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Energy: GOP seeks to force more offshore drilling

Anti-environmental energy bill would increase heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and risk more oil spills

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Surfers, and many other coastal conservation advocates, are not happy with a GOP plan to open vast new ocean areas to offshore oil and gas drilling. Bob Berwyn photo.

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A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would require the Obama administration to open huge new areas for offshore fossil fuel development.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just a few days after President Obama described the urgent need to move away from fossil fuels, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would result in even more heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Playing their well-worn jobs and gas prices card, House Republicans pushed through the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 2231), a measure that would open nearly all coastal areas to offshore drilling.

“President Obama came into office with a tremendous opportunity to expand America’s offshore oil and natural gas production. Instead, he said NO to new American jobs and NO to new American energy by canceling lease sales, placing more offshore areas off-limits,and effectively re-imposing an offshore drilling moratorium,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings said after the vote. Continue reading

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Environment: Some Gulf of Mexico beaches are still contaminated with a toxic sludge of oil and dispersant

Research show that carcinogenic oil-related PAH compounds are easily absorbed through skin

A beach along Cape San Blas, Florida, where researchers sampled the swash zone for contaminated weathered tar product mixed with dispersant. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

New research in Florida shows contaminated oil product accumulating in the swash zone of Gulf beaches. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, beaches along the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline are far from being clean, says University of South Florida researcher James “Rip” Kirby, who recently documented accumulations of remnant oil with “scary high” concentrations of carcinogenic oil-related compounds. Download the full report or a summary at the Surfrider website.

In fact, the weathered tar product from crude oil dispersed with Corexit were found to have PAH concentrations consistently in excess of limits set to identify danger to life and health — IDHL limits, as defined by NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration.

In all, 32 sites were sampled; only three were free of PAH contamination. Samples at 26 of the sites exceeded the IDHL limits. Testing was done at beaches between Waveland, Miss. and Cape San Blas, Fla. Continue reading

Environment: Pollution spikes U.S. beach closures

EPA grants to help states monitor and report conditions

EPA grants to help with beach monitoring.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A new round of EPA grants totaling almost $10 million will help states monitor and assess the state of their beaches — something that’s sorely needed, according to the Surfrider Foundation’s State of the Beach report findings, which explains the challenges of tracking the condition of beaches around the country.

The EPA is also launching the new BEACON website to provide timely information on beach conditions, advisories and closures.

Inconsistencies in testing, closure and advisory standards, notification procedures and even the terminology used in regulations varies from state to state, creating a confusing picture for consumers. The federal BEACH Act was aimed at elimination some of the inconsistencies, but it will take time for jurisdictions to get on the same page. Continue reading

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