President Obama and Governor Schwartzenegger’s support of offshore drilling reversed following the blowout of the BP Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico on April 20, which is still spewing oil as of this writing. The Secretary of the Interior has announced that there will be no new offshore drilling considered until this spill and the impacts are resolved, and our Governor held a press conference withdrawing his support for the PXP deal with Environmental Defense Center that would authorize new drilling off of California’s coast in exchange for decommission of all platforms in the future, an agreement that was voted down by the State Lands Commission and criticized by many environmentalists due to questions of its enforceability, secrecy and doubts about its jurisdiction.

But Audubon has been mobilized to respond to the Gulf of Mexico spill which threatens marshes and birds along the Coast. As of this writing 11,000 volunteers have signed up on Audubon’s website to go to Louisiana to clean oiled birds, an effort led by Melanie Driscoll of Audubon Louisiana and supported by staff of Richardson Bay Audubon Center in Tiburon, California, who gained experience rescuing birds during the November 2007 Cosso Busan oil spill in the Bay.

On May 12, an Audubon staffer in Louisiana reported to me by email: “So far, very few oiled birds have been found and brought in. All the agencies and organizations involved are using this time – before there are lots of birds – to get structures and processes in place to deal with a much larger response when and if it becomes necessary. The basic process by which a bird is rescued is as follows. Birds are located and reported to the wildlife hotline. The Oiled Wildlife Center (Tri-State) is notified. They notify the field team to pick up the bird. The field team lets the land transport team and a wildlife transport facilitator (volunteer) know that birds are on their way to a staging area. The transport team takes birds to the Oiled Wildlife Center, where paraprofessionals admit, stabilize, wash, and rehabilitate birds. USFWS releases rehabilitated birds, usually in 7 to 10 days post-cleaning.”

Sign up to volunteer for the oil spill here