Keep up with news on BP's oil spill at The Daily Glob, courtesy SEJ

One of the cool fringe benefits of doing a lot of free labor for the Society of Environmental Journalists is that I get to hang out with folks who are doing some really cool stuff. Example: If you want to keep up with the latest on BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, check out SEJ's new newsfeed, The Daily Glob.




Keep Up With Gulf Spill News on SEJ's New Daily Glob The story of the tragic Gulf oil spill is getting bigger every day. Keeping up with hourly breaking news, and the spill's causes and consequences, can be overwhelming both to journalists and the general public. The Society of Environmental Journalists has launched a new tracking blog to help you follow the Gulf spill story: The Daily Glob — online at http://dailyglob.sej.org . The site links to an array of the best information sources about the spill and related topics — ranging from the Coast Guard's spill news page, to lists of university spill experts, to the Times-Picayune's spill news portal. It also collects on an hour-by-hour basis, links to the hottest breaking spill news stories from all kinds of media — offering one-stop shopping for all the top stories. The array of news tools will help reporters find and enrich stories. They include mapping tools, infographics, photo and video resources, background information, experts' phone numbers, Congressional hearings, and more. Take a look. — http://dailyglob.sej.org/ — Tell your colleagues. And check back often for more.

Obama finally admits what's been obvious for years: We can't clean up oil spills

Cold comfort for a nation that stands mouth agape at the mind-boggling catastrophe off our southern shore, but today President Obama finally admitted what we and others had been saying for years: America is wholly unprepared for a major oil spill. (And Puget Sound is particularly at risk. More on that in a moment.)

It's just a five-paragraph blurb on The New York Times' website, but in it our nation's highest-ranking civil servant says he made a mistake believing ''the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst case scenarios.'' He went on:

''I was wrong.''

D'ya think? But let's not go too hard on the commander-in-chief, given that every other level of government that's handled the so-called preparations for this massive spill got it wrong as well.

This incredibly dispiriting oil spill continues to leave me a little too slack-jawed to take it on in earnest as a blog topic. But it bears repeating that:

* Skimming oil is largely ineffective, capturing maybe 10 percent of the spilled oil -- if we're lucky.

* Boom is great and useful -- but you can't boom off the whole coast.

* There's a very basic assumption made across the country in planning for the worst-case oil spill: that equipment and workers can be "cascaded in" from other regions of the nation over a period of days to deal with the disaster. 

Post-Deepwater Horizon, it doesn't seem necessary to lay bare the fallacies in this last point.

Can proposed North Slope gas pipeline take on competition?

The proposed North Slope gas pipeline hit another bump yesterday when a Calgary-based global energy consultant counted down multiple obstacles hindering the success of the project, reports Elizabeth Bluemink of the Anchorage Daily News.
One of the prime concerns was competition between the proposed pipeline, which is planned to run from Alaska through Canada to the lower United States, and cheaper gas found at basins in the lower 48 near metropolitan areas. The consultant said tight control of costs associated with the pipeline project would be the only way to stay in the competition.
The project is being pursued by two separate business groups with holdings in on the North Slope. BP and Conoco Phillips have partnered in promoting the Denali Gas Pipeline, while TransCanada and ExxonMobil are developing plans for their own Alaska Pipeline Project. Vice President Tony Palmer of TransCanada hopes the two projects eventually will merge, according to the article.
Gas prices are down right now, which means even some drills in the Lower 48 have temporarily stopped. The corporations involved in the project are optimistic. They expect natural gas prices will rise in 2010, making the North Slope project competitive again.
InvestigateWest reported earlier on the proposed Alaska pipeline here.
-- Emily Linroth

North Slope drilling continues, affects birds

ExxonMobil completed drilling its second well on Alaska's North Slope, reports the Associated Press. Both wells in Point Thomson, a natural gas and condensatefield, are expected to be drilled to their final depths by the end of 2010. The field contains an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is only 25 percent of the North Slope's resources. ExxonMobil plans to cycle gas by injecting it back into the reservoir, making it the largest gas cycling plant worldwide. It also plans to connect a pipeline to the TransAlaska Pipeline System.

The gas in Point Thomson is crucial for the development of a proposed multi-billion dollar pipelinethrough Canada and into the lower 48 states. ExxonMobil is backing TransCanada Corp. in the creation of the pipeline, and BP and Conoco Phillips are working on their own pipeline project, called Denali, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Development of the North Slope has spawned controversy for years about the cost of the pipeline necessary to get the gas out, as well as environmental impacts. A recent study shows the massive project has had a negative impact on birds who nest in the area, reportsAndrew C. Revkin in the New York Times.

– Emily Linroth