December 23 News: As Shell Gears Up For Arctic Drilling, It Has Another Massive Spill in Nigeria

Other stories below: Congress Approves Payroll Tax Cut with Keystone XL Rider; Top 10 Cleantech Trends for 2011

An oil spill near the coast of Nigeria is likely the worst to hit those waters in a decade, a government official said Thursday, as slicks from the Royal Dutch Shell PLC spill approached the country’s southern shoreline.

The slick from Shell’s Bonga field has affected 115 miles (185 kilometers) of ocean near Nigeria’s coast, Peter Idabor, who leads the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, told The Associated Press. Idabor said the slick continued to move toward the shore Thursday night, putting at risk birds, fish and other wildlife in the area.

Shell, the major oil producer in Nigeria, said late Thursday the spill came from a “flexible export line” connecting the offshore field to a waiting tanker. The company published photographs of the spill, showing a telltale rainbow sheen in the ocean, but said it believes that about 50 percent of the leaked oil has already evaporated.

Congress takes up payroll tax after GOP retreat [likely killing Keystone XL, so the GOP can make it an election issue]

Capping a full retreat by House GOP leaders, Congress will convene Friday in hopes of approving a stopgap measure renewing payroll tax cuts for every worker and unemployment benefits for millions — despite serious opposition among some tea party Republicans.

Friday’s unusual session, if all goes according to plan, will send a bill to President Obama to become law for two months and put off until January a fight over how to pay for the 2 percentage point tax cut, extend jobless benefits averaging around $300 a week and prevent doctors from absorbing a big cut in Medicare payments.

Those goals had been embraced by virtually every lawmaker in the House and Senate, but had been derailed in a quarrel over demands by House Republicans for immediate negotiations on a long-term extension bill. Senate leaders of both parties had tried to barter such an agreement among themselves a week ago but failed, instead agreeing upon a 60-day measure to buy time for talks next year.

TCEQ, report’s editors reach deal on climate change data

Texas’ environmental agency has reached an agreement with a Rice University oceanographer and his editors to publish a scientific article the agency had earlier rejected because of references to climate change, human impact on the environment and sea-level rise.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the editors have negotiated an agreement that will allow the publication of an article on sea-level rise in Galveston Bay by John Anderson, Maurice Ewing professor of Oceanography, said Jim Lester, an editor at the Houston Advanced Research Center. The article is the summation of a 10-year, peer-reviewed study published in the Geological Society of America.

“We arrived at a compromise, and the compromises were sufficient to make John Anderson agree that his name would be on the chapter,” Lester said Wednesday.

The top 10 trends for cleantech in 2011

Yep, it’s that time of year where we look back at the trends of the year and then look forward to what we think the next year has in store. We know these lists have become a bit cliche by now, but they really do enable us to reflect on the big picture.

So, here we go. The top 10 trends in greentech in 2011:

1). Solar prices plummet: One of the most overwhelming market drivers of 2011 was the massive price drop of solar modules. Researchers have found that the price of solar dropped by 40 percent in 2011. Part of that had to do with Chinese solar manufacturers flooding the market with low cost solar, creating an oversupply and benefiting from low cost loans from the Chinese government.

Losing power: China’s wind gear makers face lean returns

Huge overcapacity and weak demand mean Chinese wind turbine makers, among the world’s largest, are set for lower revenue and profits for at least the next two years.

China had more than 80 wind turbine makers as of 2010, capable of producing over 40 Gigawatts, yet wind equipment demand is expected to be just 15 GW a year.

And companies looking overseas to fuel their growth are met by funding bottlenecks in Europe and the United States that are likely to mean a decline in orders.

At home, Beijing has taken action to rein in overcapacity – implementing stricter technical standards for wind turbine production, tightening approvals for new wind farms and suspending connections of certain wind projects.

Climate change to heap more burden on women

Forty-year-old George Chambuluka married with seven children from Malawi’s Lower Shire region (covering Chikhwawa and Nsanje Districts) sharing boundary with Mozambique abandoned his wife and children including his ailing 70-year-old frail, sick mother some weeks ago. He travelled a distance of over 40 Km from his village to the country’s sole commercial city, Blantyre after failing to provide food for his family due to climate change.

“After accessing the cheap government subsidized fertilizer last season I harvested literally nothing since my crops withered while in the garden before maturity due to drought as a result of climate change,” said Chambuluka.

He left home in search for work in Blantyre to solicit money for purchasing food for the family in Chikhwawa after burying his heard of five cattle.


8 Responses to December 23 News: As Shell Gears Up For Arctic Drilling, It Has Another Massive Spill in Nigeria

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    All of the oil companies have caused enormous damage in the Niger River delta. Thousands of people have been poisoned and displaced. There is little monitoring or mitigation, and the whole spectacle shows us what oilmen are made of.

  2. Leif says:

    I would think that Shell’s evaporation mitigation response will be orders of magnitude less effective in Arctic temperatures. Perhaps even a covering of snow. It is my understanding that under some conditions snow can accumulate on open sea water, I would think that propensity would be enhanced with a coating of heavy oil. What a nightmare of a clean up IMO.

  3. Michael T says:

    Here is a great video on the communication of climate science from the AGU 2011 meeting:

  4. J says: reported the oil spill two days ago. Oil spills happen all the time; we just don’t hear about it. Sky Truth is a great website for keeping up with all the spills (major and minor) that happen in the U.S. and all over the world. Their website is here:

  5. J says:

    In the Ikarama community environment in Nigeria from August through November of 2011 Royal Dutch Shell had 12 oil spills. You can read the article here:

    Hard to believe that former Shell Chairman, Ron Oxburgh once said that he sees “very little hope for the world” unless carbon dioxide emissions are dealt with. You can read that statement here:

    Those days are long gone…

  6. jean says:

    I make comments in local papers trying to tell people that the USA will be like Nigeria if oil/gas/coal are allowed to drill/mine every last bit of fossil fuel that they can get away with.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Without milk, those Malawi kids won’t last long. And there are still 12 million starving around Somalia, Ethiopia etc. And then there’s Northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, N. Korea…

    What was that about some future food crisis? ME

  8. Roger Shamel says:

    Thank you for pointing to this great video.

    It has some of the best talks I’ve seen in a long while about how to get the climate message communicated to the public, etc.

    I’m sending a copy of the link to President Obama for his use when preparing the climate remarks for his State of the Union address.

    Climate Progress readers can help support Obama’s decision to speak out about the climate by pointing friends and family to, and/or by calling the White House comment line to suggest the idea, 9-5, M-F, 202-456-1111.

    I’d encourage all CP readers to look at the link and take the speakers’ advice to heart.