EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Rebecca Bowe
Send an army of industry workers into remote polar bear territory in the dead of winter, and things are not going to end well.
- Arctic Oil Drilling Project Approved by Trump Administration ... ›
- Polar Bears Could Be Nearly Gone by 2100, Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
- What the Government Shutdown Means for Our Coasts and Ocean ... ›
- How the Government Shutdown Could Impact the Nation's ... ›
- Trump Administration Approves Harmful Seismic Blasting in Atlantic ... ›
Australia's petroleum regulator granted permission for seismic blasting in the Great Australian Bight, sparking fierce outcry from environmentalists over its threat to the area's marine life, whihc include endangered blue and southern right whales.
On Monday, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) gave the green light to oil and gas exploration services company PGS Australia's application for seismic surveys off the coast of South Australia's Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 this year.
Democratic attorneys general from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York filed a motion on Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by several conservation groups and South Carolina coastal communities.
Despite vehement opposition from communities, businesses and lawmakers along the Atlantic coast, the National Marine Fisheries Service on Friday is expected to issue five permits, or Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHA), that allow deafening seismic surveys to search for offshore oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Seismic Blasting Devastates Ocean's Most Vital Organisms ›
- Watchdog Accuses Trump's NOAA of 'Choosing Extinction' for Right Whales by Hiding Scientific Evidence - EcoWatch ›
Deepwater Horizon Anniversary: Trump Administration Ignores Advice on Preventing Explosions, Injuries, Blowouts
The Trump administration is ignoring advice from the bipartisan commission that investigated the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster as officials move to repeal offshore drilling safety regulations adopted in its aftermath.
Friday is the eighth anniversary of the explosion that killed 11 oil workers and caused more than 210 million gallons of oil to flow uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for more than three months, killing thousands of marine mammals and birds.
The Trump administration is holding the biggest offshore oil and gas lease auction in U.S. history Wednesday, offering all 77 million acres of unleased, available federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
The sale comes as administration officials seek to rescind drilling safety rules approved after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, reduce royalties paid by oil companies, and expand offshore drilling into every ocean in the country.
But the situation appears to be getting worse: Researchers tracking the whales' usual calving grounds off Georgia and northern Florida have not seen a single calf yet this breeding season, which started in December and peaks in January and February.
Ireland's Dáil Éireann, the country's lower house of parliament, voted 78-48 Thursday to advance a bill to stop the government from issuing new contracts for both on and offshore oil and gas exploration.
Despite strong opposition from the Irish government, the legislation was backed by thousands of activists, campaigners, parliamentarians as well as a surprising supporter who believes in life after oil: Cher.
“I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver," Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke said Tuesday. “As a result of discussion with Governor Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms."
Belize, home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, has permanently suspended oil operations in its ocean waters. The legislation marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans—and all the life within—from oil exploration and extraction.
The new suspension of oil activity marks an enormous win for the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site, the wildlife that live there, and the hundreds of thousands of Belizeans who rely on the reef for survival.
By Giulia C.S. Good Stefani
A new study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution confirms that the North Atlantic right whale—one of the world's most endangered whales—has reversed course and is no longer recovering, but rather, is in perilous decline. The authors estimate the probability that the population is declining at 99.99 percent and found a strong divergence between male and female survival rates, leaving the population with a troubling imbalance. There are substantially more males left than females.
How can the authors (two of whom are from the government's own National Marine Fisheries Service) be 99.99 percent certain that they are correct? Because there are so few whales we can count them. North Atlantic right whales are individually identifiable by the unique, white, callosity patterns on their lower jaw. And, sadly, there aren't that many to count. The estimated population of North Atlantic right whales is fewer than 500.