Aug 24 2011

BP Oil Spill Part Two?: New Oil Slick Found in Gulf

Published by under Energy,Water/Maritime

Oil Spill, via wikimedia

The appearance of an oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico near the source of last year’s major BP spill sparked new fears in a community still suffering from oil spill jitters.   BP has denied that the oil is coming from any of its wells, including the capped Macondo well that was the source of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.  They nevertheless sent boats and booms to the capped well and investigated the site with submersibles to ensure that there are no leaks.  The source of the oil sheen is not currently known, but there are several other abandoned oil wells that may be the culprits.  So far, this incident is another reminder of the ever-present danger of oil spills, which increases in offshore rigs, and the reality that minor spills and leaks from such rigs happens on a regular basis.  This summer also saw more two major oil leaks: the Shell leak in the North Sea and the ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline that spilled into the Yellowstone River. Continue Reading »

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Apr 20 2011

One Year Later: The BP Oil Spill

Published by under Energy,Water/Maritime

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, via wikimedia

Today is the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  On that fateful day, eleven people lost their lives in the explosion on the rig and seventeen more were injured.  This then touched off a disastrous oil leak from the blown wellhead that brought words like “blowout preventer” and “dispersant” into our collective understanding.  Speeches were made and hearings held in Congress as lawmakers attempted to get to the cause.  Meanwhile, attempts to stop the relentless flow of oil continued for months and workers in the Gulf of Mexico were frantically trying to keep the oil offshore and out of the wetlands, with limited success.  When the well was finally capped, the future of the Gulf of Mexico was uncertain.

One year later, the Minerals Management Services is no more, replaced by the unfortunately named Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE).  BOEMRE is setting a breakneck pace trying to balance pressure from the industry to get permits approved and environmentalists worried about another spill.  The oil in the Gulf is still around and recently there has been a rash of mysterious dolphin deaths, with dead baby dolphins washing up on the beaches.  Residents and scientists still worry that large oil plumes may exist underwater, sink to the seafloor, create “dead zones” for fish, and affect crab and shrimp harvests.  If anything, this anniversary is a reminder that the full effects of this disaster have not been fully felt or understood yet and we should not forget that. Continue Reading »

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Mar 25 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: More Nuclear News and World Water Day

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

– MJ: @MotherJones The Gulf Gets Oiled, Again http://mojo.ly/fGYTbk (RT)

– NYT: @nytimes Crisis in #Japan is reviving a fight in the US over spent fuel rods stored at Yucca Mountain http://nyti.ms/gdccbf

– Guardian: @guardianeco Obama administration announces massive coal mining expansion http://gu.com/p/2zxyv/tf (RT)

– LAT: @LATimesscience Japan’s fishing industry a major casualty of nuclear crisis http://lat.ms/hx6Ohy (RT)

– SA: @sciam The results of a forensic study of the #BP blowout preventer http://bit.ly/eSga7e

– NG: @NATGEONEWS Could a hole in the #ozone be forming over the north pole? http://bit.ly/hJ4He0 Continue Reading »

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Feb 01 2011

Symposium Day Two: Looking Beyond the Deepwater Horizon: The Future of Offshore Drilling

Published by under Energy

Mobile offshore drilling unit holds position directly over the damaged blowout preventer May 26, 2010, via wikimedia

Environmental Law and Policy Review Symposium – “Looking Beyond the Deepwater Horizon: The Future of Offshore Drilling”

January 29th:

Stacy Linden – Drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf – An Overview

Stacy Linden is the Managing Council for the American Petroleum Institute.

Ms. Linden began the day by speaking on the process that leads to offshore oil drilling commencing.  She first gave an overview of who the American Petroleum Institute (API) was as a standard setting organization.  They consult 6000 people in making standards and have 400 member oil companies.  She stated that the Minerals Management Service (MMS) had adopted a large number of their standards.

She went on to describe the importance of oil and natural gas in the economy and to fulfill our energy needs, such as the fact that even with increasing alternative energy sources, more than half of our energy (including transportation fuel needs) will come from oil and natural gas.  Oil will still dominate transportation energy specifically, estimating that it will still account for over 80% of transportation fuel in 2035.  Ms. Linden painted a rosy picture of how much oil was being brought up, more than estimates in most areas.

Finally, Ms. Linden laid out a timeline of the process used to go from planning a well to leasing the area to getting a well to production.  She emphasized the long time periods that could pass, sometimes as many as 10 years, and that this timeline was increased by protests and litigation.  Below is a list of ongoing litigation Ms. Linden mentioned.  During the open forum questioning she stated that the oil industry had a pretty good safety record but that people liked to hate the oil industry, which is why the public has a stronger reaction to oil disasters than coal disasters.  In regards to the Deepwater Horizon spill she said that we might never know for sure what happened.  ELPR Summary. Continue Reading »

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Jan 31 2011

Symposium Day One: Looking Beyond the Deepwater Horizon: The Future of Offshore Drilling

Published by under Energy,Water/Maritime

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, via wikimedia

Environmental Law and Policy Review Symposium – “Looking Beyond the Deepwater Horizon: The Future of Offshore Drilling”

January 28th:

Calvin M. Lederer – Response to the Deepwater Horizon Spill of National Significance – An Overview

Calvin Lederer is a Deputy Judge Advocate General in the United States Coast Guard.

Mr. Lederer began by giving an overview of the Deepwater Horizon spill time line and response efforts, including keeping the oil offshore with booms and skimming.  The response represented the first time that a “Spill of National Significance” (SONS) had occurred and the first time the prepared response was put into action.  Interestingly enough, approximately 30 days before the spill there had been a drill of the SONS procedure that Thad Allen participated in.  Some of the problems he indicated was the difficulty in hearing technical opinions through the thousands of people responding to the spill.

During the open forum questioning, he suggested a few changes he thought could be made to future responses.  One of these was to include more upper-level decision makers, such as the relevant cabinet members, in the drills.  Mr. Lederer also mentioned a specific preparedness review that would be coming out and detailing areas of improvement.  Also during the open forum, Mr. Lederer defended burning the oil, saying that environmental and wildlife impacts were minimal compared to its effectiveness, though he also recommended that investment should be made to decrease the necessity of such “blunt” techniques.  ELPR Summary Continue Reading »

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Jan 21 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: Frankenfish, Arch Coal, and the Value of Human Life

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

– TH: @TreeHugger Australia gives BP approval for offshore drilling project while the US revamps their own policies http://bit.ly/g4r5yu

– NYT: @nytimesscience Solar firms are becoming frustrated with a patchwork of municipal regulations regarding permits http://nyti.ms/e7ijpE

– BBC: @bbc Explorer believes Arctic could become an environmental battleground after BP’s drilling deal with Russians http://bbc.in/gtX3p0

– TH: RT @TreeHugger China has banned 300 animal circuses due to abuse concerns. http://bit.ly/gtfo2Y Continue Reading »

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