Bump in corn grown for ethanol has polluted water and wiped out 5 million acres of conserved land, AP finds
Five million acres of land — more than in Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite national parks combined — have been pulled from conservation on Obama’s watch, according to Agriculture Department figures.
What’s more, from 2005 to 2010, corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 1 billion pounds. More recent data isn’t available from the Agriculture Department, but because of the huge increase in corn planting, even conservative projections by the AP suggest another billion-pound fertilizer increase on corn farms since then.
Some of that fertilizer has seeped into drinking water, contaminating rivers and boosting the growth of enormous algae fields in the Gulf of Mexico; the algae eventually decompose, sucking oxygen from the water and leaving behind a huge dead zone, currently covering 5,800 square miles of sea floor where marine life can’t survive.
That dead zone is just one example of a peculiar ethanol side effect: As one government program encourages farmers to plant more corn, other programs pay millions to clean up the mess.
Obama is no environmentalist. He’s helped increase fracking, expanded off-shore oil drilling, continues to stealthily approve parts the Keystone XL Pipeline, weakened endangered species protection, and will sign off on Alaska’s horrifying Pebble Mine gold mine.
March of the mighty fire ant, over time. Note the “Potential” areas.
CNN reports Alabama is abusing BP oil spill money. Above, a state rep defends plans to spend beach restoration funds on building a new convention center and tourist attractions on the beach, above.
Alabama is spending just 8.5% on restoring beaches and marine ecosystems. Louisiana, for comparison, is spending 100% of the BP penalties on wetland, wildlife, marshes, and other coastal restoration. Florida is spending 90% on restoration.
Solid reporting @CNN’s OutFront.
The number of deepwater semisubmersibles and drillships working in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico could rise to 52 in June 2014 and 54 in December 2014 if all of the deepwater rigs currently under contract remain so according to data from Rigzone’s RigLogix database.
Operators with rigs under firm contract in the U.S. Gulf in December 2014 will include BP plc, which will have six rigs, the most from any operator. Royal Dutch Shell plc will have five rigs under firm contract during that time. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is expected to have four rigs working, followed by Chevron Corp. and LLOG Exploration Co. LLC, with three rigs each under firm contract.
Exxon Mobil Corp., Petroleo Brasiliero S.A. (Petrobras), Plains Exploration & Production Company, and Statoil ASA each are expected to have two rigs under contract in the Gulf of Mexico in December 2014. At that time, BHP Billiton Ltd., Eni S.p.A, and Murphy Oil Corp. will each have one rig under firm contract.
Several of these drillers are foreign oil companies. And many of the permits were fast-tracked by the Obama administration.
SUBMIT FEEDBACK UNTIL 5PM TOMORROW.
To help citizens find out how the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency responded to pollution reports, we are proposing FOIA-matic, a new feature to be added to Louisiana Bucket Brigade‘s iWitness Pollution Map and SkyTruth‘s Gulf Oil Spill Tracker. This simple tool will enable anyone to easily submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Coast Guard and EPA to find out if there was any response or enforcement to a pollution report.
Excellent. FOIA is complicated and expensive. Now, citizens can find more information from government regarding pollution (among other enviro-y things). Pass it on.
Note the above oil fire was just a few days ago.
An ancient Cypress forest was discovered at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Not a hoax. Hurricane Katrina stirred up the sand on the bottom of the Gulf, exposing a 50,000 year old forest.
For thousands of years, sand protected the ancient forest from rotting. Now that the sand has been removed, the trees are being torn apart by critters, fish, and exposure to water.
Here’s a video, which I can’t embed because tumblr hasn’t completely figured out How to Internet: Underwater Forest.
The forest is about 10 miles off the coast of Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico and lies under 60 feet of water (about the height of a 6 story building). Researchers say you can see tree rings, and even sap when the wood is cut with a saw. In fact, they say it even smells like freshly cut Cypress.
The trees apparently lived along a river.
Why is there a forest at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? Sea level rise from melting glaciers. Sea level rise chewed away and drowned millions of miles of coasts around the world after the last Ice Age, but I’ll leave that for you to google and for future posts!
stayholden asked: Hello! I am studying International Relations with a Minor in Environmental Policy/Law. I am currently writing a paper on Hypoxia in Japan. Know of any good documentaries or places I could visit with good information?
Hey stayholden, Best I can think of is NOAA’s hypoxia projects. There’s also research on the Great Lakes, which I’m sure you’re aware of. But maybe check out the work being done on Lake Balaton in Hungary. Sounds like an interesting research project. Do keep in touch! m
(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard via Reuters)
WASHINGTON - Transocean Ltd has agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle U.S. government charges arising from BP Plc’s massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP well probably still leaking in the Gulf of Mexico. The excellent tumblr energygasandoil discovered this diligent reporting by CBS. They interview Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), who led the original 2010 federal investigation in 2010:
Oil may be seeping from Deepwater Horizon site
BP is set to embark Thursday on the fifth day of a little-known subsea mission under Coast Guard supervision to look for any new oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The BP oil rig exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers and sending more than 7 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for three months before it was capped. In September, a new oil sheen was spotted about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Tests confirmed the oil came from the infamous Macondo well underneath the Deepwater Horizon. BP’s underwater vehicle observed oil seeping from the well’s containment dome and, after a remote operation, declared the leaks plugged on October 23. The company and the Coast Guard said it wasn’t feasible to clean up the slick, and that it didn’t pose a risk to the shoreline.
Slicks and sheens of varying sizes and shapes have been documented by satellite photos, as well as aerial video recorded by the non-profit environmental group “On Wings of Care.” It’s suspected that an unknown amount of oil trapped in the containment dome, and in the wreckage and equipment from 2010, could be seeping out
(via CBS News)
Suspensions typically last 18 months. BP, a foreign energy company, caused the largest marine oil spill in human history.
The suspension, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, comes on the heels of BP’s November 15 agreement with the U.S. government to plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The British energy giant agreed to pay $4.5 billion in penalties, including a record $1.256 billion criminal fine.
BP and its affiliates are barred from new federal contracts until they demonstrate they can meet federal business standards, the EPA said. The suspension is “standard practice” and BP’s existing U.S. government contracts are not affected, it said.
The EPA acted hours before a government auction of offshore tracts in the Gulf of Mexico, a region where BP is the largest investor and lease-holder of deep-water tracts and hopes for further growth. BP is also the top fuel supplier to the U.S. military, the largest single buyer of oil in the world.
Suspension of contracts could give the government leverage to pressure BP to settle federal and state civil litigation that could top $20 billion if a court finds BP was grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
An EPA official said government-wide suspensions generally do not exceed 18 months, but can continue longer if there are ongoing legal cases.
In a statement, BP said it has been in “regular dialogue” with the EPA, and that the agency has informed BP that it is preparing an agreement that “would effectively resolve and lift this temporary suspension.” The EPA has notified BP that the draft agreement will be available soon, BP said.
Solid reporting from Reuters.
The oil rigs are on fire. Two people missing. Video.
Four people were rushed to a hospital Friday after an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico some 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La., the U.S. Coast Guard told NBC News.