Jonathan Henderson of New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network is flying Louisiana's coast looking for oil. As usual, he's found some.
"I just noticed something out of the corner of my eye that looks like a sheen that had some form to it," he says. "We're going to go take a closer look and see if there's a rainbow sheen."
It's a target-rich environment for Henderson, because more than 54,000 wells were planted in and off this coast — part of the 300,000 wells in the state. They're connected by thousands of miles of pipelines, all vulnerable to leaks.
The Keystone XL pipeline remains a major point of contention within the Democratic Party, as green voters pull President Obama one direction and pro-energy senators and labor unions pull the other. It looks as though the "comment period" for the project will be extended, delaying a decision past the November elections.
Louisiana's coast is disappearing at the rate of about a football field an hour. Since the 1930s, the Gulf of Mexico has swallowed up an area the size of Delaware.
You can see the water encroaching in Delacroix in St. Bernard Parish, less than an hour southeast of New Orleans. Here, a narrow crescent of land known locally as the "end of the world" is where the road abruptly comes to a dead end; in the distance, you see the tops of now-submerged trees.
This story has been updated with a response from BP.
As the four-year anniversary of the BP oil spill approaches, a leading environmental group is warning that the event is far from over. Increased deaths of dolphins, sea turtles and other injured species are signs of continuing contamination.
Most experimental drugs fail before they make it through all the tests required to figure out if they actually work and if they're safe. But some drugs get fairly far down that road, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, based on poorly conducted studies at the outset.
Medical researchers reviewing this sorry state of affairs say the drug-development process needs serious improvement.
There's an old saying in the South: "A child's gotta eat their share of dirt."
Mamie Lee Hillman's family took this literally, but they weren't after just any old dirt.
"I remember my mom and my aunties eating that white dirt like it was nothing," says Hillman, who grew up in Greene County, Ga., and used to go with her family to dig for their own dirt to snack on. "It was an acceptable thing that people did."
Researchers at a South Florida botanic garden want to return the state's orchids to their former glory.
When railroads first came to Florida in the late 1800s, the plants were among the first resources exploited. Millions of orchids were plucked and sent north as potted plants. Now, after more than a century of logging and harvesting, it's rare to find them growing in the wild here.
But if researchers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden succeed with their Million Orchid Project, the flowers will soon bloom amid the hustle and bustle of city life.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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Vessels are moving once again in the Houston ship channel. The waterway was closed after a barge crash over the weekend spilled thousands of gallons of oil. The Coast Guard now says the channel on the Gulf of Mexico had been cleared enough to allow barge traffic to enter and exit. Still, the cleanup of one of the world's busiest waterways, which is also a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife, continues.
A lot has changed for the energy industry since the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in 1989 and began spilling oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. The outcry over images of oil-soaked wildlife and a once-pristine shoreline dirtied by crude ushered in greater scrutiny of oil operations and increased interest in research on how to clean up oil spills.
On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine water. At the time, it was the single biggest spill in U.S. history. In a series of stories, NPR is examining the lasting social and economic impacts of the disaster, as well as the policy, regulation and scientific research that came out of it.
It's a blustery, snowy March day when Michelle Hahn O'Leary offers a tour of Cordova, Alaska, situated on the eastern shore of Prince William Sound.