Posts Tagged ‘gulf of mexico’

Today’s Flickr photo:

Flickr photo from BP America

If you read one thing today…

Dave Barry’s annual year in review is out. How did 2010 measure up? It wasn’t pretty. From the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico to Toyota’s runaway cars, 2010 was a rough year.

On the BP oil spill:

The perfect symbol for the awfulness of 2010 was the BP oil spill, which oozed up from the depths and spread, totally out of control, like some kind of hideous uncontrollable metaphor. The scariest thing about the spill was, nobody in charge seemed to know what to do about it. Time and again, top political leaders personally flew down to the Gulf of Mexico to look at the situation first-hand and hold press availabilities. And yet somehow, despite these efforts, the oil continued to leak. This forced us to face the disturbing truth that even top policy thinkers with postgraduate degrees from Harvard University — Harvard University! — could not stop it…

…the Deepwater Horizon oil spill officially becomes, according to the news media, the worst thing that has ever happened, with environmental experts reporting that tar balls have been sighted on the surface of the moon. Just when all appears to be lost, BP announces that it has stopped the leak, using a 75-ton cap and what a company spokesperson describes as “a truly heroic manatee named Wendell.” Although oil is no longer leaking, much damage has been done, so this important story remains the focus of the nation’s attention for nearly 45 minutes, after which the nation’s attention shifts to Lindsay Lohan.
If you have a better attention span than that, feel free to check out Public Citizen’s work on the BP oil spill from throughout the year.
At the very least, Barry can make you laugh, shake your head, and then hope that 2011 will bring us some better news. Let’s see what the new Congress and the Obama administration have in store for us this year…

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The Department of Justice’s filing of a civil lawsuit today against BP for the deaths of 11 workers and the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history is a needed step in holding the corporation accountable.

However, Public Citizen remains concerned that the escrow fund is inadequate to cover BP’s obligations – a concern that has been confirmed over the past few months. It’s clear that the $20 billion set aside won’t begin to cover the cost of damage. More money must be found for the victims of the disaster.

In addition, the civil litigation stemming from the disaster remains focused on BP Exploration and Production, a remote subsidiary of the parent company, thereby enabling BP to avoid responsibility.

And Congress has yet to pass the comprehensive reforms needed to help ensure this kind of disaster can’t happen again. It is astounding that after all that happened – 11 deaths, 4.9 milllion gallons of oil spilled, beaches in five states sullied and closed, fishing in large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico closed, countless livelihoods ruined – Congress couldn’t get its act together and ensure that future oil drilling is safer for workers and the environment.

Tyson Slocum is the director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

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The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this summer tragically demonstrated the costs of our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

But despite this ongoing catastrophe, some major corporations—including Safeway and Walmart—are fueling their trucking fleets with tar sands oil, the dirtiest oil in the world.

Join our friends at ForestEthics in calling on Safeway and Walmart to shift to cleaner, not dirtier, energy.

Tar sands oil is even more destructive (more…)

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The Obama administration’s plan to allow oil companies to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is misguided and reckless.

We still have no way to address a catastrophic blowout in deep water, either by stemming the flow of oil or fixing the broken blowout preventer. Without technology in hand to stop millions of gallons of oil from spewing from the bottom of the ocean, we are simply gambling with our environment. We can’t afford to count on luck to keep the oceans, beaches and tourism industries safe.

It is laudable that the administration has reformed safety rules in the wake of the BP disaster, but accidents and mistakes still happen. The BP disaster claimed 11 lives, dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf – doing untold damage – and soiled beaches in five states. We cannot afford to risk a repeat. We have no way of stopping another BP gusher.


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We knew the aftermath of the oil spill in the Gulf was going to be devastating. We knew the environment was compromised and that plants, animals and other wildlife would be affected by the millions and millions of gallons of oil inundating the area.

Now another ailment to add to the list: potential cancer. As reported by Kate Sheppard with Mother Jones, researchers at Oregon State University are finding elevated concentrations of carcinogenic chemicals in the Gulf in increasing amounts each month.

Sheppard writes:

This is a concern not only for those who are living or working in the region, but for anyone who eats Gulf seafood as well. As a recent piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted, “Although vertebrate marine life can clear PAHs from their system, these chemicals accumulate for years in invertebrates.” This of course raises concerns about the long-term safety of seafood—specifically, shrimp, oysters, crabs, and other invertebrates.

Sheppard puts it well when she states, “Still more evidence that, just because you can’t see the oil in the Gulf, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

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Five months after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and a little more than a week after the well was officially “killed,” the work is not over. As the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling meets in Washington, D.C., this week, Public Citizen energy organizer Allison Fisher will urge the commission to clarify the government’s role and authority during an oil spill, investigate why BP was allowed to control information around the spill and its cleanup operations, and recommend passage of legislation that specifically responds to the oil spill disaster.

To tell the commission what you’re thinking, click here.

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Is there anyone who didn’t see the headline in this morning’s New York Times coming? Clifford Krauss’ and John M. Broder’s story “BP Says Curb on Drilling Would Imperil Oil Spill Payouts” is just another one of those “I told you so moments” in BP’s tragedy of errors. Public Citizen warned early on that the Obama administration’s proposal that would allow BP to use its Gulf of Mexico drilling operations as collateral for its $20 billion victims compensation fund was a terrible idea. For one, it sets up an inherent conflict in interest because it makes the administration a defacto partner in BP’s gulf operations. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and Tyson Slocum, director of our Energy Program, laid it out in Politico:

BP’s scheme enlists the government as a virtual partner in its Gulf oil and gas production, and the company uses that partnership to shield itself from punishment. It is likely to give the government a financial incentive to become an even bigger booster of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf — the Minerals Management Service’s fatal flaw at the time of the BP disaster. BP seems to have structured the fund largely to limit its liability in civil cases and escape accountability.

And now, BP provides us case in point by saying in the NYT article that (more…)

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If anything shows the great potential power of the media, it is this video. It is a really horrific look at the damage in the Gulf of Mexico. After you watch the video, share it. It is important that this nation confront the dangers we pose to ourselves and to our land by continuing our addiction to oil.

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Julia Whitty presents an in-depth look at the DeepWater Horizon disaster this week in Mother Jones. It’s a well-written primer on the worst oil spill in history and its tragic impact on the Gulf of Mexico. Whitty explains the complex biology of the Gulf and how BP has done just about everything wrong.  Carl Safina, co-founder of the Blue Ocean Institute, tells Whitty that it’s unconscionable that BP continued to use the dispersant Corexit even after it was told to stop:

. . . untreated oil quickly rises to the surface, where it can be skimmed with relative ease. But treated with dispersant, it becomes a submerged plume, unlikely to ever float to the surface, and destined to migrate through underwater currents to the entire Gulf basin and eventually the North Atlantic. “Oil is toxic to most life,” says Steiner. “And Corexit is toxic to most life. But the most toxic of all is oil that’s been treated with Corexit. Plus, dispersants may well kill the ocean’s first line of defense against oil: the natural microbes that break oil down for other microbes to eat.”

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In what amounts to a confounding conflict of interest, the U.S. government is considering a plan that would allow BP to use profits from its Gulf of Mexico drilling operations to ensure the solvency of the $20 billion escrow fund set up to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Why is this a bad idea? Because, as Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program points out, it gives the Obama  administration less incentive to prosecute BP for the recklessness and negligence that lead to the disaster and could make regulators less likely to deny BP additional drilling permits. Slocum says:

“The proposed arrangement is wildly inappropriate, as it will make the government and BP virtual partners in Gulf oil production . . . It will give the government a financial incentive to become an even bigger booster of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf – which was the fatal flaw of the Minerals Management Service at the time of the BP disaster.”

Slocum sent a letter to the administration today saying it should change the way the disaster fund is structured to ensure the government can remain unbiased and prioritize the public’s interest – not BP’s interests.

According to Monica Langley in The Wall Street Journal, the government would in essence hold BP’s Gulf oil production as collateral. But Langley says this setup could run into resistance in Congress:

Such a deal could provoke a backlash on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are moving to bar BP from operating in the Gulf.

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