Blog Tags: Offshore Drilling
The most familiar victims of the oil spill are the ones with faces: birds, sea turtles, dolphins, whales.
But as the New York Times reports today, there are at least three extensive deep-sea coral reefs lying directly beneath the oil slick in the gulf. And coral reefs can’t swim or fly away from the plumes of partly dispersed oil spreading in the deep sea.
Both oil and dispersants are toxic to corals and have been found to impede the ability of corals to grow and reproduce, and the effects are amplified when they are mixed, which may be the case with these plumes.
It’s unknown exactly how sensitive deep-sea corals are to oil and dispersants, though as Oceana’s Pacific science director Jeffrey Short told the Times, “It might be locally catastrophic, particularly if there’s an oxygen-depleted mass that develops.”
Yesterday Oceana Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield testified about the costs of offshore drilling before the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Here’s an excerpt of his testimony:
“Mr. Chairman, I wish you didn’t have to hold this hearing. For years, the oil industry has told us all that offshore drilling was safe. They repeatedly downplayed the risks and oversold the benefits. They tried to convince us that catastrophes like the Deepwater Drilling Disaster could never happen. I could easily fill my time with embarrassing industry quotes (like these.) I will spare you that.
We now hear calls for action to ensure that “this will never happen again.” We all wish that could be the case. But let’s be honest, we know another offshore oil drilling disaster will happen, caused by another unexpected combination of technological failure and human error. The industry is asking us to play a game of environmental roulette, and they are taking aim at a long list of targets. Will we see oil foul the beaches of the Atlantic seaboard next? The Pacific? The Arctic?
President Obama announced today that he plans to suspend Arctic offshore drilling, cancel lease sales in the western Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia, suspend activity on 33 exploratory wells and extend the moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months.
Senior pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz had this to say about the announcement:
“President Obama has now seen first hand the impacts that offshore drilling can have on oceans and coastal economies. The actions taken today are just the first steps. We are relieved that Arctic drilling is off the table this summer. We continue to call for an end to all offshore drilling, on every coast,” said Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director.
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.
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.
Today is the one-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
And still it spills.
This week Oceana’s Pacific science director Dr. Jeff Short is down in the Gulf responding to the disaster. Short is an environmental chemist who worked for NOAA on the Exxon Valdez spill.
He sent us the images of the oil spill in the slideshow below, including one of himself collecting samples of the mousse oil for analysis at LSU.
Short wrote in an e-mail to us that “Despite deploying mile after mile of oil containment boom to protect the coast from oiling, nearly all the boom materials we saw during our overflight had been abandoned and their integrity subsequently compromised, often resulting in scrambled masses of boom uselessly washed up against shorelines.”
If you haven’t already, sign the petition to stop new offshore drilling today.
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 is anger and bewilderment in New Orleans. Five years after Katrina comes the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, which continues to gush 210,000 gallons of oil into the gulf every day.
Last Saturday’s rally, organized by the Sierra Club with the support of Oceana as well as local groups such as the Gulf Restoration Network, drew several hundred supporters to Lafayette Square Park with the mantra, “Clean It Up!”
Speakers included local fishermen, wildlife experts, and politicians. The message to BP and the federal government was clear: cap the spill, clean it up, and never let it happen again.
Oil isn’t the only pollutant pouring into the oceans these days. There’s another big one, only it’s much more insidious and widespread: carbon dioxide.
Today Oceana board member and actor Sam Waterston will be on Capitol Hill urging Congress to take action to stop ocean acidification.
Last year, Congress passed the Federal Oceans Acidification Research and Monitoring Act, which created an ocean acidification program in the federal government. Waterston will call on Congress to fully fund and implement the program.
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