Call On Congress For Change! More BP Oil Seeping Into the Gulf!

The Press-Register of Mobile, Alabama discovered new BP oil seepingjust a mile from the site of last summer’s debacle.  BP wasted no time at all in claiming that the oil wasn’t theirs… but the facts prove otherwise.  The fingerprint is clear, as is the location of the oil — exactly where one would expect it to be as it rose up from a mile deep.  Then there’s the use of Corexit itself, a solvent which has been banned in the UK, and proves far more dangerous than the oil itself.  Corexit is clearly implicated in the deaths of well over 100 dolphins this spring — an that’s only those who made it to the beach to be counted.   Think back on the way that BP tried to cover up the damage and dodge responsibility at every opportunity.  It’s clearly time to change the way that oil companies are monitored, and the way that their messes are cleaned up.

With the clear understanding that removing a natural resource for personal/corporate profit is decidedly a privilege and not a right, Protect The Ocean calls upon Congress to impose the following procedures and processes on ANY oil drilling,  (and especially those occurring under water):

  • There shall be frequent independent monitoring of all activities, operations and well sites (including those supposedly capped off.)
  • Oil companies shall have no involvement, direct or indirect, in the clean-up operations or oversight, but shall provide complete cooperation and compliance.
  • The responsible oil company shall bear all costs of inspection and clean-up, and shall not be allowed to employ tax credits to do so.  If the company’s responsibility is greater than its assets, each other oil company with operations in the U.S. shall bear a proportionate portion of the costs of cleanup, and no further operations will be allowed by a company until that company’s portion is paid.  (This will push them to police themselves as well.)
  • Any time any operation is determined by investigators/monitors to be deficient or presenting unacceptable risks, that operation shall be halted immediately, and immediate appropriate steps taken to alleviate the potential damage to personnel and the environment.
  • The purpose of these collective actions is to eliminate any threat or harm from the harvesting of oil from the planet.  This is the single highest priority.  All other considerations shall take a lesser position beneath that goal.  If oil cannot be gotten without damage, then permission to attempt to gain that oil shall be withheld immediately and until such time that convincing evidence is presented that a solution to that danger has been found.

Click here to sign the petition being sent to Congress and the President. Demand the Changes! Help Us Protect The Ocean!

Campaign poster for the Oil Drilling Responsibility

No More Profit Without Responsibility

$1 BILLION Dog & Pony Show Begins in Gulf

Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup Progress Announced

NOAA proudly announced that an “unprecedented” one billion dollar deal has been struck with BP to begin restoration of the Gulf.   Is that supposed to impress?  The spill and the use of solvents at depth to bury the oil are also “unprecedented.”  Not one to look  a gift-horse in the mouth, (even when said billion-dollar horse is a fraction of what is owed), one reads on to find out what this money is earmarked for.

There are still millions of gallons of crude oil and at least 1.4 million gallons of Corexit in the Gulf’s waters.  That oil and solvent continues to affect the creatures (including man) living in and near those waters.  A bit over a month ago, dead dolphins began littering the beaches, babies born premature or stillborn at TEN times the usual numbers — and that’s just the near-shore species’ corpses that made it to the beach.  Despite government claims to the contrary, shrimp continues to come up laced with both oil and Corexit.  Instead of acknowledging this, our government simply raises the “acceptable” amount to 500 ppm — when 2.6 ppm is lethal on fish fry within 96 hours.

With that reality, one would THINK that the first order of business would be to find and extract the remaining oil and pollutants with that billion dollar down-payment.  One might think, but that’s not what they’re going to do.  Instead, each of 5 Gulf states will get 100 million dollars with which to reform the coastal/shoreline regions.  Then each of 3 government agencies will get $100 million, and NOAA and the Department of the Interior will distribute the remaining $300 million as they see fit, for projects that “meet the other requirements of the (35-page) Framework Agreement” and are “approved by the Trustee Council comprised of all the natural resource trustees.”  Sure, it’ll bring some cash to their economy as people are paid to take on the cosmetics of the coast.  But that doesn’t do a  thing for the water itself.

Once again, out of sight is out of mind.   The only aspects that this deal will attend to are the ones that humans can readily see, the ones that are an eyesore to residents and, more importantly, tourist visitors.  But that’s not where the majority of the damage is being done.   Ever the politician, Salizar claims “This milestone agreement will allow us to jump-start restoration projects that will bring Gulf Coast marshes, wetlands, and wildlife habitat back to health after the damage they suffered as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill.”  No, Mr. Secretary, it will not.  You can try to terraform the shoreline til the sea-cows come home, and that won’t stop the poisoning that the oil and Corexit have been doing for a year, now, and will CONTINUE to do until they are removed from the Gulf.

Ken Salizar isn’t the only one with such low expectations and short-sighted perspectives.  Trudy Fisher, Mississippi Trustee and Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, said “Since the day of the oil spill, our goals have been to make Mississippi whole and to assure that our coastal areas completely recover…”  The coast isn’t the problem.  The waters off the coast are.   Either a demonstrated understanding of the nature of the problem is lacking, or we’re back to the Dog and Pony Show, politics as usual, while the Gulf withers and dies.

People will get work.  The shorelines will one day look pretty again.  But the death and destruction of offshore oil and oil-burying solvents marches on.  Our very existence, and that of all of the other creatures in the sea, depends on our willingness and ability to clean up after ourselves.  Put on the Dog and Pony Show all you want, but the REAL issues in the Gulf’s waters remain.  We used to think the Gulf waters should have a Skull & Crossbones on them, to warn people of the dangers that lie beneath.   If they are going to continue to ignore the presence of the oil and Corexit while tidying the flower boxes at the window, maybe we should just go ahead and set up a big tombstone instead.

What do you think: Does this represent real progress in the Gulf oil spill cleanup?

Another Gulf Spill! When Does It End?

The oil that came to shore last weekend doesn’t seem to be coming from BP. The U.S. Coast Guard and Louisiana State authorities believe they have traced the crude back to a well operated by Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners, LLC. Anglo-Suisse claims that they spilled only about 5 gallons of crude, from a shallow-water well that they were plugging. The USCG begs to differ, claiming that their tests and that of the Louisiana State University show that the crude matches up with a well they have some 30 miles offshore, at the shallow depth of 210 feet.

Anglo-Suisse agreed to head up the ocean pollution cleanup efforts, and began doing so this Friday, March 25th, 2011. Far from an admission of guilt, the company continues to maintain that they are innocent. It’s obvious that it took more than 5 gallons of crude to put a sheen on 150 square miles of ocean. The oil was seen from West Timbalier Island to Grand Isle — a 30 mile span — but the oil only came to land to affect something less than half a mile of beach.

For now and in this instance, the cleanup seems to be under control. Crews are removing oil by hand and installing boom to keep crude from washing into inland regions. Six oil skimmers and five barges are at work. At this time, it looks like Anglo-Suisse will be held responsible for all costs.

Jury’s out on whether they’re telling the truth or not, but this brings to light a very foundational problem: The oil spill controls rely upon the honesty and forthright integrity of the oil wells’ owners and operators. Ann Rolfes, of the environmental action group, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, drives home the point: “We have thousands of spills every year. The BP spill just called attention to it, but it’s really the Wild West out here… There are laws on the books that are unenforced…” Considering that Anglo-Suisse didn’t step forward to acknowledge that they even had a spill until the Coast Guard made the allegation public, it’s looking like the Honor System is a failure. With all of the funds that these wells generate, it seems reasonable to expect some independent ocean monitoring.

When President Obama ordered a moratorium on new well permits, that was a step in the right direction. Since then, though, the President’s mandate has expired and his appointee for Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salizar, has authorized the issuance of new well permits, angering environmentally conscious people everywhere. Protect The Ocean feels strongly about the matter as well. Land-based oil well spills can be contained. The DP debacle proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that offshore wells’ toxic spills are a risk that our planet’s waters simply cannot afford to take.

As of last summer, there were some 3500 drilling rigs inthe Gulf, and 79 of them are deepwater. Wait, go back and read that again. THIRTY-FIVE HUNDRED WELLS? There is just one inspector for every 56 rigs… and most of them are unmanned. Here’s a visual to help grasp the enormity of the situation:
Swordpress Map of Oil Rigs

When does it end? It’s pretty obvious that there have been spills going on for quite some time now. As the dominating species and supposed stewards of this earth, we need to understand the scientific reality: The oceans’ waters only sustain life under a fine and fragile balance. There are at least 84 elements (if memory serves properly) and far more aspects of their combinations, and all of those elements, combinations and balances must be just right for saltwater to sustain life. Throw off any one aspect and that fragile balance crumbles. If we continue the present rate of decline in oceanic health, the result will be much like the falling of a house of cards — one here, one there, and then, suddenly, an avalanche of collapses that brings it all crashing down.

Allow us to be perfectly clear: There is a point at which the oceans cannot recover, a point of no return. If we allow the oceans to continue to be polluted and used as toilets for industrial waste and mistakes, that destruction is eminent. For thousands of years, man has been relatively impotent, unable to do significant harm to the planet. In the past 100 years (since the Industrial Revolution) we have suddenly become a very powerful bull in a shop full of very delicate china. Optimistic estimates give this planet’s oceans 20-30 years at the current rate of decline. Catastrophes like the oil spills (plural) that happened all over the world last summer translate to a strong acceleration of that timeframe. If the planet suffers some other unanticipated catastrophe, the crash could easily happen much, much sooner.

Consider this fact: Big as the Gulf Oil Spill was on the news, the Gulf is but one small area in the world’s oceans.  Australia, for example, is both the closest landmass to the last of the pristine waters on our planet, and is home to a huge number of reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef.   At this very minute, though, oil companies have plans to drill in over  THIRTY new offshore oil exploration areas.  Now, for the first time, some of them are being allowed to be drilled in Marine Sanctuaries.  Mark Bailey informs that there’s a natural gas plant being built right now that will dump effluent directly into a whale breeding area, threatening whales as well as the grasses of their manatees!  Now multiply such encroachments by all the places that have industrialization all over the planet, and it doesn’t take much to figure out how we have at least 5 garbage patches in the oceans now — some twice the size of Texas!

Protect The Ocean’s motto remains our guide: By protecting the ocean, we bring life and health to ourselves. It has never been more important that we realize how basic that islander truth is. Though it’s out of sight, three-quarters of this planet is ocean. We can no longer afford to allow out of sight to be out of mind. We cannot survive if we do not make significant changes to the ways in which we interact with this planet. So… protect the oceans. This is the only home we’ve got.