrain and in the Rigolets on Monday, prompting crews to put 600 feet of hard and soft boom at a “choke point”, to stop more oil from getting into the lake, according to government reports. More than 20 vessels responded to the site, collecting more than 1,000 pounds of tar balls and waste, which will be tested to see if it comes from the leaking Deepwater Horizon/BP well. The clean up operation continues today.

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‘Last Chance’: a good book for the cabin


Like so many books about climate change, Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth by Larry Schweiger brims with info you’d rather not contemplate, like how some scientists think the Arctic sea ice could all be gone by 2012 or how methane gas released from the warming tundra could bring more ecological change in the next decade than occurred in the last 1,000 years. This is the sort of nonfiction that can keep you up at night as easily as a Stephen King novel, except it is all disturbingly real as opposed to surreal.

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Congress confronts oil executives over lack of oil spill plans

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) pounced on oil executives today with charges that all the big oil firms have nearly identical outdated emergency spill plans that reference “identical ineffective equipment.”

The plans, like the one used by BP for gulf drilling that references how to save walruses and lists a long-dead expert to call upon, reflect the industry’s inattention to the possibility of a major oil spill in the gulf or anyway.

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Track the oil spill damage and response on a new federal map


As part of it’s continuing effort to be transparent about what’s happening in the gulf, the federal government today announced a new website where anyone can see a map of the gulf overlaid with the current location, size and shape of the oil spill. NOAA shepherded the website in an effort to provide a variety of information in “near real-time.”

The map, as depicted here, shows the area closed to fishing because of the oil slick demarcated by a red line. The bright yellow spot marks the Deepwater Horizon wellhead. Coastal regions are color-coded to show the level of oil exposure. Zoom in to see where the worst hit and so-far unhit beaches are. Different colors label these areas as having heavy, moderate, light or no oil contamination.

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Report: Mississippi Delta economy worth more than BP’s value


A newly released study of the of the Mississippi River Delta as a capital asset places a net value of $330 billion to $1.3 trillion on the region’s natural system of goods and services. That means that even the low end of the Delta’s estimated value would exceed BP’s market capitalization (of $189 billion) before the oil disaster on April 20.

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Robert Redford says the BP oil disaster shows need for clean energy

The Natural Resources Defense Council, and many other environmental groups, are campaigning with renewed vigor for a clean energy bill, in the wake of the ongoing BP oil disaster.

In this NRDC video, longtime conservationist Robert Redford reflects on the oil catastrophe, saying its time to recognize that self-interested oil companies will never want to give up risky oil drilling, if there’s profit to be made.

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