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 »

  • 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 »

  • KCRW Covers Our Team

    Larry Perel did a great update on our beach monitoring efforts.  We recorded this last week, but he has updated his story with some of our more recent efforts.  Check out his story that aired on KCRW yesterday by clicking on the image below.

  • LA Beaches pretty clean

    Note: this is a field posting from a Mobil device, please excuse errors.  This post will be cleaned up this evening.    We have been getting to our more routine survey sites in Los Angeles County over the past few days.  We have seen no evidence of more recent tarring.  Generally the beaches in LA… Read more »

  • Our ROVs: Prowling for Oil

    Note: This is a partial re-post with some modifications from my students’ Aerial and Aquatic Robotic Research Blog. Check out what my students are doing now and have been doing in recent months with these killer new tools here: The AARR PIRatE Lab Blog.  Several of them are exhibiting some of our flying and swimming units at the… Read more »

  • Exxon: Drive rather than Pipe

    One of the many policy consequences of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil was a strong regulator of oil drilling and transportation at the county level in Santa Barbara County.  Santa Barbara County’s Planning and Development Department’s powerful Energy Division is an amazingly strong office with a suite of powerful permitting and oversight tools across oil… Read more »

  • OpenROV Live Posting

    We will attempt to post info about our subsurface trials of our deposited oil surveys here today, assuming we have connectivity.  https://openexplorer.com/expedition/refugio/#post-3663017             

  • Ormond Beach Tar

      We sampled our two beach sites at Ormond Beach yesterday.  As with our beaches in west Ventura County, we found a generally light to moderate tarring along the strand line.  It was consistently patchy with the majority of the beach being only lightly tarred.  We did also detect an oily sheen within the sand… Read more »

  • It keeps coming…

    Now we are seeing additional tar balls in Long Beach (in southern Los Angeles County). This tarring pattern has become all too familiar.  We think we are done with the oil “rain,” then we get a highly patchy deposition event which tars beaches with moderate to light tar balls (and occasionally an oil sheen).  The… Read more »

  • Da Grunion be here!

    June 2nd and 3rd are the peak spawning days of the year for our California grunion in 2015.  These fish are laying eggs and sperm as I type this into some of our newly tarred high tide lines across SoCal.