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The Oiled Bird Photographs Are Here

A brown pelican is seen on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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.


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Hurricane Season Begins as BP Tries Dome Again

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.


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Oceana Chief Scientist to Testify on Offshore Drilling

Breaking news this morning: A Coast Guard official says the “top kill” maneuver has stopped the oil leak that has been gushing into the gulf for more than a month, though engineers still have to seal the well permanently with cement before they deem it a success.

And more good news -- President Obama will announce today that he is extending the moratorium on permits to drill new deepwater wells for six more months.

Meanwhile, this morning Oceana Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield will testify about the costs of offshore drilling before the House Committee on Natural Resources.  


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New Spill Estimate: > 40,000 Barrels a Day

At this point, we all know that BP’s 5,000 barrel-a-day estimate is laughable, as are their claims that they can't measure the rate that the oil is gushing into the Gulf.

Over the weekend, four scientists, Ian MacDonald, John Amos, Timothy Crone and Steve Wereley wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that provides a new estimate of the oil spill’s flow rate.

BP has claimed that it would be impossible to use their video clip of the broken pipe to analyze the rate of oil flow. These scientists have shown that claim to be blatantly false. Using computational methods to analyze the video, the scientists’ estimates showed median values of 60,000 to 75,000 barrels per day spilling into the Gulf.


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New BP Footage Belies Reports of Progress

A few oil spill updates for you today:

BP’s new video of the gusher

Though BP has been celebrating the first successful attempt to redirect oil to a tanker using a siphon, Senator Bill Nelson posted new BP footage that tells a different story. And disturbingly, reports are emerging that BP has been preventing journalists from documenting the spill.


New oil spill underwater footage - BP footage via Ben Nelson @ Yahoo! Video


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Spill May Be Headed for Florida Keys

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a month since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, and yet this weekend was the first sign of any kind of progress to contain the disaster bleeding into the Gulf.

Using a mile-long “insertion tube” to siphon the oil to a tanker ship, BP captured some of the oil gushing from the Gulf of Mexico seabed -- though the company still hasn't made any progress toward actually stopping the flow.

Scientists from NOAA are worried that the still-gushing oil spill will enter the powerful Loop Current, if it hasn’t already, which would take it through the biodiverse barrier reef that makes up the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.


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Factsheet: They Said It Was Safe

For more, check out the PDF of this factsheet.

Representatives from both the oil industry and the U.S. government insisted offshore drilling was safe. They were wrong.

Quotes from the Oil Industry:

“This is the first time the industry has had to confront this issue in this water depth, and there is a lot of real-time learning going on.” Tony Hayward, BP Chief Executive Officer, May 10, 2010


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Oil Spill Blame Game Misses the Point

There was plenty of finger pointing at this week’s Congressional oil spill hearings.

The chairman of BP America, Lamar McKay, said BP is responsible for cleaning up the spill, but he blamed Transocean for the failure of the safety seal.

Then Transocean CEO Steven Newman said that since BP is the operator, the spill is ultimately the oil giant’s fault. And Halliburton executive Tim Probert denied that flaws in his company's cement contributed to the leak.

Meanwhile, oil continues to flow, uninterrupted, into the Gulf of Mexico.

But what the company executives and government officials fail to recognize is that the oil spill is not the fault of one company -- it represents an endemic lack of accountability from the oil industry and government agencies as a whole. The catastrophe isn’t the result of one mistake, it’s the result of a fundamentally broken system.


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