Friday, December 16, 2016

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approves plan to restore Gulf

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council approved its updated Comprehensive Plan to restore Gulf Coast ecosystems "and their natural resource dependent economies" it was announced today in a press release.
Kara Lankford, Interim Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program, said in a statement:
"Ocean Conservancy is pleased to see the Gulf Ecosystem Restoration Council renew their commitment in this updated plan to using the best available science when selecting projects to restore the Gulf. This road map for comprehensive restoration of the Gulf ecosystem is a critical foundation piece to ensure a science-based, holistic approach."
The Council, in its report, says that "Gulf restoration funding is distributed among a number of entities and programs, each with its own set of guidelines and decision processes." As anyone trying to untangle red tape knows, what matters is who gets paid and when.
The Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the spring 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil disaster are allocated as follows: - 35% allocated for ecosystem restoration, economic development, and tourism promotion, distributed to all five affected Gulf states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas); - 30% for what are called "Council-administered restoration activities"; 30% to the states based on impact (i.e. Louisiana was hit the hardest as it was closest to the April 20, 2010 spill); -2.5% for research administered by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and 2.5% administered by the U.S. Treasury for Gulf research programs.
Read about the Comprehensive Plan
. Photo: Wikimedia Commons images; by Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Stumberg, from

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Another Gulf oil spill, but this time it's Shell and it's been contained

This article was originally published on, (from May 13, 2016)
It was only a matter of time before another oil spill would be reported here. The amount of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has spiked in recent years, despite the environmental laaughter to the region following BP's 2010 Macondo disaster.
Yesterday it was reported that Shell had a massive leak some 90 miles south of Timbalier Island, and an estimated 88,200 gallons had been released from their Brutus platform. Apparently, the leak was contained and no one was injured, but obviously all the facts aren't in.
In April of 2010, BP's spill began to gush following a tragic accident that killed 11 rig workers off the Lousiana coast. It took 87 days to cap that well, and cleanup efforts continued for years. Corexit was dispersed, killing sea life and sickening Gulf residents.
Luckily, it appears Shell's incident is far less worrisome.
The U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry air crew was sent to conduct an aerial assessment.
Shell said in a statement that, "The likely cause of the sheen is a release of oil from a subsea infrastructure and in response, we have isolated the leak and shut in production."
The company also said that, "No release is acceptable, and safety remains our priority as we respond to this incident."
The Examiner will report more as more news comes in. PHOTO: Via Wikimedia Commons Images; June 8, 2012, by Catherine Hammond.

Nobel Prize Foundation urged to divest from fossil fuels

This week 14 Nobel Prize winners and scientists released an open letter urging the Nobel Foundation to divest its $420 million endowment from fossil fuels. Right now Divest Nobel activists are creatively protesting outside the prestigious Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm to make sure the message to divest is heard. After all, Chemist Alfred Nobel said in his will:
"Nobel prizes should be awarded to those who “shall have conferred the greatest benefit to [hu]mankind.”
In a prepared statement emailed today, a spokesperson for, the climate change activists, said: "The world is watching. Amplify the call to divest the Nobel Foundation right now: Tweet @NobelPrize or comment on their Facebook page.
World-changing physicists, chemists, journalists, lawyers and authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report all argue that Nobel "should not profit from the destruction of our planet’s climate," according to the statement.
Three points out the irony that the Nobel Foundation, which was established to celebrate those benefitting humankind, should be partly funding its activities from companies doing harm - from BP to Shell to Lukoil. Laureates who are being conferred the great prize echo the sentiment in their letter: “As laureates and scientists embracing Alfred Nobel’s final words, it is our expectation that the Nobel Foundation also act in the interest of humankind which includes caring for the health of the planet which we all rely upon.”
You can add your own voice to the voices of the 14 Laureates and the Divest Nobel crew in Stockholm by tweeting here.
Photo: By Strakhov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 9, 2016

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council releases 2016 plan update

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has released an update to its 2013 Comprehensive Plan, the council shared in an emailed statement yesterday, Dec. 8.
The update provides additional "strategic guidance" for the council to follow as they make decisions on restoration funding projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
The group will meet to vote on the Comprehensive Plan Update and hear from restoration partners including representatives from the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.
The meeting will be next Friday, December 16, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Celestin Ballroom Section E (3rd Floor), 601 Loyola Avenue in NOLA from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. The public is invited to attend.
For additional information, and to register for this meeting please click here. Onsite registration will be available on the day of the meeting from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. This meeting is also available via live webinar and may be posted on You can register for the webinar here (link is external).
The Comprehensive Plan Update is intended to improve council decisions by reinforcing the council’s goals and objectives, setting forth an initial 10-year funding strategy, and establishing the council’s vision for Gulf restoration, among other goals.
The Council has updated its Initial Comprehensive Plan to include recent developments in Gulf restoration such as the resolution of civil claims against BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
With the recent announcement that President-Elect Trump's proposed EPA Administrator will be Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, citizens of the Gulf have reason for concern: a ramp up, not winding down, of deepwater drilling means more risk for spills such as occurred in April, 2010.
PHOTO: Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill approaches the coast of Mobile, Ala., May 6, 2010. Image via Wiki Commons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Environmentalists bristle at EPA nom of Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt

Environmental groups nationwide, from Natural Resources Defense Council to Friends of the Earth, have sent out press releases today warning that Donald Trump's proposed EPA chief, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is anti-climate science and bad for the environment. The nomination will be reviewed during hearings held by the Environment and Public Works Committee, before moving to the Senate for a vote.
The National Audubon Society says they are "deeply concerned" and this climate denier "has no place leading the Environmental Protection Agency."
The Trump transition team announced the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as a candidate for administrator of the agency today, prompting The National Audubon Society's response from its president and CEO, David Yarnold:
“Scott Pruitt’s nomination as the anti-EPA Administrator causes us deep concern. The Environmental Protection Agency's work has always been based on science, but Pruitt is a climate change denier who has worked to dismantle well-grounded protections for clean air and clean water.
"Those protections have benefited birds and kids for decades and the next administration’s EPA needs to base its work on scientific consensus, something Pruitt hasn't shown a willingness to do. We urge the Senate to hold an EPA administrator to those basic standards."
A cursory check of Pruitt's background reveals that the staunch Republican, a former Oklahoma state senator, is not only anti-climate science, but against gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
Friends of the Earth said in its press release today that the appointee is a "big polluter" who sued the EPA "multiple times to stop them from protecting air and water."
He also, FOE point out, has deep ties to the oil and gas industry. Natural gas mogul Harold Hamm was the chair of his latest re-election campaign, while in an official role Pruitt has delivered letters to the EPA that were drafted for him by the oil and gas industry, say Friends of the Earth.
Friends of the Earth Climate and Energy Program Director Benjamin Schreiber issued the following statement:
"By appointing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Donald Trump has made it clear that he intends to wage war on clean air and clean water. Trump has also put our climate in peril and shown he is out of step with the American people.
As the Attorney General, Scott Pruitt did the bidding of the oil and gas industry and fought many of the laws he will now be tasked to enforce. He helped Big Oil turn Oklahoma into an earthquake zone. With this EPA pick, Donald Trump is putting all Americans at risk. Friends of the Earth is committed to stop Trump and Pruitt from undermining environmental protections."
The Natural Resources Defense Council is equally alarmed by the nomination. Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC, said in a statement:
“The mission of the EPA and its administrator requires an absolute commitment to safeguard public health and protect our air, land, water and planet. That’s the litmus test. By naming Pruitt, President-elect Trump has flunked. The American people did not vote to return to the country to the dirty old days or to turn a blind eye on dangerous climate change. If confirmed, Pruitt seems destined for the environmental hall of shame, joining the likes of Anne Gorsuch Burford and James Watt, two disastrous cabinet officials in the 1980s.”
The move today by Trump would seem to run counter to chatter that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, is influencing his views on climate change. The soon-to-be-elder First Daughter is said to have been influenced by a Leonardo DiCaprio documentary on climate change, and she held a widely publicized meet-and-greet with Al Gore at Trump Tower recently. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons Images: Scott Pruitt speaking at CPAC 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Mar 5, 2016, by Gage Skidmore.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division today, Dec. 1, announced that Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruise Lines will plead guilty to dumping oil-contaminated waste into the sea and covering it up. In a press release issued today, Friends of the Earth shared the news that illegal discharges have been occurring by the Caribbean Princess since 2005, which will result in seven felony charges and a $40 million penalty. This is the largest fine in the history of criminal cases involving deliberate vessel pollution. Friends of the Earth gave Princess Cruises a C grade overall, with an F for transparency, in its 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card.
John Kaltenstein, senior policy analyst for Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:
"Princess Cruise Lines’ offense is all too reminiscent of cases in the 1990s when the cruise industry was exposed by the US federal government for dumping oily waste and bypassing their treatment systems to save money. Deliberate pollution is completely unacceptable and we continue to call on the cruise industry to be transparent and clean up its act. The entire industry needs to be investigated, and the ships violating the law should be banned from U.S. waters for at least one year. This egregious case of wrongdoing shows just how critically we need federal agency and congressional oversight of cruise industry pollution practices.
Princess’s behavior also shows that we cannot take this polluting industry’s claims of environmental responsibility at face value even when they install the most current pollution control technologies, as systems can be avoided or deactivated so that untreated waste flows right into the sea. The discharge of oil into our oceans is extremely harmful to marine life and can have long-lasting environmental and economic repercussions. The corporate culture that gave rise to these deceptive and illegal acts ought to be scrutinized, both within Princess and at the other cruise line brands comprising the Carnival group. For years Friends of the Earth has been saying that this sector is not as green as it claims to be. Today’s announcement of Princess’s guilty plea is proof that talk is cheap and that the cruise ship industry still has a long way to go until its practices match its rhetoric." To view the results of the 2016 and past years’ Cruise Ship Report Card grading pollution and transparency, visit
PHOTO: Another oil spill (not from Carnival); via Wikimedia Commons Images; Public Domain,