July 22, 2010
THIS NEWS RELEASE FROM THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IS OF INTEREST TO US IN THAT IT SHOWS ACTION ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL TO IMPROVE OUR COUNTRY'S ABILITY TO PREVENT AND RESPONSE TO OIL SPILLS.
July 21, 2010 News Release from the Committee on Science & Technology
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
Oil Spill Prevention and Response Legislation Passes House
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House of Representatives passed two bills that will improve the ability of the United States to prevent and respond to oil spills.
These two pieces of legislation will enhance research for oil spill prevention and cleanup and provide the necessary research to ensure safer, cleaner oil and gas drilling technologies. Together, these bills represent a comprehensive research agenda to enhance U.S. preparedness for future oil spills.
“The BP disaster has shown all of us that the damage from oil spills can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, technology has advanced little Exxon Valdez oil spill, and today’s responders are left with virtually the same set of tools they had in 1989,” said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “We have a responsibility to ensure that the relevant federal agencies are equipped with the technological, intellectual, and financial resources needed to prevent future oil spills and to effectively respond when they occur.”
H.R. 2693, the Oil Pollution Research and Development Reauthorization Act, authored by Representative Lynn Woolsey, ensures the ongoing development of new technologies and methods to prevent, recover, and respond to oil spills.
The bill also provides for robust oversight and accountability of the interagency research and development program. Furthermore, this legislation sets up a more efficient federal management structure. More specifically, the bill updates and improves upon the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
“As long as we extract, use, or transport oil in the United States, there will be some risk of oil spills along our shores that will damage our coastlines, marine ecosystems, and fishing and tourism industries,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). “My bill helps protect the public and the environment through targeted and coordinated research, development, and demonstration that will help us better prevent, combat, and mitigate future oil spills, no matter the size.”
“It is undeniable that the United States needs a more robust research and development strategy to reduce the environmental and economic impacts of oil spills. I stand here today in support of reauthorizing and strengthening the program that funds research to advance our ability to respond to and clean up oil spills,” stated Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).
H.R. 5716, The Safer Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Technology Research and Development Act will make oil and gas drilling safer by supporting research and development of technologies and practices for worker and environmental safety, as well as accident prevention and mitigation.
More specifically, the bill amends Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which authorized the Secretary of Energy to establish an Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Onshore Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources research and development program.
Some of the areas that will be researched include enhanced well control and integrity, blowout prevention devices, secondary control systems for well shut-off, technologies for accident mitigation, decision-making and risk management, and equipment testing for extreme conditions.
“These two bills help to ensure the federal government, industry, and academia are all better equipped to prevent and respond in the future. I am proud that the Science and Technology Committee has taken the lead by bringing forth legislation to address this critical situation,” said Chairman Gordon.
The House also passed H.Con.Res. 292 - Supporting the goals and ideals of National Aerospace Week, sponsored by Subcommittee on Research and Science Education Ranking Member Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI).
For more information on the Committee’s work on the oil spill, please visit the Science & Technology Committee's website.
July 20, 2010
Dear PURRE Members,
PURRE SATISFIED THAT SANIBEL IS PREPARED FOR POSSIBILITY OF OIL
PURRE Executive Director Emilie Alfino and I met with Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra Friday afternoon, July 16, to discuss what contingency plans the city has in place in the unlikely event that oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster should reach our beaches, bays and estuaries.
We are satisfied that the city is well prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to protect its precious environment. Contintency plans are in place for both prevention and clean-up.
Because the nature of the disaster and the many variables that affect it – including weather, technology, and the involvement of and coordination with all other levels of government – the city understandably is not making all possible scenarios public. However, we at PURRE are more than satisfied that the city is taking a proactive role and that the waters surrounding Sanibel will be well cared for. Contractors are on board and can be ready on short notice, reserves are available, and the city manager daily takes part in conference calls with the highest level executives at the responsible federal, state and county agencies – seven days a week, holidays included. Sanibel is standing by and ready to go.
We thank the city manager for taking the time to meet with us and answer questions on behalf of our members. If anyone would like to sign up as a volunteer for Sanibel’s Coastal Watch, go to http://www.mysanibel.com/Departments/City-Manager-s-Office/News/Sanibel-s-Major-Michael-F.-Murray-to-Head-Community-s-Volunteer-Coastal-Watch-Sign-Up-Now-for-Training-and-Assignments and complete the form online. You may never be needed, but if you are … nothing will be more important.
Michael J. Valiquette
July 8, 2010
DEP Deepwater Horizon Situation Report #70, July 7, 2010
· Southerly swells from the tropical wave in the southern Gulf of Mexico combined with moderate to strong southeast winds around 10-15kts will result in wave heights of 3-6 feet along the Panhandle coast today, with offshore wave heights between 7 and 10 feet possible today. Though these conditions may hamper oil recovery and booming operations, rain chances will decrease each day. Offshore, no oil has been observed within or moving towards Eddy Franklin and there is no clear path for oil to enter the Florida Straits. A tropical wave over the southern Gulf of Mexico has been given a 40% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours as it moves west-northwestward at 10-15mph.
· Florida beaches are open.
· Estimated release rate of oil from Deepwater Horizon at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day. Optimization of the dual recovery system (LMRP Cap and Q4000) continues; total oil recovered approximately 24,760 barrels on 7/06/10.
· This event has been designated a Spill of National Significance.
· Unified Area Command continues with a comprehensive oil well intervention and spill response planning following the April 22 sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans.
· More than 45,000 personnel are working the on and offshore response.
· Oil-water mix recovered: nearly 28.6 million gallons
· Response vessels available: more than 6,920
· Response aircraft available: 109
· Dispersant (in gallons): more than 1.71 million deployed
· There is no planned use of dispersants in Florida waters.
· Oil Impact Notice have been posted to include: Escambia County, all Gulf side beaches; Walton County, all Gulf beaches, Okaloosa County, Brackin Wayside Park, Henderson Park Beach, and James Lee Park.
· Tar balls, tar patties and sheen have been reported in Northwest Florida, though fewer impacts have been observed due to westward-moving winds and ocean currents.
· Pensacola Pass as well as Perdido Pass will continue to be closed with the tide to reduce the amount of oil from entering inland waters. These waterways are manned to allow access to necessary vessel traffic during low tide.
· Oil Containment Boom (in feet) total: 718,661 deployed in Florida.
o Tier 1 & Tier 2: 435,600 / Tier 3: 283,061
· In accordance with established plans, protective booming, staging, and
boom maintenance is being conducted along the coast from Escambia to Franklin.
· 285 vessels are deployed in Florida for the Vessels of Opportunity program.
· 1,414 Qualified Community Responders are actively working in the Florida Panhandle.
· Federal Fishery closure, west of Cape San Blas to state line. (see NOAA FB10-060).
· According to the NOAA oil plume model, the oil plume is 64 miles from Pensacola, 136 miles from Panama City and 333 miles from St. Petersburg. NOAA trajectory forecasts keep most of the oil away from the Florida coastline with no direct impacts and the uncertainty line only reaching as far to the east as the Florida/Alabama border through Friday.
· In addition to $100,000 for Volunteer Florida to maintain a volunteer registration database, BP has issued over $75 million in grants to Florida for booming, a national tourism advertising campaign, and the state’s preparedness and response efforts. An additional $500,000 has been issued by BP to fund two innovative technology solutions for Okaloosa County.
· BP claims in Florida total 26,408 with approximately $25,561,278.46 paid.
· State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is at a Level 1 (Full), operating from 0700 to 1800 EDT, with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as the lead agency.
· Governor’s Executive Orders 10-99, 10-100, 10-106 and 10-132 declared a state of emergency for identified counties along the Florida coast.
· Governor’s Executive Order 10-101 established the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force, which will facilitate efforts by Florida businesses and industries to recover the loss of commerce and revenues due to the oil spill.
· The Governor activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide emergency, short-term loans to established small businesses in 26 designated counties.
· Conducting daily conference calls with county and emergency management partners, the Federal On-Scene Coordinator, and various Unified Commands.
· FEMA is assisting SERT with streamlining financial reimbursement processing.
· Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) executive order (EO 10-29) temporarily closes a portion of coastal state waters offshore of Escambia County to the harvest of saltwater fish, crabs and shrimp. Recreational catch and release is allowed.
· A SERT Toxicological Data Analysis Cell is providing consistent scientific assessments of collected sampling to inform local/state decision making.
· The Agency for Workforce Innovation and Regional Workforce Boards are identifying and filling jobs related to the oil spill: 11,606 positions advertised; 34,472 applicants referred.
· 100 Florida National Guard personnel on duty at various duty posts in the Deepwater Horizon area of operations.
· 18,529 volunteers have registered to respond to Deepwater Horizon. 21,285 volunteer hours have been worked.
· Conducting daily reconnaissance flights and shoreline patrol from Escambia to Franklin Counties for impact. Real time reconnaissance reports are being entered into GATOR.
· Currently, Florida's coast has 9 decontamination sites for response vessels and 8 that are being operated for commercial vessels. A site for recreational vessel decontamination has also been established and additional recreational vessel sites are in negotiations with BP.
· The Boom Coordination Cell continues to coordinate additional boom requests. The Innovative Technology Cell continues to assess alternative clean-up technologies suggested by the public and stakeholders.
· The Small Business Administration has issued an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration for the State of Florida. Disaster Loan Outreach Centers are open in 8 counties. Loan Applications:
§ Issued: 516 Accepted: 137 Declined: 45 Approved: 24
§ Loan amount approved: $2,617,400.00
Bird Report to Date: 138 recovered alive - 3 relocated - 87 dead or euthanized - 111 recovered dead - 249 total recovered - 198 total dead
June 24, 2010
Dear PURRE Members,
Linda Young continues her heartbreaking but informative updates from the shores of Florida’s panhandle, where oil from the Deepwater Horizon has reached their waters and beaches. She tells is like it is, sincerely and simply, giving us a glimpse into what it’s like to wait for the impact and then experience it.
Our hearts and our efforts go out to everyone on the north Gulf Coast. And remember that one of Linda’s goals in writing these updates is “in hopes that it will be helpful to parts of the state that have not been hit by the oil yet but may get it at some future date.”
We all have to be prepared.
Thank you, Linda, for your reports and for all you are doing.
Michael J. Valiquette
A Personal Update on the Oil Disaster, June 24
By Linda Young, Director, Clean Water Network of Florida, Tallahassee
Dear Friends of Florida Waters:
I know these updates get longer and longer, but I get a lot of thank-you’s from many of you, so I’m going to keep trying to share the most pertinent information in hopes that it will be helpful to parts of the state that have not been hit by the oil yet, but may get it at some future date. If you are not interested in this information, then please just delete it. Please feel free to share it far and wide if you think it will interest other people that you know.
The first large waves of oil arrived in Florida yesterday, Wednesday June 23rd. There had been smaller amounts coming ashore here and there, but approximately 9 miles of oil landed on Pensacola Beach in the early hours of yesterday morning. The puddles are about 10 to 12 feet wide and about 2 to 4 inches thick from where I saw them. I have seen nothing on TV or heard anything from friends that would lead me to believe that this is not the case for the whole length of the landing. It is incredibly sickening to see. I sent a message to the Governor’s office last night and asked his aides to congratulate him for finally having proof that our beaches are the best booms that we have in Florida. Yep, they just let that oil roll right in with no attempt to stop it at all. Are you amazed? I am and I see no reason for the state and federal governments to do that, but that’s their strategy . . . To just let it land. I’ll discuss this further in the section below that is labeled LEGAL ACTIONS.
The Governor was here at Pensacola Beach yesterday and said on television that he was asking for some skimmer boats. There are one or two skimmer boats off the shores of Pensacola Beach right now. I have sent an email to his office trying to find out “who” the Governor has asked. No response. I do know that at least 13 countries have offered assistance to us and it has been refused. Here is an excerpt from a news report on this matter:
“In early May, the State Department emailed reporters identifying the 13 entities that had offered the U.S. oil spill assistance. They were the governments of Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.
"These offers include experts in various aspects of oil spill impacts, research and technical expertise, booms, chemical oil dispersants, oil pumps, skimmers, and wildlife treatment," the email from the White House read.
"While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future."
I know I’m repeating myself a little, but how is the state and federal government just sitting back and watching oil pour into our passes and blanket our beaches when it could be prevented? The oil has moved at least two miles past the Pensacola pass. There is essentially no way to stop it once you let it get that far. Yesterday I went to Ft Pickens, which is at the west end of Santa Rosa Island and is the mouth of the Pensacola Pass. There are a few booms here and there (the little sausage booms that I spoke of before) and a few barges, but essentially there is no credible effort underway to stop the oil. The only conclusion I can reach is that the state’s attitude is: “BRING IT!!!! We’re just adding up the damages and we’ll send you a bill later.” If I’m wrong, then I hope someone will offer a more logical explanation.
BOOMING – A few days ago I received an email from Thomas J. Campbell, who is the President of Coastal Planning & Engineering, Inc. in Boca Raton. He offered a very succinct explanation about the problem of keeping oil out of inlets and passes. His company has been contracted to work with Okaloosa County and the City of Destin on their local response and has experienced some frustration in coordinating the BP response with the local program. I have been hearing about Okaloosa County and Destin’s frustration with DEP and BP for many weeks and they finally decided to stop waiting for help from these entities and have hired their own help. This is wise and once again, I urge other local governments to do the same. If you are waiting for the state to save you, you will be sorely disappointed.
Mr. Campbell told me that the best scenario is to stop the oil before it gets to the inlet. However, if it gets that far, then the best hope for reducing impacts in the bays is stopping and collecting the oil at the inlets. Unfortunately that is exactly where the expertise is wanting. Boom contractors can’t handle the currents in the inlets and need to be coupled with marine contractors and local experienced captains to pull the booms for installation; that is not happening. If you look at the plans that WRS Compass (the BP-connected consulting firm that DEP has signed a no-bid contract with to help local governments) has developed for local protection plans, they consist largely of a few booms scattered around, INSIDE THE ESTUARIES.
Mr. Campbell explains that generally the boom plans in the inlets should be but are not designed to work in the high currents. The first line of defense in the inlets should be booms that are constructed within the inlet. These booms need to be constructed at mild angles to the current or oil will move right under the boom when the perpendicular current velocities exceed 0.7 knots. Also booms that go straight across the inlet will structurally fail in high currents. For most inlets that means less than 20 degrees to the current . This requires very long booms and wood piles to anchor them (anchors tend to pull the boom under in high current) to keep their shape and divert the oil to inlet beach shorelines where they can be collected and the sand removed and cleaned.
The next line of defense should be booms placed as umbrella systems behind the inlets where the currents drop below below 0.7 knots . These will form collection points for drum skimmers. The Umbrella system should be repeated for maximum effectiveness.
The above information in not known by most governments who are relying on the Area Contingency plans to protect them . They say that they are relying on the experts (BP boom contractors and the Coast Guard) . If you look at these ACP plans they generally are found to lack design and piling in the inlets and often have no umbrella system behind the inlet . The Boom contractors try hard to carry out the plan but often have under powered boats to pull boom which are not capable of operating in the high currents .
It is hard to correct these problems when oil is coming in the inlet . in many cases it is hard to convince the local EOC’s that the ACP needs design and adjustments and more robust implementation strategies before oil is at the door. If you think your local area is in danger, it will behoove you to warn your local government and try to make advance plans that will provide adequate protection for your coastline.
SKIMMER BOATS/SUPER TANKERS – Everyone agrees that skimmer boats are the most effective way to attack the oil. As mentioned above, right now there is one or two skimmer boats offshore from Pensacola beach. I heard last week from Senator Nelson that there were three working in Florida waters. He said that there are 20 more on the way the northern Europe. I was told today by my local government contact that there are 12 skimmer boats sitting idle in Bayou Chico, which is about 20 miles from here in Pensacola. All but two are under the control of the Unified Command (BP and the Coast Guard). The reason that they are not scattered around, skimming up the oil is apparently a coordination problem. Communication between the Unified Command Center in Mobile and the local governments is extremely poor. He told me that a new coordination plan is in the works and that in the next week or two things should improve. As Senator Nelson said very clearly 10 days ago, “there is no clear chain of command.” Also the communication between Unified Command and the contractors is very poor. He said they are trying to put the Coast Guard in command to make things better, but that is difficult to do. Why???? Why is that difficult????
As I said, everyone agrees that we should be trying to get every skimmer boat in the world here and any other technology asap. The oil is not diminishing, in fact it increases from time to time, such as yesterday when they stopped using the cap that was taking some small part of the oil to the surface where it is being burned.
I hope our state and federal governments have not given up on saving the Gulf. If we have any hope of its recovery at some point, then we must do everything in our power to stay on top of the oil and remove as much as possible. Our local governments in the Panhandle are begging for help from the state and they are incredibly frustrated with the little or no help that is forth-coming. The county I live in has 88 miles of shoreline and some of our modest requests from the state have even been denied. We finally got a few more booms approved but are still waiting for money for other protections that we need.
I’m told that two days ago there were 11 vessels working on a large patch of oil straight out from Navarre Beach. This may be why there is no oil here right now and the beaches to the east and west of us are smothered in oil. THERE SHOULD BE AN ARMY OF BOATS, SKIMMERS, BARGES, ETC. out there capturing the oil.
Tonight, 24 miles out from the Pensacola pass there is a large patch of oil. They know it’s there and they could have boats and equipment out there trying to prevent it from coming ashore, but it is doubtful that these preventive measures are in place. The plans that were developed by WRS Compass, with the BP money given to the state of Florida, are worthless. They have already been modified several times and the local governments are hiring their own contractors to get real plans and protections in place. Right now, the whole operation is very much a trial and error situation and local governments are sharing ideas, successes and failures and working together to do the best they can. The money for protection has largely been squandered by our state government and local governments are going out on a limb financially to try and protect their communities. I know this sounds harsh, but I have been talking to numerous local government representatives and they are extremely frustrated with the situation. We didn’t ask for this to happen to us. It would be wonderful if our state government was not so politically driven and dysfunctional.
LEGAL ACTION - As mentioned above, the state’s strategy seems to be to just use our beaches and shores as booms for the incoming oil. This made no sense to me until I got DEP’S response to my 30-day notice letter. In this response letter DEP says, “Since the state and federal response actions will not protect the state from some damage to its natural resources occurring, the Department has been actively preparing its natural resource damage claim that will be pursued against BP . . .” It goes on to say that the DEP is doing extensive sampling along Florida’s coastline to prove damages later. They brag in the letter that “Florida has conducted more baseline sampling than any of the other Gulf Coast states affected by the oil spill.” They seem very proud of the fact that they are working hard to build a damages case to file in court later, but clearly do not plan any legal action against BP until sometime in the future when they “will aggressively pursue BP to compensate the state for those damages.”
So, my guess is that the Governor and Legislature are seeing this whole oil disaster as a wind-fall for our financially strapped state. They are basically just letting the disaster unfold and are already counting the millions of dollars that they will collect down the road. The $75 million that they already got from BP is apparently almost gone or largely not available for local protection efforts.
PLEASE DON’T WAIT for the state to send money or assistance if you live in a coastal county. I am hearing from people further east who say that their neighborhoods are putting plans together with their own money. If this is an option, I would say it is a great idea. Just be sure to get help from an experienced contractor.
A short while ago, I went outside to take my dog for a walk and the air is heavy with the odor of oil. This has become a normal condition and I’m sure it is not healthy. The overall situation is not leveling off, rather it seems to be worsening. I don’t think that any coastal county along the Gulf coast of Florida is safe from eventual contamination. I also don’t know if it makes sense to hope that our state government will figure out what to do to help us. Therefore, our best hope for coping with this disaster is working together on a local level. Please be in touch with your local government and do what you can to help them. It is important to find the most knowledgeable people in your community who know about your inlets, tides, resources, etc. Also, technical people, engineers, scientists who live in your area can be of great help to your local government. These are just suggestions that you may want to consider. The important thing is to use this time wisely and get prepared before the oil reaches you.
For all of Florida’s waters,
Linda Young, Director
Clean Water Network of Florida
PO Box 254, Tallahassee, FL 32302
On the web at www.cleanwaternetwork-fl.org
Thursday, June 17, 2010
As the BP oil disaster worsens, I feel it is part of PURRE’s mission to report information as we recieve it so you can avail yourself of educational opportunities on this urgent topic.
Although the PURRE Water Coalition recently decided to focus its mission locally, the Deepwater Horizon disaster has the potential to destroy not only all we have worked for but our entire way of life in every way.
Maybe “all politics is local” but gushing oil is not local; the Gulf of Mexico has no borders. PURRE may be able to help solve some of the problems of stormwater runoff and sewage overflow just to see oil and toxic dispersants flow in and do more damage than we could ever have imagined.
Who can bear to look at the pictures of the blackened marshes of Louisiana and the oil-soaked pelicans; how can we hear the desperate fishermen and women talk about their ruined futures and generations of family history likely coming to an end and not feel their pain?
While we in Southwest Florida are not yet – and may not – face that fate, education and awareness are the best defenses. If you know what you may be up against, you can prepare. And so here for your review is some information I found valuable.
The link below came across my desk in a regular email newsletter I recieve from Dr. Mercola, a nationally acclaimed health doctor who researches everything from the common cold to our most devastating medical issues.
I urge you to watch the video included with the article. It is a CBS News 60 Minutes report featuring one of the Deepwater Horizon survivors and comments from distinguished Professor of Engineering Dr. Robert Bea from the University of California, Berkley. Dr. Bea is not only our country ’s leading expert on oil drilling disasters but was the lead investigator in the space shuttle disaster as well.
In Dr. Mercola’s commments in the body of the article you will find information from Sayer Ji, founder of Information to Inspire Change http://informationtoinspirechange.com/.
Click on the link below the signature line to learn more about this oil geyser – it cannot
be termed a “spill” – and how BP is (badly) handling the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. And be sure to watch the 60 Minutes video if you haven’t seen it. It is enlightening.
Signed, PURRE Chairman Michael J. Valiquette
Click on this link to watch and read:
June 15, 2010
Introduction from PURRE Chairman Mike Valiquette:
We’re sending you this heartfelt account from Linda Young, Director of the Clean Water Network of Florida, who lives and works in Pensacola, Florida, because it will give you not just valuable information about various levels of government’s state of preparedness, but also how it feels to be facing oil washing up on a Florida beach – something we may yet face here in Southwest Florida.The Clean Water Network is a friend to PURRE and part of our coalition.
What follows is Linda’s personal account containing her own feelings and observations, and she writes it in a casual style. We think this adds to its impact and readability and hope you agree. She recounts her impressions of Sen. Bill Nelson’s Monday press conference in Escambia County. Here is Linda’s post:
June 14, 2010
Dear Friends of Florida’s waters:
This morning I attended the press conference at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) where Senator Bill Nelson gave the briefing. It was refreshing to hear a politician talk straight and tell the truth about what is happening (for a change). There is bad news and there is some encouraging news to share. I’ll mix it up a bit, so you don’t get too overwhelmed with the bad news.
First of all, the oil came into Pensacola Pass yesterday and has been found in grapefruit-sized globs all the way to the Pensacola Beach bridge. A scientist at the EPA lab on Pensacola Beach (west of the bridge) reported that they have a little string of boom along their shore (I call it sausage boom, which is what you see everywhere and it is completely unhelpful as it’s only about one foot in diameter. It is the stuff they use on construction sites) and the waves are going right over it. The oil is all along the shore at the EPA lab, which is very disheartening to the scientists who work there, but don’t you think that the EPA could muster up a little bit better protection for their own real-estate?
We are told that we can expect to have oil coming ashore for at least the next few days. There is a huge island of oil right offshore, about 40 miles long and almost 2 miles wide and at least a foot thick that is rolling our way. The heat index is between 105 and 109 degrees, which at least helps to volatilize some of the oil. Escambia has finally received the heavy equipment that it requested from BP, which will be used to clean up the oil on the shoreline. It has been seven weeks since the equipment was requested.
Senator Nelson said that he has been very critical of the command and control structure for the oil disaster. The Coast Guard has had 51% of the control and BP the rest. The Coast Guard (CG) has essentially been dysfunctional and has frustrated everyone. He feels that the structure is changing and that Escambia County at least is getting better communication from the CG over the past couple of days. He said the situation reached crisis level last week when the oil entered Perdido Pass and none of the local governments were given any warning. This means that the CG was not even watching the oil from helicopters and reporting its proximity to shore. Since then, a representative from Escambia County is working from the Incident Command Center in Mobile, AL and will hopefully facilitate communications. An upper level Escambia County administrator told me that the county has not received one penny from the state or federal government, or BP to date to pay for protecting their shores or waters or to cover the cost of dealing with this disaster.
Senator Nelson said that we can expect this situation to continue for many months if not years and that a well coordinated command center is critical. AMEN!!!
Senator Nelson reported that Congressional reps from the oil states are making it difficult to change the limit on BP’s liability to cover the damages. President Obama is expected to announce tomorrow that he is expecting BP to set up a $20 Billion trust fund to cover damages. He said it could be like a “New Deal” type of economic plan for the Gulf Coast and Nelson said the President would be telling us more about it this week. The immediate goal is to get claims paid quicker, either by a third party or by the government. The claims cannot continue to be administered by BP. Resources are not being deployed!!! He will also announce that the first steps will be taken to wean the US from oil. Nelson said the disaster is giving the President the political muscle he needs to move our country toward a more sustainable energy policy.
As I sit here typing this report, wave after wave of oil is washing ashore in Orange Beach, AL and there is not one skimmer boat in site. Nelson said this is because command and control at the CG is not working. They had no idea if there were any skimmer boats available when asked. Fortunately the Dutch government is sending their skimmer boats to us but they will not arrive until next month. They keep boats and booms (big ones, 8 feet in diameter) on hand in case of an accident. Isn’t that a novel idea?
I was happy to hear Sen. Nelson say the same thing that the CWN-FL has been saying for six weeks, which is that it’s important to keep the oil as far offshore as possible, where it can be up taken by skimmer boats, etc. He said, as we have been saying, that it should not be allowed to reach the beaches if at all possible.
I still have not recovered from hearing Mike Sole and Charlie Crist say that our beaches are our best booms for stopping the oil. Arghhh!!! Nelson said that the oil should have been intercepted 25 or 50 miles offshore with skimmer boats and kept away, but unfortunately the state and federal government has had no interest in protecting our shores – AT ALL!!!
He told the reporters that the rest of the state has time to get ready before the oil reaches their shores and they should get ready. If you are reading this and you live beyond the panhandle, then please make your local government take action. Also, keep letting Governor Crist and DEP Sec. Mike Sole know that our beaches are not going to be Florida’s “best booms” and we expect them to wake up and get busy.
Sen. Nelson does not think that any coast in Florida is safe from the oil. He said that the local governments need to be embedded in the nearest command center so they can be heard by the CG regarding what is needed by local governments. He also said that the White House seems to be catching on and that he expects their response to improve once the trust fund is in place.
Nelson said the big unknown right now is what is below the surface of the ocean. We know from the USF research that there are large plumes under the surface of the water which are moving far and wide. Also the oil tends to float in the day time when it’s warm outside and then at night it changes and tends to sink to the bottom.
The biggest problem we have right now and that is keeping us from protecting our coasts is that there is no clear chain of command. So therefore there has been no order for the skimmer boat to skim for instance. Also there are only a few boats available (he said there are three off the coast of Florida). He said that Pres. Obama has now put the CG in control. Yesterday, Escambia County’s coastal waters were put off limits for fishing and swimming.
Last week Nelson reported in an interview with Andrea Mitchell that the oil is bubbling up from the seabed around the pipe and that this is hugely troubling. When asked about that this morning, Nelson said that he believes that then they get down to the well and get it killed, the the oil will stop. [I independently asked a Gulf of Mexico ship captain with over 30 years in the industry, if this is possible. It sounds impossible. But he said that it is completely possible and that when BP gets the new wells in place that it should work just right.
This is a person that I trust to tell me the truth. Apparently the well is some 18,000 feet below the floor of the ocean and yet they can still pump concrete down that far, with enough pressure to reverse the flow of the oil and gas and make the whole thing stop flowing. I’m very relieved to hear this from someone that I trust.]
So – that’s what I learned this morning. I’ll share more news as I learn more. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated hearing a briefing from Sen. Nelson. He was honest, straight-forward, and very knowledgeable. He confirmed everything that we have been saying for the past six weeks, which was not necessarily good news, but it tells me that the information we’ve been getting is accurate and we have been offering the correct advice to our members.
It seems to me that if our federal government, via the CG, will kick into gear and get money to our local governments, then we can begin protecting our shores and waters. The state of Florida seems to be almost totally dysfunctional, from what I can tell. Maybe that will change.
Yesterday I went out on the Navarre Beach pier and it was teeming with marine life. I don’t know if all the animals are being pushed this way to avoid the oil or if they were excited about the new, longest pier in Florida. But in one hour I saw at least a dozen dolphins, a huge sea turtle, hundreds of thousands of fish, an enormous manta-ray, several barracudas, and lots of big fish being caught (mackerel, etc). It was heart-warming to see all that sea life and also extremely troubling to think that they could soon all be dead. I got into the Gulf myself and swam for about an hour and nothing bad happened to me (so far). I was concerned that there could be dispersants in the water, but didn’t detect anything.
I’m not planning to go back in anytime soon, but I wanted to go swimming in the Gulf one more time. Normally, this time of year, I would be swimming in the Gulf every day after work and on weekends, and I miss that. However, this is not about me. An incredible ecosystem is being destroyed and I don’t know what the chances for recovery may be.
In closing, if you live in a coastal county of Florida – PLEASE MAKE YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT GET PREPARED FOR THE OIL. It will very likely be on your beach sooner or later.
For all of our waters,
Director, Clean Water Network of Florida
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.cleanwaternetwork-fl.org
may 28, 2010 -- this is an animal, not oil
It could be easy to confuse these animals, called "sea pork," with tar balls -- especially considering the widespread concern about the possible effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster on Sanibel, Captiva, and Ft. Myers beaches.
Citizens have been coming across sea pork (pictured at left) and calling Dr. Bruce Neill of the Sanibel Sea School, and PURRE Chairman Mike Valiquette, wondering if tar balls are washing up on our beaches.
Sea pork is a colonial animal related to a sea squirt, and they wash up pretty regularly, according to Dr. Neill. They are usually beige, white or brown, but they can sometimes be black -- as shown in the picture at left taken by Mike Valiquette. When black, they are easy to confuse with tar balls.
The Sanibel Sea School has provided a thorough explanation of this highly evolved marine invertebrate, along with other educational articles relating to the oil disaster, on its site at http://sanibelseaschool.wordpress.com/
How can you tell if you’re looking at a glob of oil versus a glob of sea pork? The Sanibel Sea School advises that sea pork is firm, smooth, and flexible. It appears and feels very much like rubber, and comes in many colors. If you look closely, you will be able to see the thousands of tiny distinct individual animals that make up the larger organism housed in the firm mass of cellulose. Said Dr. Neill: "It’s like an apartment building full of tiny residents."
Oil usually shows up on beaches in the form of mousse or tar balls. Oil mousse is brownish-orange in color, with the consistency of thick pudding. Tar balls are black, very dense in weight, and feel sticky.
If you think you’ve found oil, report it to local officials for further investigation. If you find a piece of sea pork, enjoy the opportunity to take a closer look at a very interesting marine organism.
Thank you to Dr. Bruce Neill and the staff at the Sanibel Sea School for their expertise on this interesting marine invertebrate and what to look for.
One thing you can do about the Gulf oil disaster
May 27, 2010
Dear PURRE Members:
By now you’ve seen the pictures of oil coating the beaches and marshes of Louisiana, once home to abundant wildlife, marine life, and plant life – once the lifeblood of the economy of thousands of people. It is now silent. Can anyone possibly still favor drilling off the coast of Florida?
We feel helpless as currents, weather, and corporate executives have control over how much oil might reach our shores but we are not helpless in the effort to ban drilling off Florida’s coasts. We must act quickly and decisively.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for the Florida Legislature to go into special session and put a constitutional amendment with a permanent ban on the ballot this fall. He believes this is the best way to make sure drilling isn’t allowed in state waters, which are three to 10 miles off shore.
You can make your voice heard and help build support by going to www.protectourshores.com
to sign the petition to support this ban. You can do even more: keep the momentum going by forwarding this email to your friends and family and asking them to join this effort.
Meanwhile, here are two Web sites you can visit to monitor the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the disaster response that I have found helpful:
Thank you for everything you do to help us in the fight to save our rivers and estuaries. The threats this season will take renewed commitment from all of us.
Michael J. Valiquette, Chairman
People United to Restore Our Rivers and Estuaries
A POSSIBLE LAST-DITCH SOLUTION TO KEEP OIL OFF OUR BEACHES
May 12, 2010
Having personally assisted with attempts to remove crude oil from the sandy beaches of Cape Cod in the 1970s and knowing it is an almost impossible job, we at PURRE are looking outside the box for means that might work as a "last line of defense" on all of our beaches.
Take it from me, with any wind and surf, the "floating booms" that seem to be the federal and state governments’ only line of defense will not work. They will help control movement on a calm sea to an extent but become mostly useless once the wind picks up. You can see that the crude oil is already past the multiple booms south of Louisiana and into the bay areas and beaches, and if you noticed in the newsreels the estuary waters were mostly calm.
If you saw the news tape of the Haz-Mat crew hand-shoveling the oil from the small barrier island south of New Orleans, you can see what an endless effort it will be. As on Cape Cod in the 1970s, all of the volunteers felt really good knowing we helped and did all we could, but frankly it was never enough – the oil and residue was there for almost a decade.
It is my feeling that Sanibel, and all of Florida, needs to take action to protect herself with a "last line of defense" so if any oil gets through the booms, at the very least, we can make a valiant effort to keep the oil off of the sand. Once the oil gets pulverized by the surf and into the sand, it will take years to clean up.
This video link is from the Ecofriend.org website, a site that I monitor as a building contractor always looking for greener methods and products. It shows a possible and fast solution to the oil problem as presented by C.W. Roberts, Inc.:
* If you prefer not to watch the video, you can read a brief summary of this clean-up method following this message (in green text).
The company is based in Tallahassee and has an office right here in Fort Myers:
C. W. Roberts Contracting, Inc.
15101 Alico Road
Fort Myers, FL 33913-8259
I have personally talked in depth with Darryl Carpenter, Vice President of C.W. Roberts, Inc. about this solution and I am convinced it will work. All C.W. Roberts is asking for is one square mile in the offshore spill area to prove it will work.
If it works, and I think it will, we will then work directly with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and all related State and Federal agencies to come up with a process to use this solution in the near beach zone with “rapid removal” as a last ditch effort to protect our beaches.
Sincerely, Michael Valiquette, Chairman
PURRE Water Coalition
CW Roberts’ employees propose to clean up Gulf oil spill with hay
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster, and most efforts to stop the leak and clean up the water have not been quite successful thus far. While several researchers are pushing the limits of technology to try and prevent any further damage to the ecosystem, two men are demonstrating a unique, and above all environmentally friendly method to grab the oil off the surface of the water.
These men, Darryl Carpenter, VP of Florida-based CW Roberts Contracting, and sub-contractor Otis Goodson have found out that simply blowing hay on the surface of contaminated water and stirring it will make the hay absorb oil. Oil-laden hay can then simply be collected to purify water.
After proving their idea in two pans, the team now wants to prove themselves on a 10-acre area in the Gulf waters. To jump start the process, the company is organizing another demonstration to show how a hay blower and a conveyor can be put out on a boat to distribute the hay and then pick it up.
May 3, 2010
News Analysis (a summary of the disaster follows after this article)
Source: The New York Times
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad — no one would dispute it. But just how bad?
Some experts have been quick to predict apocalypse, painting grim pictures of 1,000 miles of irreplaceable wetlands and beaches at risk, fisheries damaged for seasons, fragile species wiped out and a region and an industry economically crippled for years.
President Obama has called the spill “a potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”
And some scientists have suggested that the oil might hitch a ride on the loop current in the gulf, bringing havoc to the Atlantic Coast.
Yet the Deepwater Horizon blowout is not unprecedented, nor is it yet among the worst oil accidents in history. And its ultimate impact will depend on a long list of interlinked variables, including the weather, ocean currents, the properties of the oil involved and the success or failure of the frantic efforts to stanch the flow and remediate its effects.
As one expert put it, this is the first inning of a nine-inning game. No one knows the final score.
The ruptured well, currently pouring an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the gulf, could flow for years and still not begin to approach the 36 billion gallons of oil spilled by retreating Iraqi forces when they left Kuwait in 1991.
It is not yet close to the magnitude of the Ixtoc I blowout in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico in 1979, which spilled an estimated 140 million gallons of crude before the gusher could be stopped.
And it will have to get much worse before it approaches the impact of the Exxon Valdez accident of 1989, which contaminated 1,300 miles of largely untouched shoreline and killed tens of thousands of seabirds, otters and seals along with 250 eagles and 22 killer whales.
No one, not even the oil industry’s most fervent apologists, is making light of this accident [emphasis added]. The contaminated area of the gulf continues to spread, and oil has been found in some of the fragile marshes at the tip of Louisiana. The beaches and coral reefs of the Florida Keys could be hit if the slick is captured by the gulf’s clockwise loop current.
But on Monday, the wind was pushing the slick in the opposite direction, away from the current. The worst effects of the spill have yet to be felt. And if efforts to contain the oil are even partly successful and the weather cooperates, the worst could be avoided.
“Right now what people are fearing has not materialized,” said Edward B. Overton, professor emeritus of environmental science at Louisiana State University and an expert on oil spills. “People have the idea of an Exxon Valdez, with a gunky, smelly black tide looming over the horizon waiting to wash ashore. I do not anticipate this will happen down here unless things get a lot worse.”
Dr. Overton said he was hopeful that efforts by BP to place containment structures over the leaking parts of the well will succeed, although he said it was a difficult task that could actually make things worse by damaging undersea pipes.
Other experts said that while the potential for catastrophe remained, there were reasons to remain guardedly optimistic.
“The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Texas. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.”
Engineers said the type of oil pouring out is lighter than the heavy crude spilled by the Exxon Valdez, evaporates more quickly and is easier to burn. It also appears to respond to the use of dispersants, which break up globs of oil and help them sink.
The oil is still capable of significant damage, particularly when it is churned up with water and forms a sort of mousse that floats and can travel long distances.
Jacqueline Savitz, a senior scientist at Oceana, a nonprofit environmental group, said that much of the damage was already taking place far offshore and out of sight of surveillance aircraft and research vessels.
“Some people are saying, It hasn’t gotten to shore yet so it’s all good,” she said. “But a lot of animals live in the ocean, and a spill like this becomes bad for marine life as soon as it hits the water. You have endangered sea turtles, the larvae of bluefin tuna, shrimp and crabs and oysters, grouper. A lot of these are already being affected and have been for 10 days. We’re waiting to see how bad it is at the shore, but we may never fully understand the full impacts on ocean life.”
The economic impact is as uncertain as the environmental damage. With several million gallons of medium crude in the water already, some experts are predicting wide economic harm. Experts at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Corpus Christi, for example, estimated that as much as $1.6 billion of annual economic activity and services — including effects on tourism, fishing and even less tangible services like the storm protection provided by wetlands — could be at risk.
“And that’s really only the tip of the iceberg,” said David Yoskowitz, who holds the endowed chair for socioeconomics at the institute. “It’s still early in the game, and there’s a lot of potential downstream impacts, a lot of multiplier impacts.”
But much of this damage could be avoided if the various tactics employed by BP and government technicians pay off in the coming days. The winds are dying down and the seas are calming, allowing for renewed skimming operations and possible new controlled burns of oil on the surface. BP technicians are trying to inject dispersants deep below the surface, which could reduce the impact on aquatic life. Winds and currents could move the globs of emulsified oil away from coastal shellfish breeding grounds.
The gulf is not a pristine environment and has survived both chronic and acute pollution problems before. Thousands of gallons of oil flow into the gulf from natural undersea well seeps every day, engineers say, and the scores of refineries and chemical plants that line the shore from Mexico to Mississippi pour untold volumes of pollutants into the water.
After the Ixtoc spill 31 years ago, the second-largest oil release in history, the gulf rebounded. Within three years, there was little visible trace of the spill off the Mexican coast, which was compounded by a tanker accident in the gulf a few months later that released 2.6 million additional gallons, experts said.
“The gulf is tremendously resilient,” said Dr. Dokken, the marine biologist. “But we’ve always got to ask ourselves how long can we keep heaping these insults on the gulf and having it bounce back. As a scientist, I have to say I just don’t know.”
May 3, 2010
Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010
Source: The New York Times
Updated: May 3, 2010
On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig leased by the oil company BP, set off a blaze that killed 11 crew members. Two days later, it sank about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast and crude oil began streaming out of a broken pipe attached to a well that the rig had been drilling nearly a mile below sea level.
Attempts to shut down the flow, at first estimated that at about 42,000 gallons of oil a day, failed when a safety device called a blowout preventer could not be activated. On April 28, government officials said the oil was leaking at a rate five times greater than the initial estimates.
As BP and federal officials scrambled for solutions, oil began washing ashore on the fragile Louisiana coast and drifting toward the shores of Alabama and Florida. On May 2, President Obama visited the scene of what he called a “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”
The Deepwater Horizon was described before the accident as one of the most technologically advanced drilling platforms in the world. The rig had drilled a well in the sea floor and was in one of the last phases of the operation, building a cement casing to reinforce the well.
There is still no explanation for what set off the explosion on the night of April 20, setting off an intense blaze that sent enormous plumes of flame shooting into the air. Most of the 126-member crew escaped; three were critically injured and the bodies of 11 workers were not recovered.
Initially the oil leaking out of the riser pipe from the sea floor was largely consumed in the fire. But when the rig collapsed and sank two days later, it began to form a slick on the waters above.
BP's engineers sought to cut off the leak by activating a towering stack of heavy equipment 5,000 feet below the surface of the gulf known as a blowout preventer. It is a steel-framed stack of valves, rams, housings, tanks and hydraulic tubing that is designed to seal the well quickly in the event of a burst of pressure.
It did not work, for reasons that are still not clear.
After that, the Coast Guard tried out a controlled burn of the slick, but found that the oil was spread too thinly in most of the spill for the technique to be effective.
By April 28, BP officials had identified three separate leaks, and had increased the estimate of how much oil was spilling to 5,000 barrels, or about 200,000 gallons a day. In the worst oil disaster in American history, in 1989 the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled more than 10 million gallons of oil after running aground in Prince William Sound in Alaska.
On April 29, Mr. Obama announced that the federal government would get involved more aggressively in fighting the spill, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano designated the spill as "of national significance.''
The response effort has been driven by BP, under the oversight of the Coast Guard and in consultation with the Minerals Management Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Federal officials said the Navy stood ready to help as needed.
BP was leasing the rig from Transocean, which also owns the blowout preventer.
The White House announced on April 30 that the government would not allow any new offshore drilling until an investigation was conducted into the spill and whether it could have been prevented.
The deadly explosion and the resulting spill have complicated Mr. Obama's recently announced plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling, with some politicians and environmental advocates calling on the president to halt any planned expansions until more safeguards are put into place against future disasters.
On May 2, BP engineers described an audacious plan to confront the blowout preventer problem. In this approach, they would seal the well by cutting the riser at the wellhead, sliding a huge piece of equipment called the riser package out of the way and bolting a second blowout preventer atop the first one.
The risk in attempting such a maneuver — which would be performed, as all the undersea work has been, by robotic submersibles tethered to support ships 5,000 feet above — is that the pressure of the oil rising from the well could be overwhelming, and the well could gush oil at a far higher rate.
BP also planned to drill relief wells, which would allow crews to plug the gushing cavity with heavy liquid. Drilling of a first relief well was set to begin as soon as the weather cleared, with drilling for a second well was expected to begin in two weeks. The relief wells, however, will take months to execute.
In the meantime, crews were injecting chemical dispersant into the oil as it flowed from the main leak. Dispersant, which is more conventionally used on the water surface, breaks the oil into small droplets and reduces its buoyancy, so it will sink to the bottom.
January 27, 2010
PURRE's main mission now is dealing with nutrient loads in inshore waters -- "cleaning up our own backyard," the Caloosahatchee watershed and estuary, particularly in Lee County. But cleaning up our own backyard will be a fruitless endeavor if what weI call "onshore drilling" three to 10 miles off Florida's shores is allowed to happen. If there was a spill, there would not be enough time to clean it up before it reached our beaches, and the wells would be visible for miles.There are many reasons to oppose drilling this close to our precious shores. A group called Hands Across the Sands is building momentum and planning an event in February. While PURRE has not made plans to participate, we want you to have this information should you decide to learn more or take part.
Michael J. Valiquette, PURRE Chairman
Hands Across the Sands Web site describes their movement this way:
"In the near future the Citizens of Florida will have an opportunity to show their opposition to oil drilling as close as 3 to 10 miles off our coast. This movement will be made of people of all walks of life and will cross political affiliations. This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our shoreline, our tourism, our valuable properties and our way of life. Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting our waterways and beaches from the devastating effects of oil drilling."
For more information, visit their Web site at http://handsacrossthesand.com/
April 28, 2009
Here is an article from yesterday’s Miami Herald regarding the Senate’s rejection of the oil-drilling bill. Stay tuned. We will continue to forward information to you as events unfold.
OIL-DRILLING BILL HITS WALL IN SENATE
By Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Published Monday, April 27, 2009
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist and Senate leaders put the brakes on a bill to open the door to near-shore oil drilling off Florida's coast Monday just as it overwhelmingly won approval in a fast-tracked vote in the House.
Moments after the House voted 70-43 — with two Democrats in support and three Republicans against — Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander told reporters the idea has run out of time this session. Senate President Jeff Atwater underscored that message at the end of the day.
"I'm not receptive to it," said Atwater, R-North Palm Beach. "That is a really significantly important issue. It'd be very difficult to imagine that's part of an end game for this session."
Crist said Monday that he was concerned about the "lateness of the hour'' and the "closeness to shore'' of the plan to give the governor and Cabinet authority to accept applications for oil and gas drilling between 3 and 10 miles off Florida's beaches.
The Senate rejection is a major disappointment for Rep. Dean Cannon, the Winter Park Republican designated to be House speaker in 2010. He had agreed to support the proposal on behalf of a group called Florida Energy Associates, which had spent months doing advance work on the issue.
The group refuses to identify its members except to say they include independent oilmen interested in exploring for oil and gas in Florida waters.
Cannon unveiled the idea in a late-session amendment last week, but the group had been working on the idea since December — drafting the amendment language and hiring a public relations firm to promote it, a polling company to survey it and an economist to come up with revenue estimates.
As Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham came out in opposition to the plan, Associated Industries of Florida bought television ad time on behalf of the group to promote it.
Cannon said Monday that he is not ready to give up.
"Five days in week nine (of the session) is plenty long time," he said. "Listen, people make all sorts of comments at the end of week nine. I think they'll have to deal with it as they see fit."
But environmentalists were not very happy.
"I think Cannon is leading his party off the cliff," said Eric Draper, lobbyist for the Florida Audubon Society. "This is an idea brought in by Texas oil companies who are interested in the right to drill in Florida and doing it on the cheap."
To forestall the criticism, House leaders added a series of sweeteners: promising to use $25 million in oil and gas revenues for solar energy rebates, $50 million to universities for energy research and education, $25 million for the environment and $25 million for oil and gas "training academies."
And to counter rumors that the Chinese were behind Florida Energy Associates, the House adopted an amendment requiring that the companies must have corporate headquarters and refineries in the United States.
The House vote went along party lines with Reps. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda of Tallahassee and Debbie Boyd of High Springs the only Democrats to support it. Three Republicans opposed it: Reps. Bill Galvano of Bradenton, Ed Hooper of Clearwater and Bill Frische of Belleair Bluffs.
Democrats raised the specter of oil spills, bringing up the 1993 collision between an oil freighter and two tug-assisted barges in Tampa Bay that spilled more than 32,000 gallons of jet fuel, diesel and gasoline, and about 330,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil. Beaches were closed for a week and birds, sea turtles and shellfish beds were injured.
April 27, 2009
FLORIDA'S SENATOR NELSON OPPOSED
TO OFFSHORE DRILLING BILL
We thought you’d like to know what Florida’s U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has to say about the Florida State Legislature’s offshore oil drilling bill. Here is the senator’s statement:
Sen. Nelson won passage in the U.S. Senate a few years ago of a measure to keep offshore drilling some 125 miles from Florida’s Panhandle and 235 miles away from most of Florida's west coast until at least 2022. But just recently, some members of the Florida Legislature decided they want to allow oil rigs within a three- to 10-mile range offshore -- where the state and not the federal government controls the waters.
Sen. Nelson feels there’s no good reason for undoing coastal protections wisely put, and kept, in place by Govs. Graham, Chiles and Bush -- and, hopefully, Crist. These protections have spared our state’s economy and environment from the ravages of industrializing and degrading our coastline.
Those who now propose to allow drilling and refineries know full well their plan will do nothing to reduce energy prices or our country’s reliance on oil. This simply is the agenda of big-oil interests hiding behind advocacy groups seeking to control Florida’s lawmaking.
And if all that’s not enough, consider the national security implications. Even the new underwater drilling technology would encroach upon military ranges out in the Gulf of Mexico, where we have the last unencumbered places to train our fighter pilots.
April 27 , 2009
PURRE RALLIES ITS MEMBERS AGAINST OFFSHORE DRILLING
There is a bill moving through the Florida House of Representatives that would change the current moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Florida’s coastal waters. PURRE has contacted its members to ask them to tell their elected representatives how they feel about the possibility of having oil rigs within sight of Sanibel and Captiva beaches – not to mention what an oil spill would do to Gulf waters.
While proponents of the last-minute bill, slated for votes in the House and Senate this week, claim that offshore drilling technology has become much better and safer in recent years, the Minerals Management Service reported 124 oil spills caused by hurricanes in 2005. “This is of critical importance to our membership and the residents of southwest Florida,” said PURRE Public Policy Director Dan Wexler.
“While many believe this bill won’t make it due to the short time remaining in this session, there is strong support out there and enough time to push this through,” Wexler said. “It is hard to believe how anyone could think this is a good idea; nonetheless it is moving.”
It is moving with a huge push from a group of mostly unidentified oil and gas companies, according to reports, and at least 20 prominent lobbyists running an expensive public relations campaign including television and newspaper advertising.
Representative Paige Kreegel, who represents the northern part of Lee County, said he expects the bill to come up for a vote “in the 11th hour.” Rep. Kreegel chairs the House Energy Committee and will likely have a role in the final passage and appears to support opening up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling. Last week the House of Representatives in Tallahassee debated this measure and the House Policy Council voted along party lines to lift a legislative ban on drilling in Florida state waters (from the shore line to 10 miles out) and allow the governor and his cabinet to approve leases for oil drilling as close as three miles offshore.
“PURRE believes this is bad policy and bad politics,” Wexler said. According to reports, this measure came as a surprise to the environmental community. It was also reported that backers of the bill were prepared for the House Policy Council vote last Tuesday with talking points and background materials that opponents did not see in advance.
Supporters of the measure cited a Mason-Dixon poll showing that 59% of respondents supported drilling off Florida’s coast. However, that poll was done last year when gas was about $4 a gallon. It also indicated that the approval was contingent upon the drilling being safe and largely out of sight.
“Three miles offshore would not be out of sight, and what guarantee do we have that it will be safe? This appears to be a last-minute push of bad policy with misinformation and we cannot allow this to happen,” Wexler said.
Florida law now restricts oil exploration and drilling in state waters which begin three miles offshore and end at 10 miles. This proposal would lift the moratorium. Companies that would seek a lease would have to put up a $1 million non-refundable deposit to seek state approval.
Gov. Crist, while campaigning with Senator John McCain last fall, supported offshore drilling as long as it was a safe distance away from Florida’s coastline. Last week Gov. Crist said he’s entertaining the plan because he’s “open minded” and “intrigued” by the potential to extract oil “in a way that is safe, in a way this is clean and in a way that generates a lot of revenue for the state of Florida.” This appears to be a change for him.
Senator Bill Nelson issued a statement following last week’s vote opposing the bill saying, “I can’t believe some Florida lawmakers might actually be serious about allowing oil drilling within 10 miles offshore.”
“PURRE thinks it would be a good idea to let the folks in Tallahassee know how its members feel about this proposal,” Wexler said. “Many voices opposing close-in oil exploration will have an impact. We’ve asked our members to contact the governor, lieutenant governor and select members of the House and Senate. We’ve asked for our representatives’ and senators’ commitment to oppose any efforts to allow this to happen.”