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Climate
Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. NASA

Not Enough Ice to Drill the Arctic! Offshore Oil Drilling a 'Disaster Waiting to Happen'

Last month, the Trump administration approved the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters, which environmentalists fear will ramp up carbon pollution that fuels climate change.

But here's the ultimate irony: Hilcorp Alaska's project—which involves building a 9-acre artificial drilling island in the shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea—has been delayed because of the effects of climate change, Alaska Public Media reported.

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French Pass, Marlborough, New Zealand. Thomas / Flickr / Public Domain

New Zealand Ends New Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration

Incredible news in New Zealand, as it has banned new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in efforts to tackle climate change.

The Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Act passed its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday with 63 votes in favor and 55 against, New Zealand Herald reported.

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Politics
With her win, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became one of four Democrats heading to Congress to push for a Green New Deal. Rick Loomis / Getty Images

The Best and Worst Midterm Results for the Environment

Results from the U.S. midterm election are mostly in, and, when it comes to what they mean for the environment, they're a real mixed bag.

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Politics
Erik (HASH) Hersman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Key Environmental Ballot Measures to Track at Your Election Watch Party Tonight

Today is election day in the U.S., which means that if you are a U.S. voter whose state doesn't have early voting, today is the day to head to the polls and make your voice heard.

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A drilling project off Alaska will be located in a polar bear habitat. Roderick Eime / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Arctic Oil Drilling Project Approved by Trump Administration

The Trump administration's unrelenting quest for Arctic oil and gas took a major step on Wednesday as it approved an energy company's controversial production plan.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the sensitive Beaufort Sea and threaten polar bears and Arctic communities.

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Energy
The ongoing Taylor Energy oil spill, photographed on Sept. 2, 2012. LEAN Louisiana Environmental Action Network

The Largest U.S. Oil Spill You've Probably Never Heard of Is Still Leaking After 14 Years

Yet another reason to #KeepItInTheGround. A 14-year chronic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could surpass BP's Deepwater Horizon spill as the largest offshore disaster in U.S. history, the Washington Post reported.

The spill stems from a Taylor Energy-owned production platform located 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana that was toppled by an underwater mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

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Energy
Silurian Valley. Michael E. Gordon

Mojave Desert Protections and Renewable Energy Under Attack

By Helen O'Shea

After opening up most of our country's shorelines to offshore drilling, the Trump administration is now reconsidering an ambitious and innovative plan to conserve desert lands while generating renewable energy.

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Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit on fire. Wikimedia Commons

Trump Administration, Which Wants More Offshore Drilling, Shuts Down Study Into Its Safety

The Trump administration, which is trying to expand offshore oil drilling, has issued a stop-work order on an independent study aimed at making the process safer.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to halt its study on Dec. 7.

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Energy

Rules on Toxic Clean Up Chemicals Unclear as New Leak Pours into Gulf of Mexico

EcoWatch

A U.S. Air Force chemical dispersing C-130 aircraft drops an oil dispersing chemical into the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Deepwater Horizon Response effort, May 5, 2010. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force Photo / Tech. Sgt. Adrian Cadiz.

A new well leak in the Gulf of Mexico is spewing natural gas and possibly crude oil 75 miles off the coast of Louisiana, reports the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

According to the LA Times, authorities reported a “rainbow sheen” of natural gas, more than four miles wide and three-quarters of a mile long, floating on the surface of the Gulf after a fly-over assessment Tuesday. How much had spilled was unclear.

The platform is owned by Energy Resources Technology Gulf of Mexico, LLC (ERT), which is a subsidiary of Talos Energy. According to a statement from the company, workers were attempting to permanently plug and abandon their non-producing well over the weekend when the leak occurred.

According to the Associated Press, workers were trying to temporarily plug the well Monday night when they lost control of it. The five workers on the platform were evacuated safely and two other wells were shut off, stated the U.S. Coast Guard.

As authorities are working closely with the ERT to monitor pollution response efforts, it is still unclear as to which chemicals can be used to safely clean up fossil fuel spills from offshore drilling and other incidents.

News of the leak broke the same day a coalition of environmental and public health groups filed notice to appeal a decision over the Clean Water Act regarding the use of chemical dispersants for oil spills.

Initially, the groups filed suit in August 2012 to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to comply with the Clean Water Act in preparing and publishing the list of dispersants eligible for use in oil spill response.

According to a press release from public interest environmental law firm Earthjustice, the District Court dismissed the coalition’s suit on May 7 reasoning that the EPA initially made its decision not to identify bodies of water or safe quantities for eligible dispersants back in the 1980s and 1990s, even though it was required by the Clean Water Act.

The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo credit:
LEANweb.org.

Earthjustice explains that the Clean Water Act requires the EPA to identify the waters in which dispersants and other spill mitigating devices and substances may be used, and the quantities that can be used safely, as part of the EPA’s responsibility for preparing and publishing the National Contingency Plan. But the EPA currently fails to include this required information in its list of eligible dispersants under the National Contingency Plan, which governs responses to discharges of oil and hazardous substances. This meant that during the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, 1.83 million gallons of dispersants were released into the ocean without prior scientific study and evaluation of the toxicity of those dispersants and without any understanding of whether those dispersants were safe for the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the unprecedented quantities that were used. Research into the aftermath of that disaster suggests that indeed they were not safe.

According to the press release, the District Court stated that the groups should have challenged the EPA's decision when it was first made and were too late to claim violations of the Clean Water Act. This interpretation of the law allows an agency to continue violating clear statutory mandates so long as these violations were not caught and corrected within the first six years of their occurrence.

In October 2010, Earthjustice and the coalition had filed a rulemaking petition calling on the EPA to set a toxicity standard, require dispersant manufacturers both to improve testing of their products for toxicity and to disclose the ingredients of the dispersants as a condition of allowing the product to be eligible for use in response to spills. Earthjustice stated that while the rulemaking has been expected for years, it has yet to be released.

Earthjustice represents the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Florida Wildlife Federation, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Alaska-based Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Waterkeeper Alliance and Sierra Club in this action.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLEAN WATER ACT and OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING pages for more related news on this topic.

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