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A regional oil spill task force met in Portland Wednesday to discuss the risks of crude oil traveling by rail.
Northwest emergency responders gather for some verbal role-playing when it comes to an oil spill -- an increasing possibility under the region's many oil-by-rail proposals. **(Updated Nov. 20)**
News out this week about a North Dakota oil spill will likely raise eyebrows here in the Northwest. Reuters reports that a farmer Steve Jensen discovered an oil spill on his wheat field.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its contractors spent 10 months and $22 million removing the Davy Crockett barge from the Columbia River in 2011. Workers prevented a major environmental disaster, but an EarthFix investigation has found that state and federal officials could have prevented an oil spill and the need for a multi-million-dollar cleanup.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its contractors spent 10 months and $22 million last year removing the Davy Crockett from the Columbia River. The barge had broken apart during a botched salvage job and was spilling oil and PCBs into the river.
Every year, billions of gallons of oil are transported in Northwest waters, but the agencies regulating that trade have suffered budget cuts. In fact, oil tanker traffic is on the increase. There are five times as many tankers traveling through Washington's Strait of Juan de Fuca on their way to Canadian ports as there were 10 years ago. Yet, the state recently cut nine percent of its oil spill regulation staff. EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn joins us to explain how Northwest oil spill programs are dealing with budget cuts, how prepared the area would be for a big oil spill, and the future of oil in the Northwest.
Oceanographers continue to study the long term effects last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Portland filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky's new documentary tracks the fate of a single brown pelican caught up in the 2010 BP oil spill. She talks about her experience making the film and why the act of saving a bird is important.
EarthFix editor David Steves and reporter Ashley Ahearn discuss some recent environmental headlines OPB has been following, including:
The worst oil spill in history continues in the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama gave his first national address from the Oval Office Tuesday night to address what's next in the clean up effort. He's also said his administration is working to make sure those damaged by the oil spill will receive compensation. New estimates indicate even more oil is escaping the underwater well than previously thought — up to 60,000 barrels a day. As the disaster unfolds, people and companies from the Northwest are traveling to the region to help deal with the ongoing cleanup. Charlie Hebert, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's only full-time spill response expert, is one of them. He recently returned from the Gulf and says this spill is unlike any he's ever dealt with, given both its size and continuous nature. Overall, though, he says the clean up is going about as well as could be expected.
Writers aren't the only people worried about the decline in newspaper readership. Editorial cartoonists are also learning to adapt to the multimedia environment. Oregon will be flush with cartoonists this week as the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists holds its annual convention in Portland. Among other things, cartoonists will be discussing web distribution and pushing political boundaries in their work. The oil spill in the Gulf has provided major material for cartoonists lately. Here are links to recent oil spill cartoons by each of our guests, Jack Ohman, Matt Bors, and Steve Kelley. We'll talk about their different takes on the show. And we'll talk about whether cartooning is a dangerous occupation. Beyond the daily editorial world, South Park creators recently raised the ire of Muslims for their portrayal of religious figures in the popular animated show. And Christians have organized boycotts of Comedy Central because of the way a new animated series will depict Jesus. (Buddhists, it seems, were not as outraged by an animated version of their religion's founder snorting coke in a recent South Park episode.)
Three weeks after the massive oil spill started in the Gulf, BP CEO Tony Hayward said the amount of oil and chemicals in the sea were tiny compared to the enormous ocean. But for many people, this disaster has highlighted how many different interconnected species are affected by the spill, and the limitations of finite ocean resources. Of course, the world's oceans have faced growing demands even before this spill. In the Northwest, people use the ocean for fish, for access to energy sources, for scientific research and for recreation. How do these different interests compete? How do they collaborate?
The nature and wildlife photographer Gerry Ellis has been traveling the world for three decades. He has documented the plight of orphaned baby African elephants in East Africa. He spent four years in Australia and Papua-New Guinea. Recently he focused on the environmental devastation following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But he's now at the beginning of what he calls the biggest assignment of his lifetime. The Great Ape Diaries is a multi-year, multi-media, multi-continent project based on a simple question: will there be any great apes left in the wild by the end of this decade? Ellis argues that this is not an idle question. He says between deforestation, climate change, wars, poaching, and disease, great apes like chimps, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans may disappear from the wild within eight years.