Friday, January 11, 2008

San Francisco Bay's Sneaky Bridges Strike Again!

Another of those treacherous San Francisco Bay bridges - this time the nefarious Richmond-San Rafael bridge - apparently jumped out in the path of a barge carrying nearly 65,000 barrels (2.7 MILLION gallons) of heavy oil last night. The Coast Guard reports that none of the oil has been spilled, although the barge was damaged on the starboard bow and the hull may have been breached. Check out the story by KRON Channel 4 and their video news conference with the Coast Guard.

(Generic tug-and-barge pic purely for illustration - courtesy of this excellent image gallery)

Coming so soon after the Cosco Busan fuel-oil spill in the Bay, this is a vivid reminder that accidents will happen. In this case (so far at least) the folks in San Francisco have gotten lucky and the Coast Guard response was timely. I hope the folks living around Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and other busy port areas in confined estuaries are paying close attention and keeping on their toes - it's only a matter of time before spills occur, and as the Cosco Busan incident illustrated, immediate effective response is necessary to prevent costly damage to both local economies and natural resources.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Atlantic Rim CBM - Big Drilling in Wyoming

Plans to drill for natural gas in Wyoming continue to proliferate. We've attempted to simulate one of the more controversial proposals to allow drilling for coalbed methane across a rugged scenic area in south-central Wyoming, noted for wildlife and hunting / recreation opportunities, called the Atlantic Rim.

Simulated coalbed methane (CBM) drilling in the central Atlantic Rim area; oblique view looking east.

In March 2007, the Bureau of Land Management issued a final environmental impact statement and record of decision for managing this area that allows up to 2,000 wells drilled from individual well sites (wellpads) about 2-1/4 acres in size, with the closest spacing being one well per 80 acres. Our online gallery includes both topographic maps and Landsat satellite imagery showing the area as it is now, and how it could appear if drilling conforms to this plan.