From today's Washington Post:
"BP was friendly and kept saying, 'Come on down,' so here we are, calling their bluff," said [Gordon] Rhoads, a graduate education student at Arcadia University in Philadelphia, standing in a mess of luggage in the hotel. "We want to show there's something an individual can do."
Yesterday, I wrote about tagging along with a NOAA crew as they searched for subsurface oil. The next day, I joined the Fish and Wildlife Service on an expedition with a much more easily visible goal: Checking out the breeding colonies of seabirds that have laid their nests near waters affected by the oil spill.
Nearly 1800 oiled birds have been recovered by rescue teams, and more than a thousand of those were already dead. The majority of the live birds go to Jay Holcomb's bird rescue center. Of course, the Gulf of Mexico is an enormous area, and it's only in recent weeks that a significant number of oiled birds have even been seen – meaning that in the two months since the Deepwater Horizon started gushing oil, there have probably been many more birds affected that we'll never know about.
"This is the tip of the iceberg, what we're bringing in," said Steve Martarano, a public affairs officer with FWS who organized the boat trip to visit the nesting birds. "But we're saving a lot of birds."
From Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald:
"Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he has got his life back, he would say," [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel said of the outing at the yacht race, alluding to an earlier remark by Hayward that incensed political Washington.
Emanuel added: "What's more important is, do the people down there in that area have their life back? Do they have their livelihood back?"
NOAA restoration officer Sean Meehan deploys pompoms attached to a chain in Barataria Bay last week. He'll return in 24 hours to see if the pompoms have picked up any oil. I took this video while taking photographs at the same time, so be glad I have it pointed in mostly the right direction.
The Gulf oil disaster reminds me of that old Donald Rumsfeld chestnut, the one about known-knowns and known-unknowns. With a massive, ongoing gushing oil spill, and an enormous ecosystem at risk, we're in the realm of the "known unknown" – we know that there is a huge amount of oil moving through the Gulf, but no one’s quite sure exactly where it is or where it’s going.
A group of federal agencies, including NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service are trying to push us into the "known known" category with teams sent out on what are essentially reconnaissance missions. Two months into the oil disaster, they’re still grappling to understand the impacts on shorelines, turtles, mammals and more.
Last Thursday, for the first time, NOAA allowed a small group of ocean conservation activists to shadow a crew working on discovering the location and severity of subsurface oil. I joined our senior campaign director, Jackie Savitz, along with scientists and campaigners from Ocean Conservancy and the Gulf Restoration Network in a couple of skiffs that tailed the NOAA crew for a few hours on the water just east of Grand Isle, La.
Before we embarked, NOAA restoration specialist Sean Meehan gave us the rundown as we stood on the dock in Jean Lafitte, about 25 miles south of New Orleans. A jovial guy, Meehan is an experienced marine researcher, but even he acknowledged the unique difficulty of locating subsurface oil.
From today's Washington Post:
'"I actually have a document that shows that BP actually believes it could go upwards of 100,000 barrels per day," [Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts Edward] Markey said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "So, again, right from the beginning, BP was either lying or grossly incompetent. First they said it was only 1,000. Then they said it was 5,000 barrels. Now we're up to 100,000 barrels."'
Yesterday, Kate Walsh spent some time on the couch with the ladies of The View. After talking about past and possible future love affairs of Dr. Addison Montgomery, Kate spoke passionately and eloquently about the BP oil disaster and the need to stop offshore drilling. But don't take my word for it - check her out for yourself.
We are at almost 100,000 signatures! Add your name to the fight against offshore drilling - sign the petition to Stop the Drill today.
In a civic center in St. Bernard Parish last night, BP and government agencies working on the oil spill set up folding chairs and posterboards describing their work in a kind of high school science fair approach to meeting the public. There was NOAA, setting up vials of simulated dispersed oil like a flight of wine; there was the Coast Guard captain in charge of the recovery, Roger Laferriere, giving a heartfelt speech about his dedication to Louisiana with the earnest aplomb of a student body president.
But while the attendees were dominated by a scrum of reporters and camera crews, there were a few hopeful locals mostly interested in meeting one man: Kurt A. Hansen, a project manager with the Coast Guard standing between a table and a sign plainly marked "Alternative Response Technology."
Hansen's job is to take ideas from the public about the fixing the oil spill. He has the inscrutable expression of a man who’s heard it all.
When I approached his table, Hansen was listening patiently to a man complaining that he’d been ignored by BP for weeks.
Nearly six weeks after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the first truly gutwrenching photos of oiled birds have arrived. Here at Oceana, we've been thinking about the oil spill constantly - and yet it's amazing that one image can be so heartbreaking.
Update Friday afternoon: The New York Times' Lens blog has a nice column about the meaning of these first, intimate images of animals in distress. And the AP photo editor who published the images has this hopeful thing to say about the fate of the birds pictured: "I'm told that the birds that were still alive — mostly pelicans and up to 40 of them — were taken to a bird cleaning facility in Ft. Jackson and are being cared for."
Meanwhile, we've surpassed 75,000 signatures on our petition to end offshore drilling. Please add your name to the list if you haven't already.
For more photos, visit Boston.com.
Today is the first official day of hurricane season, and meteorologists predict that it could be a doozy.
That alone would be cause for concern on the Gulf Coast, but there’s also the pesky matter of the biggest oil spill in U.S. history that continues to defy containment efforts. A hurricane in the Gulf could push even more oil ashore and would shut down response efforts to the spill.