Monday, January 24, 2011

SkyTruth Presentation to the Shepherdstown Rotary



SkyTruth was honored to meet with the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown on Tuesday morning, January 18 for an early morning breakfast and presentation at the iconic Bavarian Inn. Present that morning were SkyTruth President John Amos, Rotarian and SkyTruth Chairman Paul Woods and SkyTruth office administrator Teri Biebel. John gave a PowerPoint presentation explaining what we do, which you can view here (PDF), and participated in a question and answer period afterwards. In the new year, we look forward to doing more to build a strong bond with our Shepherdstown-area community.

We also are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with Shepherd University and will be participating in a Meet & Greet with students and faculty at the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies on Wednesday, February 16 at noon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

People's Oil & Gas Summit 2010



File this under better late than never. On November 19th and 20th, we had the pleasure of participating in the People's Oil & Gas Summit 2010 in Pittsburgh, PA which was hosted by our friends at Earthworks. Our portion of the event came on Saturday morning in the workshop entitled: Web-based tools for information sharing and documentation. You can see our PowerPoint Presentation here.

With our interactive Gulf Oil Spill Tracker, we were in good company. Also in attendance were Samantha Malone and Chuck Christen from the Center for Healthy Environment and Communities, University of Pittsburgh demonstrating their FracTracker, as well as MIT's Chris Csikszentmihalyi demonstrating ExtrAct Tools like Well Watch, Landman Report Card and News Positioning System.

The keynote speaker Saturday evening was filmmaker Josh Fox via Skype from Australia. Josh's film Gasland hit home for a lot of people, whether they have been affected by natural gas drilling or not. The film generated quite a buzz at the American Conservation Film Festival here in Shepherdstown in November, and it's moved on to the final 15 in its class for a 2010 Academy Award.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SkyTruth's Work Cited in National Oil Spill Commission's Final Report

The National Oil Spill Commission's final report on their investigation of the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster was released yesterday, and SkyTruth's work is cited in several places. Sections of SkyTruth's blog regarding the initial estimates about the spill's true size can be seen on page 146, footnote 150 of the report.

The study, “Impacts, Perception, and Policy Implications of the Deepwater Horizon Oil and Gas Disaster” by MCBI’s Dr. Elliott Norse and SkyTruth’s John Amos, which appeared in a special issue of Environmental Law Reporter News and Analysis, a publication of the Environmental Law Institute, was also cited in two separate places in the Commission's report.

Discussion about the lack of information on the ecosystems and the impact that deepwater drilling have on them is cited on page 174, footnote number 4 and on page 182, footnote 68.

SkyTruth at ScienceOnline2011 - January 15

Well, not "at," exactly - I'll be participating via Skype from snowy Shepherdstown, WV, in this fifth annual conference that looks at the intersection of science and the Web. I'm part of a panel and audience discussion that begins at 11:30am ET this Saturday called "The First Line of Response- The BP Oil Spill: science, outrage, spin, and dead pelicans." We'll take a look at the role of blogging and science - both good and bad (flaming hurricanes! exploding tornadoes!) - during the Gulf spill.

According to the organizers, the conference sold out in 45 minutes. But you can still follow what's happening by watching live video, and chime in via Twitter (#scio11 for the conference, #oil during our panel). Should be interesting!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SkyTruth Partnering With Shepherd University

We're starting out 2011 in a big way and we're looking at great things happening here at SkyTruth. We've settled in nicely to our new offices at the rear of the Entler Hotel, the phones are on and we're hard at work with our friends at Shepherd University. SkyTruth and Shepherd are now working together on some really cool projects for the coming year, and we hope to have a lot of student participation. Our proximity to the University makes a partnership convenient for everyone involved. To that end, we are pleased to be involved in an informal 'Meet & Greet' with students and faculty at the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies on Wednesday, February 2 at 12:00 p.m. (Psst...hungry students take note - we're told there will be food!)

We also had the pleasure of speaking before the Shepherdstown Rotary Club on Tuesday morning, January 11 at the beautiful Bavarian Inn. It was great to meet and talk with many of the people who make things happen in this beautiful little town, and we look forward to a long relationship with the college and the community for a long time to come! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Oil Spill Commission Releases Final Report

Today, the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling (aka "the spill commission") released its long-awaited final report on their months-long investigation into the causes of the world's largest accidental oil spill. The report was formally rolled out during a press event this morning. You can download it here, and view a multimedia presentation summarizing the report and the Commission's recommendations.

The news conference included a fairly lengthy Q&A with reporters that featured some thoughtful and difficult questions for the commissioners. We tweeted what struck us at the time as some of the highlights of the session. Video of the news conference, which was broadcast by C-SPAN, should be available soon according to the Commission's website.

One of the interesting quotes, from co-chairman William Reilly, was this helpful reminder: "Spills are predictable - they're going to happen from time to time."

Commissioners stressed that some of their recommendations can be implemented without any new legislation or funding - an important selling point given the renewed anti-regulation, "leave business alone" mood in Congress - but when
commissioner Frances Beinecke was asked for the highest-priority recommendation of the commission she didn't miss a beat:
Adequately fund the Interior Department so they can effectively enforce the rules and regulations that govern offshore oil and gas drilling.
That sure seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to politics you can't assume anything. I hope Congress is paying attention.

Stay tuned - there are other investigations still underway, so this is by no means the last word on the BP spill. We're particularly interested in what the well-respected Chemical Safety Board turns up.