Today, senior campaign director Jackie Savitz and I went on the first boat trip for conservation groups to observe NOAA's attempt to understand the scope of the oil spill and how to respond to it. The crew we shadowed was trying to measure oil underneath the Gulf's surface. Along the way, we saw shrimpers turned oil skimmers, reddish oil on the water and sadly, a pod of dolphins including calves swimming and feeding in the oil-polluted waters.
In this video, Jackie summarizes a lot of what we saw. We'll have much more video and photos from the trip soon, so stay tuned. Thanks to NOAA for allowing us to come along and learn about this critical work.
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.
Grand Isle resident Patrick Shay set up a cemetery on the front lawn of his family's raised cottage. The 101 handcrafted white crosses are a memorial to the summer pastimes that have been lost due to the Gulf oil spill: Beach sunrises. Shrimp Creole. Shrimp Etouffé. Boiled Crabs. Sand castles. Flying a kite. Floundering. Playing volleyball. Summer fun.
Normally, Shay would spend long summer days at the beach across from his house with his wife and son. Instead, dozens of cleanup workers in tyvek suits are scattered along the seven-mile stretch of beach off the Louisiana coast.
Oceana board member and renowned fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly spoke to OnEarth magazine about the gulf oil spill’s effect on marine life and fisheries.
“We cannot really grasp the measure of this accident because we don’t know if we are at the beginning, the middle or near the end of it,” he says.
Watch the video for more from Pauly.
Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.
Emily Peterson, a southern Louisiana native and Foundations Associate here at Oceana, has been in Louisiana witnessing the effects of the oil spill. She sent us this dispatch from a teach-in she attended.
Yesterday evening a crowd of New Orleans residents attended a teach-in to discuss the oil spill tragedy unfolding in our backyard on the Gulf. The event offered residents an opportunity to learn the facts and ask questions in a non-politicized environment, and to build a sense of solidarity to cope with this unprecedented environmental and cultural tragedy.
When: Thursday, June 3, 2010 from 9:00 - 10:00pm EST
Where: On Twitter. If you do not have a Twitter account, please register at http://www.twitter.com. Follow the conversation by using the #oilchat Hashtag.
President Barack Obama goes one-on-one with Larry King tonight at 9pm eastern to talk about the oil spill, economic turmoil and war. What are your reactions or impressions to President Obama’s comments?
Jackie Savitz, Oceana’s Senior Campaign Director, Pollution Campaigns [@jackiesavitz] will be joining the conversation to answer your questions and reactions.
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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.
In 2009, not long after Obama’s inauguration, we created the ad you see here to encourage our new leader and administration to prevent expanded offshore drilling and turn our country’s energy policy around.
Here we are a year later, and the image now seems chillingly prescient, given the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for more than a month now.
The latest accident on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig couldn't have come at a more significant time for the efforts to pass comprehensive climate change and energy legislation. With Senate plans to expand and even incentivize offshore drilling, this accident serves as a reminder of how costly offshore drilling truly is.
Despite advances in drilling technology and all of the precautions made, drilling is a high risk business and even the newest technology cannot prevent all spills. Fires, explosions and accidents are more common than they would like you to believe. New technology advances have pushed the envelope for drilling efforts. Expanding drilling activities into these “frontier” areas only increases the risk.
Take away for the moment the immediate danger to personnel on the rigs and look at the potential environmental and economic costs to coastal towns relying on fishing and tourism. Oceana's federal policy director, Beth Lowell discussed the dangers last night on NBC Nightly News: