Tagged: Oil Spills

Air gun array on a research vessel, used for reflection seismic profiles in the ocean (Credit: Hannes Grobe, Wiki Commons)

Expand Offshore Drilling Or Focus On Renewables?

At a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, as lawmakers explored the potential for offshore drilling in Alaska and the Atlantic, seismic testing was once again a controversial topic. Seismic tests are used to determine the presence and abundance of oil; registering at 120 decibels, Representative Jared Huffman (CA-2) said the blasts have “an enormous and obvious impact” on marine mammals. Witness Nikki Martin (President, International Association of Geophysical Contractors) disagreed, claiming that there is no scientific evidence showing harm to marine mammals (despite studies showing otherwise).

DOI Secretary Zinke may explore offshore drilling in the Arctic. (Credit: BBC)

Does “Balanced” Proposed Interior Budget Tip Scale Towards Oil And Gas?

Ocean territories surrounding the United States cover 3.4 million square nautical miles – more than the entire land area of all 50 states. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the literally enormous responsibility of “support[ing] stewardship and collaborative conservation and management” of these ocean, Great Lakes, and coastal resources. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a series of hearings this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the House Natural Resources Committee.

Deficiencies in offshore drilling management highlighted in House committee hearing. (Credit: Adam Dean/New York Times)

Government Accountability Office Gives Bad Grades To BSEE

When children receive a bad report card they must face their parents. The same is true for government agencies, only they appear before Congress. Last week, the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) listed the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on their 2017 High Risk List (an evaluation at the start of every new Congress calling attention to programs most in need of transformation).

A number of new bills introduced in this Congress were of relevance to the ocean science community. One relates to ocean acification research.(Credit: NOAA)

New Congress Means New Legislation

In a scene more appropriate for a college laboratory than the Capitol building (lab safety protocols aside), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) measured pH on the Senate floor during an ocean acidification demonstration. The act...

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on reducing regulatory burdens. (Credit: Kris Krüg/WikiCommons)

Regulations Give and Take: Implement One, Repeal Two

A two-for-one deal on regulations issued by President Donald Trump’s Executive Order last week requires federal agencies to eliminate at least two existing regulations for every new one implemented. This was one of the central themes discussed in a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee that focused on reducing regulatory burdens.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on reducing regulatory burdens. (Credit: Kris Krüg/WikiCommons)

Six Years After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, the Gulf of Mexico and the lives and livelihoods of those dependent on it changed after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sent oil gushing from the sea floor for 87 days. Efforts are still being made to understand how the 3.1 million barrels of oil and 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant (used to break the oil into smaller droplets) have and will affect life in the Gulf of Mexico – both aquatic and human – and the ecosystem itself. At a congressional briefing sponsored by retiring Representative Sam Farr (CA-20), experts came together to discuss the state of understanding of the effects of the spill and direction for the future.

Summer in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Tyrol5 / wikimedia)

July Progress On Capitol Hill

The first two weeks of July were especially busy on Capitol Hill as lawmakers made a final legislative push before they left for recess. Appropriations bills were high on their agenda since Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 expires at the end September, and the Senate and House are now on a seven-week hiatus until September 6.

Lake Erie, pronounced dead 40 years ago, has been dramatically cleaned due to anti-pollution laws. (Credit: Mark K./ Flickr)

Clean Water Act: Overreach or Clean Beach?

The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water continued this debate with a hearing on the implementation of the definition of “waters of the United States.”