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Reposted from Pakalolo by greenbird

In 2004, 28 oil wells located 11 miles off the coastlines of Louisiana that are owned and operated by Taylor Energy, were destroyed by a mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan. The consequences of this natural disaster caused oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico.  Since the disaster, the Coast Guard and Taylor Energy Company have secretly tried numerous methods to clean up the oil. The major problem is that the mudslide buried the wells under 100 foot deep mounds of sediment. Because of this sediment, it is impossible to plug and abandon the wells that is common practice on other wells in the Gulf Of Mexico. In a futile attempt to contain the flow of oil into the ocean, Taylor Energy has failed by trying to cover the leak using three containment domes where oil collects inside the domes and later is extracted by ships.  Other attempts that have been tried and failed focused on sealing the wells with cement, and by drilling relief wells.  Despite these efforts oil has continued to spill every single day for the past 11 years.

The spill is located in the Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 20 (“MC20”), oil and gas have been bubbling up to the surface from 500 ft below and spreading out on the surface as long as 17 miles.

From AP:

Taylor's oil was befouling the Gulf for years in obscurity before BP's massive spill in mile-deep water outraged the nation in 2010. Even industry experts haven't heard of Taylor's slow-motion spill, which has been leaking like a steady trickle from a faucet, compared to the fire hose that was BP's gusher.

Taylor, a company renowned in Louisiana for the philanthropy of its deceased founder, has kept documents secret that would shed light on what it has done to stop the leak and eliminate the persistent sheen.

Thankfully there has been a watch dog that has been following the spill and noting inconsistencies and untruths from Taylor Energy and the United States government.
The Coast Guard said in 2008 the leak posed a "significant threat" to the environment, though there is no evidence oil from the site has reached shore. Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University biological oceanography professor and expert witness in a lawsuit against Taylor, said the sheen "presents a substantial threat to the environment" and is capable of harming birds, fish and other marine life.

Using satellite images and pollution reports, the watchdog group SkyTruth estimates between 300,000 and 1.4 million gallons of oil has spilled from the site since 2004, with an annual average daily leak rate between 37 and 900 gallons.

If SkyTruth's high-end estimate of 1.4 million gallons is accurate, Taylor's spill would be about 1 percent the size of BP's, which a judge ruled amounted to 134 million gallons. That would still make the Taylor spill the 8th largest in the Gulf since 1970, according to a list compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The Taylor leak is just a great example of what I call a dirty little secret in plain sight," said SkyTruth President John Amos.

I highly recommend reading the AP article in full. Who could have possibly predicted that not planning for the obvious potential of a powerful hurricane would lead to catastrophic impacts to oil well infrastructure in the GoM?  What kind of nightmares await us in the arctic as Shell is bound and determined to drill there with the Obama administrations blessings.


Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 11:20 AM PDT

This Was Not a Spill

by Michael Brune

Reposted from Michael Brune by greenbird

Today is the anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history: the explosion of Deepwater Horizon and subsequent oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. I don't like to call it a spill, because spills are accidents. What happened that day was not an accident; it was a crime.

BP, the giant oil company most responsible for the disaster, pleaded guilty in 2012 to 11 felony counts related to the deaths of 11 workers. Last year, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that "BP committed a series of negligent acts or omissions that ... together amount to gross negligence and willful misconduct under the Clean Water Act." (The operator of the Deepwater rig and contractors like Halliburton also share some of the blame, although they were found "negligent" rather than "grossly negligent.")

BP, meanwhile, attempted to minimize its financial liability by, for instance, claiming that "only" 2.5 million barrels worth of oil (more than a hundred million gallons) were dumped in the Gulf. (The amount of the fine BP must pay under the Clean Water Act is based on the number of barrels discharged. The actual number was north of 4 million barrels).

No matter how many billions BP ends up paying out, of course, it can never undo all the damages caused by its crime. It can, however, pretend they didn't happen. The company launched a PR campaign claiming that the Gulf has rebounded. Reality, of course, begs to differ. Ten million gallons of oil remain on the seafloor. Multiple studies have found that the harm to fish and wildlife was not only horrific five years ago (800,000 birds; between 20,000 and 60,000 sea turtles) but is ongoing. Concentrations of toxic chemicals in Gulf marshes may persist for decades.

No wonder people question why BP is spending money to soft pedal the consequences of its crime, when it could be using those dollars toward actual restitution.

Five years on, though, what lessons have been learned? Don't trust oil companies to act responsibly? That seems to be the main takeaway for the Obama administration. Last week it announced tighter regulations for offshore oil rigs that it claims should help prevent oil-well blowouts. Those tighter regulations are directly based on what happened in the Gulf in 2010.  Does that mean future disasters don't happen? Of course not.

Yet the administration has also announced that it will allow oil and gas drilling off the coast of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia for the first time since the 1980s, as well as three areas for leasing in Alaska, including the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea, where the administration estimates that there is a 75 percent chance of one or more spills. Astounding. Back east, the administration was getting ready to announce oil and gas leases for the Atlantic coast five years ago, along with the usual platitudes about "drilling responsibly" and "minimizing risk." Then Deepwater Horizon happened.

The bottom line is that we don't need the oil that can be found off our Atlantic Coast, no matter what those state governors might tell you. And even if you manage to reduce the risks, and even if no oil company ever again acts with gross negligence for the sake of profits (a bet I wouldn't recommend taking), the consequences of drilling in sensitive marine environments are just too great.

Tell President Obama to keep our coasts off-limits to oil and gas drilling.

Reposted from Barbara Lee by Yasuragi

On March 25 I introduced legislation that would recognize the disparate impact that global warming will have on women. Specifically, I cited women with limited socioeconomic resources who might be forced into sex work when their normal sources of food and income are disrupted. Immediately, right-wing bloggers and talking heads began misrepresenting the resolution, calling it “crazy” and “stupid.” In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to give you some actual facts. They tell a much different story.

Right now, women make up 70 percent of people worldwide who live below the poverty line. According to UN statistics, the amount of people worldwide who live in extreme poverty will increase by 3 million over the next 30 years due to increased environmental disasters that will make farming impossible in certain regions. Women's economic options are usually limited in developing countries, and most sustain themselves and their families with subsistence farming or domestic chores. Currently, female farmers grow 60-80 percent of developing countries’ food. What will these women do when they can no longer farm?

The United States is not immune to these dire predictions. California is also one of our country’s largest producers of fruits and vegetables, and right now California is in its fourth straight year of record-breaking drought. If food production stalls in California, economic turmoil won’t be far behind. Poor, single mothers already make up the largest group of food-insecure Americans – what will those women do in the face of rising food prices?

Poor, single mothers already make up the largest group of food-insecure Americans – what will those women do in the face of rising food prices?
And food security will not be the only way in which global warming will disproportionately affect women. In 2005, 83 percent of poor, single mothers in the Gulf Coast region were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. According to research published earlier this year by the Royal Geographic Society, women are more likely than men to die in natural disasters since economic realities and social norms still dictate that they will be poorer, less mobile and more likely to be the ones at home caring for children when disaster strikes.  

When told with facts, the story of global warming's impact on women is clear. As our world heats up and its weather becomes more unpredictable, women and other vulnerable populations will see their day-to-day situation become even more precarious. Social workers and health care professionals who work with vulnerable people know that circumstances often push them to make heartbreaking choices. Scientists and rational policy makers agree that we must act now to avert a worldwide economic and environmental disaster. The minority of global warming deniers will find any reason to bury their heads in the sand, and every second that we let them control the narrative and misrepresent the facts is a moment wasted.

So celebrate this Earth Day by confronting global warming deniers about what the future looks like for women. Tell them that if we continue to fail in our duty toward Mother Earth, we will fail mothers everywhere. If we keep speaking up, the deniers might find it harder and harder to deny.

Thank you,

Congresswoman Barbara Lee


Wed Mar 11, 2015 at 11:49 AM PDT

Fukushima: 4 Years Later

by Joieau

Reposted from Joieau by Yasuragi

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima marks its 4th anniversary today. This is a report on the conditions at what's left of the facility at this point in time. What has been tried and/or accomplished - or ignored - there in regards to ongoing radioactive pollution still leaking into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean from the facility, and where TEPCO, Japan and the rest of the nuclear world both industrial and governmental plan to go with it from here.

Because this overview covers a number of developments over a period of years, I won't apologize for its length. But due to length, I have chosen developments of particular interest for what they convey about both the overall situation 4 years later and have summarized these as succinctly as I can.

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Reposted from Climate Change SOS by Yasuragi

We are living in amazing times; witnessing the green revolution growing exponentially before our eyes. It's game over for fossil fuels and it can't come fast enough.

Some people might think that the recent drop in oil price is bad for the solar industry, that it'll slow down investment and reduce demand for clean energy. There might be some truth to that in the short-term, but the long-term trend is clear: Solar is going to take over the world.
This graph which I've posted before says it all:
Now a new report (pdf) from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, as you can imagine, a big player in oil & gas, says that "fossil fuels can no longer compete with solar technologies on price", and that the majority of the $US48 trillion needed to meet global energy demand over the next 20 years will come from renewables.

“Cost is no longer a reason not to proceed with renewables,” the NBAD report says. In some instances, the price of renewables are remarkably low. “The latest solar PV project tendered in Dubai returned a low bid that set a new global benchmark and is competitive with oil at US$10/barrel and gas at US$5/MMBtu.” This was a 200MW bid by ACWA Power at $US0.0584/kWh (5.84c/kwh), without subsidies. Of course, sunnier countries will have lower costs, but over time even cloudier places will see solar eclipse dirty sources.

Our transition to clean energy (in spite of political and industry obstruction) is happening so fast that for the first time in a long time there may be some reason for optimism for our future.
Reposted from Animal Nuz by Yasuragi

Chris Christie - Caricature
     (illustration by DonkeyHotey)

I just caught this on Maddow and found a late-breaking article in The  New York Times:

A long-fought legal battle to recover $8.9 billion in damages from Exxon Mobil Corporation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in northern New Jersey has been quietly settled by the state for around $250 million.

The lawsuits, filed by the State Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, had been litigated by the administrations of four New Jersey governors, finally advancing last year to trial. By then, Exxon’s liability was no longer in dispute; the only issue was how much it would pay in damages.


Exxon did contribute $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association in May 2014, when Mr. Christie was serving a one-year term as its chairman; the company has contributed annually to the group since at least 2008, records show.


A spokesman for Mr. Christie referred questions about the settlement to the attorney general’s office. A spokesman for the acting attorney general, John J. Hoffman, said on Thursday that the office had no comment, as was its practice with pending litigation. Exxon also declined to comment on the settlement.
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Reposted from weinenkel by Yasuragi
BP oil blowout in Gulf of Mexico
BP argues it's just a flesh wound
New Orleans, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP's attempt to reduce the possible civil fine they could face–leaving it at $4,300 per barrel spilled.
BP had sought a $3,000 per barrel maximum, equal to a maximum $9.57 billion civil fine. Barbier has not decided how much BP should pay, and it is unclear when he will.
You can understand BP's trepidation. It was just a couple of weeks ago that 10,000,000 missing gallons of oil were found. In BP's defense, they don't want to have to keep on paying money for their criminal negligence.

In fact, just a few months ago, this very judge called them "grossly negligent", and that cannot be good.

Transocean operated the rig used to drill into the seabed and Halliburton laid the faulty cement that failed after the well exploded, sending oil gushing into the gulf waters for 87 days. A government report in 2011 noted that all three companies were at fault, but not equally. BP, the report stated, "was ultimately responsible for conducting operations at Macondo in a way that ensured the safety and protection of personnel, equipment, natural resources and the environment."
Reposted from aardvark droppings by Yasuragi

The NYT, relying on FOIA information obtained by Greenpeace.

He (Dr. Soon) has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.

Climate Change is a conspiracy ... er, Climate Change Denial seems to be. Pro tip: most scientists don't view testimony before Congress as a deliverable product.
Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, acknowledged on Friday that Dr. Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some journals.

“I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Alcock said. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

And I hope they scrupulously follow the existing rules to the letter. Dr. Soon is entitled to his academic freedom; he is not entitled to use that principle to excuse unethical behavior.

If there was more Federal funding of basic science, would there be less of this sort of corruption?

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Reposted from Lefty Coaster by Yasuragi

This is the second fiery oil train derailment in just the last three days.


LATEST: More shelters set up in connection with train derailment

7:30 p.m. UPDATE:

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) declared a state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha Counties at 5:40 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  The declaration was in response to the CSX train derailment that lead to the evacuation of the Powelltown Hollow area, which includes Boomer and Adena Village.  No other counties were included in this declaration.

"Declaring a State of Emergency ensures that residents of both Kanawha and Fayette counties have the access they need to resources necessary to handle all stages of the emergency," said Gov. Tomblin. "State official are on site and will continue to work with local and federal officials, as well as CSX representatives throughout the incident."

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, more shelters were opened to accommodate residents of the area affected by the derailment.

Oil train derails in W. Virginia; two towns evacuated

Unfortunately I was unable to embed the video.

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Reposted from FaithGardner by Yasuragi
Sorry but tiny penguins in sweaters? I couldn't resist this story.

Alfred AKA "Alfie" Date is Australia's oldest man at 109 years old and he's been knitting for over 80 of those years. When he heard that the Penguin Foundation was looking for tiny sweaters for penguins after a huge oil spill that injured hundreds of birds, he got to work.

The nurses left Alfred some heavy wool (because, he says, "if you're using a light wool you're wasting your time") and he was soon ticking away at "easy single-rib and double-rib" stitch jerseys for the foundation based on Victoria's Phillip Island, home to a large colony of little penguins.
The sweaters (or "jumpers") help prevent further damage to the animals from the negative impact of the oil:
The knitted sweaters actually prevent the injured penguins from preening and swallowing the toxic oil, according to the foundation.
A penguin is bathed by Taronga Zoo worker after it was covered in oil at Sydney Harbour, August 5. An estimated 80,000 litres of oil was spilled across Sydney Harbour and spread almost 10 kilometres after the spill occured when the tanker Laura D'Amato was unloading its cargo of light crude oil at Shell's terminnal on August 3.
Little oily penguins aren't the only creatures Alfie Date knits for.
Alfred has passed his craft down through three more generations and still knits scarfs for friends and little beanies for premature babies, despite his centenarian hands losing some of their dexterity.

"I like to make it without mistakes and I don't excuse myself for doing it," he said. "(But) I think there is an excuse for a person who's gone beyond the normal span of life."

Before you bust out your knitting needles, the Penguin Foundation has stated:
"We do not need any further jumpers," the foundation's Lauren Jones said.

"We are incredibly grateful for the donations we have received and the time and effort creating them."

What a wonderful man. Kudos to Alfie Date! Watch a video interview with him here.
Reposted from Meteor Blades by Yasuragi
Wind turbines on the Kumayyay Indian reservation in southern California.
Wind turbines on the Kumayaay Indian reservation in southern California.
The Global Wind Energy Council has released results of its survey of wind energy installed across the planet in 2014, and it's impressive: 51.5 gigawatts for a worldwide total of 369 gigawatts. In 2013, global installations of wind totaled 35 GW.

In the United States, 4.9 GW were installed in 2014, a big step up from the 1.1 GW installed in 2013, but well below the record of 13.2 GW installed in the United States in 2012. The U.S. total is now 65.9 GW. That's more than the Department of Energy forecast in 2005 that the United States would have installed by 2030.

At the top of the heap for installed wind turbines in 2014 was China, with 24.4 GW added. The European Union and rest of Europe installed 12.8 GW. Germany led there with 5.2 GW.

While wind still constitutes a very small fraction of the world's installed electricity-generating capacity, analysts are forecasting that this continued growth means wind turbines could constitute good portion of the planet's total capacity by 2030. In its "advanced" scenario, for instance, GWEC's Global World Energy Outlook calculates that there could be 2,000 GW of wind power installed by 2030, providing 19 percent of the world's electricity. By 2050, the estimate is 25-30 percent. But when you start forecasting possibilities three and more decades away, there are of necessity many caveats.

Dave Appleyard writes:

The more realistic, business as usual, “moderate” forecast sees an annual market size topping 65 GW by 2020 for a total installed capacity of 712 GW by then. Robust growth is anticipated in the period after 2020, with annual markets exceeding 85 GW by 2030 and bringing total installed capacity up to nearly 1500 GW by the end of that decade.

In terms of the volume of electricity produced by wind power, the GWEO “moderate” scenario envisages a large contribution from wind, some 1750 TWh in 2020, rising to almost 3900 TWh in 2030. In this case wind power would meet between 7.2 percent and 7.8 percent of global electrical demand in 2020, and between 12.9 percent and 14.5 percent by 2030. The report notes that while this is quite a substantial contribution, it is nonetheless “probably not in line with what would be required to meet agreed climate protection goals.”

wind power
There's more analysis below the fold.
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Reposted from Meteor Blades by Yasuragi
hand full of tar sand, aka bitumen
Bitumen, the petroleum of the tar sands.
Obama said he won't approve KXL if it "significantly" worsened CO2 emissions. @EPA just used "significant" 4 times to describe KXL's impact
The State Department is nearing the end of the process of determining whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline is in the "national interest." Neela Banerjee at InsideClimate News has written an excellent piece about that process.

Among its key elements are examining more than two million public comments about the pipeline and pondering what eight federal departments and agencies have to say about the environmental review. The reports from those eight were due Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency had this to say in the report it released publicly:

The analysis of climate change issues has also improved from the Draft SEIS. The Final SEIS makes clear that oil sands crude has significantly higher lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than other crudes. The Final SEIS states that lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from development and use of oil sands crude is about 17% greater than emissions from average crude oil refined in the United States on a wells-to-wheels basis.

The Final SEIS also finds that the incremental greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, transport, refining and use of the 830,000 barrels per day of oils sands crude that could be transported by the proposed Project at full capacity would result in an additional 1.3 to 27.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTC02-e) per year compared to the reference crudes. To put that in perspective, 27.4 MMTC0 2-e per year is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 5.7 million passenger vehicles or 7.8 coal fired power plants.3 Over the 50-year lifetime of the pipeline, this could translate into releasing as much as 1.37 billion more tons ofgreenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Until ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of oil sands are more successful and widespread, the Final SEIS makes clear that, compared to reference crudes, development of oil sands crude represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA also notes that if oil prices remained high, the assessment that tar sands petroleum would make it to market even if the pipeline weren't built is probably correct, even if it meant sending that petroleum via more rail, which is more expensive. But if the price of oil remains low, then building the pipeline would mean more tar sands would be extracted and shipped than would otherwise be the case.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the climate change group and a lifelong environmental activist, said: “In a city where bureaucrats rarely say things right out loud, the EPA has come pretty close. Its knife-sharp comments make clear that despite the State Department’s relentless spin, Keystone is a climate disaster by any realistic assessment. The president's got every nail he needs to finally close the coffin on this boondoggle.”

Let's hope President Obama is digging in his toolbox for a hammer.

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