The Beacon

Blog Tags: Offshore Drilling

Momentum Builds for New Drilling Moratorium

gulf oil spill satellite

A satellite image of the spill taken May 1. Credit: NASA.

While the Deepwater Horizon rig was exploding, burning, sinking, and spewing, the federal government’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 Oceana’s “Stop the Drill” 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.


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Gulf Spill Oozes Ashore

oil spill satellite image

Image via nasa.gov.

The massive spill is reportedly oozing into Louisiana’s wetlands (see trajectory) -- and this weekend’s stormy forecast may thwart any efforts to stop it. 

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.


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Oil Spill Threatens Hundreds of Species

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.

 


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Salazar OKs Cape Wind as Gulf Spill Continues

offshore wind

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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.  


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Aaron Peirsol Joins Climate Rally

aaron peirsol

On Sunday, amid performances by the Roots, Passion Pit and John Legend, Oceana spokeswimmer Aaron Peirsol spoke at the Earth Day Climate Rally on the National Mall here in Washington.

Ocean acidification is a real threat, as is overfishing,” he told the crowd. “New drilling must be forestalled while other invaluable, sustainable alternatives such as wind energy adopted. Today, I'm helping here by speaking and partnering with the ocean conservation group Oceana.

Together, we created Race for the Oceans, an open water swimming event that raises money and awareness toward ocean conservation. We also created Racefortheoceans.org, an online forum for swimmers and conservationists alike.”


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Offshore Drilling at Any Cost?

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:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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Earth Day Blue Link Bonanza

planet earth

Happy Earth Day!

Since there’s so much going on today, here’s a list of things you can do right now to protect the blue marble we call home. Enjoy!

1. Support a ‘safe zone’ for Pacific leatherbacks.

Tell the government to expand critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles to more than 70,000 square miles off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Comments are due tomorrow, April 23, so please voice your support today.

2. Take action with Sigourney on ocean acidification.

Sigourney Weaver is testifying before a Senate Committee today on the effects of ocean acidification on marine life and our economy.

You can take action too -- tell your representative to support a Congressional resolution that will support policies to study and address the effects of ocean acidification.

3. Stop expanded offshore drilling.

An oil rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana exploded Tuesday, in what could be one of the country’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past 50 years. Seventeen people were injured in the blast.

Tell your senator today that you won’t stand for expanded offshore drilling.

4. Bid and text for the oceans.

Today is Christie’s Green Auction, which benefits Oceana, Conservation International, NRDC and Central Park Conservancy. Check out the online auction items, or for a cheaper option, you can text “GoGreen” to 20222 to make a $10 donation today.


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Spills Happen!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

...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.


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Oil Leak Threatens Great Barrier Reef

This weekend, a Chinese coal tanker ran aground on one of our planet’s most diverse and delicate ecosystems: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The tanker, badly damaged and in danger of breaking apart, has already spilled 2 metric tons of heavy oil into the shoals off Queensland's coast in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  In 2007, the same shipping company, COSCO, was linked to the major spill in the San Francisco Bay.   

This is Australia’s third recent major disaster, following the massive oil spill off Queensland and the Timor Sea oil platform blowout. Oil is extremely toxic to marine life and the damage to habitat can persist for years, even decades after a spill. 

In the wake of the Obama administration’s recent decision to open up a huge swath of U.S. waters to offshore drilling, this should serve as a warning against adding more oil to our oceans.    

Anna Gowan is a policy fellow at Oceana.


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Twittercast on Offshore Drilling Today at 12:30

Heads up to all you ocean lovers on Twitter: Today at 12:30 pm eastern time, Oceana senior campaign director Jackie Savitz will be on ABC News Nightline debating Obama’s offshore drilling decision with Ben Lieberman from the Heritage Foundation. 

Between 12:30 and 1 pm, you can tweet your drilling questions and concerns for Jackie to @nightline. Get your questions ready now, and then tune in here.

See you there!


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