Friday, April 30, 2010

Tragedy Unfolding on Gulf Coast!

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

Louisiana Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - April 2010

MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER -- Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico was starting to ooze ashore, threatening migrating birds, nesting pelicans and even river otters and mink along Louisiana's fragile islands and barrier marshes. Crews in boats were patrolling coastal marshes early Friday looking for areas where the oil has flowed in, the Coast Guard said.

The leak from a blown-out well a mile underwater is five times bigger than first believed. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta late Thursday, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines. Thicker oil was about five miles offshore. Officials have said they would do everything to keep the Mississippi River open to traffic.

The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez in scope. It imperils hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world's richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life.

"It is of grave concern," David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press about the spill. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."

Oil clumps seabirds' feathers, leaving them without insulation -- and when they preen, they swallow it. Prolonged contact with the skin can cause burns, said Nils Warnock, a spill recovery supervisor with the California Oiled Wildlife Care Network at the University of California. Oil swallowed by animals can cause anemia, hemorrhaging and other problems, said Jay Holcomb, executive director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center in California.

The spewing oil -- about 210,000 gallons a day -- comes from a well drilled by the rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in flames April 20 and sank two days later. BP PLC was operating the rig that was owned by Transocean Ltd. The Coast Guard is working with BP to deploy floating booms, skimmers and chemical dispersants, and set controlled fires to burn the oil off the water's surface.

Protective boom has been set out on Breton Island, where colonial species such as pelicans, gulls and skimmers nest, and at the sandy tips of the passes from the Mississippi River's birdfoot delta, said Robert Love, a state wildlife official.

The leak from the ocean floor proved to be far bigger than initially reported, contributing to a growing sense among some in Louisiana that the government failed them again, just as it did during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. President Barack Obama dispatched Cabinet officials to deal with the crisis.

Cade Thomas, a fishing guide in Venice, worried that his livelihood will be destroyed. He said he did not know whether to blame the Coast Guard, the government or BP.

"They lied to us. They came out and said it was leaking 1,000 barrels when I think they knew it was more. And they weren't proactive," he said. "As soon as it blew up, they should have started wrapping it with booms."

BP shares continued falling early Friday. Shares were down 2 percent in early trading on the London Stock Exchange, a day after dropping 7 percent in London. In New York on Thursday, BP shares fell $4.78 to close at $52.56, taking the fall in the company's market value to about $25 billion since the explosion.

Government officials said the well 40 miles offshore is spewing about 5,000 barrels, or 200,000 gallons, a day into the gulf.

At that rate, the spill could eclipse the worst oil spill in U.S. history -- the 11 million gallons that leaked from the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989 -- in the three months it could take to drill a relief well and plug the gushing well 5,000 feet underwater on the sea floor. Ultimately, the spill could grow much larger than the Valdez because Gulf of Mexico wells tap deposits that hold many times more oil than a single tanker.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was focusing on national wildlife refuges on a chain of barrier islands.

"We're trying to go for the ones where the pelicans are nesting right now," said Tom McKenzie, the agency's regional spokesman, adding that about 900 were on North Breton.

About 34,000 birds have been counted in the national refuges most at risk, McKenzie said. Gulls, pelicans, roseate spoonbills, egrets, shore birds, terns and blue herons are in the path of the spill.

Mink and river otter also live in the delta and might eat oiled carcasses, Love said.

Bird rescuer Holcomb worked the Valdez disaster and was headed to Louisiana. He said some birds may avoid the oil spill, but others won't.

"These are experiences that the birds haven't encountered before," he said. "They might think it's seaweed. It's never harmed them before."

BP has requested more resources from the Defense Department, especially underwater equipment that might be better than what is commercially available. A BP executive said the corporation would "take help from anyone." That includes fishermen who could be hired to help deploy containment boom.

An emergency shrimping season was opened to allow shrimpers to scoop up their catch before it is fouled by oil.

This murky water and the oysters in it have provided a livelihood for three generations of Frank and Mitch Jurisich's family in Empire, La.

Now, on the open water just beyond the marshes, they can smell the oil that threatens everything they know and love.

"Just smelling it, it puts more of a sense of urgency, a sense of fear," Frank Jurisich said.

The brothers hope to get all the oysters they can sell before the oil washes ashore. They filled more than 100 burlap sacks Thursday and stopped to eat some oysters. "This might be our last day," Mitch Jurisich said.

Without the fishing industry, Frank Jurisich said the family "would be lost. This is who we are and what we do."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency so officials could begin preparing for the oil's impact. He also asked the federal government if he could call up 6,000 National Guard troops to help.

In Buras, La., where Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005, the owner of the Black Velvet Oyster Bar & Grill couldn't keep his eyes off the television. News and weather shows were making projections that oil would soon inundate the coastal wetlands where his family has worked since the 1860s.

"A hurricane is like closing your bank account for a few days, but this here has the capacity to destroy our bank accounts," said Byron Marinovitch, 47.

"We're really disgusted," he added. "We don't believe anything coming out of BP's mouth."

Mike Brewer, 40, who lost his oil spill response company in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago, said the area was accustomed to the occasional minor spill. But he feared the scale of the escaping oil was beyond the capacity of existing resources.

"You're pumping out a massive amount of oil," he said. "There is no way to stop it."

Check out the article at Fox News.

What a terrible tragedy!!! I can only wonder how many years it will take to get our coastline back. The worst part about it to me is the fact that the first thing being hit is a Wildlife Management Area! :(

I'm not one of those people who will point at this as a reason to stop offshore drilling… I just think that more things could be done to make it safer.

Check out this informative interactive graphic from AP.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 40th Anniversary!

Earth Day 2010 - 40th Anniversary

Earth Day 2010 - 40th Anniversary

Earth Day 2010 - 40th Anniversary

Earth Day 2010 - 40th Anniversary

Earth Day 2010 - 40th Anniversary

Earth Day 2010 - 40th Anniversary

Earth Day Flag

Back in 1970, there were many inventive, vibrant ideas about how to bring America's attention to what was happening to our environment--pesticides in the water, burning rivers, and air dense with smog. Earth Day was one of these ideas. It was conceived as a way not only to raise awareness about the destruction of our natural world, but also to celebrate the Earth. It wasn't just a protest--it was a joyous event too.

Patricia and I participated in this nascent celebration in Greenwich Village with a small group of very committed individuals including Richard Ottinger, a New York Congressman, who had spoken at our founding conference a month before.

NRDC has been open all of four months when the first Earth Day occurred. We had launched it on January 1, 1970 because a small group of us--including respected conservationists who had blocked a power plant on Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River, a handful of determined students from Yale Law School, and myself had decided it was time to stop the environmental assaults that were spreading across America's cities and landscapes.

You have to remember those were different times.

January 1969 brought the massive Santa Barbara oil spill, just off the coast of California. In June, an oil and garbage slick on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio had caught fire. I remember traveling to Gary, Indiana, seeing the city's fire-spewing smokestacks, and thinking it literally looked like Hell.

Back in New York, I ate my lunch outside everyday in Battery Park, and I would see raw sewage bobbing in the Hudson. If Patricia and I put our young children to sleep by an open window in our apartment, they would wake with soot on their foreheads. Patricia read that a New Yorker breathed as much poison each day as someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes. She said, "It's one thing for me to choose to breathe such air--but what about our children?"

These were the concerns that gave birth to Earth Day and to organizations like NRDC and Friends of the Earth.

Granted, we were making it up as we went along. NRDC was the first public interest law firm dedicated to the environment, and there was no roadmap for where we would go. And in those early days, we barely had office space or payroll. We were living dollar to dollar, and some of the first staff members had to stay on couches at our apartment.

One month before Earth Day, NRDC held our founding conference in Princeton. Thanks to support from the Ford Foundation and the guidance of Storm King champions David Sive and Beatrice and Stephen Duggan, we put together a stellar lineup of speakers. We had legendary David Brower; New York Congressman Richard Ottinger; Princeton biologist Dr. Robert Faulk; John Oakes, editor of the New York Times editorial page; and theater critic Brooks Atkinson.

The group from Yale came as well, including Gus Speth, Dick Ayres, John Bryson, and Ed Strohbehn. So did a third-year student at Columbia Law School named David Hawkins. Dave came to the conference to lobby John Oakes to have the New York Times demand that Fifth Avenue be closed for the first Earth Day. But then Dave got another idea: he asked Dick Ayres how he could get a job with NRDC.

"Are you kidding?" Dick responded. "We don't even have money for our own salaries yet." David did eventually get that job, and he is still with us today as head of our climate center.

The conference was a great success. People grasped what needed to be done to protect the Earth, and we felt energized to get started.

That same spirit was catching on across America. A month later, Earth Day celebrations erupted in cities and campuses. Over the course of the next several months, Congress introduced more than 1,000 new bills aimed at protecting the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors, and the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act become law. It was the start of so much we cared about, so much we built our work upon.

Now NRDC is 40 years old. We have more than 350 staff members and six offices, including one in Beijing. I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished.

Earth Day has also matured. I have come to realize that every generation has to learn to fight for themselves. Everything has to be reborn, and Earth Day helps do that. It draws new generations in and keeps alive the spirit of environmental protection.

This is critical, because memory is short. Back when Newt Gingrich's 104th Congress came in, they had already forgotten how horribly polluted the nation had been just 30 years before. They said we don't need environmental laws; the companies will take care of themselves. That is total baloney, but we had to fight their short-term memory.

That is why we keep rebuilding the environmental movement, rebuilding the leadership--so that the value of safeguarding the Earth is carried on. That is why we have so many young people at NRDC. Each generation has new energy and new skills to bring to bear.

This year, I will spend Earth Day in the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York, where Patricia and I live. We will be putting the finishing touches to our book, A Force for Nature, a 40-year history of NRDC which Chronicle Books will publish in the fall. We love this region, and we work hard to protect its forests and streams.

I hope the coming Earth Day will inspire other people--and especially young people--to do the same for places they love too.

Check out article at The Huffington Post.

In case you're wondering how you can do your part to preserve our beautiful planet, visit the Leave No Trace website.

Be sure to check out National Geographic's Earth Day page and the Earth Day Network website.

Check out today's Google art:

Google Earth Day 2010

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tiger Stadium to Feature Purple Field Turf in 2010!!!

LSU Purple Field Turf - Happy April Fool's Day 2010

BATON ROUGE -- With the National L Club Spring game complete, the LSU Athletic Department has begun preparations to install purple field turf in historic Tiger Stadium in time for the 2010 home opener against Mississippi State.

"It's now time to expand the traditions that surround our football program," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "LSU is going to take the lead in what we think will become the wave of the future and that's field turf in the colors of your school. The installation of the purple field turf will add to the excitement of a Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium and this team will enjoy the opportunity to play on what will be the finest surface in football."

LSU becomes the latest school looking to brand its field with the school colors. Boise State and the University of New Haven play on blue field turf and Eastern Washington recently announced plans for a red field this upcoming season.  In keeping with tradition, the field will feature yard markings every five yards and the eye of the Tiger at the 50-yard line, with the SEC logo on the 25-yard line.

"This wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction," Marcus Davidson, Assistant to the Associate in the Office of Athletic Branding, said. "It was a perfect storm of factors.  Not only will field maintenance be easier for our grounds crew, but being able to project purple and gold to a national television audience is an opportunity for branding that will make Tiger Stadium the greatest place to watch a sporting event in the world.  With the purple turf, the only place that compares is the Roman Coliseum, and to my knowledge, that doesn't even exist anymore."

The turf will be installed by Turfus and Sons, a subsidiary of Vandalay Industries, which is the largest producer of the rubber material found underneath dangerous playground equipment.

"Partnering with LSU just makes sense," said Art Vandalay, the President and CEO of Vandalay Industries said. "We've been speaking on the virtues of colored turf for years at various conventions and we finally have the perfect partner in LSU.  The field is going to be amazing.  Although we have never done a project with our turf on anything more than municipal parks, we are confident that 'Tiger Turf' is going to be a staple of all collegiate athletic fields.  The possibilities are endless.  I see a future where grass will cease to exist."

The football team has been experimenting with the "Tiger Turf" during select drills in spring practice.  With a patent-pending revolutionary design, the purple turf certainly left an impression on players and coaches alike.

"It is definitely faster than anything I've ever seen in my 14 years of conditioning," Tiny Gampshone, the junior executive strength and conditioning coach said. "It is really going to prompt muscle confusion in the other team as the brain wants to run on a green surface."

Check out the article at LSU Sports.

LOL! Could you imagine the Tigers playing on that field in purple pants and purple jerseys with purple helmets??? Talk about the ultimate camo!!! Happy April Fool's Day!!!

Check out today's Google art:

Google April Fool's Day 2010