Archive for BP Oil Disaster


NOAA Study Confirms BP Oil Spill Led to Dolphin Deaths in Northern Gulf of Mexico

May 20, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster, Media Resources, NOAA, Reports, Science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org

NOAA Study Confirms BP Oil Spill Led to Dolphin Deaths in Northern Gulf of Mexico 

Leading Conservation Groups Call on BP to Accept Responsibility for Continued Environmental Damage

(New Orleans, LA—May 20, 2015) Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a peer-reviewed study confirming that the 2010 Gulf oil disaster contributed to an increase in dolphin deaths in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Examining dolphins, including those in Barataria Bay, La. – an area hit particularly hard with heavy oil in 2010 – scientists found that contaminants from petroleum in BP oil caused lung and adrenal lesions that led to death in these dolphins.

In response, national and local conservation groups working on Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast restoration, including Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, issued the following statement:

“BP has spent millions of dollars trying to dodge responsibility and convince the American public that wildlife and habitat in the Gulf were minimally impacted by its hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled in 2010. Just two months ago, BP marked the fifth anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster by releasing a report claiming the Gulf had largely recovered from the spill.

“Despite BP’s best claims, this new NOAA study definitively links the increased dolphin deaths in Barataria Bay with the 2010 Gulf oil disaster and is yet another example of the extensive and destructive impact that BP’s oil unleashed on the people, wildlife and environment of the Gulf. Additional scientific research conducted through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment indicates that dolphins – a top predator – are experiencing impacts from BP’s oil and are still dying at higher than normal rates due to oil exposure in the Gulf ecosystem.

“Last fall, BP was found to be grossly negligent for its actions in the Gulf oil disaster. This study is a stark reminder that the oil is still in the Gulf, it’s still causing sickness and death in some species and it’s still affecting the entire ecosystem. It’s time for BP to stop denying the true impacts of the spill and accept responsibility for its actions, so that meaningful restoration can proceed.”

 Background:

Since the BP oil disaster five years ago, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP’s ads: the oil disaster’s negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved.

A recent infographic depicts ongoing impacts of the Gulf oil disaster five years later. And over the past year alone, new scientific research has surfaced:

  • A 2014 study found evidence of a 1,250-square-mile area of oil contamination on the ocean floor around the Macondo wellhead in deep Gulf sediments.
  • A previous NOAA study found a large number of dead dolphins in heavily oiled places, including Barataria Bay, La.
  • Recent studies estimate 1,000,000 birds died as a result of being exposed to BP oil.
  • Modeling for a recent stock assessment projected that between 20,000 and 60,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles died in 2010 as a result of the spill.
  • A 2014 study found concentrations of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) – which can cause harmful effects in many birds, fish and wildlife – in Barataria and Terrebonne marshes, which may persist for decades.
  • A 2012 study found that oiled marshes in Barataria Bay eroded at double the rate of non-oiled marshes.
  • A recent survey found that 70 percent of Americans believe BP should pay maximum fines under the Clean Water Act for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

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Following the oil spill, new science and research efforts develop in the Gulf of Mexico

May 5, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster, Restoration Projects, RESTORE Act, Science

By Estelle Robichaux, Restoration Project Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund

This is the final post in a series about Gulf oil spill early coastal restoration funding and projects. Be sure to check out parts one, two and three.

In addition to environmental restoration projects and programs, four different science programs have been created through oil-spill related funding streams. See the info boxes for details on each program.

Because these programs began developing around the same time and around the same general topics – the Gulf of Mexico, ecosystem restoration and oil and gas production – there is often a lot of confusion about what these programs do and how they are different. We are here to help!

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How are the areas of focus in each of these science programs different?

There are three broad areas of focus that all of these programs collectively address:

  • Ecosystems & the environment
  • The human element
  • Offshore oil development & the environment

However, there are key distinctions between each program and how they address these broader topics.

Ecosystems & the environment

Based on the statutory language in the RESTORE Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) science program covers all marine and estuarine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. The Centers of Excellence (CoE) programs are more narrowly focused on coastal and deltaic systems. Both of these programs also include fisheries, with CoE programs being limited to coastal fisheries but also covering coastal wildlife.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) program broadly addresses protection of environmental resources, while the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) does not have a directive to concentrate on specific ecosystems or species.

GoMRI does, however, have an explicit focus on ecosystem recovery. The CoE programs can emphasize ecosystem restoration and sustainability, and NAS has interpreted language in the settlement agreements to include restoration of the environment and ecosystem services under their program as well.

The NOAA program is supposed to support ecosystem sustainability and restoration “to the maximum extent practicable.” There is a focus on ecosystem management in the current science plan, but this program is not specifically designed around restoration science.

The human element

The BP oil disaster also has had a great impact on human communities. Both the NAS program and GoMRI are investigating human and public health issues that have developed in the wake of the spill. This includes socioeconomic research as well as behavioral, mental and social well-being. CoE programs can address economic and commercial development in the Gulf region, with a focus on sustainable and resilient growth.

Offshore oil development & the environment

Throughout the Gulf Coast and particularly in Louisiana, the oil and gas industry is an important economic driver and employer. But offshore oil and gas production needs to be done responsibly, for both the people and environment of the Gulf.

Safe and sustainable offshore energy development is something on which CoEs can focus. The NAS program is will be addressing oil system safety and GoMRI will be developing technology related to oil spill response and remediation.

GoMRI’s primary focus is on the impacts of oil and dispersants on Gulf ecosystems and organisms as well as the physical and chemical questions surrounding oil and dispersants, such as where did the oil go and how has the oil and dispersants been degrading.

Are all of these programs investing the same kinds of science?diagram

As with the areas of focus, there is a lot of overlap in the types of science activities that these programs are targeting, but there are a few important differences.

The obvious commonality among all four programs is research, which is not surprising as they are all science-focused endeavors.

GoMRI, CoEs and the NAS program also all have some focus on technology and development. This means that some of the science and research that these programs fund will be targeted towards developing new technologies, products or procedures.

The NOAA and NAS programs, as well as CoEs, will invest in monitoring. As discussed in this previous blog post, the BP oil spill highlighted the lack of coordinated, comprehensive monitoring throughout the Gulf region. These programs will fund research into what monitoring does exist throughout the Gulf and explore options and opportunities for implementing monitoring programs.

Even among the distinguishing types of activities these programs will pursue, there are areas of convergence. The NAS program has a mandate to focus on education & training; CoEs on mapping the Gulf of Mexico; and the NOAA program on data collection and fisheries pilot programs. However, training and pilot programs may find overlap with development initiatives. Similarly, data collection and mapping are both important activities strongly related to monitoring. With so many intersections between and among programs, it is essential that these programs communicate with one another.

What’s missing?

With everything these four science programs are doing, it may be hard to believe that anything is lacking. But there are two very important things missing from these collective efforts.

One is formal coordination among programs. Over the last few years, as these programs have begun developing, there has been copious discussion about not duplicating efforts among programs. However, there has been little conversation about devising specific, formal coordination mechanisms to make sure that such duplication does not happen.

Development and implementation of formal coordination mechanisms would also allow programs to take advantage of overlap, by providing points of discussion for complementary or parallel endeavors, particularly those that might span ecosystem boundaries or involve large-scale research or monitoring.

The second missing piece is a means for integrating findings into restoration activities, like those discussed here. Although this will require work beyond the four programs examined here, these science programs should make every effort to ensure that results from their funded research and activities are publicly accessible and readily communicated to decision-makers.

These science programs may not be constructing restoration projects, but the results from their research and other activities may have important implications for restoration efforts now and in the future.

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8th Graders Present Project to Louisiana House on Coastal Restoration

April 30, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, Birds, BP Oil Disaster, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), Wildlife

By Eden Davis, Outreach Coordinator, Louisiana Wildlife Federation

This was originally posted on the LA Camo Coalition blog.

On April 29, a group of 8th graders from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Belle Chasse presented to the Louisiana House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment about the importance of coastal restoration.

Eden blog photo 1

The Committee diligently listened as the 8th graders used Cat Island as a call to action on the urgency for restoring our coast. Cat Island, located in Plaquemines Parish, has all but disappeared, going from a pre-BP 5 acres to  now mere tenths of an acre.

The 8th graders have spearheaded a campaign called the Pelican Cat-astrophe. Their focus is on restoring Cat Island due to the island serving as critical pelican habitat and also as the first line of defense for coastal communities against storm surge. Cat Island has historically been one of the greatest nesting locations for the Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican. Until 2009, the brown pelican was on the endangered species list.

Eden blog photo 2

Cat Island.

These students are quite persuasive; after presenting to the Plaquemines Parish Council, the Council approved 1.2 million in spending to restore Cat Island. After the 8th graders spoke, Chip Kline from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, confirmed the state's plans to restore Cat Island.  Kline said that the exact amount of funding is contingent on what damage to Cat Island the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) determines is the fault of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Go the Pelican Cat-astrophe website, here!

 

 

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A tradition worth building – Collectively sustaining and stewarding our coast

April 29, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster, Community Resiliency, People, Voices of the Delta

By Maura Wood, Partnership Manager, National Wildlife Federation

On April 20, several members of the Restore the Mississippi River Delta campaign gathered with community members in Davant, Louisiana, to commemorate the 5th anniversary since the BP oil spill with testimony and discussion about how the terrible oil unleashed on that day is still affecting us all. Those gathered included representatives from NGOs, fishermen, residents of coastal communities, business leaders, employees of restoration agencies and others.

While there is widespread agreement that restoring our coast is a priority and that BP should pay to repair the damage it created, we sometimes disagree on how best to achieve these goals. Our collective situation is urgent. Unfortunately, our differences sometimes prevent us from making rapid progress. When we let ourselves become attached to one idea or one way of doing things, we may begin to see those with different ideas as one-dimensional opponents – making it less likely we’ll be able to solve our land loss crisis.

To avoid this outcome, I and my colleagues make contact with a variety of people concerned about restoration, in as many ways and as often as possible.  The invitation to the workshop for Plaquemines Parish Fishermen and Fishing Communities five years after the BP oil disaster was a welcome opportunity to learn more from the first-hand experiences of others.  The panels and discussions dealt with how BP had settled – or not – with fishermen, the damage left behind from the oil and the dispersant and how the citizens of lower Plaquemines Parish were coping –or not – with the environmental, financial and cultural losses forced upon them by the oil spill.

Testimony from fishermen, shrimpers, and oystermen clearly spelled out some of the obstacles they still face.  Prior to the spill, many had served as deckhands on oyster boats or as small operators selling sack oysters from the public seed grounds. For some, troubles began even earlier with Hurricane Katrina.  Following the oil spill, producing the necessary proof of loss of income was difficult for many of these fishermen, resulting in their receiving little to no compensation from BP.

Other participants expressed concerns about the long-term effects of dispersants sprayed during the oil spill, the failure of oysters to recover on the east side of the river and how the oil spill was still unravelling the economic fabric of the lower parish. The marina, they said, the “heart” of the community, is now silent and without business. Before Katrina and the spill, this was a center for exchange within the community. Families gathered here after school. Young men earned spending money by unloading oysters. Trucks came in and out, loading and shipping seafood. Without this “center”, people feel the heart of their community is gone. “What is the price of a tradition?” one woman asked.

The participants in this workshop provided a glimpse into the real struggles they face in trying to recover from the impact of the BP oil spill.   Sharing individual stories helps us view each other as real people with good intentions seeking to make it right.  When we see each other as people with unique stories and valuable perspectives, we can better empathize with and address each other’s concerns about the uncertainties of coastal restoration.

The reward?  A new tradition of people from different walks of life working towards the same goal – collectively sustaining and stewarding our coast and coastal communities for all Louisianans. That is a tradition worth building.

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BP's claims of Gulf recovery are a mockery | Commentary

April 22, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster

Commentary by David Yarnold, President, National Audubon Society

Tribune News Service – April 22, 2015

Just in time for the fifth anniversary of the worst oil spill in U.S. maritime history, BP has declared all's well on the Gulf Coast: The oil has been mopped up and there's been no lasting damage to birds, wildlife or fish.

Really?

At the same time that BP was releasing its five-years-later report, BP contractors were trying to clean up 25,000 pounds of oiled sand from a massive tar mat that slimed one of the fragile barrier islands south of New Orleans.

Toxicology experts at Louisiana State University confirmed it was the same oil that spewed from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout that killed 11 men.

Here's what BP doesn't want you to know: Its crews had been on the scene of that massive cleanup for the three weeks leading up to the release of that report which claimed all cleanup operations had been long finished. That's a serious truth gap. The British-owned oil giant continues to be far more concerned about its bottom line than repairing the damage it inflicted on the Gulf Coast.

Read the full article here.
 
 
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Roll Call – 5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Focus on Restoration — Not Misinformation | Commentary

April 20, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster

Commentary by Douglas J. Meffert, National Audubon Society, David Muth, National Wildlife Federation, and Steve Cochran, Environmental Defense Fund

Roll Call – April 20, 2015

It’s been five years since images of oil-soaked pelicans, dead turtles and contaminated shorelines along the Gulf Coast shocked our national consciousness. Half a decade after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 men and unleashing the worst marine oil spill in U.S. history, BP would like you to believe that everything is back to normal along the Gulf Coast. In reality, BP has not yet truly accepted responsibility for the enormity of the damages it caused. Its recent Gulf of Mexico Environmental Recovery and Restoration report states that “most environmental impact from the accident was limited in duration and geography, and the natural resources that were affected are rebounding.” The scientific authority on the spill – the trustees of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, said this in response: “BP misinterprets and misapplies data while ignoring published literature that doesn’t support its claims.” In this battle of PRs – public relations vs. peer-reviewed science, we side with science.

This commentary was originally published on Roll Call. You can read the full commentary here.

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Restoration Groups Call on President Obama to Make Leadership on Gulf Restoration a Priority Issue

April 17, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster, Media Resources

GRP EDF NWF NAS OC TNC header

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Andrew Blejwas, The Nature Conservancy, 617.785.7047, ablejwas@tnc.org
Rachel Guillory, Ocean Conservancy, 504.208.5816, rguillory@oceanconservancy.org

RESTORATION GROUPS CALL ON PRESIDENT OBAMA TO MAKE LEADERSHIP ON GULF RESTORATION A PRIORITY ISSUE

Five years after the start of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, nation’s largest environmental groups ask the President to accelerate restoration

(Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2015) Today, groups working on Gulf restoration called on President Obama to redouble the administration’s efforts to hold BP accountable for the oil disaster that started five years ago – and continued for nearly 90 days – making it the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The groups, including Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Ocean Conservancy released the following joint statement:

“The communities and wildlife along the Gulf Coast are still suffering from the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Today, we stand with the people and the communities of the Gulf – and the ecosystems that provide their homes and livelihoods – and ask President Obama and his administration to make Gulf of Mexico restoration a national priority.

“Five years ago, President Obama promised to do whatever is necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. It’s time to renew that commitment. Not only must BP be held fully accountable for the harm it caused in the Gulf, but the administration should ensure that its agencies work with all the Gulf stakeholders to make certain that the fines and penalties are used for well-planned, coordinated, large-scale comprehensive Gulf restoration.

“The five Gulf states have a gross domestic product of over $2.3 trillion a year, which relies heavily on seafood, tourism and other industries that depend on a healthy environment. In addition, a strong and healthy ecosystem is the best defense the region has against storms like Hurricane Katrina. The communities of the Gulf cannot afford to keep losing time, as we are just weeks away from the start of another hurricane season. We hope the administration will make this work a priority, and we look forward to working with the President and his agencies to speed up restoration efforts.”

At-a-glance: 2010 oil spill’s devastating impact:

  • Recent studies estimate 1,000,000 birds died as a result of being exposed to the oil.
  • Health assessments of dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay found that those dolphins were five times more likely to have moderate to severe lung disease than dolphins at other sites and in previous studies of wild dolphins.
  • A 2014 study found evidence of a 1,250-square-mile area of oil contamination on the ocean floor around the Macondo wellhead in deep Gulf sediments.

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5 years later: Revisiting the areas most affected by the BP oil spill

| Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster

By Estelle Robichaux, Restoration Project Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund

This post was originally published on the EDF Voices blog.

April 20 marks the five-year anniversary of the BP oil spill, and people around the country are reflecting on the state of the Gulf – how ecosystems and communities have recovered from the spill and how far they have yet to go.

I recently had the opportunity to spend time in coastal Louisiana, visiting some of the areas most affected by the oil spill. I was struck by how, within a 30-mile range from Belle Pass to Cat Bay, you could see so many points along the spectrum of ecosystem health – from near ecosystem collapse to successful barrier island restoration.

Amid the ongoing environmental and economic tragedy, I saw a successful model for recovery and restoration that can be adapted elsewhere in the Gulf – and perhaps beyond. One important missing piece is significant funding for restoration, which will only be available once BP accepts full responsibility for the damage it did to this precious region.

Oil spill’s effects visible and ongoing

East Grand Terre Island, a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and Barataria Bay, some 45 miles south of New Orleans, has been in the news recently because of a massive 25,000-pound BP tar mat that was discovered on the beach and had to be removed.

The official cleanup had wrapped up a week before our visit, but even so, we found tar balls and other oily material along the beach, including this:

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Tar ball on East Grand Terre.

Nearly five years later, most but not all of the toxic elements in the oil still out in the Gulf have been broken down and dissipated. But this weathered oil still poses a potential risk to the health of both humans and wildlife.

As distressing as the re-oiling of coastal areas and continuing cleanup from the oil spill may be, even more disheartening is the fate of Cat Island.

Cat Island, also in Barataria Bay, was once a lush mangrove island that served as an important and thriving bird rookery. Before the oil spill, the island was teeming with pelicans, rosette spoonbills and least terns, just to name a few.

Now, all that remains of Cat Island are some dead mangrove stumps on a couple of shell mounds. Cat Island barely exists.

The thick crude oil that spewed into the Gulf during the spill coated the roots of the mangroves, cutting off their ability to take in oxygen. The mangrove trees suffocated and died, and Cat Island eroded away at an even more rapid pace.

But I also saw restoration success in progress.

Life returns to stressed barrier islands

Belle Pass to Caminada Pass Barrier Island Restoration is one of four large-scale barrier island headland restoration projects in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. Once fully constructed, more than 2,000 acres will have been restored along the Caminada Headland, an area southwest of Barataria Bay.

Construction on the first phase of the beach and dune habitat restoration has been completed, and soon the entire project area will be planted with native vegetation. We saw birds and small crabs on the shoreline and small plants naturally re-vegetating the newly reconstructed habitat.

Not only is the early success of this project exciting, but the manner in which multiple funding streams have been leveraged to design and complete construction of Caminada’s beach and dune habitat is impressive. It shows preparedness and flexibility by both the implementing and funding organizations that could be modeled elsewhere.

An opportunity that can’t be missed

These days, a trip to Louisiana’s coast is almost always filled with mixed emotions for me. I feel excited and optimistic when I see the concrete steps toward recovery from the oil spill and restoring our coast, like at Caminada. I also feel great loss when I see pieces of the state vanishing.

And I have hope, because I know that the people of Louisiana will not let her go easily. The state invests hundreds of millions of dollars in coastal restoration every year, and the visibility and quality of these projects continues to grow.

Louisiana has cultivated a specific vision for coastal restoration and has spent the time and money to develop that vision into an actionable plan. One thing that stands in the way of these projects is BP’s public and ongoing refusal to acknowledge and accept full responsibility for the 2010 disaster.

Five years after the spill, we’re still waiting for the oil company to pay. The Gulf’s ecosystems and communities still have a long way to go, and they deserve justice.

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5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Audubon Stewards the Gulf

April 16, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, Birds, BP Oil Disaster, Wildlife

In the wake of the worst marine oil spill in U.S. history, Audubon is working to protect bird populations and restore critical habitat across all five Gulf states.

By Chris Canfield, Vice President, National Audubon Society, Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway

This post has been cross-posted from an article originally published on the National Audubon Society’s website.

This Monday marks five years since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, claiming 11 lives and unleashing the worst marine oil spill in U.S. history. In that time, the National Audubon Society has built on its 100-year legacy of protecting bird populations throughout the Gulf Coast and has extended its footprint of stewardship across all five states.

The Gulf Coast is an important breeding ground and migratory rest stop for many coastal birds, including Brown Pelicans, Least Terns, Wilson’s Plovers, Sanderlings and other vulnerable species. BP oil reached the coastal habitats – on which these birds rely during shorebird migration – at the height of nesting season for breeding waterbirds, resulting in the death of an estimated 1 million birds.

In the immediate aftermath of the spill, Audubon staff and hundreds of volunteers were on the ground, facilitating transport of oiled birds for cleaning and care, protecting critical habitat and nesting grounds and being the voice for birds throughout the disaster. In the years that followed, Audubon engaged its network of volunteers to help pass the historic RESTORE Act—ensuring that a majority of funds from the Clean Water Act fines BP pays will be allocated towards restoration efforts. In order to understand the immediate and long-term effects on birds, Audubon scientists also developed the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey, a citizen-scientist effort to monitor the health of coastal populations and to provide a better accounting of these populations going forward. The program has been expanded to all five Gulf states.

Five years have come and gone since the oil spill, and as the ongoing effects continue to be felt, the National Audubon Society is focused on ramping up its important stewardship for birds at more than 200 sites across the Gulf Coast. We empower citizens and communities to protect terns and skimmers in nesting colonies, protect the access of plover chicks to their feeding grounds, and oversee critical waterbird colonies from Florida to Texas. We still await assessment of full fines to BP and others involved with the catastrophic spill, but we have been successful putting available funds to work on expanded coastal bird protections.

To all of our volunteers, supporters and friends who have been there for the Gulf and its bird populations, thank you for helping us make significant progress in confronting this terrible disaster. We have a long way to go before meaningful restoration is achieved, so please stay engaged and stay committed. In the meantime, I encourage you to share this video to inform others about the important work Audubon is doing throughout the Gulf Coast and sign this petition asking BP to stop its campaign of misinformation and pay for the damage done.

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Five Years after BP Oil Spill: Focus Should Be on Continued Need for Restoration

| Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster, Media Resources

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org

Five Years after BP Oil Spill: Focus Should Be on Continued Need for Restoration  

Leading Conservation Groups Challenge BP to Stop Campaign of Misinformation, Fund Restoration

(New Orleans, LA—April 16, 2015) Monday, April 20, marks five years since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 men and spewing at least 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In advance of the memorial, leading national and local conservation organizations working on Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast restoration – Environmental Defense FundNational Audubon SocietyNational Wildlife Federation and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following statement:

“As we approach the fifth anniversary of one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, there is no question that the damage unleashed by the BP oil spill is serious, evident and ongoing. Five years have passed and BP is still sidestepping responsibility.

“Despite BP’s attempts to convince the public through high-priced publicity campaigns that the Gulf is fine, the negative impacts of its ‘gross negligence’ will be felt for decades. BP claims that the Gulf’s natural resources have rebounded, but peer-reviewed scientific studies and visible ongoing effects tell another story. Five years later, 10 million gallons of oil remain on the Gulf floor. Last month, a 25,000-pound BP tar mat was discovered on a Louisiana barrier island. And Cat Island – an important nesting site for brown pelicans and other coastal birds – has nearly disappeared since the spill. Even more troubling are the lingering effects not visible: significant damage from oil and chemical dispersants to the food web, wildlife and overall ecosystem of the Gulf Coast.

“In the courts of public opinion and science, BP’s claims that the spill’s effects are limited and that the Gulf has recovered have no merit. Rather than wasting additional precious time and money dodging blame, it’s time for BP to drop the publicity campaign, let the courts and scientific process decide, and then quickly pay for the damage it caused.

“The Gulf Coast depends on a healthy ecosystem to feed and fuel the nation, so ensuring that it’s comprehensively restored is not just a regional issue – it’s of utmost importance to people across the country. A recent poll found that 70 percent of Americans believe BP should pay the maximum fine allowed under the Clean Water Act. Clearly, America is stronger when the Gulf is stronger, both ecologically and economically. But in addition to the effects of the spill, Louisiana has been facing a land loss crisis for decades – since the 1930s, we have lost 1,900 square miles of land. Nowhere is restoration more needed than in the Mississippi River Delta, which was ground zero for the Gulf oil disaster. BP should put its money where it is most needed, toward meaningful restoration of America’s Gulf Coast, as opposed to legal fees and promotional dollars.

“We have a historic opportunity to restore the health of our wetlands, revive Gulf Coast economies that depend on them and make the Gulf Coast better than it was before the spill – but we must begin restoration now. Implementation of restoration plans cannot fully begin until BP accepts responsibility and pays. Thanks to vehicles like Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan and the RESTORE Act of 2012 – which ensures that the Clean Water Act fines BP pays will be used for restoration – and by implementing our coalition’s recommended 19 priority projects, true progress can be made along the Gulf Coast before it’s too late.”

Background:

Since the BP oil disaster five years ago, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP’s ads: the oil disaster’s negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved.

A new infographic depicts ongoing impacts of the Gulf oil disaster five years later. And over the past year alone, new scientific research has surfaced:

  • A 2014 study found evidence of a 1,250-square-mile area of oil contamination on the ocean floor around the Macondo wellhead in deep Gulf sediments.
  • A new NOAA study found a large number of dead dolphins in heavily oiled places, including Barataria Bay, La.
  • Recent studies estimate 800,000 birds died as a result of being exposed to BP oil.
  • Modeling for a recent stock assessment projected that between 20,000 and 60,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles died in 2010 as a result of the spill.
  • A 2014 study found concentrations of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) – which can cause harmful effects in many birds, fish and wildlife – in Barataria and Terrebonne marshes, which may persist for decades.
  • A 2012 study found that oiled marshes in Barataria Bay eroded at double the rate of non-oiled marshes.
  • A recent survey found that 70 percent of Americans believe BP should pay maximum fines under the Clean Water Act for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

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