deepwater horizon oil rig
One plan involves building up almost 70 miles of barrier islands by dredging sand and mud, including some from the bottom of the Mississippi River, and depositing it onto the outer shores of the islands, a process that would normally require years of environmental assessment.
Sediments from the river are likely to be contaminated with a host of other chemicals, like mercury, which could add insult to injury in the already badly contaminated Gulf waters.
Some of these islands are home to bird and wildlife sanctuaries, including the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. The plan may not work because the barrier islands have shrunk significantly, in part as a result of human engineering that has altered the flow of Mississippi for a variety of reasons -- including in efforts to facilitate oil and gas production.
Oil has begun washing ashore in Louisianaâ€™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.
After the Deepwater Drilling Disaster began 17 days ago, weâ€™ve all tried to figure out why we should continue to expand drilling offshore.
For those who think itâ€™s because it will help us achieve energy independence, think again. There is no way that we can drill our way to energy independence â€“ and the government knows it.
Right now, we get about 65% of our oil from other countries, the biggest sources being Canada and Mexico. And government studies show that all the oil in US waters wouldnâ€™t change that figure much. It would only lower it to about 60% at best. A government study expected to come out soon shows that even that much is unlikely.
While oil-covered birds have become an emblematic image of catastrophic oil spills, sea birds arenâ€™t the only ones affected. Oil is extremely toxic to all wildlife, and the toxic effects on marine life begins as soon as the oil hits the water.
Here are 10 examples of how marine life may be affected by the Gulf spill in the coming days, weeks and years
While the Deepwater Horizon rig was exploding, burning, sinking, and spewing, the federal governmentâ€™s Minerals Management Service was, coincidentally, holding a series of meetings on the impact of oil exploration along the southeast Atlantic coast. They got much more than they bargained for.
In my ongoing mission to identify and plug in local activists for Oceanaâ€™s â€śStop the Drillâ€ť campaign, I attended the meetings in Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington, meeting fabulous people who were already geared up for a big fight on drilling even before the news of the Deepwater Disaster had spread.
The first meeting I attended was held on April 21, just one day after the explosion. Attendance was fairly low, at around 30 people, but I immediately noticed a trend that would grow ever more pronounced as the meetings went by: attendees who were not paid to attend were overwhelmingly there to voice their opposition to drilling off the East Coast.
The areaâ€™s vital fisheries and wildlife are now in grave danger from what appears to be one of the nationâ€™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 itâ€™s not enough. Obamaâ€™s plans to expand offshore drilling in new areas wouldnâ€™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.
Thereâ€™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.