Category: energy

Study says old, weathered oil from spills is even more toxic to fish than fresh crude

Scientists still studying Deepwater Horizon spill impacts

Oil from BP's failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the ocean in May 2010. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

It’s been six years since BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico failed disastrously, but scientists are still learning about how the oil affected ocean species and ecosystems.

In findings from new study released this week, researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science reported that old, weathered oil from the spill is even more toxic than fresh crude oil. Ultraviolet light changes changes the chemistry of the oil, the scientists said, further threatening numerous commercially and ecologically important fishes.

The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was the worst on U.S. history. More than 3 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, contaminating spawning habitats for many fishes. The oil also killed deep sea corals and had a devastating effect on dolphin reproduction. Continue reading “Study says old, weathered oil from spills is even more toxic to fish than fresh crude”

Offshore fracking threatens beluga whales, group claims

A pod of Beluga whales. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE.
A pod of Beluga whales. Photo courtesy NMFS.

Conservation advocates question plan for expanded fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet

Staff Report

Environmental advocates are warning that a plan to expand offshore fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet threatens a local population of beluga whales, considered to be among the most endangered whales in the world.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Blue Crest Energy wants to drill multiple new wells and conduct the first large, multistage offshore fracking ever done in the environmentally sensitive inlet. The privately held company needs a permit from the NMFS to start the fracking in the inlet. Continue reading “Offshore fracking threatens beluga whales, group claims”

Small oil spills can add up to big impacts for sea birds

Report says more monitoring of wildlife needed on offshore oil drilling rigs

Oil in the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.
Oil spills have a devastating impact on sea life,, there’s not enough monitoring to track environmental degradation. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.
This is an Oiled Thick-billed Murre, Cripple Cove (near Cape Race), Newfoundland November 28, 2004. Credit Photo by Ian L. Jones
This is an oiled thick-billed murre, Cripple Cove (near Cape Race), Newfoundland November 28, 2004. Photo by Ian L. Jones.

Staff Report

It only takes exposure to a teaspoon full of oil to kill some seabirds, but oil drillers off the coast of Canada are failing to adequately monitor small, persistent spills that can lead to chronic pollution and population-level impacts, according to a new study by scientists with York University.

The research published in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, looked at how offshore oil operators monitored and responded to small spills (less than 1,000 litres) for three production projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It came after authorities failed to respond to three high-profile environmental assessments by Environment Canada that requested impacts on seabirds be monitored following small spills. Continue reading “Small oil spills can add up to big impacts for sea birds”

Battle lines drawn over new fossil fuel infrastructure

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Signs of oil and gas development are visible in eastern on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air. @bberwyn photo.

Broad coalition of conservation groups oppose measure that could speed approval of natural gas export terminals

Staff Report

Pro-fossil fuel legislators in Congress hope they can help their campaign donors by putting the cart before the fracking horse. An amended version of the Senate’s Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) includes provisions that would speed up the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of liquefied natural gas export terminals.

According to critics of the measure, that artificially increases the demand for U.S. natural gas and hits communities with additional health and climate risks. More than 370 organizations are urging the Senate to reject provisions in the bill that would encourage oil and gas fracking.

The groups delivered a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell demanding an energy bill that transitions the country to a truly clean, safe, renewable energy future. Continue reading “Battle lines drawn over new fossil fuel infrastructure”

Fossil fuels: ‘Enough is enough’

Colorado demonstration part of global protest movement

Staff Report

As part of a global series of protests against the continued burning of fossil fuels, hundreds of Colorado activists gathered this week in Denver to protest a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction at the Holiday Inn in Lakewood.

Organizers counted about 300 people at the May 12 rally, who demonstrated with signs and banners and tried to interrupt the auction of new oil and gas leases as part of the larger #keepitintheground movement. The goal is to prevent the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming, including deadly heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, water shortages and invasive diseases. Continue reading “Fossil fuels: ‘Enough is enough’”

Activists slow fracking juggernaut in western Colorado

State BLM officials call for new studies on Mesa County project

fracking rig in Colorado
A fracking rig in Garfield County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Conservation groups and community advocates in western Colorado have slowed the fracking juggernaut at least temporarily, as federal land managers last week decided to redo an environmental study for a controversial plan to drill 108 new wells on 52,000 acres near the Grand Mesa. Under the proposed master development plan, the wells could produce up to 8.7 million barrels of oil over the next 20 years.

The agency said it made the decision based on the fact that the environmental study for the fossil fuel development project didn’t include any analysis of hydraulic fracturing, likely because of some behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the developers and Bureau of Land Management officials. But when the Western Colorado Congress and the Western Environmental Law Center challenged the plan, state BLM officials reversed course. Continue reading “Activists slow fracking juggernaut in western Colorado”

Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?

Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New study eyes impacts to aquatic insects

Staff Report

Using a vast sample of data collected in a citizen science project, researchers say they’ve been able to discern how hydropeaking affects aquatic insects that form the base of river food chains. The information could help resource managers develop alternative hydropower practices that aren’t as harmful to ecosystems, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.

Hydropeaking refers to the practice of increasing river flows at times of peak demand, generally during the day. This study shows how abrupt water level changes affect aquatic insects in every stage of life. The research was done by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Idaho State University. Continue reading “Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?”