Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Days after an oil spill off the coast of Louisiana was first identified, divers identified the source as a pipeline displaced from a trench on the ocean floor. The Gulf of Mexico spill began off the coast of Port Fourchon after Hurricane Ida tore through the region. The area of the spill is a longtime fossil fuel drilling site with “a latticework of old pipelines, plugged wells and abandoned platforms, along with newer infrastructure still in use,” NPR reports. At this time, there isn’t an estimate for how much oil has spilled, and the owner of the pipeline has yet to be identified.
Why This Matters: Between onshore and offshore operations, the Gulf of Mexico is where about half of US petroleum refining and natural gas processing capacity is located. Oil and gas production is harmful even without a hurricane in the mix, but as demonstrated by Ida and countless other storms before — every pipeline comes with the risk of a spill. In the Gulf of Mexico, where warming waters are making storms more intense, that risk is only amplified. The fossil fuel infrastructure has also weakened the state’s natural protections by carving through wetlands, making flooding and storm surge more likely.
Oil Spill Isn’t the Only Fossil Fuel Impact from Ida
As of this weekend, Shell’s oil refinery in Norco was still sending out black smoke, another impact from the storm. The facility tried to burn off toxic chemicals pre- and post-storm, but “the hurricane blew out some of those flares like candles, allowing harmful pollution into the air,” the Guardian reports. The Shell refinery is just one of 17 reports of chemical or oil discharges called into the US Coast Guard’s National Response Center related to Hurricane Ida.
Complicating the problem is a lack of data: much of the area most impacted by the storm remains without power, leaving many air quality monitoring systems out of commission. The state has not been responsive in the aftermath of the storm, waiting days to dispatch a mobile monitoring van, which means missing the window of time right after Ida made landfall when the chances of air pollution flaring up are highest.
“When I think about releases from a storm like this, I’m more concerned about toxic releases than I am about greenhouse gas emissions,” Alex Kolker, a coastal scientist who serves on the science advisory group for the state’s Climate Initiatives Task Force told the Guardian.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The White House is considering new clean energy strategies for President Biden’s budget package to potentially replace measures blocked by coal-state Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The administration is considering an expansion of grants and loans for agricultural and industrial businesses to help them transition to cleaner energy, […]
While Senator Joe Manchin leads the opposition to climate provisions in President Biden’s budget bill, his own state is the most exposed to floods in the nation, according to new data released this month by the nonprofit organization First Street Foundation. Over 60% of West Virginia’s power stations are at risk, twice the average and […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Documents obtained by Greenpeace UK’s investigative journalism team Unearthed reveal that many coal and oil-rich nations have urged the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to water down its upcoming report on the world’s options to fight climate change successfully. Thousands of comments were sent to the IPCC’s […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.