Posted on April 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Oil-probing technology could harm marine mammals, affect fisheries
Oceana projection on National Postal Museum (Credit: Oceana/Melissa Forsyth)
FRISCO — Tourism and fishing-dependent communities along the East Coast of the U.S. are banding together to voice concerns about seismic airgun testing. According to Oceana, an ocean conservation group, 110 local elected officials and 155 conservation and animal welfare organizations all say the use of airguns to conduct these seismic tests threatens fish populations and profitable fisheries.
Six coastal towns have also passed local resolutions opposing the use of airguns. (Cocoa Beach, FL, Carolina Beach, NC, Caswell Beach, NC, Nags Head, NC, Bradley Beach, NJ and Red Bank, NJ). The loud and constant undersea thumping may decrease the catch rates of certain fisheries, potentially threatening a billion-dollar industry that supports thousands of jobs.
At issue is the use of loud acoustic devices that help energy companies probe for oil beneath the seafloor. Federal officials recently adopted a final proposal that would allow the use of this controversial technology in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: conservation, Environment, oceans, offshore oil drilling, oil and gas, seismic airgun testing | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 4, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The conical drilling unit Kulluk sits aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, in 40 mph winds and 20-foot seas Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. The Kulluk grounded following many efforts by tug and Coast Guard crews to tow the vessel to a safe harbor when it was beset by winter storm weather during a tow from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to Everett, Wash. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.
Investigators delve into potential legal violations
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO —A U.S. Coast Guard report says Shell Oil didn’t acknowledge or adequately prepare for Arctic Ocean conditions before the company’s Kulluk drilling rig broke away from its towing vessel and ultimately ran aground on an Alaskan Island on the last day of 2012.
“Inadequate assessment and management of risk” was the key factor in the accident, Coast Guard investigators concluded, calling on Shell and its partners to change their company culture to avoid complacency.
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Environment, Kulluk drill rig, oil drilling, Shell Oil | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 27, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A Colorado judge this week upheld the will of voters in Broomfield, Colorado, affirming the vote on a ballot measure that enacts a 5-year ban on fracking.
Election results stand, pending a potential appeal
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A bid by the fossil fuel industry to thwart the will of voters in Broomfield, Colorado failed in court this week, as 17th Judicial District Court Judge Chris Melonakis upheld the five-year fracking ban approved by voters last November.
Question 300 passed by 17 votes, triggering a recount that brought nearly the same result. The challenge by the fossil fuel industry focused on election procedures and not on the substantive issue at hand — whether Colorado residents have the right to protect themselves and their communities from potentially harmful activities. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, energy, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Broomfield, Colorado, energy, Environment, fossil fuels, fracking, fracking ban, politics | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Former Breckenridge resident Andy Cook cleans a yellowfin tuna he caught in the rich fishing waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River near Venice, Louisiana. bberwyn photo.
Exposure to PAHs disrupts basic cellular function of heart muscles
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — When BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists immediately began documenting impacts to natural resources, finding dead corals on the seafloor, sick dolphins in Barataria Bay and remnant oil in the splash zone along Florida beaches.
Even low levels of oil pollution can damage the developing hearts of fish embryos and larvae, reducing the likelihood that those fish will survive. Scientists have known of this effect for some time, but the underlying mechanism has remained elusive.
But recent research by scientists with NOAA and Stanford University, shows how oil-derived chemicals disrupt the normal functioning of the heart muscle cells of fish. The findings, published in the Feb. 14 issue of Science, describe how toxic oil-based chemicals disrupt cardiac function in young bluefin and yellowfin tuna by blocking ion channels in their heart muscle cells. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, oceans, oil spills, tuna | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A federal court this week ruled that the Bureau of Energy Management violated environmental laws when it sold leases for fossil fuel production in the Chukchi Sea.
Judges say feds made ‘arbitrary and capricious’ decision on how much oil can be extracted
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — There’s no question that there is a lot of oil beneath the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, and the Chukchi Sea, specifically.
But exactly how much is a question that is still open to debate, according to a federal court, which this week ruled that the U.S. Department of Interior made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision when it sold drilling rights in the area back in 2008 based on an estimate of about 1 billion barrels of oil.
Federal officials may have pulled that number out of a hat, the three-hudge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, ordering the federal government to revise the environmental study for the 2008 lease sale. The court also said federal officials may have low-balled potential environmental impacts of fossil fuel development in the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Chukchi Sea, offshore drilling | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Ocean conservation advocates say federal government must use new data on endangered North Atlantic right whales when it considers permits for fossil fuel exploration. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Conservation advocates call for expansion of protective zones and seasonal closures
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Endangered North Atlantic right whales may be more at risk from oil exploration than previously thought.
New research from Cornell University suggests the rare marine mammals are present throughout the year at varying distances off the coast of Virginia, putting them at risk from the acoustic impacts generated by seismic airguns — used to probe the ocean floor for oil and gas deposits. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Cornell University, Environment, marine mammals, North Atlantic right whales, oceans, seismic airguns | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Signs of oil and gas development in eastern Utah are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Snow may intensify the air quality impacts of energy development
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A team of American and Canadian scientists want to unravel some of the secrets of winter ozone formation related to oil and gas drilling — and they need your help.
University of Washington atmospheric researcher Becky Alexander, who is leading the January research project in Utah’s Uintah Basin has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help finance the field work. The team wants to raise $12,ooo in the next three weeks via their project website at mycroriza.com.
“It’s a global outreach effort,” Alexander said, explaining that crowdfunding for scientific research is a new and growing movement. Grassroots funding helps eliminate some of the administrative overhead costs sometimes associated with traditional sources of money. Sometimes, as much as 50 to 60 percent of federal funding ends up going toward overhead, she explained. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: air pollution, crowdfunding, energy, Environment, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, ozone, Uintah Basin, University of Washington | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Too much oil, not enough science ….
Harassment of prominent researcher likely aimed at stifling scientists
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A scientist who was targeted by a politically driven investigation has retired from the federal agency that is supposed to regulate oil development in the Arctic after settling his whistleblower complaint against the U.S. Department of Interior.
Dr. Charles Monnett, a senior scientist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, was hectored for several years after publishing observations about drowning polar bears. The witch hunt ended in October with the Department of Interior withdrawing its letter of reprimand and paying Monnett $100,000.
“It’s a relief to be able to speak,” Monnett said, expressing his belief that the investigation was intended squelch scientific evidence that would make it more difficult to issue oil and gas drilling permits in the sensitive Arctic environment. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Alaska, Arctic oil drilling, BOEM, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
EPA fine highlights issues in Utah oil and gas fields.
Water resources at risk?
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A Texas-based company will be dinged for $600,000 after the EPA found that it did not meet all legal requirements for operating several hundred injection wells on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah.
The settlement between the EPA and Newfield Production Company centers on the company’s failure to show financial responsibility associated with the safe operation of 442 injection wells in the Monument Butte Well Field in Duchesne County from March 2009 through September 2010. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: energy, Environment, fracking, OilSpill | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Geologists say a recent swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased the overall risk of tremors around Oklahoma City. Map courtesy Oklahoma Geological Survey.
Study suggests recent swarm of tremors is related to injection of fracking wastewater
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — State and federal geologists are teaming up to study a swarm of earthquakes that have rattled central Oklahoma, evaluating possible links between these earthquakes and wastewater disposal related to oil and gas production activities in the region.
Since January 2009, more than 200 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes have rattled Central Oklahoma, marking a significant rise in the frequency of these seismic events. In a press release, the U.S. Geological Survey said a preliminary analysis suggests that the recent tremors are linked with the injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling activities in the region.
We’ve statistically analyzed the recent earthquake rate changes and found that they do not seem to be due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates,” said USGS seismologist Bill Leith. “These results suggest that significant changes in both the background rate of events and earthquake triggering properties needed to have occurred in order to explain the increases in seismicity. This is in contrast to what is typically observed when modeling natural earthquake swarms.” Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: earthquakes, fracking, injection-induced earthquakes, Oklahoma | 2 Comments »