Exxon Likes A Carbon Tax?

Holy Cow! Some things in the petroleum sector have our heads spinning of late.  We are seeing new strategic positioning with regards to impending environmental regulations and policies.  No mere tweaking of positions, we seem to be seeing the stirrings of a wholesale shift in some long-entrenched positions.  While I am not naïve and it… Read more »

Speaking to ENGL 107

I opened up the Fall 2018 Semester with a presentation to our English 107 class covering an overview of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill.  These undergraduates are just beginning to explore the Santa Barbara Oil Spill waitlist a series of writing pieces for this Advanced Composition course at CSU Channel Islands.


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 »

  • Fresh oil in Summerland

    A New Spill? We are getting several reports in recent hours of oil washing up in and around Summerland, CA (south of the city of Santa Barbara).  At this point, the source is unclear.  As with the sighting in late July, this could well prove to be simply heightened seep oil activity, but the volume… Read more »

  • Line 96

    Unstranding Stranded Oil Venoco’s Ellwood Onshore Facility and Mobile Line 96 has had a bunch of pent up oil since the May 19 pipeline break (and associated shutdown) of the Plains All American Pipeline.  Shutting down the Plains All American main pipeline stranded oil in upstream feeder lines.  Venoco was finally granted permission to use… 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 »