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Posts Tagged ‘energy & climate’

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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America’s Finest News Source, The Onion, reports on a new “environmental catastrophe”:

PORT FOURCHON, LA—In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation’s history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port Monday and successfully unloaded 3.1 million barrels of dangerous crude oil into the United States.

and later in the article:

Experts are saying the oil tanker safely reaching port could lead to dire ecological consequences on multiple levels, including rising temperatures, disappearing shorelines, the eradication of countless species, extreme weather events, complete economic collapse, droughts that surpass the Dust Bowl, disease, wildfires, widespread human starvation, and endless, bloody wars fought over increasingly scarce resources.

It is scary to think that a satirical article could be so incredibly accurate. As people such as Jon Stewart remind us almost every night, sometimes humor can be the best illuminator of the the truth. (more…)

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Public Citizen Energy Director Tyson Slocum will be speaking today at a “Green Scissors” event hosted by Friends of the Earth (foe.org). The Green Scissors campaign was launched fifteen years ago. Its goal is to identify wasteful government programs that harm the environment. The annual Green Scissors report came out today. It targets four major areas for budget cuts: energy, agriculture and biofuels, infrastructure, and public lands.

Previewing what he will speak about today, Slocum said,

Powerful corporations and other special interests have too much influence in Washington. We need to reform a system that allows corporations to charge their pollution to taxpayers’ credit cards.

The report can be seen online here.

Public Citizen’s efforts to stem the harmful effects of Climate Change and our work dealing with the powerful energy companies  are described on our website.

To receive (not too many) updates about these efforts, click here.

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Robert Weissman speaks about oil companies' influence in Congress at a demonstration on Capitol Hill July 20.

We just got back from Capitol Hill where Public Citizen President Robert Weissman spoke about the powers of corporations in Congress and about shifting our economies to sustainable forms of energy.

Weissman noted:

The first step is to get the oil money out of Congress. We’ve got to clean up Congress. We need clean money in our elections.

The demonstration marked not just the three-month “anniversary” of the BP oil spill but also the 41st anniversary of the moon landing. Echoing similar speeches by former Vice President Al Gore, activist Ted Glick called for the United States to use the same motivating energy that (more…)

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ThinkProgress.org blogged over the weekend about BP’s attempts to “control scientific research of [the] oil disaster.” Essentially, BP has been buying up researchers in the Gulf Coast region and asking to review all their data before it is released to the public. The company is adding to its payrolls (either directly or through grants to Gulf Coast are Universities) many of the scientists working in the Gulf Coast are who are best qualified to study the spill. Because BP has such deep pockets, it can afford to pay all of these scientists to study the effects the oil is having on wildlife. In return for being paid by BP, the scientists will now send all their research to the oil giant for review before it is released to the public. Needless to say, this goes a long way towards eliminating any hope of transparency we might have.

While it is understandable and entirely legal for BP to hire these scientists and to control the data, it is not right to the American people if BP does not disclose all the research the company receives. Failing to disclose the data and reports could seriously inhibit recovery and restoration efforts.

There is only one entity with the power and financial weight to challenge BP. The federal government must both force BP to disclose all its findings and counter BP’s army of scientists with a government-sponsored team.

The oil spill seems to be coming to an end. As we hope and pray that stage two of this disaster is coming to a close, we must begin to focus on the next step. The government has failed to adequately deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. President Obama and Congress must ensure it does not fail to handle the aftermath of this disaster.

Boycott BP: http://www.citizen.org/page.aspx?pid=3311

Join us to demonstrate on Capitol Hill on the three-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion.

You can also sign the “Congress: You Have Oil on Your Hands” petition.

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Despite the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Congress has done nothing to end our addiction to oil.

Wondering why? Crude is not the only thing flowing from Big Oil. The industry’s money is flowing through the halls of Congress and polluting our political system.

The members of Congress have oil on their hands.

Sign the “Congress: You Have Oil on Your Hands” petition.

The corporate control of our government – in particular, the influence of oil and gas money – has endangered our environment and the people who depend on it. The situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragic example of what can result from this corrupt political process.

We are collecting signatures to build public pressure on our elected officials to give their BP money – and all their oil and gas industry contributions – to the Gulf recovery effort.

We will deliver the petition on July 20 – the three-month anniversary of the disaster – following a rally on Capitol Hill.

And if you’re in Washington, come join us for the protest. It’ll be on Tuesday at noon. Meet in the upper Senate park, located at Constitution and New Jersey Avenues.

Speakers include:  (more…)

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It’s been hot on the East Coast this past week. As they tend to do, the recent heat waves have intensified the national discussion about climate change. Of course most scientists agree that there is no clear correlation between the 103-degree weather Central Park visitors experienced on Tuesday and the effects of greenhouse gases.

That is not to say they do not continue to agree on climate change. According to a recent study, over 97% of climatologists and scientists studying related fields agree that climate change, caused by human activity,  is real. Yet, just as the snowstorms East Coast citizens experienced this past winter (more…)

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The next step

Yesterday, President Barack Obama called on a federal appeals court to reinstate the moratorium on deepwater drilling. Responding to a complaint filed by the oil industry, a Louisiana judge overturned the ban back on June 24.

If we have learned anything from this spill it is that we know very little about the risks of offshore drilling. Oil companies have proven they do not have the ability to handle these massive disasters. Until mechanisms are put in place that can effectively control and regulate oil extraction, deepwater drilling must remain suspended. Even our best scientists and workers cannot handle one oil spill. We certainly couldn’t even begin to handle two, especially during hurricane season when the winds and rough seas will make cleanup and containment even harder.

The president is right that oil drilling must remain suspended. Hopefully, the appeals court will agree.

Whatever the appeals court decides, the next step will be to establish a new team to regulate the industry. Experts and commentators, including Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, have suggested these people could come from existing agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Suspending drilling is not enough because eventually, oil drilling will have to resume. When it does, there needs to be a strong regulation process in place to help prevent future catastrophes.

Don’t you think it’s time to develop some cleaner energy options? In the meantime, tell President Obama to ban offshore drilling.

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According to The New York Times, the Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with a 2007 Minerals Management Service report that declared the risks posed by an oil spill insignificant. Although it agreed with the Minerals Management Service’s characterization of the risks as “low,” the Fish and Wildlife Service did make some minor suggestions that went largely ignored.

This story highlights what seems to be a trend not just among environmental regulators, but elsewhere in government as well: namely, a profound lack of accountability. The Fish and Wildlife Service, tasked (among other duties) with overseeing the protection of endangered species, ignored scientific findings that an oil spill could severely disrupt and harm the habitats of many plants and animals. The agency appears to have decided that ignoring the potential for disaster would be easier than confronting it.

We of course are upset (although unfortunately no longer surprised) by this behavior. The government has failed to effectively regulate for a long time. The House of Representatives just passed a compromise bill that promises to improve regulation of the financial industry; the Senate will vote on it in coming weeks. When will regulation of oil companies be seriously addressed?

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It has started. Thick, sludge-like oil from the BP spill has hit the shore of Louisiana marshlands, pictured above, all but ensuring this will be an environmental catastrophe.

NASA also released a photo today that shows a “massive column of oil extending out Southeast towards the open ocean.” This image will likely change the estimated extent of the spill and damage.

If that weren’t bad enough, meteorologists now say that the oil has spread enough for the Loop Current to drag it through the Florida Keys, where tar balls (sticky clumps of decayed oil) have turned up in the past few days.

Treehugger posted a powerful video, “The Gulf Bleeding,” in which environmentalist John Wathen said, “For the first time in my environmental career, I find myself using the word hopeless.”

And through this environmental disaster, finger pointing continues but no punishments have been implemented. But we can take action. We can use our power as consumers to boycott the oil company responsible for the rig that caused the spill, BP — the oil company with the worst safety record in the country. Together, we can hold BP accountable.

Join Public Citizen in its campaign, 1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP. Sign a petition letting BP know that their actions are inexusable and we won’t stand for it. We already have more than 9,500 signatures. Add yours now.

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