Jersey Shore, Omani Rocks
This month kicks off a new series for the Remyndr blog. Each month, we will report on two environmental news items — one local, one international — to keep readers informed and inspired in their efforts to protect the planet.
This month, we look at a new law that bans offshore drilling in New Jersey state waters and the rocks of Oman that have the chemical potential to help fight climate change.
NEW JERSEY BANS OFFSHORE DRILLING IN STATE WATERS
On April 20, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bipartisan bill, A839, into law. The bill bans offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in a three-mile ocean stretch that the state controls. The new law is an important step to help protect New Jersey’s 130 miles of shoreline, which contribute in large measure to the state’s $4B tourism industry. A839 requires that the state Department of Environmental Protection review any oil and natural gas development proposals in the Atlantic region in order to assess the potential impact on New Jersey’s coast. While the law does not block drilling in federal waters, it does prohibit the approval of any facilities or infrastructure related to it.
The signing ceremony took place at the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk on the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill — the largest oil spill in American history. “Our coast is a national treasure and the home of so many personal memories of millions of people,” Murphy said before he signed the bill. “Today and together we’re making sure the Jersey shore remains a place where only good memories are made.”
Johnson, Brent, “Murphy bans oil drilling off N.J. shore (and tries to stop Trump),” New Jersey On-Line, LLC, 2018.
Racioppi, Dustin, “To counter Trump, North Jersey bans offshore drilling in state waters,” NorthJersey.com, 2018.
OMAN ROCKS TURN CO2 INTO STONE
On April 26, The New York Times published a story on how the rocks of Oman turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into stone. Peridotite is a type of igneous rock found in the oceanic crust and mantle of the earth. According to scientists, tectonic forces raised the rock formations of Oman 100 million years ago. Once exposed to air and water, peridotite contains a high level of chemical potential, which means that it can absorb large quantities of free energy before it attains chemical equilibrium with the environment.
CO2 is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, and we have filled the atmosphere with billions of tons of CO2 since the start of the Industrial Revolution. As air and water flow through the rocks, CO2 is chemically transformed into carbonate minerals through a process known as carbon mineralization. Evidence of carbon mineralization is seen in the white veins that marble the rocks of Oman.
Worldwide carbon emissions estimate nearly 40 billion tons per year, but scientists project that the 200-mile long, 25-mile wide, northern stretch of Omani peridotite can store at least one billion tons of CO2 annually. And Oman is not the only place where peridotite rocks are found. Albania, Papua New Guinea, and Northern California contain vast stretches of peridotite, and scientists and geoengineers have begun to think of methods by which to accelerate the natural process of carbon mineralization. With a form of geoengineering known as direct-air capture, it is possible to build machines that suck CO2 out of the air and pump it into peridotite rocks.
To read the full article, click here.
Fountain, Henry, “How Oman’s Rocks Could Help Save the Planet,” The New York Times, 2018.