Emulsified oil, oil mousse and tar balls from an unknown source were washing up on beaches from Grand Isle to West Timbalier Island along the Gulf of Mexico, a stretch of about 30 miles, and it was still heading west Monday afternoon, a Louisiana official said. The state is testing the material to see if it matches oil from last April’s BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Oil spill response workers under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard and state officials were scrambling to block more of the material from coming ashore. ES&H Corp. has been hired to oversee the cleanup.
“We are working with our state and local partners to mitigate any further environmental impact while continuing to facilitate the safe movement of marine traffic to the fullest extent possible,” Capt. Jonathan Burton, the federal on-scene coordinator for the response, said in a news release late Monday.
“To avoid delays in resource availability and delivery, we have taken a forward leaning approach and authorized ES&H to procure whatever additional boom and resources they need,” Burton said.
The news release said that when all areas where the material has washed ashore are combined, about a half-mile of shoreline was affected.
Workers have deployed about 10,000 feet of containment and sorbent boom to prevent damage to environmentally sensitive areas; two MARKO skimmers are being moved to the area and another two are available; and two barge boats and two drum skimmers are at the scene.
The nuclear plant crisis that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan has prompted a spike in opposition in the U.S. to increased use of nuclear power, much like the rise in opposition to increased offshore oil drilling following the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that was set off last April by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform.
But almost a year later, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted March 17-20, support for more offshore oil drilling has rebounded.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed by Pew following the drama at Japan’s nuclear plants said they opposed increased use of nuclear power compared to 39 percent who supported it. That’s a turnaround from February 2010, when 52 percent favored increased use of nuclear power and 41 percent were opposed.
In recent weeks, the price of a barrel of oil has stayed at about $100 a barrel, and gasoline prices have been edging closer to $4 a gallon. The costs are apparently due to events half a world away, in the Middle East. Even though plenty of oil is around, there is fear of further disruptions, and consumers, business people, and politicians have all been making adjustments. Here are eight ways that higher energy prices are starting to affect America.
1. Airplane travel: More costly, yes, but also crowded
If you’re at a computer trying to make plane reservations for the summer, you had better hold on to your seat: The prices might make you hit the ceiling.
Airlines have hiked fares six times since the beginning of the year because of the soaring price of jet fuel, says Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com.
Anyone flying to Europe this summer can expect to pay $1,400 to $1,800 round trip for a coach ticket. That cost includes about $400 for a fuel surcharge and another $120 in taxes and fees.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich announced Monday that, for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the bureau has approved a deepwater oil and gas exploration plan, submitted by Shell Offshore Inc., following the completion of a site-specific environmental assessment.
As explained by Salazar and Bromwich, an exploration plan describes all exploration activities planned by the operator for a specific lease or leases, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and other relevant information that needs to meet important safety standards. Once a plan is approved, additional new applications for permits to drill can be issued.
According to BOEMRE, Shell’s plan supplements its original exploration plan for the same lease in the company’s Auger field, which was approved in 1985. This plan would allow for the Shell to seek permits to drill three exploratory wells in about 2,950 water depth, 130 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Based on its review, BOEMRE said it found no evidence that the proposed action would significantly affect the quality of the human environment, meaning that an environmental impact statement was not required. That allowed BOEMRE to issue a “finding of no significant impact,” enabling the supplemental exploration plan to be approved.”
Kites of all shapes and sizes will take to the breeze Sunday, filling the airspace around the Washington Monument. The capital’s annual kite festival will feature recreational fliers as well as competitions to determine the best homemade kites, the kite with the top aerial dance moves and the champion of Rokkaku-style kite-fighting.
Elsewhere, a different kind of kite contest is already in progress, and start-ups around the world are racing to win. The goal: to create a self-piloting kite, or something like one, that flies day and night and generates energy from the wind. The prize: potential riches, and renewable energy that proponents say will be cheaper, safer and more plentiful than fossil fuels or nuclear power.
As any kite-flier knows, getting a kite off the ground can involve some effort. But once aloft, a kite can fly seemingly forever. That’s because winds even a hundred feet or so above the ground are stronger and steadier than those close to the surface.
In the jet streams, which flow about six miles above the Earth, winds often exceed 100 mph. Those powerful air currents contain about 100 times as much energy as the world now uses, according to experts.
Mongolia says it will erect solar power plants in the frigid Gobi desert. The Central African Republic says it will expand its forests to cover a quarter of its territory. Mexico promises to slash carbon emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade.
Costa Rica and the Maldives aim to become carbon neutral and even chaotic Afghanistan is promising to take action on climate change.
The pledges from dozens of developing countries, compiled by the United Nations and released Monday, are voluntary, and many made them conditional on financial and technical help from the industrial world.
But the list helps bring into focus demands by wealthy countries that everybody reduce greenhouse gases to fight global warming. Scientists say carbon dioxide from industrial processes trap the Earth’s heat, causing climates to change in ways that could alter agriculture, raise sea levels and contribute to more extreme weather.
A number of the cleantech efforts between the United States and China reflect the need for cooperation on issues surrounding climate change and clean energy as it is a major factor in the relations of these two countries. Although there are still issues to resolve in many of the collaborations, it is believed that if the United States and China can continue in their cleantech collaborations, that it will show the world that two major players on the international platform are serious about combating the challenge of climate change, and it will also encourage other countries to create alliances. Through collaboration, the two largest greenhouse gas emitters will be able to create technologies required to combat climate change. Not only that, but tangible benefits will be developed, not just for the United States and China, but the world as a whole.
1) United States – China Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment was established in 2008, and it “facilitates the exchange of information and best practices to foster innovation and develop solutions to the pressing environment and energy challenges both countries face.” It also led to the creation of “EcoPartnerships” – a way to encourage both United States and Chinese stakeholders to strengthen their commitment to sustainable economic development within the local level.
2) United States – China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) has its main headquarters in both countries. It will facilitate research and development of technology by a team of leading scientists and engineers in the clean technology industry. The research center receives both private and public funding which is split evenly for each country. The initial research priorities of the United States – China Clean Energy Research Center includes building energy efficiency, clean vehicles, and clean coal, which includes carbon capture and storage. It was founded in 2009 by United States President Barak Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. The goal of the research center is to “build a foundation of knowledge, technologies, human capabilities, and relationships in mutually beneficial areas that will position the United States and China for a future with very low energy intensity and highly efficient multi-family residential and commercial buildings.”
Republican lawmakers representing Texas in Congress say they will fight attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce tougher rules.
U.S. Representatives Joe Barton and John Carter accused the EPA of being too tough on Texas following a meeting with state leaders. They said recent steps by the agency to reduce the state’s regulatory powers are a clear case of federal overreach. They vowed to introduce legislation to stop the EPA from enforcing stricter pollution rules.