It's the Environment, Stupid.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The joys of oil

Did you hear about the oil spill in Prudhoe Bay on Thursday? A few news outlets picked up on the AP article (3/2 article, 3/3 article). There were about 19,000 gallons of oil spilled (although clean-up crews are working to clear snow around it to determine the full extent of the spill.) Early March (or the winter in general) seems to be a great time to have an oil spills (if you need to have one) since temperatures are still below freezing and the ground it still frozen, which makes for easier clean up because the snow acts as a barrier and the oil itself congeals.

But simply hearing about this oil spill is good news, as BP apparently hasn’t had the best track record in reporting spills and other operational problems up at Prudhoe Bay. (Check out this article published on Common Dreams from May 2005 by Jason Leopold.)

And they’re not the only oil company trying to shirk responsibility lately (like that’s a shocker). ExxonMobil is still trying to get out of their $5 billion debt to society. In late January 2006, ExxonMobil told a federal appeals court that they’d already spent plenty on cleaning up the 1989 Valdez oil spill and wanted their penalty reduced further. According to the 1/28/06 AP article I got from the Seattle Times: “The case has come before the San Francisco-based appeals court twice before. Both times, the 9th Circuit ordered U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland of Anchorage to reduce the award.” That's GREAT! So a few more times in front of the right judges and they’ll be free and clear.

But what about penalties for an oil spill even larger than the Exxon Valdez? What could be bigger than nearly 11 million gallons you ask? Why, the 17 million gallons under Greenpoint, New York. The oil slick under Brooklyn made the news this week as residents in the area are fed up and want the place cleaned up – now (they’ve even got Erin Brockovich on board). The only problem is that refineries that used to line Newtown Creek have long since ceased operations, and as usual no one company can be tied directly to the leftover oil, so it still leaves the "Who pays?" question unanswered.

Oil sure is a messy business. Good thing there's no peak in sight.

For more information on Greenpoint and Newtown creek:
http://riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/pollution/we_are_doing/805
http://www.greenpointvexxon.com/

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