Gulf Oil Spill Teaching Resources

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Windows to the Universe – from the educators at Windows to the Universe, a compilation of classroom activities for teachers and educators who wish to address oil spills and the effects of oil spills with students.

From the National Environmental Education Week newsletter:

  • Information on Bird Impacts from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill from the American Bird Conservancy
  • NWF Eco-Schools Special Report from the NWF (with and amazing perspective on the size of the spill –by looking as if it were in your own neighborhood)
  • Gulf Oil Spill Interactive Resources from the Smithsonian Institute
  • The Physics Of Oil Spills – interactive feature on MSNBC’s website provides an overview of the physics behind an oil spill
  • GOMEEN– Gulf Of Mexico Alliance Environmental Education Network has several links to lesson plans on oil spills
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    EPA Whistleblower on Agency Cover-Up of Effects of Oil Spill Dispersants in Gulf

    With BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants. In this Democracy Now interview, Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous speak with Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and a leading critic of the decision to use Corexit.

    Here is a partial transcript of that interview.

    AMY GOODMAN: First of all, explain what Corexit is, the company that makes it, what’s in it, and your concerns.

    HUGH KAUFMAN: Well, Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that it’s invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the government—both EPA, NOAA, etc.—have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher that’s been going on for almost three months.

    AMY GOODMAN: You’ve made comparisons between Corexit, the use of Corexit and hiding BP’s liability, and what happened at Ground Zero after the attacks of September 11th, Hugh Kaufman.

    HUGH KAUFMAN: Yeah, I was one of the people who—well, I did. I did the ombudsman investigation on Ground Zero, where EPA made false statements about the safety of the air, which has since, of course, been proven to be false. Consequently, you have the heroes, the workers there, a large percentage of them are sick right now, not even ten years later, and most of them will die early because of respitory problems, cancer, etc., because of EPA’s false statements. And you’ve got the same thing going on in the Gulf, EPA administrators saying the same thing, that the air is safe and the water is safe…Same thing with OSHA with the workers, they’re using mostly BP’s contractor. And BP’s contractor for doing air testing is the company that’s used by companies to prove they don’t have a problem. If you remember the wallboard pollution problem from China, the wallboard from China, this company does that environmental monitoring. It’s a massive cover-up. And so far, luckily, we have two members of Congress and one member of the Senate on the case. Hopefully more will join in.

    SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: Hugh Kaufman, can you talk about this video clip? (It’s from an investigation from WKRG News 5 into the toxicity levels of water and sand on public beaches around Mobile, Alabamba. One of the water samples collected near a boom at Dauphin Island Marina just exploded when mixed with an organic solvent separating the oil from the water.)

    HUGH KAUFMAN: Well, yes. I saw that when it first came out, I think on Sunday. And what they documented was that the water—you know, when you’re on the sand with your children and they dig, and there’s a little water?—they documented there was over 200 parts per million of oil waste in the water, and it’s not noticeable to the human eye, that the children were playing with on the beach. On top of it, the contamination in one of the samples was so high that when they put the solvent in, as a first step in identifying how much oil may be in the water, the thing blew up, just as he said, probably because there was too much Corexit in that particular sample. But what’s funny about that is, on Thursday, the administrator of EPA, in answering Senator Mikulski’s question at the hearing that you played the clip on, said that EPA has tested the water up to three miles out and onshore and found that it’s safe. And then, a few days later, the television station in Pensacola and in Mobile document with their own limited testing that that statement was false, misleading and/or inaccurate by the administrator, under oath, to Senator Mikulski in that hearing.

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    We Have Better Energy Choices

    This is the creepiest ad. The ‘drill baby, drill’ chants from the crowd make me imagine a blood-thirsty crowd of Romans awaiting a gladiator fight.

    This creates once again an opportunity to mention how important it is to demand clean energy and climate change action from our elected officials. Call your Senators. And please tell them, you don’t want a bill full of giveaways to big polluters and more offshore drilling.

    Have you visited the Repower America Wall? Add your voice today.

    Links to Get You Active on this Issue:

    Where to Find my U.S. Senators Contact Info

    Repower America: Together, We Can Solve It

    350.org

    1Sky

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    End the Cycle of Collective Destruction: No More Offshore Oil Drilling

    Oil is a non-renewable resource. That means the supply of oil on planet Earth is finite. Oil production in the United States peaked around 1970 and since has been declining. Globally we are at or near Peak Oil right now. Our modern civilization runs on oil. Everything in our daily lives is dependent on oil, from the gas we put in our cars, to fertilizers, to plastics, synthetic fabrics, lubricants, paints, cosmetics, the list goes on and on. So do we just keep the party going, drill baby drill and wait for it all to crash?

    We are already bumping up against limits, a changing climate and limits with how much carbon dioxide our atmosphere will take. Oil companies are taking more and more risk to push the edge of technology to grab as much oil as they can. With all their billions, they lobby against environmental regulation. Now, we are seeing the results at the intersection of complacent government and billionaire petrol giants.

    One of the truly saddest articles I read this week was  in Spiegel Online.  It read, Expert Recommends Killing Oil-Soaked Birds because according to studies because less than 1% of the oil-soaked birds survive. The Prestige spill killed 250,000 birds. Of the thousands that were cleaned, most died within a few days, and only 600 lived and were able to be released into the wild. According to a British study of the spill, the median lifespan of a bird that was cleaned and released was only seven days. Do we turn a blind eye  to how this impacts our home and the species we share it with?

    This week, US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, quoted Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman to the Senate’s Environment and Public Relations Committee. “He said that when it comes to reliance on modern technology, ‘Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.’

    Nelson concluded his testimony, “Madam Chairman, members of the committee, I believe the ultimate answer to America’s energy needs lies not in oil, but in alternative fuels and new energy technologies. And I think we can help pay for an accelerated national energy program by ending the billions of dollars in giveaways to the oil industry; by making sure it pays all its taxes and royalties.”

    Please join Senator Nelson in his call for no more offshore oil drilling. Call your US Senators, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, record a message at the Repower America Wall.

    Links to Get You Active on this Issue:

    Where to Find my U.S. Senators Contact Info

    Repower America: Together, We Can Solve It

    350.org

    1Sky

    “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness…. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

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