Blog Redesign: Improving Our Look, Broadening Our Scope


We’ve made some changes – or more accurately in our eyes – improvements. We hope you agree.

We’ve expanded our scope beyond the BP oil spill to include other front-burner environmental issues that we feel demand our immediate attention – as well as yours. Part of our objective here is to promote robust debate on our nation’s most pressing environmental concerns, and in some cases, to drive public action. We feel our new format will help us do just that.

To be clear, we are in no way, walking away from the ongoing battle surrounding the BP oil spill – our country’s worst environmental disaster. As the one-year anniversary approaches, the fight is far from over, and in many ways it’s just beginning for many Gulf Coast residents. We remain dedicated to exposing the truth about the spill’s long-term impacts and to fighting for the full recovery of the Gulf and its courageous residents. We will continue to closely track the issues – from human health effects to beach cleanup to victim compensation to seafood safety to wetland and oyster bed restoration.

In our new format, we will continue to post the same compelling daily content: (informatively irreverent) original blog posts, featured news, exclusive videos and photos, lab reports and risk assessment models – none of that will change. We will offer original commentary on a variety of our nation’s most urgent environmental concerns. And as with our coverage of the BP oil spill, we will “de-spin” the official talking points and messaging – and do our best to get beyond the rhetoric and the politics.

We hope to provide some relatively level-headed context to the day-to-day barrage of news coverage and the relentless parade of talking heads.

Environmental issues and related public policy action are moving at a faster pace than we’ve seen in years. Recently, we’ve found – largely by way of a jaw-dropping New York Times series by Ian Urbina (who also covered the BP disaster) and the Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” – that the environmental damage tied to the drilling industry practice of “fracking” may be even worse and more widespread than initially thought. And trust me, I was already deeply concerned based on two decades of experience suing industrial polluters. There is no doubt that fracking is a big issue and getting bigger. It may already be our nation’s most urgent environmental threat, particularly from the standpoint of human health.

Then, of course, we have Japan’s nuclear crisis, which comes in the context of a long-term human catastrophe. But it, too, illustrates the big business of energy production – and the limits of our anticipation and the leniency with which we regulate industry. Parallels always abound, and it’s odd how “government” has emerged as yet another enabler of corporate greed and risk-taking. Certainly in the Gulf, we’ve come to see NOAA as a virtual division of BP, and federal regulators have just given BP the green light to restart deep-water drilling in the Gulf.

As the environmental landscape changes, so is this blog. Launched in the context of the BP spill, we’re expanding our focus to look at “Big Pollution,” especially in the areas of oil and gas drilling and nuclear power generation – but also anywhere pollution impacts human health. That has been my passion, and professional practice, for some 20 years now.

With tens of thousands of visitors a month, it’s gratifying to know that we are generating content that helps encourage and inform the dynamic debate these environmental issues demand.

So, again, you’ll note some design and content changes, and we sincerely hope you’ll hang around for the ride – because with issues like fracking bans, flammable drinking water, and iodine-131 from Japan turning up in U.S. milk, it’s about to get a little bumpy.

© Smith Stag, LLC 2011 – All Rights Reserved


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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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