Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘oil drilling’

October 31, 2009

Massive oil leak in Timor Sea off Australia

Half way around the world from the San Francisco Bay oil spill, a massive oil leak in Timor Sea, may turn into an ecological disaster if scientists’ warnings are correct.

Gilly Llewellyn, a World Wildlife Federation (WWF) biologist who led a survey team of the spill, is quoted in The Indepedent saying “If the oil were washing up on beaches, there’d be national outrage.”

Since Aug. 21, 2009, an estimated 400 barrels of oil a day have been spilling out of a ruptured drilling rig in a remote area some 155 miles off Western Australian. The company that owns it, PTTEP Australasia, a branch of Thai-owned PTT Exploration and Production Co. Ltd., hasn’t been able to cap the leak. News story

“Oil can be a slow and silent killer … so we can expect this environmental disaster will continue to unfold for years to come,” added Llewellyn. “This is going to have a huge footprint on an amazing part of our marine world, but it may take several years for us to detect.”

Already dead fish drifting have been spotted in Indonesia waters. Several dead birds and sea snakes have been found in oil and may have been killed by the slick, although official tests have yet to determine the deaths.

View Oil leak site in a larger map

December 29, 2008

"Drill, baby, drill" mantra to have its way off coast?

The Bush administration is reviving a 1980s plan to open Northern California coastal waters to offshore oil drilling, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. >>>>>>>>>> See: Map of California coast >>>>>

Read: Drillers eye oil reserves off California coast

Both of the nation’s coasts have been protected from any more offshore oil drilling since 1981. The ban ended this year after not being renewed by Congress. See: Gulf Coast States Mull Over Oil Drilling Ban

Proponents may have a crack at the 10 billion barrels believed to lie in California waters. This may be enough to supply the nation for about 17 months. Ever since high gas prices and unrest in the Middle East, oil companies and politicians have been clamoring for increased domestic drilling here on both coasts. The Republican party made it a rallying cry at its 2008 convention when current chair of GOPAC, Michael Steele, delivered the infamous, “Drill, baby, drill” line in his speech.

Here in California, residents have generally opposed drilling since the 1969 Santa Barbara platform blowout that leaked 3 million gallons crude oil killing dolphins, seals, otters and thousands of seabirds. See: History of 1969 spill

A recent poll declares 51% in this state are in favor of offshore oil drilling. Others fear increased oil spills and damage to environment. Incoming president-elect Barrack Obama hasn’t been locked down on an offshore oil drilling ban. He does prefer more investment in solar, wind and geothermal. He also believes nuclear energy can be better utilized.

September 28, 2008

Schwarzenegger against more offshore oil drilling

Using his strong memory of the catastrophic 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger renewed his opposition to any new oil drilling off the state’s coastline.

Schwarzenegger remembers walking the beach in his Santa Monica bodybuilding days after the Santa Barbara oil spill: “Every single time I walked around Muscle Beach, my feet were stuck with tar and there were dead birds laying around,” Schwarzenegger told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco this week. “I think the people of California don’t want to go through that again. I think we must protect our pristine coastline.”

Schwarzenegger’s opposition to additional offshore drilling puts him at odds with other Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain. McCain continues to make offshore oil drilling a major component of his energy platform. He touts the “drill here, drill now” mantra during campaign stops outside California.

Memories of the January 29, 1969 spill are still fresh in this state. The oil spill happened when a Union Oil Co. platform blew out six miles off the coast of Summerland. For eleven days, as 200,000 gallons spewed out of the well, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. Blown by winds and swells the oil created a 800 square mile slick.

At least 3600 birds – mainly grebes and cormorants – died in the spill. The next year only 200 grebes were counted in an area that was once home to 4000 to 7000.

At the time, Fred L. Hartley, president of Union Oil uttered these insensitive words: “I don’t like to call it a disaster,” because there has been no loss of human life; I am amazed at the publicity for the loss of a few birds.”

Following the spill, Earth Day was born nationwide. Many people consider the oil spill a major impetus to the modern environmental movement.

More history:

Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network: 1969 Oil Spill

Oil Spill in Santa Barbara

Media reports on Schwarzenegger’s speech: San Jose Mercury News