Today’s Flickr Photo:
Flickr photo by tcktcktck
If you read one thing today…
It is T-minus 11 days away from Election Day, but one contentious race is being covered far less than the Tea Party revolution. It’s the battle of the corporations in California over Proposition 23, a measure that would suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas law until the state’s unemployment level dropped. Both Big Oil and the developing green industries are dishing out the major moolah to sway voters on this referendum to the tune of $16 million.
The Washington Post’s article features a quote from the outgoing Governator that pretty much says it all.
“Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of the goodness of their black oil hearts, are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs?” Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently. “This is like Eva Braun writing a kosher cookbook. It’s not about jobs at all, ladies and gentlemen. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.”
In other campaign finance news, the corporation arguably spending the most on the upcoming midterm elections, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been pouring enormous gobs of money into highly contested races. And not so surprising, it has not disclosed where it’s getting the big bucks from this year.
Of the Chamber’s spending, John Motley, a former lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business said:
“They’ve raised it to a science, and an art form,” he said of the chamber’s pitches to corporate leaders that large contributions will help “change the game” in Washington.
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In an effort to hold BP accountable for the damage done to wildlife as a result of the oil disaster in the Gulf, three environmental groups have sued the company.
The three groups, Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network and the Save the Manatee Club, say the spill has caused and will continue to cause the taking of endangered and threatened species,” including whales, manatees, birds and sea turtles that “show no avoidance response to oil slicks.”
While BP has already agreed to pay $ 500 million for restoration efforts, the groups are concerned it’s not enough because the effects of the disaster will continue for a long time.
This is welcome news for anyone still appalled by the ambivalence displayed by Congress’ lack of legislation in response to the spill. A new plan released from the Obama administration would invest billions of dollars of BP fines into recovery efforts in the Gulf. But that’s mopping up the damage. What about going forward?
Lawmakers have yet to vote on sensible legislation designed to address the core causes of the disaster and the inadequate response to it— issues that apply to the oil industry as a whole. It’s been six months since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and we still have nothing. Congress needs to act.
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Today’s Flickr Photo
Flickr photo by soonerpa.
If you read one thing today . . .
The federal government and private industry have always had a heavy influence in some of the cutting-edge research done on our university campuses. But a new Center for American Progress report warns that as the federal government’s investment in energy research drops to close to nothing, Big Oil has stepped in to fill the void — and as CAP points out, that’s not such a good thing. Emily Badger in Miller-McCune writes:
The new report, “Big Oil Goes to College,” analyzed more specifically the legal contracts binding 10 multimillion-dollar, multiyear partnerships between big research universities and “Big Oil” — Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. The deals represent $883 million in industry-funded energy research over 10 years.
“Essentially what we found was that the contract language in these 10 agreements did not always adequately protect academic freedom and academic transparency, exactly the characteristics of the academy that make universities so credible,” said Jennifer Washburn, the independent researcher who authored the report, as well as the 2005 book University, Inc.
Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, showed off her encyclopedic grasp of the U.S. Constitution at a debate at Widener University Law School. During an exchange on the teaching of creationism in public schools, O’Donnell asked her opponent “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” The answer, of course, is the First Amendment. Erin Daly, a Widener professor recounts the scene:
“She seemed genuinely surprised that the principle of separation of church and state derives from the First Amendment, and I think to many of us in the law school that was a surprise,” Daly said. “It’s one thing to not know the 17th Amendment or some of the others, but most Americans do know the basics of the First Amendment.”
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The Obama administration’s plan to allow oil companies to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is misguided and reckless.
We still have no way to address a catastrophic blowout in deep water, either by stemming the flow of oil or fixing the broken blowout preventer. Without technology in hand to stop millions of gallons of oil from spewing from the bottom of the ocean, we are simply gambling with our environment. We can’t afford to count on luck to keep the oceans, beaches and tourism industries safe.
It is laudable that the administration has reformed safety rules in the wake of the BP disaster, but accidents and mistakes still happen. The BP disaster claimed 11 lives, dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf – doing untold damage – and soiled beaches in five states. We cannot afford to risk a repeat. We have no way of stopping another BP gusher.
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If you’ve already had breakfast this morning, I’d advise that you skip Juliet Eilperin’s and Scott Higham’s piece in today’s WaPo on “How the Minerals Management Service’s partnership with industry led to failure.” It really will make you sick to your stomach.
Before the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, you probably never heard of the obscure Minerals Management Services, the former federal agency that until recently was charged with regulating offshore drilling leases. Now we know that during its sordid 28-year history the agency was more facilitator than regulator. From the WaPo:
Top officials and front-line workers routinely referred to the companies under their watch as “clients,” “customers” and especially “partners.” As the relationship became more intertwined, regulatory intensity subsided. MMS officials waived hundreds of environmental reviews and did not aggressively pursue companies for equipment failures. They also participated in studies financed and dominated by industry, more as collaborator than regulator. In the face of industry opposition, MMS abandoned proposals that would have increased costs but might have improved safety.
Here’s one thing I didn’t know about the MMS, though it now makes perfect sense: the agency was created in 1982 by (more…)
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The federal government and BP would have us believe that most of the oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico has dissipated. The Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center (a collaboration between BP and the Obama administration) issued a recent report that says only 25 percent of the oil that poured into the Gulf remains. The other 75 percent? Poof! Vanished. As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, points out in truthout, this is a pretty ridiculous assertion.
Researchers with Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia released a report Wednesday that estimates that 80 percent of the oil is still in the Gulf. Hauter writes:
This independent analysis of the regulators’ claims raises some important questions about the Joint Information Center’s report. Is BP’s influence at play in presenting the findings in a more positive light? Was the report an attempt at crisis communications that simply backfired?
It’s just another example of what happens when the government treats BP like a partner, rather than (more…)
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We’ve said time and again that the revolving door between the federal government and the industries they work with is spinning out of control. Well, between the government and the oil and gas industry, it’s spinning even crazier than ever.
The Washington Post wrote today that three out of every four — that’s right, 75 percent — oil and gas lobbyists worked for the federal government before switching over to the industry side of things.
Key lobbying hires include 18 former members of Congress and dozens of former presidential appointees. For other senior management positions, the industry employs two former directors of the Minerals Management Service, the since-renamed agency that regulates the industry, and several top officials from the Bush White House. Federal inspectors once assigned to monitor oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico have landed jobs with the companies they regulated.
Looking at BP’s lobbyists alone, 71 percent previously worked for the federal government, according to data released in June by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics.
No wonder there was such a cozy relationship that Big Oil was able to manipulate the former Minerals and Management Service (MMS) into getting just what they want: lax regulation.
Although it seems to be the worst with the oil and gas industry, it tends to be a trend among others, as well. The Center for Responsive Politics found that fewer than one in three registered lobbyists in 2009 had revolving door connections — less than half the oil industry rate.
Currently, 12 senators and 35 representatives are not seeking re-election to their current offices. Where will they work next? Help us make sure they don’t head for the private-sector industry they’ve already gotten to know so well.
Sign Public Citizen’s petition to stop the revolving door between government and industry.
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