Posts Tagged ‘offshore drilling’

The Department of Justice’s filing of a civil lawsuit today against BP for the deaths of 11 workers and the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history is a needed step in holding the corporation accountable.

However, Public Citizen remains concerned that the escrow fund is inadequate to cover BP’s obligations – a concern that has been confirmed over the past few months. It’s clear that the $20 billion set aside won’t begin to cover the cost of damage. More money must be found for the victims of the disaster.

In addition, the civil litigation stemming from the disaster remains focused on BP Exploration and Production, a remote subsidiary of the parent company, thereby enabling BP to avoid responsibility.

And Congress has yet to pass the comprehensive reforms needed to help ensure this kind of disaster can’t happen again. It is astounding that after all that happened – 11 deaths, 4.9 milllion gallons of oil spilled, beaches in five states sullied and closed, fishing in large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico closed, countless livelihoods ruined – Congress couldn’t get its act together and ensure that future oil drilling is safer for workers and the environment.

Tyson Slocum is the director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.


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With today’s announcement that a large swath of the Gulf of Mexico will be closed to drilling for the foreseeable future, the White House reverses a bad decision it made six months ago to open a huge, environmentally sensitive area – the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard – to offshore oil drilling and exploration. A mere three weeks later, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history occurred when BP’s oil rig exploded in the Gulf. 

We applaud the Obama administration for this commonsense decision and its long-awaited recognition of the fact that the BP disaster was indeed a game changer for offshore oil drilling. By maintaining the moratorium on drilling in these areas for at least the next five years, the administration takes its first official step in acknowledging that offshore drilling is too hazardous to be part of the solution to America’s energy challenges.

 The announcement comes just a day before the president-appointed oil spill commission convenes for the final time before releasing its report on Jan. 11. We hope that the commission’s recommendations are consistent with the administration’s reconsideration of U.S. oil drilling policy. Among the recommendations we would like to see is the establishment of Regional Citizens’Advisory Councils – that will give Gulf Coast communities a real voice in the energy industry decisions that affect their lives and homes.

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The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this summer tragically demonstrated the costs of our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

But despite this ongoing catastrophe, some major corporations—including Safeway and Walmart—are fueling their trucking fleets with tar sands oil, the dirtiest oil in the world.

Join our friends at ForestEthics in calling on Safeway and Walmart to shift to cleaner, not dirtier, energy.

Tar sands oil is even more destructive (more…)

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Today’s Flickr photo

Anti-drilling protestors in Istanbul, Turkey. Flickr photo by 350.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

NPR has an interesting flowchart of all the “independent” money pouring into this year’s midterm elections. The accompanying story breaks down this “Web of GOP influence,” showing a how a handful of corporate front groups are working together, literally out of the same suite of offices. NPR’s Peter Overby and Andrea Seabrook explain:

Their ads seem to imply the groups are homegrown. But every single one mentioned here is based within 20 minutes of Capitol Hill. Most of them, in fact, are in just two office suites.

As for their independence: It would be illegal for them to coordinate their attacks with the candidates they’re helping, or with Republican Party committees. But among themselves, they’re proud of the way they synchronize their efforts.

“If one group puts an ad on television in a certain congressional district, they let everyone else know that,” says Jonathan Collegio with American Crossroads. “This way they don’t double up on the advertising.”


We’re actually going to be a little sad to see Arnold Schwarzenegger step down as governor of California. We don’t agree with everything the governator does but he’s right on the money when it comes to Washington’s fealty to the oil industry. He told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that Congress is filled with a bunch of gutless wimps:

“We need to go to Washington and say, look what happened … because oil companies have spent money against you, they have threatened you, you backed off the energy policy and the environmental policy in Washington. What wimps. No guts. I mean, here, you idolize and always celebrate the great warriors. Our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re risking their lives to defend this country and you’re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies. … That’s disgusting. You promised the people you’d represent them. You didn’t promise the people you’d represent the oil companies and the special interests.”

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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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Five months after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and a little more than a week after the well was officially “killed,” the work is not over. As the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling meets in Washington, D.C., this week, Public Citizen energy organizer Allison Fisher will urge the commission to clarify the government’s role and authority during an oil spill, investigate why BP was allowed to control information around the spill and its cleanup operations, and recommend passage of legislation that specifically responds to the oil spill disaster.

To tell the commission what you’re thinking, click here.

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After leaking 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and causing as yet undetermined damage from the spill zone to the coasts of five states, one would assume that we wouldn’t see more oil being tapped from that particular, seemingly cursed reservoir anytime soon.

But on Saturday, The New York Times reported that executives from BP and other oil companies are discussing the possibility of future drilling to obtain oil from that very reservoir. This news is especially alarming because BP’s catastrophic Macondo 252 well was officially pronounced dead only this Sunday.

Tadeusz W. Patzek, chairman of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at University of Texas was quoted in the Times saying that, “the bottom line here is that this reservoir still remains a target for further production.” (more…)

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Sometimes when we can’t think of things to blog about we just turn to the Google and look to see what trouble those crazy guys at BP are up to. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Spencer Swartz in the Wall Street Journal reveals that BP’s supposedly “independent” internal investigation of what caused the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico (that report released this week that put a lot of blame on Transocean and Haliburton) was vetted by BP’s lawyers before it was released to the public. Swartz writes:

The disclosure raises questions about the extent of the independence of BP’s report, which was released Wednesday and assigned much of the blame for the accident to BP’s contractors, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. The U.K. oil giant has said its four-month investigation on the causes of the accident, which killed 11 workers, was carried out without interference from senior management.

Flickr photo by kk+.

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Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, on Democracy Now! talking about the explosion Thursday on the Mariner oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Is there anyone who didn’t see the headline in this morning’s New York Times coming? Clifford Krauss’ and John M. Broder’s story “BP Says Curb on Drilling Would Imperil Oil Spill Payouts” is just another one of those “I told you so moments” in BP’s tragedy of errors. Public Citizen warned early on that the Obama administration’s proposal that would allow BP to use its Gulf of Mexico drilling operations as collateral for its $20 billion victims compensation fund was a terrible idea. For one, it sets up an inherent conflict in interest because it makes the administration a defacto partner in BP’s gulf operations. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and Tyson Slocum, director of our Energy Program, laid it out in Politico:

BP’s scheme enlists the government as a virtual partner in its Gulf oil and gas production, and the company uses that partnership to shield itself from punishment. It is likely to give the government a financial incentive to become an even bigger booster of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf — the Minerals Management Service’s fatal flaw at the time of the BP disaster. BP seems to have structured the fund largely to limit its liability in civil cases and escape accountability.

And now, BP provides us case in point by saying in the NYT article that (more…)

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