• Panhandle Ecosystems Rebound After BP Spill

    GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE - For Dan Brown, seeing the globs of orange and brown oil that washed up along the Florida Panhandle's 58 miles of protected national park beaches four years ago was like a punch in the stomach. But now, those beaches are clean and Brown, the superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, is celebrating the park's resiliency with a kayak trip from one end to the other. Community leaders and residents joined Brown for parts of his journey around the seashore that was marred after a BP oil platform exploded in April of 2010, causing millions of gallons of oil to flow into the Gulf.

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  • Our Biases in the Gulf’s Recovery from the Oil Spill

    Last month, I set out to write a fairly basic story about the Gulf oil spill and whether the oil really caused deformities in fish. I first called an oil chemist to get some background on how oil could cause those problems in the first place. From that conversation, I learned a huge amount—in particular, that everything I thought I knew about oil in the environment was pretty much wrong.

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  • New Orleans Raised its Tourist Count in 2013, Hovering Just Short of the All-Time Record

    New Orleans attracted 9.28 million visitors in 2013, slightly besting the 2012 tally and replacing that year as the second-highest tourist count on record. An estimate of what all the visitors spent, however, showed an all-time high of $6.47 billion. A study produced annually by the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation revealed the latest numbers Tuesday.

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  • Deepwater Horizon: Cleaning up

    “We’ve now killed the Gulf of Mexico.” That assessment of the Deepwater Horizon disaster from Matthew Simmons, a respected energy banker, seemed hyperbolic even at the time. Four years on from the explosion on the rig on April 20 2010, with tourism in the gulf region booming and recreational fish catches higher than before the accident, that apocalyptic vision looks even further from the truth.

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  • Breaking Down the Myths and Misconceptions About the Gulf Oil Spill

    Does oil stick around in the ecosystem indefinitely? What was the deal with the deformed fish? Can anything bad that happens in the Gulf be blamed on oil? In the months and years following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, telling fact from fiction regarding seafood safety and ecosystem health was supremely difficult. Is Gulf seafood safe to eat or not? Are there really deformed shrimp and black lesion-covered red snapper? Will the Gulf ever be clean again? A large part of the confusion was due to the connected, yet distinct, seafood issues surrounding the spill. Whether the seafood was safe for humans to eat was mixed with stories of the future of Gulf fisheries; harm done to wild fish was conflated with health of the seafood supply. To clear up some of the confusion, here are seven topics of concern, some still unresolved, about the Gulf Oil Spill, brought to you by the Smithsonian Ocean Portal and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). These should help you better understand the spill’s effects on seafood and wildlife.

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  • Protecting the Judicial System Against Fraudulent Oil Spill Claims

    Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, fired a broadside at the U.S. Chamber, claiming that its position on the BP Gulf oil spill settlement program doesn’t protect the business community’s broad interests. Oh contraire. This is about maintaining the integrity of the justice system which is critical to every business. Individuals and businesses that were harmed by the oil spill should be compensated. Those unaffected, who make meritless claims, shouldn’t be. It’s that simple.

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  • Keeping Louisiana's Oil and Gas Industry Competitive Would Help Drive Local Growth as U.S. Energy Production Booms

    While a shale gas boom is poised to make the United States a net exporter of natural gas in the near future, industry leaders said Louisiana must remain committed to a petrochemical industry that financially fuels much of the state. Mark Finley, BP's General Manager of global energy markets and U.S. economics, said shale gas production will make the U.S. a top exporter of natural gas in 2018, projecting exports will grow to 10.6 billion cubic feet per day by 2035. That's an average of 4.3 percent annual growth between 2012 and 2035, when overall U.S. gas production is expected to be some 45 percent.

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  • Improper Gulf Oil Spill Payments Undermine Integrity of Justice System

    We don’t often think about it, but the U.S. justice system is a central underpinning of our society. Whether poor or rich, individual or business, plaintiff or defendant, we all rely on a fair and impartial justice system. But for our system to work, a big dose of good faith is required. When parties don’t act in good faith, the justice system is compromised and we all lose. That’s what makes the story of BP and the Gulf oil spill settlement so troubling. And why BP’s appeal of this case in federal court to the full Fifth Circuit is critical.

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  • Judges Slam More and More Plaintiffs' Attorneys for Corruption

    On March 7 a California appellate court upheld a trial judge’s finding that what had been billed as a watershed liability verdict against Dole Food over pesticide use in Nicaragua was actually the product of a conspiracy by corrupt plaintiffs’ lawyers. That decision came only three days after a federal judge in New York ruled that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment against Chevron (CVX) in 2011 was so tainted by bribery and coercion that it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Meanwhile, in Texas, a prominent class-action injury lawyer faces mounting woes because of allegations that he faked thousands of damage claims against BP (BP) related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. When you combine these cases with the criminal convictions several years ago of plaintiffs-bar titans Mel Weiss, Bill Lerach, and Dickie Scruggs—all of whom served time for corrupting the civil justice system—it’s hard to deny that there’s deep dysfunction within a powerful portion of the legal profession that claims to fight corporate abuse on behalf of the little guy.

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  • BP Seeks Trial on Harm from Macondo Spill

    BP is calling for a trial to hear arguments about the environmental harm caused by its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – and is fighting an attempt by the US government to keep evidence on its effects out of court. The US government is also attempting to raise in court evidence of BP’s previous safety failures, including the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 people.

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