Taylor Energy to pay $43 million for longest-running oil spill in U.S. history

Taylor Energy’s undersea wells have been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico since 2004, when they were damaged by Hurricane Ivan.

Intel Apologizes After Asking Suppliers to Avoid China’s Xinjiang Region

The chip maker said a letter it had sent to global suppliers was written only to comply with U.S. law and didn’t represent Intel’s stance on the region, where the Chinese government has conducted a campaign of forcible assimilation against religious minorities.

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Omicron Starts to Slow U.S. Economy as Consumer Spending Flags

Fewer people are dining in restaurants, and rising case numbers are leading many businesses to close for a short period.

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7 Health Benefits of Oregano Oil

Native to Europe, oregano is a popular herb used in Italian-inspired recipes. Oregano is an essential kitchen staple, but it also makes a powerful extract. The benefits and uses of oregano oil include antioxidant, antibiotic and antifungal properties, among others.

Ancient Roman and Greek civilizations often used oregano oil for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Did you know that Hippocrates used oregano oil to treat skin infections? Such traditions continue today across the globe.

Oregano Essential Oil vs. Oregano Oil Extract

There are many supplements to choose from when using oregano oil. What are the differences between oregano essential oil and oregano oil extract?

  • Oregano essential oil is made from the dried shoots and leaves of the plant. The oil extract is derived from steam distillation. When mixed with a carrier oil, oregano essential oil can be applied topically to benefit the skin or help heal wounds. Always spot test essential oils on the back of your hand in case of sensitivity. Never ingest essential oils.
  • Oregano oil extract is made as a result of one of several extract methods, often using compounds such as alcohol or carbon dioxide. You can also find it in capsule form.

The Potential Benefits of Oregano Oil

Here are seven potential benefits of oregano oil and ways to make use of its powerful effects.

1. Its Antibiotic Properties Aid Against Staph Infections

Staphylococcus aureus is a well known cause of both food poisoning and skin infections. Oregano contains a powerful compound called carvacrol that allows it to fight bacteria due to its natural antibiotic properties.

A study published in Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods analyzed the ability of oregano essential oil to improve the chances for survival of 14 mice that were infected with Staphylococcus aureus. The control group received regular antibiotics and had a 50% survival rate, while the mice given essential oil had a 43% survival rate beyond 30 days. The comparable rates revealed potential for the use of oregano essential oil in the treatment of skin infections.

In 2017, researchers studied a formulation consisting of oregano and manuka essential oils and the ability of these oils to heal infected skin wounds in humans. Originally published in Microbiological Research, the study found that both oregano and manuka essential oils could be effective as an alternative to chemotherapeutic drugs in staphylococcal infections. At nearly 66% concentration, carvacrol proved the most powerful compound in oregano essential oil for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

2. It’s an Antioxidant Powerhouse

Free radicals can build up and cause harm to the body, increasing risk for chronic disease, due to prolonged exposure to environmental factors like air pollutants and cigarette smoke. Herbs containing antioxidants help the body fight free radicals.

Here are a few of the powerful antioxidants found in oregano:

  • carvacrol
  • caryophyllene
  • limonene
  • ocimene
  • terpinene
  • thymol

A 2001 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry analyzed the antioxidant content of 39 often-used herbs. Researchers discovered that oregano contained up to 30 times the levels of antioxidants than the other herbs. Interestingly, researchers also found oregano contained 42 times more antioxidant levels than that of apples.

3. It May Reduce Cholesterol

Some studies have revealed that oregano oil may have a cholesterol-lowering effect due to the phenol activity of thymol and carvacrol.

Carvacrol helped to lower cholesterol in mice fed a high fat diet for 10 weeks, according to a 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The control group was fed a high fat diet, minus carvacrol, and had higher cholesterol levels.

4. It Could Provide Pain Relief

Is oregano oil a painkiller? Could oregano oil be used as a natural analgesic? If so, would it work as well as prescription painkillers? Promising studies conducted in mice reveal the possibility.

One such older study compared standard painkillers with essential oils, including oregano essential oil. Researchers found oregano essential oil produced <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/%28SICI%291099-1573%28199606%2910%3A4similar effects as morphine and fenoprofen in providing pain relief in the mice. These effects were linked to the carvacrol content of oregano.

5. It May Help Fight Yeast Infections

The most common yeast infections come from an overgrowth of the yeast called Candida. According to the CDC, overgrowth of yeast like Candida in the body can lead to gut imbalances and infections, such as thrush or dermatitis. Candida can also contribute to such serious gut conditions as Crohn’s disease.

A 2008 test tube study previously found promising results against Candida that occur vaginally, on the skin and in the mouth. Carvacrol was noted as one of the primary oregano oil compounds that proved effective against Candida when compared and contrasted with sage, rosemary and other essential oils.

A 2021 study published in A Journal of Biosciences: Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C (ZNC) found that oregano essential oil yielded up to 50% inhibition rates against Candida albicans and another harmful biofilm.

6. It Could Promote Gut Health

Abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea are a few common issues caused by gut parasites that oregano oil could potentially treat.

A 2016 study published in Biomedical Research International found that oregano essential oil may improve gut health and intestinal morphology. Researchers discovered that oregano essential oil protected the intestinal barrier of piglets when they were fed a control diet or treated with 25 mg/kg of oregano essential oil for four weeks. E. coli, a harmful bacteria, was significantly reduced in the piglets. The finding was linked with oregano essential oil’s active chemical constituents thymol and carvacrol.

A 2021 study looked at the impact of oregano essential oil on the gut microbiota in piglets.

Researchers found that piglets in the oregano essential oil supplemented groups experienced significantly decreased mortality rates and incidences of therapeutic treatment. Both sows and piglets had varied structures and compositions of fecal microbiota, there was an increased presence of microbiota families related to fiber digestion.

7. It May Aid Weight Loss

Animal studies have shown that carvacrol may prevent obesity through the modulation of gene expressions in mice who consumed a high fat diet. Those fed carvacrol plus their high fat diet had significantly less body fat and weight gain and body fat than the mice provided with a high fat diet only, according to one study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. While a study like this one reveals potential, more research on its efficacy in humans is needed.

Quick Guide: Taking Oregano Oil Supplements

The potency of oregano supplements may vary based on the brand you purchase and the form you prefer to take. Read the label’s recommendations for use, especially since the claims on such products are not regulated by the USDA. Reputable brands sell essential oils that have been scientifically tested and verified by a third party lab. Consult with a doctor before using an oregano oil extract or oregano essential oil.

Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, by mixing a drop or two with a teaspoon of carrier oil. Safely spot test it on a small patch of skin in case of sensitivity. Never ingest essential oils.

Oregano oil extract should not be consumed by those who are pregnant or nursing. Again, check with your doctor before supplementing orally with oregano oil extract, especially if you take any prescribed medications.

A relatively affordable price makes oregano oil extract and oregano essential oil viable options for supplementation, especially for such a readily available herb. Supplementation with oregano oil is appealing because it contains a wealth of benefits from antioxidant to antifungal properties, making it suitable for potentially helping with everyday health complaints.

Tiffany Chaney is an environmental and wellness writer dedicated to advocacy, ethics, and transparency. Chaney holds a BA in creative writing from Salem College and completed an apprenticeship in western herbalism and Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Tree of Life Wellness Center and Piedmont Herb School in Winston-Salem, NC. She is also a published creative writer and artist, currently living in Virginia.

U.S. Effort to Combat Forced Labor Targets Corporate China Ties

The Biden administration is expected to face scrutiny as it decides how to enforce a new ban on products made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China.

Danish Ad: Take the Bus. It’s Cool

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Virtual Guns in Videogames Could Soon Be Worth Real Money

Game makers are increasingly selling virtual weapons, clothing and other gear as NFTs, a move that is pushing the trendy digital deeds into more households but also upsetting some players.

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Settlement Reached Over Longest-Running Oil Spill in U.S. History

A Louisiana energy company is finally paying for the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history.

Taylor Energy has agreed to pay more than $43 million in penalties and transfer a further $432 million to the Department of the Interior as a trust to complete the cleanup of the 17-year spill, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

“Offshore operators cannot allow oil to spill into our nation’s waters,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a statement. “If an oil spill occurs, the responsible party must cooperate with the government to timely address the problem and pay for the cleanup. Holding offshore operators to account is vital to protecting our environment and ensuring a level industry playing field.”

The oil spill began in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan triggered the collapse of a Taylor Energy production platform located around 10 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. The collapse damaged around two dozen oil wells, Reuters reported. All told, the ongoing spill has poured hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to The Hill.

“Despite being a catalyst for beneficial environmental technological innovation, the damage to our ecosystem caused by this 17-year-old oil spill is unacceptable,” U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana said in a statement. “The federal government will hold accountable businesses that violate our Nation’s environmental laws and ensure that any oil and gas company operating within our District meets their professional and legal responsibilities.”

The settlement resolves a years-long legal standoff between Taylor Energy and the government. Taylor Energy ceased operations in 2008 and set up a $666 million fund to clean the spill, The New York Times reported. However, it only capped nine of the 25 wells, saying the rest were too difficult to reach, and sued the Department of the Interior for the remaining funds. Since then, the company has continued to push back against the federal government over the costs of cleanup and the extent of the damage.

Wednesday’s agreement requires Taylor Energy to drop three lawsuits it has filed against the federal government and pay $432 billion into a trust to cap the remaining wells, shutter the facility and decontaminate the area. It will also liquidate its remaining assets, an amount of more than $43 billion, to pay civil penalties, removal costs and natural resources damages.

However, Taylor Energy does not “admit any liability to the United States or the State arising out of the MC-20 Incident,” The Hill reported.

The settlement has been filed as a proposed consent decree. It now waits on 40 days of public comment and court review.

“This settlement represents an important down payment to address impacts from the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history,” Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, said in a statement. “Millions of Americans along the Gulf Coast depend on healthy coastal ecosystems.”

Indigenous Knowhow to Fight Climate Chaos

Washington Post:  Indigenous peoples have known for millennia to plant under the shade of the mesquite and paloverde trees that mark the Sonoran Desert here, shielding their crops from the intense sun and reducing the amount of water needed. The modern-day version of this can be seen in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, […]

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New Octopus Meat Farm Poses ‘Ethical and Ecological’ Harms, Animal Rights Advocates and Scientists Warn

Nueva Pescanova Group is set to open the first octopus farm in the world in 2023. Although details have remained a secret, the farm is expected to have a capacity to produce over 3,000 metric tons of octopus meat per year.

While animal rights activists are against the new farm, researchers are also chiming in on the dangers of keeping octopi in small, confined spaces.

Seafood commercialization company Nueva Pescanova Group has had success in breeding 50 octopi through aquaculture following decades of research and planning, and it now plans to take that information to scale up its octopus-farming operations. The 50 million-euro site is planned for Las Palmas, a port in the Canary Islands, and is intended to produce octopus meat for the global market, with shipments expected to go to Australia, China, Italy, and more countries around the world.

About 350,000 metric tons of octopi are captured annually. Wild-caught octopus is common, because farming operations have struggled to successfully raise octopi in captivity.

According to experts, there’s a reason. These intelligent, territorial animals are not likely to do well in confined spaces. Further, farming the octopi will not stop people from fishing for them — instead, now they will die both from fishing and farming.

InThe Case Against Octopus Farming, the researchers explain that there’s an ethical question of whether humans should consume these creatures at all, given their complexity and high level of intelligence. Octopi have excellent problem-solving skills, can exhibit playful behavior, and likely have sophisticated nervous systems and brains.

The writers note that octopi are likely to eat one another if kept in cages together, due to their highly territorial nature. Feeding the farmed octopi is also of concern, as there is already a decline in fish stocks. Octopi typically require three times the amount of feed as their weight for sustenance. The writers further explain:

“Given their exceptional abilities, one might ask whether humans should be eating octopus at all, but here we want to raise a different ethical question. As global demand for octopus grows, especially in affluent markets, so have efforts to farm them. We believe that octopuses are particularly ill-suited to a life in captivity and mass-production, for reasons both ethical and ecological.”

The research paper notes that factory-farmed seafood has been linked to fish becoming more aggressive and having lower immune function than wild fish. Aquaculture also contributes to a range of environmental pollutions, including nitrogen and phosphorus from decaying food and feces; fertilizers, algaecides, herbicides and disinfectants; excessive antibiotic use and more.

“Although there has been little research on the welfare of octopuses in farmed settings, existing evidence suggests intensive farming systems are likely to be associated with high mortality rates and increased aggression, parasitic infection, and a host of digestive tract issues,” the researchers say. “Beyond their basic biological health and safety, octopuses are likely to want high levels of cognitive stimulation, as well as opportunities to explore, manipulate, and control their environment. Intensive farm systems are inevitably hostile to these attributes.”