Posted on April 3, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
An oil pipeline in Alaska. Photo courtesy USGS.
Thirst for oil leads to inevitable disasters
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With more than 2.6 million miles of pipeline criss-crossing the country, it seems almost inevitable that there will be breaks and spills. The only question is how serious the spill will be.
Right now, residents of Mayflower, Ark, will probably tell you that last year’s passage of the Pipeline Safety Act didn’t prevent their town from becoming the latest ground zero in a seemingly never-ending series of oil spill disasters.
The Pipeline Safety Act doubled the maximum civil penalties for pipeline safety violations from $100,000 to $200,000 and authorized an increase for the federal pipeline inspector workforce. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Environment, fossil fuels, Keystone XL pipeline, oil pipelines, oil spills | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Sunset over the Beaufort Sea. Photo courtesy USGS.
Recent mishaps, lack of data cited in request for suspension of operations
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Citing huge data gaps about the basic ecology of the Arctic Ocean, as well as a string of recent accidents and near-misses in Royal Dutch Shell’s ongoing efforts to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, a coalition of environmental groups this week asked the Obama administration to suspend fossil fuel development in the region.
The letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar came just a few days after the Interior Department announced a 60-day assessment of the Arctic offshore drilling program.
In a press release, the groups said any investigation will show that oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean cannot be conducted now in a safe and responsible manner. Along with equipment issues, there are still unanswered questions about the ability to contain and clean up potential spills in the remote, harsh Arctic environment. Those questions remain despite the fact the federal government has already signed off on Shell’s emergency response plan. (more…)
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Alaska, Arctic Ocean, Environment, Ken Salazar, offshore Arctic drilling, oil drilling, oil spills, Royal Dutch Shell | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Are federal regulators prepared to manage an oil spill in the Arctic?
Oil spill containment and cleanup plans still sketchy
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With Shell Oil aiming for spring oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, a government watchdog group has filed a lawsuit to force the release of documents relating to the company’s ability to contain potential oil spills. Click here to read an EPA fact sheet on Arctic offshore drilling.
Also at issue are safeguards required to protect against such known hazards as sea ice, subsurface ice scour and blowouts, as well as specifications for well design and well integrity control, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
The unreleased testing data could reveal whether there could be an Arctic repeat of the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico when Shell starts drilling in the Arctic, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The group filed a lawsuit this week to force the release of the information. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Environment, oil spills, oill drilling, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Shell Oil | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 24, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation coalition says feds are ignoring painful lessons of Deepwater Horizon oil disaster
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — New deep water drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico won’t go forward without a legal test, as a coalition of environmental groups last week challenged the Department of Interior’s decision to proceed with new permits without fully addressing the risks to wildlife and the environment.
While drilling regulators believe they have developed a robust new set of safety and environmental regulations, the conservation community thinks otherwise, claiming in the lawsuit that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management dismissed the lessons learned during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and failed to obtain essential information about the status of species and resources still suffering from the 2010 oil spill. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Center for Biological Diversity, deep water oil drilling, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resources Defense Council, oil spills | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Lawsuit says Shell’s oil-drilling ship doesn’t comply with air quality regs
Environmental groups want to prevent industrial drilling operations in the Arctic Sea off the coast of Alaska. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups are challenging proposed exploratory oil drilling the Arctic Sea at every step of the way, most recently with a lawsuit challenging an EPA air pollution permit for Shell’s proposed operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
The lawsuit filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week claims the permits shouldn’t have been issued because Shell’s oil exploration ship, the Discoverer, doesn’t meet the latest Clean Air Act standards.
“As early as this summer, the Discoverer drillship and other ships in Shell’s fleet could be in the Chukchi Sea or Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean drilling for oil in some of the harshest conditions on earth,” said Vera Pardee, an attorney with the Center. “Each year, Shell’s massive ships will churn out vast amounts of harmful pollution that will not only damage the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems but accelerate the climate change that’s robbing polar bears and walruses of the sea ice they need to survive.” (more…)
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Arctic, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, oil drilling, oil spills, Royal Dutch Shell | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The Keystone XL pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the U.S.
Measure could force approval of controversial energy project
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — House Republicans ratcheted up their showdown with President Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline this week, passing a measure that would force the issuance of a permit within 30 days.
Obama previously rejected the pipeline after conservation advocates rallied the public, showing widespread grassroots opposition to the project. The legislation is expected to be incorporated into larger energy and transportation legislation and could see a vote on the House floor next week. An amendment that would have required the oil to remain in the United States, proposed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), failed. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: Environment, Keystone XL pipeline, oil spills | 7 Comments »
Posted on December 28, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A school of Pacific herring. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
“These embryos were literally falling apart …”
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Very low concentrations of oil from a 2007 spill in San Francisco Bay had an unexpectedly lethal impact on embryonic herring. Ultraviolet light dramatically increased the toxicity of the bunker oil that leaked from a ship after it collided with the Bay Bridge, killing a high percentage of the young fish.
“Based on our previous understanding of the effects of oil on embryonic fish, we didn’t think there was enough oil from the Cosco Busan spill to cause this much damage,” said Gary Cherr, director of the University of California Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory.
The spill devastated a commercially and ecologically important species for nearly two years, according to a new study by the University of California, Davis, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, energy, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Cosco Busan, herrings and oil, marine biology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oil spills, San Francisco Bay | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 14, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A U.S. Coast Guard photo shows firefighting ships battling flames on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmental groups say latest leasing plans ignore Deepwater Horizon lessons
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Conservation groups say federal government didn’t take its NEPA duties seriously when it approved a new lease sale in the western Gulf of Mexico. This week, the filed a lawsuit to try and force federal agencies to do a new environmental study that takes into account the widespread impacts of last year’s BP blowout.
“This is their first attempt to do new leases since the Deepwater Horizon disaster … and we think there are fundamental things missing throughout the Environmental Impact Statement, said Deirdre McDonnell, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, Center for Biological Diversity, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resources Defense Council, oil spills, Summit County news environment | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 20, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA photo taken May 13, 2010 from 28,000 feet shows the Deepwater Horizon oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico as a light-blue sheen.
Natural and enhanced microbial degradation identified as key to minimizing impacts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Ubiquitous oil-eating microbes may be the key to cleaning up future oil spills, according to a pair of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studied both the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and last summer’s disastrous Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite big differences in the impacted marine ecosystems and the circumstances of these two worst oil spills in U.S. history, oil-degrading microorganisms played a significant role in reducing the overall environmental impact of both spills, the scientists said.
“Responders to future oil spills would do well to mobilize as rapidly as possible to determine both natural and enhanced microbial degradation and what the best possible approach will be to minimize the risk and impact of the spill on the environment,” said Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist with the Berkeley Lab. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Exxon Valdez, Exxon Valdez oil spill, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, microbial oil spill remediation, oil spills, Summit County News | 1 Comment »