Well, BP’s “static kill” seems to have finally plugged the leak in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 3 months after it began spewing oil into the ocean. (Though the final nail in the coffin won’t come until the “bottom kill” succeeds.)
And despite the optimistic reports today, the amount of oil remaining in the gulf is still equivalent to at least four times the amount that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster, and possibly double that.
NOAA predicts that 26% of the oil is “residual” or still residing in the gulf and that another 24% was “dispersed” but much of that may still be hanging around waiting for mother nature (a.k.a. bacteria) to break it down. Further, NOAA says some of the oil is “dissolved” which doesn’t mean the same thing as “disappeared.” So more than half of the oil could still be dwelling in the Gulf – maybe as much as 8 Exxon Valdez spills’ worth.
And there are still many, many unanswered questions.
This year’s Adult Ocean Hero is Jay Holcomb, the Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). As I wrote a few weeks ago, Jay is down on the Gulf Coast leading his organization’s efforts to clean up oiled birds from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
How does it feel to win this award?
In a nut shell, it feels really great. I never did the work I do expecting to be awarded for it. My career stems from a passion that has burned in me since I was a child. Being recognized for helping to protect and represent the oceans more or less justifies the sacrifices I have made in my life for my work.
The timing is pretty incredible, huh?
It’s ironic and poignant that I won this award while I am in the midst of what is looking like the greatest oil spill disaster of all time, and that of course is polluting the ocean and the ecosystems within it.
The impact on the ocean and the world will be severe. This we know. But as horrible as this spill is, the timing may be perfect. This disaster is an opportunity to make the point that the ocean systems are the lifeblood of life on earth as we know it.
Look at what our quest for oil has done, and if this does not evoke a change in how we "fuel" our world then nothing will. We are ALL responsible for this. Not just BP or the oil industry or our government.
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.
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.
Oceana board member Ted Danson was on Larry King Live last night sounding off on offshore drilling. It’s an issue near and dear to Danson; he has been an outspoken critic of offshore oil and gas development for decades.
If you're as incensed as he is, sign our petition to stop offshore drilling and pass it on.
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.
Yesterday, Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled their climate change bill. As you know, the U.S.’s consideration of any climate change legislation is historic – but in the light of the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, the senators’ proposal leaves me dismayed.
The “American Power Act” trades away our oceans to the oil industry even as at least 5,000 barrels of oil continue to gush from the broken Deepwater Horizon pipeline every day. Here’s the first released video of the broken pipeline spewing oil:
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.
The Deepwater Drilling Disaster continues without resolution, as the first reports of sea turtles washing up on shore are starting to trickle in, and local fishermen are reluctantly accepting jobs working as cleanup crew for the company that has ruined their livelihoods.
As the oil continues to gush from Deepwater’s broken pipe at rates that cannot be accurately determined, we are looking at an oil disaster that will surpass Exxon Valdez in a matter of weeks, if it hasn’t already.
But this tragedy has galvanized opposition to offshore drilling.
Two notable developments have taken place this week already. On Tuesday, I was honored to speak to press in the shadow of the Capitol alongside Senators Bill Nelson, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, as well as the executive directors of the Sierra Club and Environment America.