deepwater drilling disaster
I thought it was prescient when Oceana board member Ted Danson testified before Congress early last year about the dangers of offshore drilling. Now, in the midst of the biggest oil disaster in U.S. history, Ted has become one of the most visible critics of the oil industry and its false promises, most recently with an appearance on Larry King Live last week.
Ted's ocean activism goes farther back than the oil disaster, of course. I dug up a newspaper story about Ted's first appearance before Congress in April 1991. Still at the height of Cheers fame, Ted is introduced thusly:
"Gone was the carefully blown-dried hair, the red Corvette and the babe-seeking wandering eye of the country's most famous bartender: Cheer's [sic] star Ted Danson wanted to be taken seriously when he told Congress that President Bush's Energy Policy basically stinks."
The article, written with some skepticism about a Hollywood star's place in the halls of Congress, quoted Rep. Wayne Allard, who compared the amount of oil spilled into the oceans to "the teaspoon or so of gas that dribbles down the side of cars at the gas pump. 'Is that an unacceptable risk?' Allard asked."
Nearly twenty years later, it's not hard to tell who was vindicated by history, even if it's a bitter victory. As Ted said then about our energy policy: "It ain't working, guys. Something's got to change."
To view a PDF of the entire newspaper page, including a vintage photo of Paul and Linda McCartney debuting her frozen-foods line, click here.
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.
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 â€” mostly pelicans and up to 40 of them â€” 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.
We received the following dispatch from Carter Lavin, an Oceana supporter, environmental activist and energy-issue blogger, about his experience volunteering in the gulf. You can read more from him here.
Two weeks ago I had this idea that I would fly down to New Orleans and sign up to help clean up oil from the beaches of southern Louisiana. I would then catch one of the dozens of buses that were going from Jackson Square to the beaches for the clean up along with hundreds of other volunteers. We would spend the whole day there, clean up the beach, rescue a pelican or two and then head home.
I learned a few things about the clean up effort rather quickly. I learned that southern Louisiana does not really have beaches to clean; itâ€™s nearly all marshlands. This means most clean up efforts have to be done from a boat, or the places are only boat accessible. Plus, you need to be certified to clean up hazardous materials, which requires 40 hours of training.
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 Obamaâ€™s comments?
Jackie Savitz, Oceanaâ€™s Senior Campaign Director, Pollution Campaigns [@jackiesavitz] will be joining the conversation to answer your questions and reactions.
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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 canâ€™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.
Itâ€™s unknown exactly how sensitive deep-sea corals are to oil and dispersants, though as Oceanaâ€™s Pacific science director Jeffrey Short told the Times, â€śIt might be locally catastrophic, particularly if thereâ€™s an oxygen-depleted mass that develops.â€ť
Yesterday Oceana Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield testified about the costs of offshore drilling before the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Hereâ€™s an excerpt of his testimony:
â€śMr. Chairman, I wish you didnâ€™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 â€śthis will never happen again.â€ť We all wish that could be the case. But letâ€™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?
In 2009, not long after Obamaâ€™s inauguration, we created the ad you see here to encourage our new leader and administration to prevent expanded offshore drilling and turn our countryâ€™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.
Oceana board member Ted Danson was on Larry King Live last night sounding off on offshore drilling. Itâ€™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.
As BP prepares its â€śtop killâ€ť maneuver to stanch the Deepwater Horizonâ€™s leak, oil continues to hit Louisianaâ€™s wetlands and beaches, fouling sensitive habitats and marine life.
Officials reported yesterday that more than 300 sea birds, nearly 200 sea turtles and 19 dolphins have been found dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast since the spill started more than a month ago.
As a result, the images coming out of the gulf are increasingly heartbreaking, like these photos of the spill and its victims from Boston.com.
Oceana pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz was on the Diane Rehm show this morning for a second time since the spill discussing the long-term environmental consequences of the oil spill. Jackie was joined by Douglas Rader from the Environmental Defense Fund, Carys Louise Mitchelmore of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and William Hogarth from the University of South Florida. Have a listen here.
If you havenâ€™t already, help us reach our goal of 500,000 petition signatures: tell Obama and Congress to stop offshore drilling today, and spread the word.