We Are Really Screwing With Our Water Sources and With Our Oceans….
Tea Party Congressman Dan Benishek has voted time and time again to allow drilling in the Great Lakes. In Congress, Jerry will always protect the Great Lakes, but first he needs your help to get there.
Jerry Cannon’s next big fundraising deadline is Monday at midnight and the best possible showing will allow us to stand up to the Koch Brothers.
We must protect the Great Lakes from drilling, it is essential to our future.
Please stand with Jerry at this crucial deadline as we work to gather the resources we will need to get beyond the rhetoric and share the facts with voters. With your help, I know we can win in November.
` Oil leaked from ` BP’s Whiting Oil Refinery ‘ into Lake Michigan ‘
#AceEnvironmentNews – INDIANA – March 25 – Oil leaked from BP’s Whiting oil refinery in Indiana into Lake Michigan after a mechanical glitch on Monday afternoon, Reuters reported.
The spill has been contained, according to Indiana environmental officials.
Sources say a relatively small amount of oil was released, but the exact amount was unknown. BP said Tuesday that the largest crude distillation unit at the 405,000-barrel-per-day refinery was back to normal operations following an overnight malfunction that led to the leak.
And, I’m sorry to say the latest news from Texas is not good.
The slick caused by the toxic spill is drifting toward Chester’s Island, a critical bird habitat in Matagorda Bay. The island hosts tens of thousands of breeding waterbirds each year.
This crisis is far from over.
Thousands of migrating shorebirds could be in grave danger because of a new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A barge containing a million gallons of heavy, toxic fuel collided with another vessel in Galveston Bay Saturday. As much as 168,000 gallons of oil has already been released into the water.
Coming at the height of spring migration, the timing of the spill could not be worse.
The spill took place near the globally important Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, a critical wintering and stopover habitat for as many as 70,000 migratory shorebirds. The flats host congregations of Piping, Snowy and Wilson’s plovers and other shorebirds, including Long-billed Curlew and Red Knots.
Oiled birds are already being found — including a Sanderling and American White Pelicans — at Bolivar Flats.
Audubon is mobilizing an emergency response team to protect the Sanctuary and help rescue oiled birds.
One bit of encouraging news — this crisis would have been even worse had it not been for years of conservation efforts in this ecologically fragile and important area. Audubon has been active on the ground here for decades. And we will continue our habitat conservation work long after the spill is gone.
The situation continues to evolve, with new threats arising every day. We will keep you up to date as we learn more about the situation on the ground and the scope of the needed response.
One thing we know today — this crisis will not go away overnight.
Thank you for your help during this critical period.
Less than a year after BP upgraded its Whiting refinery in northwestern Indiana to allow it to handle heavy Canadian tar-sands oil, causing petroleum coke to begin piling up in nearby Chicago, an industrial accident at the refinery has spewed some of that oil into Lake Michigan. The Chicago Tribune reports that it’s not known how long the refinery was leaking or how much oil was spilled. The leak was reported at 4:30 p.m. and plugged by 9 p.m., when an EPA official arrived at the scene. More from the Tribune:
Mike Beslow, the EPA’s emergency response coordinator, said there appeared to be no negative effects on Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago and the suburbs. The 68th Street water intake crib is about eight miles northwest of the spill site, but there were no signs of oil drifting in that direction.
Initial reports suggest that strong winds pushed most of the oil toward a sandy cove on BP’s property between the refinery and an Arcelor Mittal steel mill. A flyover Tuesday afternoon revealed no visible oil beyond booms laid on the water to prevent the oil from spreading, Beslow said.
The spill came at an ominous time, catching the attention of both of Illinois’s U.S. senators. “[T]hree weeks ago, BP announced a plan to nearly double its processing of heavy crude oil at its BP Whiting Refinery,” Mark Kirk (R) and Dick Durbin (R) said in a joint statementon Tuesday.
“Given today’s events and BP’s decision to increase production, we are extremely concerned about the possibility of a future spill that may not be so easily contained. We plan to hold BP accountable for this spill and will ask for a thorough report about the cause of this spill, the impact of the Whiting Refinery’s production increase on Lake Michigan, and what steps are being taken to prevent any future spill,” the senators said.
The spill is the latest in a string of similar accidents that have coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster.
A 34,000-gallon oil spill is being slowly cleaned up in North Dakota, where it escaped from a pipeline a week ago just 75 miles from asimilar accident in a wheat field last year. Officials have discovered that 20,000 gallons of crude recently leaked out of a pipeline and into an Ohio nature preserve — which is double initial estimates. And several dozen dead and oiled birds have been discovered as crews work clean up as much as 168,000 gallons of oil that spewed into the Houston Ship Channel on Saturday following an oil barge crash. Meanwhile, Denver-based Zavanna LLC is facing fines after up to 1,400 gallons of oil spilled from one of its wells near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers during recent North Dakota flooding.
- BP confirms oil spill into Lake Michigan from Whiting refinery, Chicago Tribune
- Kirk, Durbin Statement on BP Whiting Refinery Oil Spill Into Lake Michigan, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk’s office
- North Dakota regulator: oil company could be fined, AP
- Dead, oiled birds sighted 3 days into Texas oil spill cleanup, CNN
- Ohio Pipeline Spill Twice As Large As Original Estimate, ThinkProgress
- North Dakota Oil Spills Highlight Gaps in Regulation and Oversight, India Country Today Media Network
Just before midnight March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Alaska, causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history to that point. In the weeks that followed, a shocked world watched as the tanker spewed approximately 11 million gallons of oil into the formerly pristine and delicate Prince William Sound.
Marilyn Heiman, then working for the Alaska Legislature and now director of Pew’s U.S. Arctic program, remembers that she began developing legislation to prevent a spill of that magnitude from ever happening again. She recalls waiting days for containment vessels to arrive and watching helplessly as the oil spread to beaches and killed hundreds of thousands of fish, birds, and other wildlife.
“The Exxon Valdez spill was truly devastating to the environment, the fishing industry, and the communities,” she says. “Prince William Sound is God’s country, so full of life and so rich. What was happening was heart-wrenching.”
The effects of the Exxon Valdez spill on the more than 1,300 miles of shoreline in the northernmost part of the Gulf of Alaska were horrendous. It:
- Devastated the lives and livelihoods of many of the region’s residents.
- Killed an estimated 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 15 to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs.
- Required roughly 10,000 workers, 1,000 boats, and 100 airplanes and helicopters for the cleanup effort.
- Devastated Pacific herring and pigeon guillemot populations so much that they have not yet recovered.
- Affected sea otters, Barrow’s goldeneyes, and more than a dozen other species, which are still recovering.
In the months and years after this disaster, Congress, the George H.W. Bush administration, and the state of Alaska jumped into action. In August 1990, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act, which, in combination with Alaska state laws passed after the spill, improved the nation’s ability to prevent and respond to oil spills. This landmark legislation required many improvements in how the United States ships oil, such as requiring double-hull tankers, the best spill-response capability in the world, regional citizens’ advisory councils, increased liability, and a “vessel of opportunity” program that trains and pays fishermen to respond to a spill in Prince William Sound.
In addition to these reforms, an executive order by the governor of Alaska required that two vessels escort every loaded tanker from Valdez out through Prince William Sound to Hinchinbrook Entrance. As the process evolved during the 1990s, the tugboats were replaced with a 210-foot escort response vessel and high-powered tractor tugs.
Today two major challenges facing the Arctic must be addressed.
Increased vessel traffic
Melting sea ice in the Bering Strait is opening a new passageway for ship traffic, a trend that is expected to accelerate. Although shipping activity is light compared with other regions of the world, the capacity to provide aid and support for vessels in the strait is extremely limited, and responding to an oil spill in these remote and seasonally challenging waters is nearly impossible. Given the cultural, ecological, and economic importance of the region, the likely consequences of an accident are considerable.
The increasing activity makes this a critical moment for the United States to develop appropriate standards of care for vessel traffic in the Arctic. There are no regulations for vessel traffic in these waters, and setting “rules of the road” will ensure safer transport. Local communities should play a leadership role with other stakeholders in this effort.
Standards of care may include:
- Vessel traffic lanes telling ships where to go.
- Areas to be avoided to keep ships away from sensitive marine habitat or hazardous areas.
- Speed limits to reduce the risk of striking slow-moving marine mammals, such as bowhead, gray, and humpback whales.
- A vessel tracking, compliance, and monitoring system, an Automatic Identification System-based monitoring structure that actively tracks vessels and enables greater information sharing among the U.S. Coast Guard, transiting ships, and local communities.
Increased energy exploration
Today there is an increased push to drill offshore into ever deeper and riskier frontier waters of the Arctic. Those waters are ice-covered for eight to nine months of the year and in almost complete darkness for nearly three of those months. Even during the summer, when the ice pack has mostly receded, the Arctic experiences high seas, wind, freezing temperatures, dense fog, and floating ice hazards. Even more challenging, the major highways, airports, and ports that most Americans take for granted do not exist in the Arctic. The nearest Coast Guard base is more than 950 air miles away, and the closest major port is over 1,000 miles away.
Technology for extraction has far outstripped the quality of oil spill prevention and response capabilities. As we saw with the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill, the response technology of skimmers, booms, dispersants, and burning has improved little in the 25 years since the Exxon Valdez disaster.
To protect the unique Arctic environment, the United States should adopt specific Artic standards to guide energy exploration, including:
- Seasonal drilling: Arctic offshore drilling operations into hydrocarbon-bearing zones should be limited to periods when the rig and its associated spill-response system are capable of working effectively in Arctic conditions. This should include the time required to control a blowout by drilling a relief well to intercept the blown-out well and bring it under control before winter ice moves in.
- Arctic-class equipment: Vessels, drilling rigs, and facilities should be built to withstand maximum ice forces and harsh ocean conditions.
- Local staging of well-control equipment: Equipment needed to control a well during a spill, such as relief rigs and containment systems, should be designed for and located in Alaska’s Arctic so they can be deployed promptly.
- Local staging of spill-response equipment: Equipment and adequately trained personnel need to be staged in Alaska’s Arctic and should be capable of protecting sensitive shoreline and habitat.
- Redundant systems: Backup blowout preventers, remotely operated controls, and other redundant systems should be installed because harsh weather or ice cover can prevent access and the use of most equipment for many months of the year.
Pew is not opposed to offshore drilling, but a balance must be achieved between responsible energy development and protection of the environment. It is essential that appropriate standards be in place for safety and for oil spill prevention and response in the Arctic.
“There should be world-leading standards for any company operating in the remote, extreme, and vulnerable Arctic Ocean. This will provide regulatory certainty for the industry and ensure protection of the marine ecosystem,” Heiman says. “It will also reduce the chance of another catastrophic event like the Valdez spill.”
- See more at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/other-resources/exxon-valdez-spill-25-years-later-85899542482?utm_campaign=2014-03-27%20Latest.html&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua#sthash.GLGhUagF.dpuf
|Don’t let Big Oil open the gateway to another spill disaster — support retaining the crude export ban.|
Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The tanker spilled at least 11 million gallons of crude oil that coated 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline. The damage to fish, marine birds and resource-dependent communities surrounding Prince William Sound was beyond repair. Two and a half decades and $2.1 billion in cleanup costs later, the remains of this oil still persist on Alaskan beaches and the psyche.
It’s a story that has played out again and again across the country: with the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster just four years ago, the Kalamazoo River tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan a few months later and numerous explosions on oil trains carrying dangerous shale oil across the U.S. and Canada. Just this past Saturday a ship hit an oil barge in Texas, spilling 168,000 gallons of oil near important shorebird habitat. The transport of these dirty fuels has and always will be extremely dangerous to the environment and surrounding communities.
With increased fracking, more oil exports and the looming Keystone XL pipeline, we need your help — take action to prevent another accident like the Exxon Valdez by helping us preserve the crude export ban.
Since 1975, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act has prohibited oil companies from exporting domestic crude oil overseas, capping the market on heavy crude oil and limiting transport to domestic lands and waters. But after remarks in support of reconsidering the ban by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, four U.S. oil refiners, the American Petroleum Institute and their friends in Congress have begun lobbying to lift the ban.
We need this ban on crude oil exports to limit our global fossil fuel consumption and the resulting climate impacts and prevent dangerous accidents that will inevitably result from the transport of these dirty fuels. Let’s use the 25th anniversary of the tragic Exxon Valdez disaster to remind the Obama administration how important this ban is. Increased export of these dirty, dangerous fossil fuels would have devastating impacts on our lands, rivers, oceans, public health and climate change.
Thanks to members like you, earlier this month we ran an ad in the National Journal broadcasting this message to key decision makers. (See below.) We asked that the Arctic Ocean be protected from a tragic environmental disaster like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon.
Now, we need your help to drill the message deeper!
After Exxon contaminated 1,300 miles of shoreline in Prince William Sound, one unique pod of killer whales living in the region shrank from 22 to only 7 beautiful creatures that have not had a new calf since. Overall, only 13 of the 32 fish and wildlife populations, habitats and resource services monitored by the government are listed today as “recovered” or “very likely recovered.” Some, such as herring, pigeon guillemots and the aforementioned killer whale pod, are still listed as “not recovering.”
More recently, in the period since Deepwater Horizon, Big Oil has spilled in Alaska, Utah, Michigan, North Dakota and Montana, and just last week in an Ohio nature preserve.(1) The Arctic Ocean and its walrus, whales, polar bears and other marine creatures must be protected from a similar fate.
Thank you for your help.
Check it out: At least one polar bear thinks our ad was uber-cool!
(1) “List of oil spills.” Wikipedia. (Retrieved March 20, 2014.)
Deepwater Horizon oil left tuna, other species with heart defects likely to prove fatal
The study — “Deepwater Horizon crude oil impacts the developing hearts of large predatory pelagic fish” — was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Research conducted on fish after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill had similar findings, but the exposed population then was smaller because the 11-million-gallon spill collected closer to the shore, killing an estimated 250,000 birds.
NOAA’s study comes as BP has regained the ability to bid on federal oil and gas leases; the Environmental Protection Agency recently lifted a ban on the company. The oil giant filed a lawsuit in a Texas court last August, arguing it had been sufficiently punished for the spill.
The study is part of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which seeks to determine the impact of the disaster and assess the price of restoring the gulf after the largest accidental marine oil spill in history.
The other authors were John Incardona, a research toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and Martin Grosell, a biology professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
The northern gulf is a critical spawning area for a wide variety of warm-water pelagic fish, including mahi-mahi, swordfish, blue marlin, sailfish, cobia and king and Spanish mackerel. Pelagic fish are those that swim at mid-depth, neither at the surface or at the ocean bottom.
Pelagic fish produce small, buoyant embryos that develop quickly but are extremely delicate. During the study, they were exposed to two oil samples collected from surface-skimming operations in the open Gulf of Mexico and from the source pipe attached to the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead.
In the three species studied, abnormalities were clear. Heart contractions were observed and asymmetry was apparent. The deformities continued after the eggs hatched.
“Morphological abnormalities included . . . reduction in the outgrowth of the finfolds or finfold blisters, a dorsal or upward curvature of the body axis, and marked reduction in the growth of the eye,” the study said.
Four years after an estimated 4 million barrels of oil burst into the gulf, biologists still do not know how many fish were killed or mortally damaged.
Tuna take eight years to mature, the point at which they can be commercially caught. Only four years have passed since the spill, so fish that were embryos, larvae or juveniles at the time of the spill have not reached adulthood and cannot be caught. Because the fish at this stage are rarely seen, their mortality cannot be reflect by fishing totals or other surveys.
But the study is important because it demonstrates oil’s impact on the hearts of fish and could help explain a future die-off of tuna.
“Now you’ve got two studies: one that shows how . . . chemicals in petroleum affect cells and an organism study where you can see the slowing of the heart,” said Block, who co-founded the Tuna Research and Conservation Center at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Northern California.
“We now have a better understanding of why crude oil is toxic, and it doesn’t bode well for the bluefin or yellowfin embryos floating in oiled habitats,” Block said.
Environmental groups welcomed the study. “This study, and others like it, helps us to see what can’t be seen with the naked eye,” said Jacqueline Savitz, vice president for U.S. oceans at the nonprofit group Oceana.
“Not only is oil toxic to fish, its effects are not limited to small fish. In fact, they extend to the largest and most commercially valuable fish we know: tuna,” she said. “For a species like bluefin tuna, whose populations have crashed due to overfishing and are fighting to rebuild their former abundance, BP’s oil was a shot to the heart.”
More about the issue from The Washington Post:
Right answer on coal ash spill not hard, gov
Last week, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory zig-zagged his way close to the right stand on Duke Energy’s massive spill that dumped 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River north of Greensboro. But he still missed the mark.
Last Monday at N.C. A&T University, he said Duke Energy should respond to the spill by “moving ash ponds so they don’t cause long-term issues with our water anywhere in North Carolina, and frankly with our neighboring states.”
By Tuesday afternoon, his office was “clarifying” that the governor’s stand on moving Duke’s storage ponds was only “one option that’s available.”
Then on Wednesday, Communications Director Josh Ellis was saying that “Gov. McCrory believes that moving the coal ash ponds is the best option… However, there may be some cases in which that option may not be environmentally sound.”
On Saturday, during a break in the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, McCrory got this right: He said the ash should be placed in lined facilities. But about the existing ash ponds, he said, “I hope in most cases we can move the pond… I’m not an engineer or a scientist, but that would be hopefully the best option.”
Here’s our hope. We hope the governor will stop equivocating on this matter. He and his Department of Environment and Natural Resources must forcefully declare that Duke Energy do what South Carolina’s biggest utilities have already agreed to do there – excavate the ponds and bury the ash in dry, lined landfills.
The state has badly abdicated its responsibility on this matter. The spill on the Dan – the third largest such spill in the nation’s history – could have been avoided by moving the ash years ago.
This newspaper has reported on potential environmental dangers of coal ash and storage ponds since at least 2008. On Sunday, a story detailed years of lax regulatory oversight of Duke’s ash lagoons.
Duke Energy has apologized for the Feb. 2 spill and pledged to clean it up. Officials say they are reviewing the feasibility of shutting down the lagoons.
Apology accepted. But the state needs to move past Duke reviewing the feasibility of a shutdown. As Robert Smith, former state Assistant Secretary for Environment, said in Sunday’s story: “There are thousands of sites with contaminated groundwater in the state. The response to that is to ask the responsible party to remove the source of the contamination. Duke has not been told to remove the source of pollution.”
Duke should be. Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said he is drafting legislation to force Duke to dry out all the ponds and move the ash to another kind of storage site, possibly a hazardous waste landfill.
McCrory and DENR should take the same aggressive approach.
Federal authorities have launched a criminal probe into the spill and the relationship between Duke and DENR. That’s in part because of complaints from environmental groups that the state repeatedly intervened to protect Duke from lawsuits under the Clean Water Act. McCrory, who worked for Duke, and DENR leaders deny a cozy relationship. But a paltry fine against the utility for violations – a settlement withdrawn after this month’s spill – has raised legitimate questions.
It’s time for McCrory and DENR officials to state unequivocally that the spill is unacceptable, that the ponds must be moved, and that the state will provide the oversight that’s needed so this will be unlikely to happen again.
Sign the Petition to Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator
Thank you for working with the State of North Carolina to address the environmental devastation of Duke Energy’s coal ash spill. All Americans deserve to be protected from coal’s toxic waste, and now is the time to work toward a solution that will prevent another disaster like this.
In NY: Two years ago crude-oil transport through Albany, New York and along the Hudson River was virtually nonexistent. But now more than a billion gallons per year are sloshing through, with an accident record that doesn’t inspire confidence.
In 2012 the first tanker to pick up crude at the port of Albany, the Stena Primorsk, ran aground a few miles downriver. Luckily no oil was spilled, but the recent history for oil shipments by train and barge in North America has been terrible: In 2013 there was more oil spilled in train accidents than in the previous four decades combined.
This huge escalation of oil transport without the appropriate safeguards is threatening our communities and sensitive wildlife, from Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon to loggerhead sea turtles and piping plover.
Act now and urge the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA to update their oil-spill response plan to ensure maximum protection for both people and wildlife on the Hudson.