Monday, December 13, 2010

The Oil Industries Haven't Learned


The oil industry, its lobbyists and its Congressional allies are predictably furious at the Obama administration’s decision not to allow exploratory oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic coast. The decision was unquestionably the right one.

The industry and its well-paid allies say that delaying drilling will increase America’s dependence on foreign oil. That ignores a simple truth: A nation using one-quarter of the world’s oil while controlling only 3 percent of the world’s known reserves cannot drill its way to independence. The estimated 7.5 billion barrels the eastern gulf and Atlantic coast are thought to contain are just about what this country consumes in a year.
Read more from this excellent NY Times editorial.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Attend Stand Lands Commission Hearing and Advocate for the Protection of Santa Monica Bay.


Chevron's Marine Oil Terminal in Santa Monica Bay is up for lease renewal before State Lands Commission. Chevron is asking for a 30-year lease.  Concerned citizens, and environmentalists, (including the Surfrider Foundation) have taken a reasonable stance and are advocating the lease terms be shortened from 30 years to 10 years.  We are also advocating that California State Lands Commission (“CSLC”) thoroughly evaluate alternatives for this project and properly identify infrastructure and oil terminal technology that would minimize risks (including a massive oil spill). 

An oil spill in Santa Monica Bay is un-mitigatable and would be disastrous to the marine environment, the citizens who live and recreate on Los Angeles County beaches, our local economy and tourism, water quality, and the health of marine life. According to the DEIR, “there is a reasonable possibility that operation of the Marine Terminal offshore loading facilities during the 30-year lease period will cause an oil spill.”  Due to the large risk involved with operating a Marine Terminal in Santa Monica Bay this project and its associated EIR should research environmentally superior alternatives as “such an oil spill could significantly affect the physical and biological environments” of Santa Monica Bay.  

We have already seen the catastrophic effects of an oil spill earlier this year in the Gulf of Mexico – oil spills happen frequently, and Chevron’s Marine Terminal does not have a perfect record. We cannot underscore the real risk of an oil spill in Santa Monica Bay, and how important it is for the California State Lands Commission (“CSLC”) to thoroughly evaluate alternatives for this project and properly identify infrastructure and oil terminal technology that would minimize the risks.
  
A shorter lease would allow Chevron to update their oil spill prevention and response plans after lessons have been learned and evaluated from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In addition, a shorter lease term would also give the CSLC, Chevron, and NOAA the opportunity to better evaluate trends in vessel calls to the Marine Terminal, as well as the environmental impact of any increase in vessel traffic at the Terminal and Santa Monica Bay, especially the impact on marine mammals. 

Join us on Dec 10 in asking for a shortened lease. 

The meeting starts at 10:00 AM and the item is #47.

http://www.slc.ca.gov/Meeting_Summaries/12-10-10/Agenda.pdf

DEC 10, FRIDAY
PORT OF SAN DIEGO
BOARD ROOM – 1ST FLOOR
3165 PACIFIC HIGHWAY
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA 92101

"All Hands on Deck" Pick up the Phone for the Gulf - Tuesday, December 7

Congress is now back in session. But, will they act for a healthy Gulf?


Next Tuesday, December 7th, please make a call to tell Congress that the Gulf needs a Regional Citizens' Advisory Council to help prevent future disasters and that Clean Water Act fines paid by BP should go towards restoring the coast.

We need all hands on deck for Gulf Coast recovery. Pick up your phone and make a call to your legislator!

The United States Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121

Who is your Senator? Go here

Who is your Congressperson?  Go here.  

What should you say?

Ask to speak with your Representative/Senator. They should transfer you to their office, and if they are not available, just leave a message with the operator or secretary. Then you can use the talking points below.

* Hello! My name is ________________, and I'm calling to ask (Representative/Senator)_ to make a commitment to the Gulf.

* The BP Drilling Disaster spewed 180 million gallons of oil and tons of toxic dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico and much of it is still out there. This disaster is severely impacting the jobs, lives, and futures of millions of Gulf Coast residents.

* In response to the disaster, I urge you to support the creation of a local Citizen's Advisory Council that will give Gulf citizens a voice in making sure the oil industry does not repeat the mistakes that lead to BP's Drilling Disaster.

* Also, please hold BP accountable for their violation of the Clean Water Act and guarantee that the penalties are used to fund restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

* It will be a long road to restoration, and the government needs to stay focused on the disaster and environmental impacts that are just beginning to play out. It is the only way to ensure that the people and places affected by the disaster are made whole again. Thank you.

Gulf Shores During Spill. Photo:  Lyle W. Ratliff/ Reuters. 




Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surfrider Foundation Issues Official Statement on Offshore Drilling Ban

Today the Obama Administration announced that it will be banning new offshore oil drilling along the continental US for the next seven years. The Surfrider Foundation applauds this decision and holds it up as a major victory for our nation’s oceans and coastlines, and for the local communities who depend on them for their livelihoods. The Surfrider Foundation is particularly proud of their 20,000+ activists who send letters and messages to President Obama asking for the reinstatement of the executive moratorium on offshore drilling. Even as hundreds of Gulf Shore communities continue to struggle to recover from this nation’s most devastating environmental disaster, today’s decision underscores the importance of grassroots mobilization to protect our nation’s natural resources. America must permanently ban all new offshore drilling, end the harmful practice of seismic testing and continue to move towards clean and renewable energy.

Obama announces no new drilling in Pacific, Atlantic & eastern Gulf


Today, the Obama administration announced that there will be no new offshore oil drilling in federal waters in the Pacific, Atlantic and Eastern Gulf for the next seven years.

This is a major victory for all those who have fought hard (see NTA partner list) to prevent new offshore drilling since the federal and executive moratoriums were not renewed in the fall of 2008.

Until today, the last 2 years have been full of bad news.

At the 11th hour the Bush administration proposed opening all coasts to drilling.


Despite massive opposition and no real evidence domestic drilling would help solve our energy crisis, in March 2010 the Obama administration proposed open vast tracts of ocean to offshore drilling.



We all know what followed... the largest offshore oil spill in world history.

Thankfully, Salazar and Obama seemed to have learned from the Gulf oil spill, listened to the science, and the continued public opposition to new offshore drilling and have decided that there will be no new offshore drilling lease tracts opened in the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf for the next 7 years.



Although this is great news and a major step towards protecting out coasts from the threats of offshore drilling, some really critical issues remain. This recent announcement potentially opens the Atlantic to harmful seismic testing and allows for new drilling in Alaska. Further, we cannot forget that hundreds of Gulf Shore communities continue to struggle to recover from this nation’s most devastating environmental disaster.

Read the Department of Interior's press release and supporting documents here

Read an ABC news story here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shrimpers Say Nets and Shrimp Covered With Oil, After Shrimping Trip Off Louisiana Coast




Read more...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oil Spill: BP won't put clock on beach cleanup

Oil remains offshore, on beaches and in Escambia County bays. However, BP and government officials won't guess how long it will take to get it cleaned up.

"Time is a difficult thing to define. ... We don't know when it's going to be," said Michael LaTorre, a representative for BP's local shoreline assessment teams.

BP and government officials had a public forum Thursday in Pensacola to discuss the ongoing fallout from the BP oil spill in Escambia County.

The forum, which was held in the Escambia County Commission chambers, included local BP representatives and officials from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Coast Guard.

To Read More...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tar-balls Washing Ashore in FL.

Chuck Barnes, Alabama Surfrider member, has been active in following the Gulf situation "post spill".

He created this blog to keep us all informed.   

Just last week, he spotted tar-balls washing ashore after a swell.  As he mentions, the tar balls are soft and black, meaning there is little weathering which means the oil could be potentially as toxic as it was the day it seeped out of the well.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greenland wants $2 billion bond from oil firms keen to drill in its Arctic waters

A satellite image of Greenland. Photograph: EIL Austria/Nasa/Alamy

Greenland is demanding that oil companies bidding to drill in huge areas of its Arctic waters each pay an estimated $2bn (£1.25bn) upfront "bond" to meet the clean-up costs from any large spill.

The condition, which is thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will please environmentalists and could encourage other governments to follow suit in the wake of BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster. Half a dozen energy companies – thought to include Shell, Cairn Energy, Statoil, the Danish companies Dong and Maersk Oil – are in negotiations with the Greenland government about the licensing round, the largest for years.

Read more...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Foreign oil isn't the problem, it's consumption


"If we were to magically wake up tomorrow and find that we could satisfy all of our demand for oil domestically, without having to import a barrel of oil," he said, "it would really not make any difference in terms of our national security, economic security or vulnerability to oil stocks."



Read more...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surfrider Foundation Visits the Gulf

The oil spewed for nearly 3 months.  Over 200 million gallons of oil poisoned the Gulf, and approximately 2 million gallons of chemicals used to disperse oil exacerbated the situation--resulting in the worst  U.S environmental disaster.  The madness stopped on July 20 when the renegade well was wrestled down. Shortly afterward, the rest of the world "went about its business"--and the federal government (including President Obama) began peddling the notion that the Gulf was safe. 

Me and my new friend Chuck at the Conference. 
A few months after the spill, the Surfrider Foundation was contacted by Chuck Barnes, Director of Eastern Surfing Association (Alabama District).   Chuck informed us that he and several people became ill after surfing in mid-September.  Remember, at this point, the federal government was encouraging people to recreate and eat seafood. At the time, I was planning a trip to the Gulf to participate in a conference and I invited him along.  The conference, called the Gathering in the Gulf, was a "meeting of the minds" of local and national Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) (including faith based, local fishermen, scientific, public policy, and other diverse organizations). 

The conference was basically a 'needs-assessment' of how NGOs should go forward.  We spent several days hammering out a set of principles that illustrated a unified vision which would guide our work towards restoring the Gulf.  The principles, named "the Weeks Bay Principles" is a laconic document that says it all.  It encapsulates what the locals want and represents the larger picture of how those in Washington DC can help.  Read it here.

Before visiting the region, I wrote an article predicting what would happen in the Gulf during 2011.  Little did I know, some of my predictions were already happening!  During my trip, I heard horror stories about illnesses.  There are accounts of children being sent home by school nurses because of blisters in the noses, sore throats, and skin rashes due to oil and dispersant vapors/remnants.  Fishermen are feeling the same symptoms.  In fact, one fisherman attending the conference volunteered for a blood test that tested positive for chemicals related to oil and dispersant in his system.  One lady told me that after a "dusting of Corexit" (the dispersant used to break up oil) she got sick from swimming in her pool (and her house was several miles away from the coast). 

But the surfer's stories were most unique.  They are the "canaries in the coal-mine." They are in the water several times a week (And why not?  The federal government is encouraging them to).  All of the surfers I spoke with complained of throat/nose/ear problems, accompanied by skin rashes, and burning eyes/lips after surfing during a large swell. One surfer said: “For us, the swell is great because it kicks up surf, but now it’s not just kicking up surf, it’s bringing a “cocktail mix” of oil and dispersant to the surface.”

One day, I went to Gulf Shores, AL to examine the beaches and meet some locals.   I ran into families who traveled hundreds of miles to take a vacation there.  Even though their “summer vacation” was canceled because of the spill, they were determined to vacation on the white sandy beaches.  They said they would spend more of their time “on the beach” and not necessarily in the water. One local woman said she didn’t think pregnant women and young children should swim.
Gulf Shores During Spill. Photo:  Lyle W. Ratliff/ Reuters. /  
Gulf Shores after  spill--white shinny beaches (but the oil still lurks).  

After talking to locals and vacationers, I spent some time at a local surf shop (Blonde John’s Board Shop).  The business is usually lucrative, but since the spill the owner had witnessed a massive decrease in revenues. One of the shop managers, volunteered his boat to help BP clean up the oil.  While he was compensated for his time, he did miss several days of work and, as a result, lost income.  
Blonde John running the business. 

The economic and environmental unrest plaguing the Gulf goes back to Hurricane Katrina.  I cannot count how many times I heard people say:  "we’re still recovering from Katrina."   An ex-fishermen turned environmental activist said he was wiped out after Katrina.  He had lost his boat and morale--he said because of his age he didn’t have the energy (or funds) to start all over again.   Essentially, he became a community activist over night. He claimed that when the BP spill happened, he was already prepared to help himself and others.

The oil didn’t just ruin the white sandy beaches--it ruined important fisheries.  In fact, just last week another local contacted Surfrider about throngs of dead fish washing up on Grand Isle beach. The sad thing is, most in the region are still consuming seafood. 

Current monitoring by the federal government is inadequate and does not test for toxic heavy metals or dispersants. The onus is on the Food and Drug Administration to prove seafood is safe.  Considering the Gulf provides 86% of the U.S. shrimp harvest, and 56% of the U.S. oyster harvest--we need evidence it's safe!  As for water quality, there are still millions of gallons of oil and dispersants in the water.  Even though the government is swearing the water and the air is fine, people continue to be sick. We need a parallel process running along side what the government is “doing.” Surfrider has stepped up to assist.  Our Emerald Coast Chapter has been testing the water for months; see a recent blog about a positive result discovered.  And we plan to conduct further testing in the Gulf and continue to assist other NGOs.

In the end it all comes down to politics (just like everything in life).  Nearly 90% of people I spoke with in the Gulf said they do not feel represented by their local government and most politicians will not push back on the oil and gas industry because they fear losing political contributions.  It seems few politicians in the region are willing to "stick their neck out".  

Despite feeling crestfallen, I found hope within a catch phrase locals are using.  This self-empowering quote goes:   “The oil is still here; so are we, and we vote!!”   So take that, politicians! A bunch of fired-up, self-empowered locals are watching you and running a parallel process outside of the work you are doing. 

Warning sign.  


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On the Sixth Month Anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Groups Call for Protecting Our Coasts from Drilling and Ending Our Dependence on Oil

For Immediate Release

Contact           
  • Mike Gravitz, mikeg@environmentamerica.org
  • Jackie Savitz, jsavitz@oceana.org
  • Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Ssekich@surfrider.org
  •  Kristina Johnson Kristina.Johnson@sierraclub.org

On the Sixth Month Anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Groups Call for Protecting Our Coasts from Drilling and Ending Our Dependence on Oil

[Washington, DC]  Today, four national environmental groups released a joint statement commemorating the sixth month anniversary of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20th that tragically killed eleven men and led to the worst oil spill U.S. history.  Approximately 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from April 20th until July 15th when the well was temporarily capped. The resulting spill coated more than 600 miles of coastline, hundreds of square miles of marsh, and killed thousands of birds, sea turtles, fish and other marine wildlife. Recent scientific studies have indicated that large amounts of oil still remain in the Gulf, especially in deeper waters.  Restoring the Gulf from the spill may take a decade or more and billions of dollars to complete. 

The six month anniversary of the country’s worst environmental disaster is an important time to reflect on what we have learned from the event. The impact of the oil spill on the people, wildlife, coasts and deepwater of the Gulf should not be forgotten.  Our organizations join together to emphasize a need for a pathway to recovery for the Gulf while protecting our coasts and oceans from new offshore drilling. 

Mike Gravitz, Oceans Advocate from Environment America said, “There are three primary lessons from the spill. First, no matter how big the oil company or how strong its promises, offshore drilling is still a risky business, especially in deep water. Second, we must protect our sensitive oceans, coasts and beaches from offshore drilling in places the industry is not drilling today. Finally, we must end our dependence on oil or Big Oil will continue to push to drill in sensitive places that should be protected instead.”

Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz warns, “If the spill taught us one thing, it is that offshore drilling is not safe, and will continue to pose grave risks to our oceans, beaches and coastal economies, while providing only a finite amount of dirty energy. To protect our oceans, we need to stop offshore drilling, and in its place, build the foundation we need to jump-start the clean energy transition.”

Athan Manuel, Director of Public Lands at the Sierra Club said, "The BP tragedy isn't over yet. The Gulf Coast is still dealing with job losses in fishing and tourism. We can expect to see damage to the area's beaches and marine life for decades to come. It would be a giant mistake to ignore the lesson of this disaster. Our oil dependence is just too dangerous. Oil companies like BP have had a stranglehold on America's economy for too long. Oil executives are standing in the way of clean energy. It's time to tell them to step aside. We need a moratorium on new offshore drilling. We need to embrace wind, solar, and efficiency technologies that will create good jobs in places like the Gulf Coast. We need to invest in a 21st century transportation system that will help make America a global leader in the clean energy economy."

Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Campaign Specialist for the Surfrider Foundation said, “I recently visited the Gulf where I heard locals helplessly say: “The oil is still here, and so are we!”  To make these communities whole again, we must hold BP accountable and ensure local participation in restoration efforts.  In the long term, it's critical we defend our coastlines from new offshore oil drilling—spills like the Deepwater Horizon are detrimental to both the environment and economy.  It’s time for our nation to wean itself off oil drilling and seek a comprehensive energy plan that is based on sustainability, conservation and renewable energy.” 

###


Environment America is a federation of 29 state based organizations working together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www. environmentamerica.org

Oceana is the world’s largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation.  www.oceana.org

Sierra Club is America's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. www.sierraclub.org

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. For more information on the Surfrider Foundation, go to www.surfrider.org

UV light reveals oil still on beaches

Photograph by Chris Combs, National Geographic


With the exception of an occasional tarball, the beaches may look clean, but just like dirty ocean water where you can't see the bacteria, the truth is more subtle.

Researchers from the University of South Florida Coastal Research Lab are using ultraviolet lights to expose oil that is still on the beaches that appear clean to the naked eye.

The question remains what are the ecosystem and health impacts of this invisible sheen of oil (and perhaps dispersant).

Read more....

Click here for more of Chris' stunning photos.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Emerald Coast Chapter finds potential evidence of dispersant on FL beach

Results are in for samples taken on 9-16-10 and 9-23-10. Although tarballs were again present on the beaches, no oil compounds were detected above 5ppm.

The 9-16 sample from Blue Mountain Beach was positive for Propylene glycol at 30.6mg/L.

This is well over three times the reporting limit and considered a significant result. Propylene Glycol is one of the components of dispersants. The sample is being further evaluated to determine if other components of Corexit are also present and to help differentiate from other pollutants.

Read more and support the Emerald Coast's monitoring program here.

Read more about dispersants here.

Will keep you posted on our findings and we continue to test along Florida and Alabama beaches.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obama Re-opens Deepwater Drilling

The Obama administration announced yesterday the lifting of the 4-month-old moratorium on deep-water (i.e., 500 ft) offshore drilling. The decision to end the moratorium comes before final safety studies on the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been completed. According to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, recently strengthened rules and improved oversight have reduced risks to a point where offshore drilling can be allowed to resume. However, major questions remain about the causes of the BP disaster and whether future deepwater drilling activities will sufficiently protect human safety and the environment. Specifically, it remains unclear why the Macondo well blowout preventer failed, causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Commented Pete Stauffer, Ocean Ecosystem Program Manager for the Surfrider Foundation, "We find it troubling that the Obama Administration is already opening up deepwater drilling before final sudies from the President’s Oil Spill Commission, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Coast Guard/ BOEM Investigation have been completed." The Surfrider Foundation remains opposed to any new offshore oil drilling as our nation’s oceans, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological resources that will be polluted by an increase in offshore drilling.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Follow UGA's Marine Science Departments research on the "lost" oil


Scientists at UGA were amongst the first to find signals of the underwater oil plume and more recently a thick layer of oil on the seafloor that was reported on NPR.

Dr. Samantha Joye, who is leading some of this research, has created a blog so you can flow along: http://gulfblog.uga.edu/

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Surfrider Foundation Joins Forces with 350.org

 Surfrider Foundation was approached by 350.org to help raise awareness about climate change and their 10-10-10 Global Work Party.  We jumped at the opportunity to work with them because many of our programs and campaigns are inextricably linked to climate change.  Obviously, our Not the Answer campaign is a perfect match to help raise awareness about climate change, in general, and join forces with 350.org.

The goal of 10-10-10 is to inspire the world to tackle climate change and send a strong message to our leaders in government that we insist on enforceable laws that reduce CO2 levels to 350 parts per billion.   350 is the focus because scientists say that if we can't get below that, the damage we're already seeing from climate change will continue to accelerate.

The idea behind the 10-10-10 Work Party is simple.  Plan something in your local community that will help deal with global warming and raise awareness about the problem.    In Auckland, New Zealand, they're having a giant bike fix-up day to get every bike in the city back on the road.  In the Maldives, they're putting up solar panels on the President's office.  In Uganda, they are going to plant thousands of trees, and in Bolivia they're installing solar stoves for a massive carbon neutral picnic.

To find an event near you, go here.  










  



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Latest Explosion in the Gulf

On Thursday morning, there was another oil rig explosion in the Gulf.  By Thursday afternoon, Mariner (who operates the production platform) confirmed all 13 workers were safe and accounted for.  By Friday morning, the Coast Guard reported to CNBC that a mile long oil sheen was seen near the Mariner explosion, but they were unclear if the oil was coming for the recent blast or the Deep Horizon spill from April.

The world breathed a sigh of relief when no major spill occurred, yet at the same time, environmentalists and local Gulf residents were disturbed that another explosion has happened.  According to a recent Washington Post article, rig fires, worker deaths/injuries and blowouts occur more frequently than the media reports.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management confirmed each year 650-850 serious "incidents" are reported in the Gulf.  

Clearly the recent explosion is another wake up call that we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.  Not only are fossil fuels perpetuating climate change, but the industry itself is risky, dangerous and dirty.  One way to begin that process is for President Obama and Congress to permanently ban new offshore oil drilling.  The Surfrider Foundation has maintained this position long before the "season of spills" in the Gulf.

Grist Magazine published a great article after the Marine spill last Thursday.  It's an interesting global perspective.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Florida Chapters Start State Constitutional Ban Effort

Florida Members want the public to have the chance to vote on near-shore oil drilling and to ban the possibility of this destructive practice. Oil drilling in Florida marine waters, which extend approximately three miles into the Atlantic Ocean and 10 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, is simply too great a risk to take.

Floridians asked the Legislature, at the Special Session held in July 2010, to place the issue before the voters. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not agree to allow Floridians to vote to amend the State Constitution in the November 2010 general election.

In light of the inaction of the Legislature, and to forestall any future attempt to allow near-shore oil drilling, a number of Florida organizations have created Save our Seas, Beaches and Shores, Inc. (SOSBS) to coordinate a citizens’ petition drive to place the ban on the November 2012 ballot. This will not be easy. It will need approximately 700,000 verified petitions from voting Florida residents. The Department of State, Division of Elections has grnted approval for the Constitutional Amendment Petition Form.

If you are a voting Florida Resident or know one please download, sign and mail in today!

Petition Form


One Page information sheet

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sylvia Earle Talks About The Gulf Disaster and Saving Our Seas

Former NOAA chief scientist and passionate advocate for our oceans Sylvia Earle recently sat down with Treehugger.com and talked about, among other things, what the Gulf oil spill means for the ocean’s ecology.

Listen and read the full interview here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oil found. Science lost.



In January 2009 during his inaugural speech, newly elected President Barack Obama stated,

"We will restore science to its rightful place..."

It is unfortunate that this promise has been forgotten in response worst environmental disaster in US history.

The Obama adminstration has repeatedly tried to down play the impacts of the gulf oil spill, including faking a swim in the Gulf, only to be repudiated by independent scientists.

Today's Congressional hearing revealed yet another insult to science.

After Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a White House briefing on Aug. 4 that "at least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system. And most of the remainder is degrading rapidly or is being removed from the beaches.", scientists from several universities, including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, University of Georgia and University of South Florida, amongst others, countered that the statement was unsubstantiated and not true.

Today , a senior U.S. scientist rescinds previous claim that 3/4 of oil from spill is gone, says most is still there. Lubchenco appears to still be in spin mode. I hope that fact that most of the oil remains in the Gulf and continues to threaten the ecosystem also makes the front page of the NY Times.

So much for restoring science to it's rightful place. Very disappointing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Upcoming Hearings about Oil Spill Response and Safety

Attend a public hearing to speak about protection of our coastlines and the importance of oil spill containment and rapid response.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formally the MMS--the agency who oversees drilling for the U.S.) needs to hear from you.  Our collective voice as a community can help decision makers prepare better safety mechanisms and response plans.

This will also be a great opportunity to voice your opposition to new offshore drilling which our Federal Government is currently considering along the east coast and sensitive parts of Alaska.  Join Surfrider Foundation activists as we speak out against new drilling and spread the message that offshore oil drilling in not the answer.

Go here to learn more about when and where the hearings are located.  

Environmental Film Series and Speakers Forum

If you live in the Los Angeles area, please join Surfrider Foundation staff as we discuss the 'state of state' for offshore oil drilling in America.  Discussion will begin promptly after film première.   A portion of the donations benefit the Surfrider Foundation's Not the Answer campaign. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Up to 79% of the spill oil still in the Gulf

Contrary to NOAA's August 4th report that most of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill was gone, a new report from five prominent marine scientists at the University of Georgia concludes that up to 79 percent of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem.

The Obama adminstration continues their long running habit of underestimating the severity and impact of the spill, only to be corrected by independent scientists. First they underestimated the rate of the spill , the toxicity of the dispersants, and denied the existence of underwater plumes before claiming the oil was gone.

Read press release here.

News story here.

The complete Georgia Sea Grant/University of Georgia Oil Spill report is available online at http://uga.edu/aboutUGA/joye_pkit/GeorgiaSeaGrant_OilSpillReport8-16.pdf

Figures from the report are available at http://uga.edu/aboutUGA/joye_pkit/GeorgiaSeaGrant_OilChart.pdf.

President Obama (doesn't really) swims in the Gulf


In a stunt that was well covered by the media over the weekend, President Obama made a big deal about swimming off the coast of Florida on Saturday and declared the Gulf area's beaches "open for business," trying to show by example that a region hit by the BP oil spill was safe for tourists to enjoy.

However, there is a catch. Obama didn't really swim in the Gulf. Instead, it turns out the President swam in St. Andrews Bay, a freshwater bay that is fed mostly by adjoining creeks and springs and wasn't nearly as affected as the beaches off the coast of Louisiana.

Yet another stunt to try and down play the severity and impact of the gulf oil spill.



Monday, August 16, 2010

ESPN Highlights Pro's Thoughts on the Oil Spill

Life after the ASP World Tour is an interesting one. For one thing, you're still a surfer even if you're not in the Top 44. It's not like you hang up the board with the jersey. You certainly don't just loose the passion. In fact, some of the most inspiring and popular surfers today are Dream Tour alumnus. It also gives you time -- time to think more deeply about the world around you, time to raise a family, time to teach others to surf.

Recently there has been 1 particular prosurfer become the poster child for talking about the impact oil to our coasts and recreation.

To read more click here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tell the Senate to Respond to the Gulf Spill Now!

A couple of days ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the plug on the Senate’s efforts to pass a series of offshore oil drilling reforms. This is extremely disappointing news in the wake of America’s worst environmental disaster and just after the House of Representatives passed the CLEAR act, which would have put necessary response and reforms into action. Tell the Senate to get over their partisan bickering and take responsibility to ensure we can respond to the Gulf spill and prevent another oil spill disaster of this magnitude from ever happening again.

Read more here...

Take Action! Click here to tell the Senate they must act to respond to the Gulf spill - this delay is unacceptable.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

4.9 Million Barrels




Today, federal officials released a revised estimate of the flow rate and total amount of oil spilled during the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

They estimate that the flow rate varied from 62,000 to 53,000 barrels a day over the 87 days that oil was spilling.

The new estimates reflect the collaborative work and discussions of the National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), led by United States Geological Survey (USGS) Director Marcia McNutt, and a team of Department of Energy (DOE) scientists and engineers, led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Note, the serious underestimates made by Coast Guard in the first weeks of the spill.

Read more here, here & here

Monday, August 2, 2010

I can see CLEARly now...

On July 30th, the United States House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010 - the CLEAR Act. Surfrider Foundation supports this bill’s provisions that respond to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and tightens regulatory oversight of offshore oil drilling.

The bill would also establish the ORCA (Ocean Resources Conservation and Assistance) fund, which is the first annual fund dedicated to ocean conservation. We also support the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which as part of the CLEAR Act would provide consistent and permanent funding for wilderness resources such as parks, beaches and waterways.

In addition to setting up conservation funds, the other "highlights" of the bill include:
  • Integrated reform of oil and gas drilling sector with improved safety and oversight of oil drilling.
  • Lifting the current $75 million cap on liabilities related to oil spills, as well as incorporating key elements of the Blowout Prevention Act of 2010.
  • Reform by statute the failed Minerals Management Service (MMS), which was also ordered to be reorganized by the Obama Administration executive order earlier this year. The reform changes the name of MMS to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and includes restrictions such as the “revolving door” provision aimed at preventing conflicts of interest and corruption in the government agency charged with overseeing the oil industry.
  • In addition to the overdue reforms, the bill also repeals provision of current law that have allowed hundreds of projects to be permitted without careful scrutiny under categorical exclusions.

Unfortunately, the bill sponsors and supporters conceded to a last-minute amendment by Congressman Charlie Melancon (D - LA) that will lift the current six-month deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. This deepwater moratorium was enacted by President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon spill and has been the subject of much litigation in the 5th Circuit. Obviously, the environmental community is displeased with this concession amendment in the bill, but overall it is still a CLEARly good bill.

While the House version of the CLEAR Act passed by a vote of 209 to 193, the Senate version of the bill (S.3663) awaits action by the Senate. If it passes, both houses would return from August recess to negotiate a compromise bill to send to the President.

Friday, July 30, 2010

CA & NJ oppose new oil drilling

Recent polls from California and New Jersey demonstrate strong opposition to new oil drilling. In a recent PPIC poll in California 59% of the population oppose more offshore drilling.

A Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll reported that 63% of New Jersey residents are opposed drilling off the Jersey shore. It's notable that 80% of New Jersey residents favor placing electricity-generating windmills off the coast of New Jersey

Voice your opposition to oil drilling here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

State of the Spill - Week 14

Spill Size/Extent

We have frozen our spill counter at 93,812,000 gallons (86 days) because of the apparently successful cap that was placed on the Macondo well nearly two weeks ago.

Note: Surfrider’s estimate of the spill volume is based on a rate of 26,000 barrels per day. The
most recent estimate of the rate of the oil gusher is between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day (1,470,000 to 2,520,000 gallons per day). If the release was at those rates since Day 1, the total volume of oil released is between and 126 and 217 million gallons. The vast majority of the spill has not been recovered and is unaccounted for in government statistics.

NOAA’s
GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse online tool provides images/estimates of the current extent of the surface oil plume, the location of “beached oil” and surface water currents.

State of Efforts to Stop Flow


BP’s
tighter fitting cap (termed "capping stack") was installed over two weeks ago and it was announced on Thursday, July 15 that flow from the well had been stopped. Although there have been reports of oil seeps in the area and the measured pressure in the well is less than expected (possibly indicating that oil is leaking out of the well bore into the surrounding formation), it is now believed that the observed oil seeps are unrelated to the Macondo well. BP hopes to leave the cap in place until a relief well (to permanently seal the well) is completed.

The permanent sealing of the well is now anticipated to occur in two phases. First there will be an attempt to perform a "static kill" by pumping mud and cement in from the top of the well. That could occur as soon as Sunday or Monday. Then efforts to perform the "bottom kill" (pumping mud and cement into the lower potions of the Macondo well through the relief well) will start 5 to 7 days after the top kill.

Ecological Damage


The fishery closure area is still 57,539 square miles, covering about 24% of the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone. The GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse online tool can be configured to show the fishery closure area and confirmed marine mammal and sea turtle strandings and observations. The National Fish and Wildlife Service publishes daily reports showing the current number of birds, sea turtles and marine mammals that have been "collected" in the oil spill area.

Volunteer Response Resources


Surfrider volunteer oil spill toolkit

Volunteer Phone numbers:
(state-specific contact information below)

Deepwater Horizon Incident Volunteer Hotline: 866-448-5816

Vessel of Opportunities Program - Fishermen should phone 425-745-8017

Fact sheets related to oil spills in general and this spill:
http://www.piersystem.com/go/doctype/2931/53023/
http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon
http://gulfseagrant.tamu.edu/oilspill/index.htm
http://www.eoearth.org/article/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill

Official Response Resources


Restore the Gulf: http://www.restorethegulf.gov
Twitter: http://twitter.com/usnoaagov
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov
Podcasts: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/podcast.html
NOAA Roles and Tools:
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/topics/oceans/spills/
EPA: http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/

Phone numbers:

NOAA media inquiries: keeley.belva@noaa.gov or 301-713-3066
For response inquiries: Joint Information Center (JIC) at 985-902-5231 or 985-902-5240

BP Horizon Response Hotline: 281-366-5511

To report oil, or general Community and Volunteer Information: 866-448-5816

To report oiled or injured wildlife: 866-557-1401

Coast Guard officials say not to pick up any tar balls you find and to report them at (800) 424-8802


Florida Specific Volunteer Information:

Volunteer at
www.volunteerflorida.org
For jobs, visit www.floridagulfrecoveryjobs.com or call 1-877-362-5034
Visit www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org for updates

If you live in these areas and want to help:
Okaloosa County call: 850-651-7150 



Bay County call: 763-6587 



Walton County: go to
http://www.waltonso.org/

The
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea, Florida needs volunteers and donations to support their educational and research work.

Florida Palm Beach/Treasure Coast area volunteers can email Surfrider's Florida Regional Manager : Ericka D'avanzo

Florida DEP is not encouraging private citizens to clean up shorelines. However, should a homeowner have oil soaked materials, there are two options:
  • Have the homeowners contact 1-866-448-5816 and someone will be sent out to retrieve the oiled materials.
  • Emerald County Utilities Authority (ECUA) has provided several 55 gallon drums at certain walk crossovers on Pensacola Beach. They are marked for oil debris only. BP/ Waste Management will be responsible for all collection and disposal. ECUA has provided the containers at no charge to help with the response.
Florida Information Numbers and Websites:

DEP Related Media Questions: Amy Graham at 850-245-2112 or -2113
Florida Emergency Information Line: 800-342-3557
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) incident response website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm

Resources in Other Gulf States:

Louisiana: http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov/
Mississippi:
http://www.volunteermississippi.org/1800Vol/OpenIndexAction.do
Alabama:
http://www.servealabama.gov/2010/default.aspx

Also see:

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Galveston Bay Foundation
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources - (228) 374-5000
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Federation
Restore America’s Estuaries
Save Our Gulf

More Information & Call to Action

Help us track oil spill impacts (including human health impacts) at: http://oilspill.skytruth.org/

Urge President Obama and Congress to ban new drilling: http://www.surfrider.org/nodrilling

Donate to support Surfrider's Emerald Coast Chapter water testing in the Florida Panhandle area.

Walk your beaches daily to ensure no garbage or plastic debris is present. Do not disturb bird nesting areas!


Join
the Surfrider Foundation: http://www.surfrider.org/join

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Raging Grannies Sing Drill No More

If you haven't heard about the Raging Grannies, now is a great time to begin your appreciation for them.  They started in 1986 and have 'organized groups' around the world.  They typically sing protest songs about social and environmental injustices.  Learn more about them here and here.

I came across the Albuquerque Raging Grannies when Surfrider was organizing for the Hand Across the Sand event.  They sent me an email with a link to their song and said:
"We're 800 miles away from the nearest beach, but we want to offer our encouragement!   Please feel free to use our song at your demonstration.  It's the to tune of "Blowin in the Wind" which everyone knows and is a real crowd-pleaser"!  
Enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

State of the Spill - Week 13

Spill Size/Extent

We have frozen our spill counter at 93,812,000 gallons (86 days) because of the apparently successful cap that was placed on the Macondo well late last week.

Note: Surfrider’s estimate of the spill volume is based on a rate of 26,000 barrels per day. The
most recent estimate of the rate of the oil gusher is between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day (1,470,000 to 2,520,000 gallons per day). If the release has been at that rate since Day 1, the total volume of oil released is between and 126 and 217 million gallons. The government estimates that about 760,000 gallons of oil have been recovered.

NOAA’s
GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse online tool provides nearshore and offshore “spill trajectory estimates” for the current oil plume and the next two days. You can also use the tool to show the current plume, the location of “beached oil” and surface water currents.

State of Efforts to Stop Flow


BP’s
tighter fitting cap (termed "capping stack") was installed early last week and it was announced on Thursday, July 15 that flow from the well had been stopped. Although there have been reports of oil seeps in the area and the measured pressure in the well is less than expected (possibly indicating that oil is leaking out of the well bore into the surrounding formation), it is now believed that the observed oil seeps are unrelated to the Macondo well. BP hopes to leave the cap in place until a relief well (to permanently seal the well) is completed.

Meanwhile, BP continues to drill two “relief wells” that are intended to intercept the blown-out well at a depth of about 16,000 feet. Drilling mud and cement would then be pumped into the well to seal it. It is hoped that this work can be accomplished by late July or early August.
Read the latest.

Ecological Damage


Today (July 22) NOAA announced that it was reopening 26,388 square miles (68,345 sq km) of area it had previously closed to commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The
GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse online tool can be configured to show the fishery closure area (now 57,539 square miles, covering about 24% of the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone) and confirmed marine mammal and sea turtle strandings and observations. The National Fish and Wildlife Service publishes daily reports showing the current number of birds, sea turtles and marine mammals that have been "collected" in the oil spill area.

Volunteer Response Resources


Surfrider volunteer oil spill toolkit

Volunteer Phone numbers:
(state-specific contact information below)

Deepwater Horizon Incident Volunteer Hotline: 866-448-5816

Vessel of Opportunities Program - Fishermen should phone 425-745-8017

Fact sheets related to oil spills in general and this spill:
http://www.piersystem.com/go/doctype/2931/53023/
http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon
http://gulfseagrant.tamu.edu/oilspill/index.htm
http://www.eoearth.org/article/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill

Official Response Resources


http://www.restorethegulf.gov
Twitter: http://twitter.com/usnoaagov
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov
Podcasts: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/podcast.html
NOAA Roles and Tools:
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/topics/oceans/spills/
EPA: http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/

Phone numbers:

NOAA media inquiries: keeley.belva@noaa.gov or 301-713-3066
For response inquiries: Joint Information Center (JIC) at 985-902-5231 or 985-902-5240

BP Horizon Response Hotline: 281-366-5511

To report oil, or general Community and Volunteer Information: 866-448-5816

To report oiled or injured wildlife: 866-557-1401

Coast Guard officials say not to pick up any tar balls you find and to report them at (800) 424-8802


Florida Specific Volunteer Information:

Volunteer at
www.volunteerflorida.org
For jobs, visit www.floridagulfrecoveryjobs.com or call 1-877-362-5034
Visit www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org for updates

If you live in these areas and want to help:
Okaloosa County call: 850-651-7150 



Bay County call: 763-6587 



Walton County: go to
http://www.waltonso.org/

The
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea, Florida needs volunteers and donations to support their educational and research work.

Florida Palm Beach/Treasure Coast area volunteers can email Surfrider's Florida Regional Manager : Ericka D'avanzo
Florida DEP is not encouraging private citizens to clean up shorelines. However, should a homeowner have oil soaked materials, there are two options:
  • Have the homeowners contact 1-866-448-5816 and someone will be sent out to retrieve the oiled materials.
  • Emerald County Utilities Authority (ECUA) will provide several 55 gallon drums at certain walk crossovers on Pensacola Beach. They will be marked for oil debris only. BP/ Waste Management will be responsible for all collection and disposal. ECUA has provided the containers at no charge to help with the response.
Florida Information Numbers and Websites:

DEP Related Media Questions: Amy Graham at 850-245-2112 or -2113
Florida Emergency Information Line: 800-342-3557
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) incident response website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm

Resources in Other Gulf States:

Louisiana: http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov/
Mississippi:
http://www.volunteermississippi.org/1800Vol/OpenIndexAction.do
Alabama:
http://www.servealabama.gov/2010/default.aspx

Also see:

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Galveston Bay Foundation
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources - (228) 374-5000
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Restore America’s Estuaries
Save Our Gulf
National Audubon Society

More Information & Call to Action

Help us track oil spill impacts (including human health impacts) at: http://oilspill.skytruth.org/

Urge President Obama and Congress to ban new drilling: http://www.surfrider.org/nodrilling

Walk your beaches daily to ensure no garbage or plastic debris is present. Do not disturb bird nesting areas!

Join the Surfrider Foundation:
http://www.surfrider.org/join