Tag: Gulf of Mexico

Trump administration starts push for more offshore drilling

A brown pelican outlined against the sun setting over Lemon Bay in Englewood Florida. The Trump administration wants to open parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico for drilling, which would threaten ecosystems and tourism. @bberwyn photo.

Prospects for new executive order are unclear and legal challenges await

Staff Report

Donald Trump’s retro administration is taking another step backward by attempting to re-open parts of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, for offshore oil drilling. The executive order announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requires the the department to conduct a five-year review of the existing program for  oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf.

That could potentially reverse actions taken under President Obama to restrict some offshore drilling, although the feds will have to show scientifically that new offshore drilling is justified economically and can be done without harm to the environment. Legal challenges would also raised to any new proposals to lease areas off the coasts of the U.S. More drilling would also add more heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution to the atmosphere. Continue reading “Trump administration starts push for more offshore drilling”

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Study finds 1,000-square-mile contamination footprint from 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster

Satellite view deepwater horizon oil spill
Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling operation slicks across the Gulf of Mexico in this 201 photo from NASA.

New data help show how long impacts will linger on seafloor, where pollutants get into the foodchain

Staff Report

Fall-out from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster contaminated more 1,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico’s seafloor, but the exact long-term ecological effects are still unknown, said a group of scientists who are tracking 125 major petroleum hydrocarbons settled to the deep ocean floor when the failed Macondo well discharged 160 million gallons of crude oil into the water.

Their new paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outlines the effort to determine how fast each of those compounds will biodegrade. The data came from a federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the catastrophic oil spill. Continue reading “Study finds 1,000-square-mile contamination footprint from 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster”

NASA study shows link between Deepwater Horizon spill and coastal wetlands erosion

A NASA satellite image shows the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the northern Gulf of Mexico in late May, 2010.
A NASA satellite image shows the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the northern Gulf of Mexico in late May, 2010.

‘Dramatic, widespread shoreline loss …’

Staff Report

Oil washed toward shore after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster is a big factor in coastal erosion rates, according to scientists with NASA and the U.S. Geologicial Survey who tracked the changes along the Gulf of Mexico. Their research shows a pattern of dramatic, widespread shoreline loss” along  the Louisiana’s coast in Barataria Bay, located on the western side of the Mississippi River Delta.

The study compared images of the shoreline  taken a year before the oil spill with images taken during a 2.5 year span after the spill. Scientists also compared shoreline losses from storm-induced erosion with losses linked to shoreline oiling. Storm-induced erosion occurred at isolated shoreline sections, but the pre-spill shoreline from 2009 to 2010 was largely stable. Continue reading “NASA study shows link between Deepwater Horizon spill and coastal wetlands erosion”

New federal study outlines impacts of seismic air gun blasting in Gulf of Mexico

Oil and gas exploration would have widespread effects on marine mammals

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Seismic blasting is bad for marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Conservation advocates have long been saying that blasting the Gulf of Mexico with seismic airguns to find more oil and gas beneath the seafloor would result in unacceptable harm to marine mammals and other marine life, and a new draft environmental study by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management seems to confirm those concerns.

The study was completed under the terms of a court-ordered settlement of a lawsuit brought by environmental groups. It shows that the blasting would have widespread impacts on marine life, including injuries to endangered sperm whales and Bryde’s whales. The draft report outlines possible mitigation measures, including closure areas where seismic blasting would be banned, and reductions in the amount of activity permissible each year. Continue reading “New federal study outlines impacts of seismic air gun blasting in Gulf of Mexico”

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”

New study says Deepwater Horizon oil disaster caused fetal and newborn dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico

 Lung abnormalities found in 88% of perinatal dolphins in spill zone

dolphins Deepwater Horizon spill
New research shows how harmful the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was for dolphins in the spill zone. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Scientists studying the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico say results of a recently completed four-year study of dolphin strandings confirm that the spill took a toll on marine mammals.

“Our new findings add to the mounting evidence from peer-reviewed studies that exposure to petroleum compounds following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill negatively impacted the reproductive health of dolphin populations living in the oil spill footprint in the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Dr. Teri Rowles, a veterinarian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and a co-author on the study. Continue reading “New study says Deepwater Horizon oil disaster caused fetal and newborn dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico”

Activists to protest Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leasing

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A NASA satellite image shows oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010.

Grassroots groups open new front in the battle against fossil fuels and climate change

Staff Report

While conservation groups celebrated the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily bar new oil and gas leases off the Atlantic Coast, activists aren’t finished battling the fossil fuel juggernaut quite yet.

Opening a new front in the climate war, hundreds of Gulf Coast residents are joining forces with local and national environmental and social justice groups to oppose a federal offshore fossil fuel lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico — a region that has a long economic dependence on fossil fuel exploitation, so it’s unclear if the protest movement will resonate with a majority of locals. Continue reading “Activists to protest Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leasing”