The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a rule on January 9, 2014 requiring oil and gas companies using hydraulic fracturing off the coast of California to disclose the chemicals they discharge into the ocean. Oil and gas companies have been fracking offshore California for perhaps as long as two decades, but they largely flew under the radar
Fire is burning on a gas rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 55 miles off the Louisiana coast, in the same general area as the infamous Deepwater Horizon disaster.
44 workers have been evacuated from the platform. The rig is in the Gulf of Mexico which is where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in 2010, leaking
Democrats renewed their push to cut oil subsidies this week, saying high gasoline prices and big revenues for oil and gas companies make this as good a time as any to eliminate billions in annual tax incentives to the industry. Republicans countered that higher taxes on oil companies would only mean higher prices for consumers.
Offshore drilling typically refers to the discovery and development of oil and gas resources which lie underwater. Most commonly, the term is used to describe oil extraction off the coasts of continents, though the term can also apply to drilling in lakes and inland seas. Offshore drilling presents environmental challenges, especially in the Arctic or close to the shore.
(Reuters) – The U.S. government confirmed on Sunday that BP Plc has succeeded in permanently plugged its runaway Macondo well, closing the first chapter in the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Here are some questions and answers on how things might play out for BP, the U.S. offshore industry and the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem.
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday to keep pushing for legislation to fight climate change despite a move in the U.S. Senate to focus energy reform more narrowly on offshore drilling.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is expected to unveil a bill later on Tuesday that does not include setting caps on carbon emissions — the key element of a more comprehensive energy and climate bill that
(Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will unveil as early as Monday a slimmed-down energy bill seeking to make offshore drilling safer and convert trucks to run on domestic natural gas.
The full Senate could begin consideration of Reid’s bill on Tuesday and Democrats would like to pass it by the early part of the following week.
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama will press BP executives this week to set up an escrow account to pay damage claims by individuals and businesses hurt by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
The move comes as Obama, who will address the nation about the spill on Tuesday night, faces questions on his handling of the disaster, which was in its 55th day. Millions of gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf since an April 20 offshore rig blast killed 11 workers and blew out the well.
The U.S. Senate’s long-awaited energy bill, which will be officially unveiled Wednesday, would require utilities to begin paying for carbon dioxide emissions in 2013 and return two-thirds of the money to U.S. taxpayers to offset rising energy costs; it would also encourage the development of nuclear power with tax credits and other incentives and allow offshore drilling along new sections of the U.S. coast with certain restrictions and environmental safeguards.
The Senate bill, known as the “American Power Act,” limits entities that can trade directly in the carbon emissions permits to the utilities and, eventually, the factories that will be required to purchase the permits — a provision designed to avoid a speculative market in carbon trading.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In response to the BP oil spill, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce on Tuesday that the Minerals Management Service will be divided so collection of oil royalties and safety inspection of offshore drilling are separated, a department official told Reuters.
The MMS currently carries out both roles, drawing criticism from some U.S. lawmakers and environmental groups.
Critics argue the MMS is faced with a conflict of interest because it is responsible for regulating and shutting down offshore oil production over safety concerns, if necessary, and also charged with keeping the oil flowing so the government can collect royalties.
The oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico has shattered the notion that offshore drilling had become safe. A close look at the accident shows that lax federal oversight, complacency by BP and the other companies involved, and the complexities of drilling a mile deep all combined to create the perfect environmental storm.
It’s hard to believe now, as oil from the wrecked Deepwater Horizon well encroaches on the Louisiana marshes. But it was only six weeks ago that President Obama announced a major push to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. Obama’s commitment to lift a moratorium on offshore drilling reflected the widely-held belief that offshore oil operations, once perceived as dirty and dangerous, were now so safe and technologically advanced that the risks of a major disaster were infinitesimal, and managing them a matter of technocratic skill.
But in the space of two weeks, both the politics and the practice of offshore drilling have been turned upside down. Today, the notion that offshore drilling is safe seems absurd. The Gulf spill harks back to drilling disasters from decades past — including one off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. in 1969 that dumped three million gallons into coastal waters and led to the current moratorium. The Deepwater Horizon disaster is a classic “low probability, high impact event” — the kind we’ve seen more than our share of recently, including space shuttle disasters, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. And if there’s a single lesson from those disparate catastrophes, it’s that pre-disaster assumptions tend to be dramatically off-base, and the worst-case scenarios downplayed or ignored. The Gulf spill is no exception.
The Sierra Club has created an online action center to to keep people informed about the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico last month. The site offers the latest news and updates on the spill as well as offering people ways to volunteer.
The Sierra Club is calling for President Obama to stop all new drilling off America’s coasts immediately and permanently, stating:
In France it is known as la Marée Noir, the “Black Tide.” The waves of oil that are rushing to choke the shorelines of Louisiana are well-known to the residents of the Galician coast of Spain and the shores of southwestern France where I used to live.
It was there in 2002 that the giant oil tanker Prestige broke apart in rough seas, a nightmare that would bring death to more than 20,000 birds and other wildlife, a nightmare that would spell destruction to the fishing and tourism industries for years afterward.
Living near Bordeaux at the time, I witnessed the results of the disaster first hand. For those concerned about the effects of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, past tanker calamities such as the Prestige and the 1989 wreck of the Exxon Valdez are instructive; they help us understand the magnitude of the damage such accidents can have on a region’s habitat, and the dangerous consequences of insufficient government regulation and political wrangling.
BP, the global oil giant responsible for the fast-spreading spill in the Gulf of Mexico that will soon make landfall, is no stranger to major accidents.
In fact, the company has found itself at the center of several of the nation’s worst oil and gas–related disasters in the last five years.
In March 2005, a massive explosion ripped through a tower at BP’s refinery in Texas City, Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring 170 others. Investigators later determined that the company had ignored its own protocols on operating the tower, which was filled with gasoline, and that a warning system had been disabled.