The Beacon

Blog Tags: Offshore Drilling

Day 8: A Minefield of Oil Platforms

Mike Hirshfield spots an oil platform

Photo © Oceana/Soledad Esnaola


In today's dispatch from Dustin, the crew is suddenly surrounded by oil rigs in the gulf:

The Oceana Latitude navigated through a minefield of hundreds of oil platforms (out of the thousands that exist in the Gulf of Mexico) today.

Although Oceana’s experts were aware of the size of the industry in the region, seeing the rigs in person put it into an entirely new perspective. It’s truly dumb luck that we haven't faced more problems up to now. Dr. Mike Hirshfield, Oceana's Chief Scientist said, "Seeing another Transocean deepwater drilling rig poised to resume drilling as soon as someone gives them permission sent a cold chill down my back."

And don’t worry if you haven’t seen one of these rigs for yourself, as Congress and the Obama Administration could be bringing them to a coast near you unless we all join together in opposition of new offshore drilling.


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Latitude Spies Evidence of Abandoned Oil Wells

black humps on the seafloor

Piles of black sediment indicate hydrocarbons on the Gulf seafloor. Copyright: Oceana

Yesterday, our scientist Matthias Gorny was unsure if he could identify indications of abandoned oil wells on the Gulf floor using the ROV from the Oceana Latitude. But in our dispatch from today, Dustin Cranor has let us know that Matthias has evaluated the ROV footage further - and this time come up with signs of an abandoned well 90 feet underwater. Along an otherwise flat seafloor, Gorny discovered a raised surface approximately three feet high with black sediment excavated by worms, which indicates a presence of hydrocarbons.

Check out this slideshow of images captured by the ROV.

 


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

"We've said since news first broke and the extent of the gulf tragedy became known that it was certainly going to affect how people in the United States and California view offshore oil," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. "It's a game-changing event."


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Oceana is Vivanista's Cause of the Month

Our friends at Vivanista have named Oceana their cause of the month. A site featuring unique articles for women who want to live a philanthropic lifestyle, Vivanista featured Oceana’s Stop the Drill campaign in light of the oil spill in the gulf.

They are such fans of Oceana’s work to protect marine ecosystems and restore the bounty of the oceans that they decided to highlight us as their monthly cause. Take some time to check out Oceana's page on Vivanista and the rest of the philanthropic content they have to offer!


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New Drilling Moratorium is a Good Start

Yesterday the Obama administration issued a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling through Nov. 30 in order to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks.

Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz commended the president for the decision in an AP article, and had this to say about it:

“The Administration has no choice but to put a hold on offshore drilling. New drilling poses major risks, which we simply can not take, especially while thousands of victims of the ongoing drilling disaster continue to wait for an end to this oil and gas nightmare. 


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Louisiana Passes Clean Energy Resolution

Rachel Guillory is Oceana's Campaign Organizer in the Gulf region. She sent us this dispatch.

Last month, a number of Louisiana organizations hosted a two-day rally at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. The rally, called “Love Your Coast”, was the collaborative effort of a handful of local student organizations and environmental groups.

One of the goals of this rally was to pass a resolution through the state legislature, which was drafted by Devin Martin and Darrell Hunt of the Sierra Club Delta Chapter. The resolution asks our political leaders to:

-Urge all state and federal authorities to commit all resources to stopping the leak, and protecting, cleaning, and restoring our shores;

-Urge the state to use all legal means to get all affected individuals and businesses swiftly and justly compensated;

-Present a strategy for the prevention of another drilling disaster and it's economic consequences by prioritizing economic diversification, clean energy development, and safer and more environmentally stringent drilling regulations.


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Ten Myths about the Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

Photo by Kris Krug via Flickr

At yesterday’s TedxOilSpill, I spoke to the crowd about the questions I hear most from people who don’t see eye to eye with me on why the disaster in the Gulf is our call to action.

Here are my responses to the naysayers -- feel free to use these with any clean energy skeptic you come across.

1) Isn't the Deepwater drilling disaster just like an airplane crash? We don't shut down aviation when a plane crashes.

No. In an airplane crash, most of the victims are those who were on the airplane. In this case, most of the victims are the millions of people living in the Gulf. This is more like the guy who built a campfire in the dry season, against regulations, and burned down the national forest and all the towns and cities alongside it. That's why we have regulations against building campfires during the dry season: Not because every camper burns down his campsite, but because all we need is one. We have laws against dry season campfires, and we should have laws against ocean oil drilling.

2) There are 3600 drilling platforms in the gulf. Are you going to shut them all down?

We're not calling for a shutdown of the platforms, just of drilling. Once the wells are drilled, the risks go down. The pumping can continue, but the drilling has to stop.

3) So then isn't this just a deep-water problem? Can't we continue in the shallow water?

Ocean drilling in shallow water is also very risky. One of the top three oil drilling disasters of all time, Ixtoc 1, was in 160 feet of water. And last August, the Montara rig blow-out near Australia, which took 11 weeks to control, was in just 250 feet of water.


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Tears and Laughter at TEDxOilSpill

Oceana Pollution Campaign Director Jackie Savitz. (Photo by Kris Krug)

After watching and reading news reports and blog posts about the Gulf oil spill for more than two months, I was wondering if anything new could be said about the catastrophe.

As I found out at yesterday’s TEDxOilSpill conference, the answer is a resounding yes. Scientists, entrepreneurs, anthropologists, activists, musicians and writers came together to vent, and to try and wrap their heads around how this could have happened, and to bat around solutions, immediate and long-term.

Over and over, I heard riffs on a theme: this is an unprecedented disaster, and we are still in the thick of it. We don’t know how bad it will get, or what the long-term effects will be. And now is our moment to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless fired off a list of ten myths about the oil spill and offshore drilling, and Oceana campaign director Jackie Savitz told the crowd that “it is time to tell the pusher (Big Oil) that we’re going clean.”

It was an intellectually and emotionally exhausting day – several presenters were brought to tears during their presentations.


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The World Joins Hands Against Offshore Drilling

Across time zones and oceans, a single wave in solidarity against offshore drilling spread around the globe this past Saturday. 

At 12:00PM local time, Hands Across the Sand began in New Zealand and continued on to Hawaii more than 12 hours later. Thousands of people joined hands on beaches across the world to draw attention to the need for clean, sustainable energy. 

In Washington, DC, supporters joined hands at the White House to show their solidarity with Hands Across the Sand, the grassroots organizers of the global event.  Ethan Nuss of the Energy Action Coalition rallied the crowd of over 100 on Pennsylvania Ave Saturday afternoon. 


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day #2

From Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

"Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he has got his life back, he would say," [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel said of the outing at the yacht race, alluding to an earlier remark by Hayward that incensed political Washington.

 ...

Emanuel added: "What's more important is, do the people down there in that area have their life back? Do they have their livelihood back?"


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