Thanks to the just-passed Trump Tax Bill (and associated language therein unrelated to taxes), the federal government’s Department of the Interior is poised to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge‘s so called 1002 (“ten-oh-two”) lands to new oil and gas exploration.  

2016 Major Tanker Spill

The International Oil Spill Response Technical Seminar brought together over 150 representatives of national government, oil industry and oil spill response companies and shows China is beginning to take oil spill preparations seriously.  A variety of topics were discussed in various sessions including legal, management, and engineering issues.  For example the International Maritime Organization presented on… Read more »

Houston-area petrochemical plants growing concern

Thanks to our friends at Axios, NPR, Vox, and the army of local and national media for their great reporting efforts going on across the Gulf right now.  This post is gleaned from a range of news feeds. Arkema Plant We have new reports of two explosions at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas… Read more »

2 Years Ago Today

Two years ago today (about 18 hours after the initial release), our field teams were onsite at El Capitan State Beach monitoring sandy beach conditions just prior to the arrival of the spreading oil slick from the Plains All American Pipeline break’s epicenter at Refugio State Beach.  We’ve learned much over the ensuing two years… Read more »

Coaled Feet

This via our friends at Tulane’s TUWaterWays:   A proposed coal terminal in Plaquemines Parish is coming into conflict with the Coastal Master Plan, leading to questions about the future of a major restoration project in the Plan. In addition to the proposed terminal, the new facility, owned by Ram Terminals, would include a railroad… Read more »

Oral History of the 1969 SB Spill

To some, the impact of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill was environmental.  To be sure there was ecological harm all around (see any of my old lectures if you are curious about that).  But the bigger impacts were upon the burgeoning Environmental Movement, igniting of a generation of environmental activism, birthing a new paradigm/cultural… Read more »

Venoco Bankrupt

Wow!  Our venerable, longtime offshore and coastal oil and gas producer here in Ventura and Santa Barbara–Venoco–has shuttered operations and is entering bankruptcy.  On Monday (April 17, 2017), Venoco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. This was their second filing within the past year for Bankruptcy protection, but all… Read more »

BP’s Alaskan Well Blowout

British Petroleum’s (BP) oil and gas well on Alaska’s Northern Slope (formally the BPXA Flow Station 1 Drill Site 2 Well 3 Release) that blew out on Friday continues to spill petroleum.  The remoteness of the site translates into essentially all the info coming from BP (or via state authorities who are in turn passing… Read more »

River Spill

We are in southern Louisiana with my ESRM 492: Service Learning in New Orleans class.  Today we head down to lower Plaquemines Parish and it just so happens at 2am this morning we had a small spill of oil in the river.  Details are still flowing in and the Coast Guard are responding, but so… Read more »

Chennai Oil Spill

Our friends in India are battling a new oil spill that began in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 28, 2017.  The cargo ships BM Maple (UK flagged) and Dawn Kanchipuram (Indian flagged) collided about 4 km outside the mouth of Kamrajar Harbor, itself about 24 km north of Chennai Port, Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  The Dawn… Read more »

  • Accidents beget more accidents…especially in Deepwater

    Here is an interesting poster from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (one of the daughter regulatory arms of the Interior Department birthed from the now dead Minerals Management Service in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout). BSEE analysts have used inspection and accident incident reports from 2011 through 2014 to show that… Read more »

  • Rare Bipartisanship on Oil Regulation

    Wow!  I guess dreams really do come true.  At least when it comes to critiquing federal agencies in the wake of an oil spill.  And when the agency that has been understaff and under-resourced bears some of the blame for an oil spill, you bet that we can all get on board the you are to… Read more »

  • KVTA July 7 Interview

    This past Monday, I returned to the KVTA Morning show with Tom Spence and Rich Gualano to discuss the past month in our Refugio Oil Spill saga.  We discuss the evidence that pipeline oil spanned at least three counties, the problem with a lack of access in the early part of the spill timeline, and… Read more »

  • Unusual Metrics: Documenting our Workload

    Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. — Albert Einstein   We have been fortunate to have been running a Summer Institute for undergraduates from CSU Channel Islands and our regional Community Colleges since 2009.  Every June we pull in students from these campuses and embed them… Read more »

  • Naples Reef Still Looking Good

      Our colleagues at Santa Barbara Channelkeeper just ran another subtidal inspection on Naples Reef (a few minutes south of the Refugio spill epicenter) and happily again found no obvious sign of major oiling in the area.  This combined with our previous surveys in this same area a few weeks back and California Reef Check‘s… Read more »

  • Deepwater Horizon: The Settlement

    Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush? Apparently government and industry lawyers both think so. I’m eating some squid nigiri and a baked crawfish California roll at my favorite sushi spot in Thousand Oaks to celebrate the end to this five-year escapade and pen this here blog entry. But enough about… Read more »

  • Infrastructure Update: Things Opening Up

    El Capitan State Beach is currently slated to re-open to the the general public this Friday, June 26.  El Capitan was heavily oiled beginning late in the day on May 20, 2015 (day 2 of the spill), but was nevertheless exposed to less intense oiling than Refugio State Beach.  Refugio will remain closed for at… Read more »

  • Summer Institute

    We are just wrapping up another fantastic three weeks with our annual installment of Project ACCESO’s Summer Institute.  This program, funded by the Department of Education, blends CSU Channel Islands undergrads with undergraduate from community colleges across our region.  This year, our ESRM team was fortunate to have student researchers from Santa Barbara City College,… Read more »

  • First hints at changing perceptions

    Our on-going public opinion polling of beach goers in the wake of the Refugio Oil Spill is beginning to show some interesting patterns.  We are still in the midst of collecting data (check back in a week or two when we have had a chance to fully explore this data coming in daily), but a… Read more »

  • This Toxic Tar

    Spoiler Alert: Our experiments are showing tar balls washing up on our beaches to be toxic to our local sand crabs.  If you are looking for that info, scroll to the Tar’s Toxicity heading at bottom of this post.  If you want get a brief primer on Ecotoxicology, then start right here… A brief history of poisons: French… Read more »