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At The Lens, Bob Marshall writes Volunteers use airborne patrols, satellite photos to spot oil spills along Louisiana coast:
In the last three years, after 200 surveys by air, boat and foot, Henderson has made hundreds of oil pollution reports as part of the Gulf Monitoring Consortium. In what has developed into an almost 24/7 effort, members use private boats, planes and even satellite imagery to spot and evaluate insults to Louisiana’s coastal environment—all at no cost to taxpayers.

Their effort would be noteworthy solely for its altruistic nature. But what may be more remarkable is that they are the only ones doing this work.

No state or federal agency has cops regularly walking this beat. Instead, state and federal governments,which collect billions in royalties from the permit holders each year, rely on companies to turn themselves in for violating environmental law or the terms of their permits.

“We don’t have people whose job it is to go out looking for spills; we rely on people to report things,” said Gregory Langley, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which says its mission is to protect public health, safety and welfare “while considering sound policies regarding employment and economic development.”

The state Department of Natural Resources has 12 inspectors who check wells along the coast for compliance with regulations, a spokesman said. Though those checks are conducted without notice, the industry is so large that the department’s goal is to inspect each one every three years.[…]

The Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office estimates that about 330,000 barrels, 20 percent of all the oil spilled in the nation each year, leaks from Louisiana facilities. The agency says that amount comes from 1,500 reports each year — but that’s far lower than Coast Guard records show.

[Michael Anderson of the Coast Guard’s Gulf Coast Incident Management Team] said his office responded to 23,371 reports in Louisiana over the last five years. Even taking out the 5,781 from 2010, the year of the Deepwater Horizon spill, that averages about 4,400 per year.

Most of that pollution takes place in the coastal zone—the interior wetlands and open Gulf — which is where most of the 290,000 oil and gas wells permitted over the years are located, according to a database at the state Department of Natural Resources.
The concentration of the industry in Louisiana means more spills are likely to happen here, but Henderson said that until the Deepwater Horizon disaster, even environmental groups were not fully aware of how routine spills are. […]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011Texas governor declares fast-track emergency for abortion restrictions:

Remember how Texas is having such a huge budget crisis that the Legislature has been forced to slash funding for one of its favorite pet projects, crisis pregnancy centers?

Well, apparently, the budget crisis is over because Gov. Rick Perry is insisting that the Legislature focus its attention on the most important issue ever:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has suggested to pro life activists that a bill in the Texas Legislature requiring women seeking abortions to have a sonogram taken of their fetus will be placed on the emergency fast track for passage.
That's right -- passing even greater restrictions on women's access to reproductive health care is an emergency in Texas, budget be damned. Not to mention that this legislation, if it passes, will inevitably lead to litigation, as it has in pretty much every other state where similar laws have been enacted. Nothing like a costly lawsuit to really help out with the state's budget crisis, huh, Governor?

This is the same Gov. Perry who, less than two years ago, declared that Texas might have to secede from the union because "the federal government has become oppressive. I believe it’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state."


Tweet of the Day:

One in four Americans think God helps decide the outcome of football games http://t.co/...
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