Environment Forum

Oil spill on ice not worth the risk


– Dennis Takahashi-Kelso is executive vice president of Ocean Conservancy and was Alaska Commissioner of Environmental Conservation at the time of the Exxon Valdez spill. Jim Ayers is vice president and senior adviser at Oceana and was executive director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Any views expressed here are their own. –

As we are seeing each day, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform blowout in America’s Gulf coast is a human and environmental tragedy.

The oil platform was drilling an exploratory well for British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico when there was a blowout, resulting in the loss of 11 workers’ lives and uncontrolled releases of fuel and crude oil.

The tragic results occurred despite some of the best technology and spill response capabilities in the world, including 32 spill-response vessels and skimming capacity of more than 171,000 barrels per day, among many other advances and planning systems.

In a few short months, Royal Dutch Shell is set to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic—another rich and fragile region.

from The Great Debate UK:

How much damage will the BP oil spill cause?

-Kees Willemse is professor of offshore engineering at Delft University. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Last month’s explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to result in the leakage of an estimated 200,000 gallons (910,000 litres) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

According to U.S. President Barack Obama, “we are dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster”.

How would you clean up the Gulf coast?


In supermarket aisles, when a bottle of oil smashes on the floor, a bag of sawdust or kitty litter is hauled out to soak up the mess.

To rescue a favorite silk tie from a dribble of gravy, douse it with corn starch and hope for the best.

How to clean up oil is a reoccurring theme in elevators and Internet chatrooms across the country this week, thanks to the unprecedented, growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico costing BP $350 million in cleanup costs so far, and threatening environmental disaster.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill prompts worries about Arctic drilling

RUSSIAWith the spotlight shining on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the executives sizzling in the hot seat on Capitol Hill, environmental advocates are looking north.

They’re worried that Shell Oil will start drilling in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska before the U.S. government reports on BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig disaster. And the environmental groups are not comforted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s reassurances that no new drilling will take place until the government report is completed by May 28.

“The May 28 report deadline still leaves ample time should the Department of the Interior choose to allow this ill-advised drilling to move forward in extreme Arctic conditions, where spill response faces additional challenges of sea ice, seas of up to 20 feet, darkness and a virtual lack of infrastructure from which to stage a response,” the environmental groups — Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society — said in a statement.

What offshore miners know


Dr. Beverly A. Sauer is a professor of management communication at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Any views expressed here are her own.

Despite massive attention to environmental impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the death of 11 rig workers has not had the same impact as the tragic deaths of 29 coal miners in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.

One article in The Washington Post described events at the moment of disaster, but there has been little tribute to the knowledge and experience these workers bring to the job of managing risk and preventing future disasters.

Live video: Day 2 for BP, Transocean in Congress

Appearing for a second day, the presidents of BP America and Transocean are scheduled to recount for a Senate subcommittee what caused the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers. Watch live video here starting at 10 a.m.

Washington math: oil spill + climate bill = new environmental polls

OIL-RIG/LEAKWith BP’s spilled oil shimmering off the U.S. Gulf Coast, and a re-tooled bill to curb climate change expected to be unveiled this week in the U.S. Senate, what could be more appropriate than a bouquet of new environmental polls? Conducted on behalf of groups that want less fossil fuel use, the polls show hefty majorities favoring legislation to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide.

In the kind of harmonic convergence that sometimes happens inside the Capital Beltway, a new poll released on Monday by the Clean Energy Works campaign showed “overwhelming public support for comprehensive clean energy legislation,” with 61 percent of 2010 voters saying they want to limit pollution, invest in clean energy and make energy companies pay for emitting the carbon that contributes to climate change. A healthy majority — 54 percent — of respondents said they’d be more likely to re-elect a senator who votes for the bill.

Last Friday, the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has been pushing for climate change legislation for years, released its own poll numbers. NRDC’s pollsters found seven in 10 Americans want to see fast-tracked clean energy legislation in the wake of the BP oil spill, and two-thirds say they want to postpone new offshore drilling until the Gulf oil spill is investigated and new safeguards are put in place.

Could seaweed stop offshore drilling accidents?


–Dr. Gunter Pauli, PhD, MBA, is an entrepreneur and founder of the ZERI Foundation (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives). He is the author of 17 books and 36 children’s fables. His latest book The Blue Economy contains one innovation outlined in this article. —

One wonders if the oil industry will ever learn.

When in the summer of 2006 holes in pipelines forced British Petroleum to shut down a major part of its network in Alaska, oil prices shot up to record levels.

The analysis of the problem unveiled that microbial induced corrosion (MIC) contributed to a dramatic domino effect.

Environmental cancers still a wild card


Dr. Karl Kelsey, MD, MOH, is Professor of Community Health and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University. He is Director of the Center for Environmental Health and Technology, home to the Brown University Superfund Basic Research Program. Any views expressed here are his own.–

What are we to make of the 250-page report from the President’s Cancer Panel on environmental cancer risk?

Is it a wakeup call for regulators, demanding that they protect us from massive numbers of untested chemicals? Is it an unbalanced, provocative account that ignores the well-known, preventable causes of cancer?

Video: Jean-Michel Cousteau weighs in

Jean-Michel Cousteau, environmentalist, documentary producer and the son of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, urges a moratorium on offshore oil drilling as a result of the catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

In this video blog on the Ocean Futures Society website, he points to the spill and ongoing leak as fuel for the argument to embrace renewable energy and end dependence on fossil fuels as our primary energy source.

Cousteau has produced over 70 films, including the documentary series Ocean Adventures in 2006.