The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Oil Spill Continuing for 14 Years Could Become Nation's Worst Environmental Disaster
By Andy Rowell
It may be a New Year, but there is an old oil spill that keeps on spilling. The trouble is that you will probably have never have heard about the spill.
But you need to know. Because, for more than 14 years, some 10,000 to 30,000 gallons of oil have leaked daily from a sunken oil rig owned by Taylor Energy into the Gulf of Mexico, about 12 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The disaster began way back in September 2004, when the company's oil platform, known as MC-20 Saratoga, was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Although the company contained some of the pollution caused by the loss of the platform, it did not stop all the leaks.
Unless the oil spill is stopped, the sunken rig could carry on leaking for 100 years, becoming America's worst environmental disaster. Even now, if you take the high end of the leak estimate, the site may have released an estimated 150 million gallons of oil. This is silently creeping towards the estimated 200 million gallons spilled by BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
Back in November last year, the U.S. Coast Guard directed Taylor Energy to implement a new containment plan which "must eliminate the surface sheen and avoid the deficiencies associated with prior containment systems." In theory the company could be fined $40,000 a day for failing to comply.
As you would expect, the company responsible for the spill, Taylor Energy not only disputes the figures concerning the leaks, but even whether it is to blame for the leak itself. Over the years it has tried to dismiss the leak as nothing more than a mere "trickle." That is hardly surprising because it could cost an estimated $1 billion to fix.
The bottom line is that this a slow unseen disaster that could have been stopped years ago. As NOLA reports, some six years ago, Skytruth, an environmental group based in Shepherdstown, measured the oil sheen coming from the platform at over 20 miles long and urged the authorities to act. However, it was not until 2016 that the U.S. authorities began investigating the ongoing pollution.
He is rightly not the only one concerned about what is going on. Writing in The Guardian at the end of last year, Janis Searles Jones, the CEO of Ocean Conservancy and Philippe Cousteau, from EarthEcho International, said the thought of the spill carrying on for decades is a "nightmare scenario that should terrify anyone who cares about the health of the wildlife and people who live along the Gulf coast."
Taylor Energy's tricks continue. Just before Christmas, according to NOLA, "The company filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans asking the court to toss out a recent Coast Guard order to contain the leak." The company said that "containing the leak is unnecessary."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.
At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.
By Cheryl Leahy
Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.
By Jeremy Deaton
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company's History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny
By Andrea Germanos
A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.
The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."
"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.
The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.
A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.
"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.