Stop Dumping Offshore Fracking Waste Into Gulf of Mexico
A Trump administration proposal to continue allowing oil companies to dump unlimited amounts of offshore fracking chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico violates federal law and threatens imperiled marine wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity warned this week.
In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 6 office on its proposed wastewater-discharge permit for offshore oil and gas drilling activities off the coasts of Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi—where thousands of offshore drilling platforms are located—the Center for Biological Diversity explained that the proposed permit violates the Clean Water Act because it causes an undue degradation of the marine environment. The Center for Biological Diversity's letter notes that "scientific research has indicated that 40 percent of the chemicals used in fracking can harm aquatic animals and other wildlife."
"The Trump administration is letting the oil industry dump unlimited amounts of toxic fracking chemicals into these wildlife-rich waters," said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell. "The EPA is supposed to protect ocean water quality, not turn a blind eye as oil companies use the Gulf as a garbage dump for fracking waste."
Earlier this year the EPA's Region 6 office responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Center for Biological Diversity for records analyzing the effects of fracking chemicals on Gulf water quality and marine life. Officials said they didn't have any responsive records, meaning the agency has been allowing the oil industry to dump its fracking wastewater into the Gulf without studying its environmental impacts, as federal law requires.
Federal waters off Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi host the largest concentration of offshore oil and gas drilling activities in the country. Previous records requests revealed that oil companies dumped more than 75 billion gallons of wastewater into these waters in 2014 alone.
At least 10 fracking chemicals routinely used in offshore fracking could kill or harm a broad variety of marine species, including marine mammals and fish, Center for Biological Diversity scientists have found. The California Council on Science and Technology has identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.
Fracking chemicals raise grave ecological concerns because the Gulf of Mexico is important habitat for whales, sea turtles and fish and contains critical habitat for imperiled loggerhead sea turtles. Dolphins and other species in the Gulf are still suffering lingering effects from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"It's the EPA's job to safeguard our oceans from being contaminated with fracking wastewater," Monsell said. "The agency has no business rubber-stamping the dumping of dangerous, disgusting chemicals without even trying to understand the risks."
By Tim Radford
Scientists have calculated yet another item on the human shopping list that makes up the modern world: plastics. They have estimated the mass of all the plastic bottles, bags, cups, toys, instruments and fabrics ever produced and tracked its whereabouts, as yet another index of the phenomenal change to the face of the planet made by recent human advance.
Altogether, since about 1950, with the birth of a new industry, more than 8.3 billion tonnes (or 9.1 tons) of synthetic organic polymers have been generated, distributed and discarded. Of that total, 6.3 billion tonnes are classified as waste.
By Jessica Corbett
As Senate Democrats stay silent on an energy bill that environmental groups call "a pro-fracking giveaway to oil and gas interests that would commit America to decades more of dangerous fossil fuel dependence," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is receiving applause for speaking out against it.
"As a nation, our job is to move away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy and energy efficiency. This bill does the opposite," Sanders said in a statement.
ExxonMobil filed suit against the federal government last week, claiming that a $2 million fine levied against the company by the Treasury Department is "unlawful" and "capricious."
The Treasury Department fined Exxon Thursday morning, alleging that the oil giant displayed "reckless disregard" of U.S.-Russian sanctions in its dealings with Russian company Rosneft in 2014 under CEO Rex Tillerson.
By Andy Rowell
For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."
To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.
Late last year, the tiny house community celebrated a watershed moment—an official appendix in the 2018 version of the International Residential Code, the model building code used by most jurisdictions in the U.S.
"There are many things that are monumental in the adoption of tiny house construction codes by the IRC," cheered Thom Stanton, the CEO of small space developer, Timber Trails. "Among them, that architects, designers, builders, community developers and (maybe most importantly) zoning officials have a means of recognizing tiny houses as an official form of permissible dwelling."
The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.
Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.
A reef off the coast of Cancún will become the first in the world with its own insurance policy, testing a new strategy meant to encourage local investment in the wellbeing of the reef.
Under the policy, created by insurance company Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, local hotels and other organizations dependent on tourism will pay into the policy, receiving reimbursements to repair the reef and local beaches after natural disasters.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) denounced the USDA's permit for the world's first open-air trials of the Genetically Engineered (GE) Diamondback moth to be released in Geneva, New York.
This announcement came concurrently with the availability of a final environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for the field release of the GE Diamondback moths. NOFA-NY considers the Environmental Assessment lacking comprehensive health and environmental details.