Oil has begun washing ashore in Louisiana’s Chandeleur and Breton Island chain, part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge is a nesting site for the brown pelican, which was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List last year. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement agents also discovered two dead gannets covered in oil on Wednesday. And today, the Fish and Wildlife Service closed the Refuge to the public.
The area’s vital fisheries and wildlife are now in grave danger from what appears to be one of the nation’s worst ecological disasters in decades.
Meanwhile, a senior adviser to President Obama said yesterday that there will be no new offshore drilling until an investigation was conducted into the spill -- a good start, but it’s not enough. Obama’s plans to expand offshore drilling in new areas wouldn’t take place for years anyway. His administration should halt those plans now and reinstate the moratoria that protected our coastlines for more than twenty-five years.
There’s a comment period open now, and it closes next Monday, May 3. Tell Secretary Salazar today that enough is enough. We need clean energy, like the offshore wind project he approved earlier this week -- not expanded offshore drilling, and its associated catastrophic risks.
Matt Niemerski is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.
It just keeps getting worse.
A NOAA scientist has concluded that oil is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, five times the initial 1,000 per-day estimate. And a third leak was discovered yesterday afternoon.
If the estimates are correct, the spill, which is nearly the size of Jamaica, could match or exceed the 11 million gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez within two months -- becoming the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
That, essentially, is what Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar acknowledged with his approval of the Cape Wind project, the nation's first offshore wind farm, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.
Oceana's chief scientist and senior vice president Mike Hirshfield had this to say about the big decision:
"We hope that today’s decision on Cape Wind will help set in motion a series of actions leading to additional American offshore wind projects. It sends a clear signal to turbine manufacturers and supporting companies that the U.S. means business on clean energy and climate change.”
We have a long way to go on offshore wind in the U.S., but this is a crucial first step, especially in light of this month’s oil spill in the Gulf, which is oozing ever closer to landfall. After crews were unable to stop the oil spill with underwater robots, they are trying a new tack: setting it on fire.
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:
...And more often than people think. Just days after the President offered up more of our coasts to the oil industry, an oil pipeline operated by Chevron Pipe Line Co leaked at least 18,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana.
This is another example of how dangerous exposure to an oil spill can potentially be to coastal wildlife and habitat, in a national wildlife refuge no less. Spills happen at every stage of oil production. Whether it is from drilling, pipelines, tankers, or refineries; a spill can occur at every stage of the oil production process. Then when we burn the oil, it contributes to climate change.
Big Oil would have us believe that spills are a thing of the past thanks to modern technology. Unfortunately, the facts play out otherwise. Oil spills are not rare occurrence. Almost one million gallons of oil enter the oceans of North America every year through extraction activities alone.
Two weeks away from the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and what happens? A Spill! An oil tanker yesterday lost part of its load off the Australian coast after being blown off course by a cyclone, spilling about 22 tons of oil onto Brisbane's beaches.
Meanwhile, some politicians still continue to call for more drilling for oil off of our own coasts. There is too little oil off our shores to free ourselves from foreign oil, and any oil recovered would only amount to savings of pennies at the gas pump.
Expanded offshore drilling will mean that our oceans and coasts are at an increased risk from oil spills. What is there to prevent a catastrophe like this or another Valdez from destroying our oceans and coastlines?
It is quite simple. The Obama administration and Congress must reinstate the moratorium on offshore drilling and stop all drilling activities in the Arctic. Spills happen and we need to protect our coasts.
Maybe the front fell off...
Months after President George W. Bush lifted the Presidential moratorium on offshore oil and gas development and Congress let a similar Congressional moratorium lapse, on Thursday, the federal government moved to pursue oil and natural gas exploration off the coast of Virginia.
The Interior Department began a public comment period on drafting an environmental-impact statement on offshore drilling. The environmental review process is the first step to open 2.9 million acres of offshore habitat to a lease sale scheduled for 2011.
Corals, lobsters, and many other ocean creatures are unlikely to withstand the increasing acidity of the oceans brought on by global warming, according to a new report from Oceana.
Our new report, "Acid Test," examines the far-reaching consequences of the accumulation of heat-trapping gases, particularly carbon dioxide, in the world's oceans.
High levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in seawater deplete the carbonate that marine animals need for their shells and skeletons. Creatures that are at risk if trends continue include corals, commercial fish, including shrimp and lobster; and pteropods, or swimming sea snails, which are an important part of the base of polar and sub-polar food chains.
We are calling for a reduction of CO2 emissions in industrialized countries by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The key findings of the report include:
- Ocean Roundup: 20 Coral Species to Gain Federal Protection, Shell Files New Plan for Arctic Drilling, and More Posted Fri, August 29, 2014
- Oceana Magazine: Chef’s Corner – Sam Talbot Posted Tue, September 2, 2014
- Photos: Oceana in Belize Exposes Belizean Youth to the Wonder of the Sea Posted Wed, August 27, 2014
- Conservation Groups Plan Lawsuit to Protect Sperm Whales Posted Fri, August 29, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Florida Receives Federal Help for Oyster Recovery, Climate Change Linked to Iceland’s Puffin Decline, and More Posted Thu, August 28, 2014