Posts Tagged ‘oil’

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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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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Here’s what we know: On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 2, an oil and gas rig owned by Mariner Energy, Inc., operating in about 340 feet of water on the continental shelf experienced an explosion and subsequently caught fire, resulting in all 13 workers on board to flee into the water.

This incident is different from BP’s Mancondo disaster because BP’s fiasco occurred on a floating rig operating an exploration well in ultra-deepwater a mile deep, whereas this Mariner Energy operation was in shallow water (340 ft) on a rig that is permanently fixed to the ocean floor below (and not a floating rig).

While we wait for details, here are two things to think about: (more…)

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If anything shows the great potential power of the media, it is this video. It is a really horrific look at the damage in the Gulf of Mexico. After you watch the video, share it. It is important that this nation confront the dangers we pose to ourselves and to our land by continuing our addiction to oil.

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While President Obama’s call to hold BP accountable for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was tough talk, the devil is in the details and in this case,  the details seem to be set up to limit BP’s liability in civil cases, while allowing the company plenty of wiggle room to avoid harsh penalties for its criminal behavior. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and Tyson Slocum, director of our energy program, have an op-ed in Politico that urges President Obama to step up and fix the slew of  problems with BP’s $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the tragedy.

Weissman and Slocum write:

BP has sought to maintain control over the crisis response at every stage. Though it seems to have spared no expense congratulating itself with TV advertisements about its good efforts and deep concern for the Gulf ecosystem and the people who rely on it, BP has bungled just about everything it has touched here.

Things improved only when the government insisted that it supervise what’s going on.

Now BP aims to control the terms of payout and penalty. Like everything that came before, this is a public problem. It demands engagement by the administration.

There’s no easy way to clean up the Gulf. But it’s easy enough to clean up the trust agreement mess.

It’s time for the administration to act.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41411_Page2.html#ixzz0xYEbqyzY

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The mystery of the disappearing oil — the government and BP’s fantastical claim that 75 percent of the spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico had disappeared — will remain a mystery for at least another couple months, writes Kate Sheppard in Mother Jones (“Return of the BP Cover-Up“). It seems the NOAA scientists who authored the study have told congressional staffers that they aren’t ready to release the data that might support their claim. Sheppard smells a rat:

This, of course, raises the question of why the initial report was even released on Aug. 4 if it hadn’t been peer reviewed and couldn’t be substantiated with data, methodology, and full disclosure of the kind of assumptions that went into reaching this conclusion. The explanation of why the report was released by the National Incident Command and touted by administration officials seemed to indicate that the White House may have jumped the gun on releasing the initial report before the entire documentation was available.

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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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Julia Whitty presents an in-depth look at the DeepWater Horizon disaster this week in Mother Jones. It’s a well-written primer on the worst oil spill in history and its tragic impact on the Gulf of Mexico. Whitty explains the complex biology of the Gulf and how BP has done just about everything wrong.  Carl Safina, co-founder of the Blue Ocean Institute, tells Whitty that it’s unconscionable that BP continued to use the dispersant Corexit even after it was told to stop:

. . . untreated oil quickly rises to the surface, where it can be skimmed with relative ease. But treated with dispersant, it becomes a submerged plume, unlikely to ever float to the surface, and destined to migrate through underwater currents to the entire Gulf basin and eventually the North Atlantic. “Oil is toxic to most life,” says Steiner. “And Corexit is toxic to most life. But the most toxic of all is oil that’s been treated with Corexit. Plus, dispersants may well kill the ocean’s first line of defense against oil: the natural microbes that break oil down for other microbes to eat.”

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In what amounts to a confounding conflict of interest, the U.S. government is considering a plan that would allow BP to use profits from its Gulf of Mexico drilling operations to ensure the solvency of the $20 billion escrow fund set up to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Why is this a bad idea? Because, as Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program points out, it gives the Obama  administration less incentive to prosecute BP for the recklessness and negligence that lead to the disaster and could make regulators less likely to deny BP additional drilling permits. Slocum says:

“The proposed arrangement is wildly inappropriate, as it will make the government and BP virtual partners in Gulf oil production . . . It will give the government a financial incentive to become an even bigger booster of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf – which was the fatal flaw of the Minerals Management Service at the time of the BP disaster.”

Slocum sent a letter to the administration today saying it should change the way the disaster fund is structured to ensure the government can remain unbiased and prioritize the public’s interest – not BP’s interests.

According to Monica Langley in The Wall Street Journal, the government would in essence hold BP’s Gulf oil production as collateral. But Langley says this setup could run into resistance in Congress:

Such a deal could provoke a backlash on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are moving to bar BP from operating in the Gulf.

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