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Gulf Spill Legacy: Oil Sinks, Dead Dolphins Float

An unusually high number of dead dolphins – many still-born infants – have washed ashore in Alabama and Mississippi in January and February, prompting some scientists along the Gulf to suggest a link between the deaths and the BP oil spill.

Scientists, as well as fishermen and residents living along the Gulf from Florida to Texas, have predicted since the day the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank that the impacts of the disaster would expose themselves over the coming month and years. The dead dolphins – as well as new reports of an ocean-floor near the sunken rig covered in oil – are reminders that the penalties of the spill are just beginning to be paid by nature.

The Sun Herald reports that 30 dead dolphins have washed up in the past two months, 24 of them babies either stillborn or premature. Typically there would be one or two per month.

(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)

Toxic Fish, Sick Humans, Dirty Money: Gulf Spill Impacts Without End

A trio of events happening simultaneously this week along the Gulf coast is stirring debate:

1. The team responsible for paying out damages to Gulf spill victims is about to start writing checks to those who’ve proved they deserve it;

2. NOAA has given its blessing to reopening a 4,200-square-mile area of the Gulf of Mexico to fishing, near where the BP well exploded;

3. and chemical researchers are still trying to draw attention to what they regard as fact, that the Gulf seafood bears toxic levels that are still too high for human consumption.

Like most things in Louisiana, the three are inextricably related: In order to write checks, Ken Feinberg – charged with doling out $20 billion of BP’s cash — needs to be able, as best he can, to ascertain the long-term impacts of the spill on the region. The researcher he hired has issued a report that suggests the impacts of the spill will be less severe than anticipated, on both fish and man. Yet there is a fervent crowd of scientists and environmentalists working in the region who contend the testing being done by the government is insufficient and that the seafood is still tainted. Amid that confusion the federal government (via NOAA) feels a need open closed fishing grounds in order to get fishermen back to work and stimulate the local economies.

(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)

5 Proofs That Overfishing Is Not ‘Over’

Last week I wrote about the just-retired NOAA scientist who announced that overfishing was “over” in the U.S.

To Dr. Steve Murawski’s credit, he was referencing new statistics that show that several new tough-love laws dictating how many fish can be taken from the sea and from where have actually worked in U.S. waters. At least in the short-term.

Yet global overfishing remains one of the biggest problems facing our one ocean.

There are new statistics every week to support why we should all be concerned about potentially taking the last fish from the sea:

(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)

BP’s Oil Spill Legacy: 5 Stories That Still Matter

I’ve watched up-close since last April as residents of the Gulf have moved from shock to anger to resignation, convinced that once the BP well was capped the news media would move on and the mess would remain.

While there is still lots of good reporting coming out of the Gulf addressing a variety of important issues – Is the seafood safe? Where did all those dispersants go? What’s the next fishing/hurricane/summer season going to bring? – it’s important not to forget that oil and dispersants still linger, that more than 6,000 workers are still out there every day trying to make a difference and the economy of the Gulf is still way out of whack.

(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)

Is Gulf Seafood Good Enough for Kids, Prisoners, Soldiers … and Us?

With the gusher in the Gulf capped now for more than four months the incident may for many be fading into the past.

But there are still organized efforts out there fighting for what they perceive to be the still-trampled rights of the region and its people.

Photo by Bobby Teten

(Including some conspiracy-thinkers who insist the plugging was a fraud played on us by the “federal government, mainstream media, big oil as well as the military-industrial complex,” and that the Macondo well is still gushing, leaking and seeping, which is a completely different story …)

Take the “Emergency Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster,” for example. Begun in the early days of the spill to help draw attention to the gusher, make sure it was stopped, that all was done transparently and the mess cleaned up, its efforts have not slowed.

(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)

Posted in BP, Gulf Spill, Louisiana

Berm-Building “A Waste of Money” Says Gulf Commission

Despite serious competition (the earthquake in Haiti, war in Afghanistan, trapped miners in Chile) it’s no surprise that the biggest story of the year, verified by the Associated Press, was the oil spill in the Gulf.

For more than 120 days, beginning on April 20, the spill dominated headlines around the world and as the year winds down there are still multiple stories reported daily on the accident’s continued fallout.

Just in the last two days, for example: Unemployed Gulf residents in Louisiana unable to pay rent or buy gifts at Christmas time because jobs have disappeared; Florida claimants raking in bigger checks for being savvier at filling out forms than those impacted in other states; black jack dealers across the Gulf being denied claims for lost jobs; numerous reports on the long-term impact of the spill on wildlife, particularly bluefin tuna; a devastating Times story detailing the final minutes on the Deepwater rig before it exploded and sank and even bad Hollywood actors (Stephen Baldwin v. Kevin Costner) fighting over profits that might have been from its clean-up.

But my favorite story from inside the story has to be attempts by Louisiana politicians, led by Governor Bobby Jindal, to profit politically and economically from the spill by fighting for an expensive construction project – building berms on outlying islands to keep the oil at bay, which few experts thought would work – confirming the state’s reputation for political chicanery.

(For the rest of my dispatch, go to takepart.com)

Posted in BP, Gulf Spill, Louisiana

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