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BP claims mission accomplished in Gulf cleanup; Coast Guard begs to differ

Grist.org - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:41

BP this week metaphorically hung a “mission accomplished” banner over the Gulf of Mexico ecosystems that it wrecked when the Deepwater Horizon oil well blew up and spewed 200 million gallons of oil in 2010. Funny thing, though: BP isn’t the commander of the cleanup operation. The Coast Guard is. And it’s calling bullshit.

Here’s what BP said in a press statement on Tuesday, nearly four years after the blowout: “The U.S. Coast Guard today ended patrols and operations on the final three shoreline miles in Louisiana, bringing to a close the extensive four-year active cleanup of the Gulf Coast following the Deepwater Horizon accident. These operations ended in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi in June 2013.”

Helpful though it may have seemed for BP to speak on behalf of the federal government, the Coast Guard took some umbrage. From The Washington Post:

Coast Guard Capt. Thomas Sparks, the federal on-scene coordinator of the Deepwater Horizon response, sought to stress that the switch to what he called a “middle response” process “does not end cleanup operations.”

“Our response posture has evolved to target re-oiling events on coastline segments that were previously cleaned,” said Sparks. “But let me be absolutely clear: This response is not over — not by a long shot.”

The Gulf Restoration Network tried to explain the semantics behind BP’s deceptive statement. “When oil washes up on shore, BP is no longer automatically obliged to go out there and clean up the mess,” spokesperson Raleigh Hoke said. “Now the onus is on the public, and state and federal governments to find the oil and then call BP in.”

We get why BP would wish that the cleanup were over. The efforts have already cost $14 billion — a fraction of the $42 billion that the company expects to pay out in fines, compensation claims, and other costs related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It’s a nightmare that we all wish were over — but wishes and rhetoric do not remove poisons from an ecosystem.


Filed under: Business & Technology, Climate & Energy
Categories: Environment

Obama makes a push for solar power

Grist.org - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:24

The White House threw a solar party on Thursday, and the streamers and ticker tape came in the form of millions of dollars of new support for solar projects. The Hill reports:

The Obama administration on Thursday announced a $15 million program to help state, local and tribal governments build solar panels and other infrastructure to fight climate change.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and White House counselor John Podesta announced the program at what the White House billed as a “solar summit” designed to push governments and private and nonprofit businesses to up their use of solar power.

Agence France-Presse elaborates:

Thursday, the White House launched a program to encourage federal agencies, military installations, and publicly-subsidized buildings in the Washington area to install more solar panels on roofs, covered parking garages and open land.

And, earlier in the week, the Energy Department guaranteed at least $2.5 billion in loans for “innovative” solar projects.

The Environmental Protection Agency also pledged Thursday to double the use of renewable energy at its network of 1,500 partners organizations — including schools, public buildings, and businesses — within the next 10 years.

Supporting solar energy isn’t just good for the climate and for air and water quality. It’s good for the economy. A White House fact sheet said the industry employs nearly 143,000 Americans — a number that has grown more than 50 percent since 2010.


Filed under: Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

Australian VPN Offers Anonymity to Citizens Concerned About Their...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:22

idcloak announces the release of its Australian VPN at a time when Australian citizens are discovering that their online privacy may be at risk.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11739178.htm

Categories: Environment

Should Hydraulic Fracturing be a Legal Method of Natural Gas...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:22

The Cazenovia College Debate Society will argue both sides during the 14th Annual Great Debate on April 30.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11774680.htm

Categories: Environment

LED Grow Lights Market 2014 - 2020 Agriculture Research Report Now...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:22

ReportsnReports.com adds Grow Lights for Agriculture Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2014 to 2020 industry research reports to its store at...

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11773298.htm

Categories: Environment

Woods President and CEO Awarded Emerging Conservation Leader Award

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:22

Woods’ President and CEO, Diana L. Ramsay, MPP, OTR, FAOTA, was recently awarded the Emerging Conservation Leader Award by the Philadelphia Zoo.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11773481.htm

Categories: Environment

Families are Challenged to Reduce Their Energy Use by 20% with the...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:22

Earth Day Networks and WattzOn announce availability of free web app to help people save energy, save money and help the environment.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/wattzon/earthday/prweb11774205.htm

Categories: Environment

Ciclismo Classico Unveils First Photo, Hiking & Wine Tour of...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:22

Suitable for all levels of photographers from beginners to experts, participants will take daily hikes into the magical landscape of Northwest Argentina to connect, capture and create images like they...

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Argentina-photography/travel-tour/prweb11775630.htm

Categories: Environment

OceanWorks International Delivers Additional Seafloor Nodes to Harris...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:22

OceanWorks International completed the delivery of a spare node base and two node pods to Harris CapRock Communications (HCC) in support of the ongoing operation and maintenance of CSnet...

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11776040.htm

Categories: Environment

These biologists created a gorgeous film about African glaciers

Grist.org - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:03

Chasing Ice launched a new sub-genre of horror films: Watch big beautiful glaciers melt. OK, that might not sound as date-night friendly as a slasher flick, but, hey, if a kid talking to a wagging finger named Tony can be scary, watching the Arctic melt away is downright terrifying. Filmmakers Neil Losin and Nathan Dappen recently joined the field with Snows of the Nile, a visually stunning documentary about the disappearing glaciers in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains (you can watch the trailer here).

Losin and Dappen brought a twist to their ice-gazing short by focusing on glaciers where you might not expect them: the tropics. The emerging filmmakers, who both have PhDs in biology and star in the film, got some financial help from a Dos Equis promotion. Snows follows their journey to the Rwenzori, with prints of its glaciers from a 1906 expedition in hand. And yes, as compared to the original photos, the glaciers have changed. A lot.

Grist interviewed Losin and Dappen about their respective transitions from young science students to photographers to documentarians — and on beer’s starring role.

On liquid courage: 

Losin: I was a fan of [Dos Equis'] page because I loved The Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. And one day this thing about the “Stay Thirsty” grant came across my Facebook feed, and I thought “wow, I could really use that $25,000 – what could we pitch that would cost that much to do.”

Dappen: We already had this idea of documenting tropical glaciers that are disappearing, since not a lot of attention is given to them. Neil started doing research on the topic and he found the Rwenzori Mountains. And then he discovered there was this expedition there in 1906 that photographed the glaciers. We came up with the idea to replicate the photographs.

Losin: It turned out when all was said and done, the Rwenzori idea could cost about as much as the Dos Equis grant – or at least enough to get us there so we could get the footage to tell the story.

On finding science:

Losin: When I was 8 years old, my grandmother gave me an old bird book and a pair of binoculars that she got at a garage sale. And I was just like immediately hooked. I knew from that point forward that I wanted to do science in some way.

Dappen: Growing up, I didn’t know that I wanted to be a scientist. But my mom was an agricultural economist working mostly in the third world, and my dad was a doctor and a big adventurer. So I spent a lot of time traveling in kind of exotic locations, like in the new world tropics and in Africa.

On finding photography:

Losin: My passion for photography also started out with birds, but there’s sort of a barrier to entry for equipment costs to photograph birds because you need enormous, expensive lenses. But ultimately I was able to invest the money into getting a big telephoto lens, and my bird photographs were like the first images that I actually sold into magazines and books.

Dappen: I started taking photos in high school – I was really interested in art. I worked a lot in black and white. And then I got a job working in a photo studio and started shooting weddings and stuff like that. During my biology PhD, I still did a lot of that on the side, just because pay is not very high in grad school.

On forming Day’s Edge, their production company:

Dappen: We met when we were both in grad school, on an eight-week intensive field biology course for graduate students. We both quickly realized that we had a lot in common and became close friends. We talked a lot about science and photography and communication. At that point in time I think both of us thought we’d go into academia and research, but over the next few years we continued to meet up and go on adventures and talk about using our images to communicate science. And it sort of just evolved to the point where we said, “Hey, maybe we could do more with our sort of visual storytelling skill set in science than by actually doing research.”

On telling the story of climate change:

Losin: We really wanted to make Snows of the Nile more experiential than just beating people over the head with the same messages over and over again. So we framed it in terms of us going on a quest to recapture the images from the 1906 expedition, and the conflicts we have fighting against the weather and fighting against the clock, because we didn’t have a lot of time in the mountains to get what we came for. I also think it’s important to see climate change not just in terms of shrinking glaciers, but also in terms of what that’s going to do to human inhabitants. I think the people from the Bakonjo tribe who helped with our trip were such a great embodiment of the human impacts of climate change in the Rwenzori Mountains. To see the surprise in their eyes when we showed them the prints from 1906 – they knew stories of what it used to be like from their great-grandparents, but most of them had never seen images of it before.

On green guilty pleasures:

Dappen: Both Neil and I are really big into equipment. When the new camera gear comes out, we’re always excited about buying it, you know?

And, finally, on dealing with green guilt:

Dappen: I try to set certain guidelines of how to live and what to buy, but for me it’s not the end of the world. I think everybody just has to change in small ways.

Losin: There comes a point where it can be your entire life trying to have a lower impact. And I think it’s because there isn’t necessarily an infrastructure to make life easier for people to consume in a way that doesn’t release enormous amounts of CO2. And that’s why I don’t think it should be on every individual’s shoulders – there are things that every individual can do and should do, because it really doesn’t place any undue burden on you, but the most important things might be if we can advocate politically, because then we can make it easier for everyone to live greener. Once we have a certain kind of infrastructure in place, then it doesn’t have to take your entire day to go out of the way and do these things. They become a lot more natural.


Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy, Living
Categories: Environment

How BP turned a whole community into an endangered species

Grist.org - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 10:07
Shawn EscofferyOystermen of Plaquemines Parish, La.

Whether you live in Seattle, Baltimore, or Schenectady, N.Y., if you’ve had an oyster dish, chances are the shelled delicacies came from the Gulf of Mexico, most likely off the Louisiana coast, which produces a third of the nation’s oysters. Crabs? Hate to break it to you, but those luscious “Baltimore” crab cakes — yep, those are from Louisiana too.

This has been a fact for a long time, but it might soon become an artifact. The reason: the BP oil spill disaster of 2010, which dumped over 205 million gallons of oil and another 2 million gallons of possibly toxic dispersants into the Gulf, devastating the area that’s responsible for 40 percent of the seafood sold commercially across the U.S. For the end user, this just means Maryland chefs actually using Maryland crabs again. But on the supply side, this means that whole communities of fishers along the Gulf Coast have been put out of business, their livelihoods ruined.

Oystermen have fared among the worst in that bunch, notably the African-American oystermen who live and work in Plaquemines Parish, on the lowest end tip of Louisiana. They used to harvest a great deal of the shellfish that eventually adorned our restaurant plates, but the impacts of the BP disaster have proven too difficult to rebound from. They’re now facing “zero population” of oysters, as one seafood distributor put it.

For too long, these black oystermen have been invisible not only to the nation they serve but also to the state they live in. The new documentary Vanishing Pearls from first-time filmmaker Nailah Jefferson hopes to raise the oystermen’s visibility and also our awareness of their value in our national economy and environment.

Nailah Jefferson

Jefferson, a New Orleans resident, began making the film shortly after the BP disaster, based off a friend’s tip. She followed that tip down to Pointe à la Hache, on the east bank of the Mississippi River, where a small community of black fishers live and have subsisted off the bays there for decades. (You can read more about them in this story I reported shortly after the spill.) After meeting them, Jefferson immediately concluded that the hardscrabble men and women here deserved more shine, especially in the face of a disaster that threatens to destabilize their lives with little remedy.

Vanishing Pearls makes its national debut on April 18 in New York and Los Angeles. It’s the culmination of more than three years of work by Jefferson, filming and reporting on the BP disaster’s impacts long after the rest of the media shifted their focus elsewhere. The documentary was featured this January at Slamdance, the Utah-based film festival known for showcasing breakout films that Sundance slept on. Christopher Nolan and Lena Dunham are among the directors discovered at Slamdance.

Slamdance also helped Jefferson catch the attention of Ava DuVernay, founder of the pioneering film distribution company African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), and the first African-American woman to win the Sundance Best Director prize for her 2012 film Middle of Nowhere. With DuVernay’s power behind the project, Vanishing Pearls will now throw more shine on the struggling black oystermen than Jefferson originally imagined. Friday’s opening coincides with the four-year commemoration of the BP disaster.

I was able to catch Jefferson by phone from her home office in New Orleans to discuss her filmmaking experience and the fate of these oystermen.

Q. So how does it happen that entire communities are just rendered invisible?

A. Because they don’t matter enough. It’s about the money. Down there in Pointe à la Hache, you have a fishing community that has contributed so much to our state, our identity, and our economy. But what contributes more is oil and gas, and fishing has historically been in the way of the growth of oil and gas. So when up against the industry, they don’t matter. [The oystermen] know that, that the terms are unbalanced in favor of the oil and gas industry, but I don’t think they thought that a natural disaster would come and wipe out entire portions of their livelihood also. We will continue to drill, because it’s just a way of life here, but I think the state needs to work harder to strengthen regulations so that if another disaster occurs, it won’t wipe out the remaining estuaries that are still thriving.

Q. While your film is about people and communities, you didn’t shy away from breaking down the environmental toll of the BP disaster. Did you personally have much background in the science?

A. No, it was a steep learning curve. I interviewed Dr. Ed Cake, who’s one of three well-known oyster biologists in the Gulf Coast, because this is absolutely not my field. But I felt that if this was a story I was going to tell, I’d better dive in and figure it out. I didn’t want to bog people down with the science, but if you don’t grasp even a little bit of it, then you won’t get the whole story.

Q. You show that the oyster beds were exposed to some oil and dispersants. How do you deal then with the question of whether seafood is safe to eat?

A. The best way I can describe it is the way Dr. Cake explained it to me: Oysters are like the canaries in the coal mine. If they’re able to survive, thrive, and reproduce, then the waters are OK; if they’re not, then the waters are unhealthy. At the time that the spill had occurred, the dispersants had been sprayed, but the full effects hadn’t played out yet. So there were still oysters that could be harvested in that area. The last of that harvest came in late 2011. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department put a hold on fishing, closing the public [oyster bed] grounds for a long time, and then when they opened them back up, those guys went out and harvested the last of what survived. There hasn’t been much left.

Q. The oystermen come across as the real scientists in your film.

A. I think when people think of fishermen, they think of simple bayou people who aren’t educated. Perhaps they haven’t been in school for the longest time, or they don’t have post-grad degrees, but they are very much knowledgeable about what they do, and it’s something they’ve done for years. I wanted to show that their work is more complicated and harder than people think. You have to have a certain type of intellect to get this work and be successful at it.

Q. You find many of the oystermen in the film talking about generational instructions on how to harvest oysters sustainably. Did you get the sense they were natural environmentalists?

A. Yes, it was clear from when I first met them that these are the real environmentalists, because they actually have to live off the land and water. It really is in and of itself a science that’s been passed down to them, and I think it’s their passion for this work that makes them want to remain bayou residents.

Q. Despite their expertise, they’ve had to play defensive with scientists and environmentalists, notably those who under the Louisiana coastal master plan want to use freshwater diversions to replenish the eroded marshlands, even though this will ruin what’s left of the oyster beds. Did you sense that professional environmentalists respected these fishers’ expertise at all?

A. There isn’t proof that these freshwater diversions will work or will be as beneficial as stated. People have told them, “Look, you’re going to have to sacrifice for the greater good of the state.” If the diversions were something proven to work, then it probably wouldn’t be such a harsh pill to swallow for them. It’s not that the [environmentalists] know better [than the oystermen], they just understand things differently. We need a more collective approach moving forward.

Q. What can people do after seeing your film if they want to help?

A. One reason I signed with AFFRM is that they are very supportive of social advocacy campaigns. We’ve already launched one and hope to do more around supporting efforts to clean up the spill and make sure regulations are tighter so that we don’t have this kind of occurrence again. We have a petition you can sign encouraging EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to support efforts to tighten regulations under the Clean Water Act so that our streams and tributaries going into the Mississippi River won’t be polluted — and also, of course, so those communities who rely on those waters will be able to have healthy water again.

—–

Watch the trailer for Vanishing Pearls:


Filed under: Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Living
Categories: Environment

Thrift Town Celebrates Earth Week with Weeklong Sale and Keeping...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Get your recycle on next week during Thrift Town’s week long Earth Week Extravaganza sale. Earth Week comes only once a year, but at Thrift Town we encourage people to recycle, reuse, repurpose,...

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/ThriftTown5DayEarth/WeekSale/prweb11757508.htm

Categories: Environment

PlanetShoes.com Carrying Bos & Co Shoes

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Lifestyle retailer PlanetShoes includes Bos & Co shoes in their ever-expanding collection of quality, comfortable footwear.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11769811.htm

Categories: Environment

Fans of Glow Bug Cloth Diapers Help to Name the New Prints

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Glow Bug Cloth Diapers released 12 new prints and received over 10,000 name suggestions by fans during their print naming contest. The new prints go on sale April 22, 2014.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11770818.htm

Categories: Environment

LED Grow Light Sales Enable SuperCloset To Post A Record First Quarter...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

LED grow light sales enabled SuperCloset to record one of the company’s best revenue generating quarters for the first part of 2014. SuperCloset is the exclusive distributor of KIND LED which is...

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/SuperCloset/LEDgrowlight/prweb11772371.htm

Categories: Environment

French Channel Is Available At Fadhits.com’s Online Store Now

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Recently, Fadhits.com, the popular online supplier of wedding dresses and special occasion dresses, has announced that a French channel is available at its online store.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11772554.htm

Categories: Environment

Acme Brick Company Associates Fall Hook, Line, and Sinker for Gifts...

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Acme Brick Company associates enjoy the comfort of their birthday presents of Acme camp chairs.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11773835.htm

Categories: Environment

PlanetShoes Carrying Goodhew Socks

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Lifestyle retailer PlanetShoes includes Goodhew in their ever-expanding collection of excellent-quality socks.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11773985.htm

Categories: Environment

George Caraghiaur Joins PACENow as a Senior Fellow

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

PACENow is pleased to announce that George Caraghiaur, the former Senior Vice President for Sustainability at Simon Property Group, has joined the organization as a Senior Fellow on April 1, 2014.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11774035.htm

Categories: Environment

Retractable Screens Now Available for Recreational Vehicles

PR Web - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:22

Screen Solutions has made installing a retractable screen on recreational vehicles easier and more affordable than ever.

(PRWeb April 18, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11774102.htm

Categories: Environment

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