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Shell Oil Spill Dumps Nearly 90,000 Gallons of Crude Into Gulf
The leak—roughly 88,200 gallons—created a visible 2 mile by 13 mile oil slick in the sea about 97 miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Officials said that the accident occurred near Shell’s Glider field, an underwater pipe system that connects four subsea oil wells to the Brutus platform, which floats on top of the water with a depth of 2,900 feet.
Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said in a statement that the likely cause of the spill was a release of oil from the subsea infrastructure.
The Coast Guard said that the source of the discharge is reportedly secured. A cleanup crew has been dispatched.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said in a statement that a company helicopter observed the sheen yesterday, and that the wells were under control after it isolated the leak and shut in production.
"There are no drilling activities at Brutus, and this is not a well control incident," the company said. "Shell is determining the exact cause of the release by inspecting the subsea equipment and flowlines in the Glider field. The company has made all appropriate regulatory notifications and mobilized response vessels, including aircraft, in the event the discharge is recoverable. There are no injuries."
Citing industry trade publications, Reuters reported that the Brutus platform started operations 15 years ago and was designed with top capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil and 150 million cubic feet (4.25 million cubic meters) of gas per day.
Shell said that "no release is acceptable, and safety remains our priority as we respond to this incident."
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has tightened regulations for offshore operators ever since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that claimed the lives of 11 men and caused the largest man-made oil spill in history after dumping 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
Still, environmental advocates have criticized Big Oil's insistence that offshore drilling can be done safely and have urged for the practice to stop.
“The last thing the Gulf of Mexico needs is another oil spill," Vicky Wyatt, a Greenpeace campaigner, told EcoWatch. "The oil and gas industry’s business-as-usual mentality devastates communities, the environment, and our climate. Make no mistake, the more fossil fuel infrastructure we have, the more spills and leaks we’ll see. This terrible situation must come to an end. President Obama can put these leaks, spills, and climate disasters behind us by stopping new leases in the Gulf and Arctic. It's past time to keep it in the ground for good."
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade noted in a press release this morning that the federal National Response Center clocks "thousands" of oil industry accidents in the Gulf of Mexico every year.
"What we usually see in oil industry accidents like this is a gross understatement of the amount release and an immediate assurance that everything is under control, even if it's not," Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade founding director, said. "This spill shows why there is a new and vibrant movement in the Gulf of Mexico for no new drilling."
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which aims to end petrochemical pollution in the Pelican State and a transition to renewable energy, said that on the same day as Shell's accident, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a hearing focused on the environmental impact of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. During the hearing, Gulf residents brought in tar balls found just last month at Elmer's Island in Grand Isle, Louisiana as evidence that BOEM's environmental impact assessment is inadequate, the group said.
Gulf residents opposed to drilling are calling on President Obama not to open additional leases in the next Five Year Plan for the Gulf of Mexico.
"This latest offshore oil disaster once again demonstrates the inherent dangers of fossil fuels, and the irresponsibility of allowing new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico even as these spills continue to happen," Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance, said. "We have a decade-long, ongoing oil spill that the government won't force Taylor Energy to fix and the Gulf is struggling from the impacts of Deepwater Horizon. The Gulf must no longer be treated as a sacrificial zone. It is time that the federal government recognized that for the health of our ocean, coasts and climate, there must be no further offshore oil leasing."
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.