From Green Right Now Reports
Environmentalists marking the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill remain angry that oil companies drilling in deep waters continue to operate with little accountability while enjoying record profits.
“One year after the catastrophic BP Disaster killed eleven men, spewed hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic oil into the Gulf of [...]
What a difference a year makes. Just last March, the Obama Administration was gearing up to reopen offshore oil drilling on the Eastern Seaboard. No doubt this seemed like a good plan to access more domestic oil and answer critics clamoring for more drilling.
Never mind that the U.S., on and offshore, can produce only a small fraction of the oil it consumes.
Then came that BP oil disaster thingy. A blob of black doom darkened the waters and economic prospects throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
If you’ve been wondering what it’s like for shrimpers on the Gulf Coast these days, six months after the devastating BP oil spill was stopped, you won’t hear definitive answers.
While recent tests have shown that shrimp from the gulf are safe to eat, Gulf Coast shrimpers live with daily apprehensions. They know the ecosystem they depend upon has been damaged, and soon harvests could be diminished.
While the BP Gulf Oil Spill has been relegated to history in the minds of many Americans, the people who live and work on the Gulf remain deeply affected.
In this latest installment of Stories from the Gulf: Living with the BP Oil Disaster, a joint project of the Natural Resources Defense Council, StoryCorps and Bridge the Gulf, shrimpers Darla and Todd Rooks talk about how the spill has threatened their livelihood and tainted the sea life they depend upon.
Darla reveals that she has considered suicide, and what persuaded her to persevere. She and Todd detail how the couple now live on their shrimp boat, unable to afford lodging on land.
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.
Huge swathes of the ocean are dying and environmental writer Alanna Mitchell says humans are to blame. In her new book, Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth, Mitchell takes her readers to one of the world’s nearly 500 dead zones – in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a wide expanse of the ocean that should be alive:
A startling decline in the Gulf of Mexico’s shark population may create strange bedfellows, as a team of U.S. scientists and environmentalists have held meetings with Cuban officials to discuss an alliance (which would include Mexico) to look into the problem.
Some shark species are estimated to have lost up to 50 percent of their number. Those figures helped spur U.S. and Cuban interests to take advantage of improved relations between the two countries to seek a solution. Along with Mexico, the three nations who share the Gulf could be uniquely positioned to protect the sharks.
“The Gulf of Mexico is one ecosystem, it’s not just the U.S. Gulf. The shark is a highly migratory fish that moves between the countries and it is troubled,” said Pamela Baker, Gulf policy advisor for the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund.
Still wondering where all the oil from the BP spill ended up? To the chagrin of those who would prefer to think it magically disappeared, scientists on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico have uncovered a more unsettling answer in the form of a layer of oily sediment on the seafloor, stretching for dozens of miles in all directions from the blowout site.
Joye, aboard the Research Vessel Oceanus, is part of a team that left port on Aug. 21 to ascertain what happened to the more than four million barrels of oil that gushed from BP’s uncapped well. She describes seeing layers of oily material, sometimes up to more than two inches thick, covering the bottom of the seafloor. Right below it she finds much more typical seafloor mud in a layer that also includes recently dead shrimp, worms and other invertebrates.
One more reason to be skeptical about assertions that the BP oil spill has been largely cleaned up: An increase in the number of creatures swarming to escape oxygen-depleted sea waters.
The phenomenon – called “jubilees” by Gulf Coast residents who traditionally take the opportunity to scoop up free seafood in buckets – usually appears during summer and causes swarms along the shoreline. This year, scientists say, jubilees are occurring in open water for the first time, due to an increase in low-oxygen areas possibly resulting from the more than four million barrels of oil the BP spill dumped into the Gulf.
While tar balls, oil-covered birds and dying turtles are the prevailing images of the Gulf oil spill, at least one marine biologist believes the public many not fully grasp the scope of the disaster. “Birds, sea turtles, and dolphins get most of the press, but all marine organisms in the Gulf of Mexico are threatened by the catastrophic oil spill,” says Paula Mikkelsen, a visiting fellow in Cornell University’s department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and an associate director of the Cornell-affiliated Paleontological Research Institution. “Every habitat – from intertidal oyster bars and mangroves to deepwater sand plains — depends upon clean water to survive.”
The message of Hands Across the Sands, its founder likes to say, is simple: Say ‘No’ to oil drilling and ‘Yes’ to clean energy.
To make that point crystal clear, thousands of Americans are expected to line up on beaches tomorrow (June 26) at 11 a.m. to join hands and show their solidarity on that point. The gatherings will last 15 minutes. Organizers will take a photo of the group, and then members will disband, leaving only their footprints behind.