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Lawsuit Seeks Full Disclosure of Dispersant Impacts on Gulf’s Endangered Wildlife

Lawsuit Seeks Full Disclosure of Dispersant Impacts on Gulf’s Endangered Wildlife
By Center for Biological Diversity | Common Dreams

The Center for Biological Diversity today filed an official notice of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for authorizing the use of toxic dispersants without ensuring that these chemicals would not harm endangered species and their habitats. The letter requests that the agency, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, immediately study the effects of dispersants on species such as sea turtles, sperm whales, piping plovers, and corals and incorporate this knowledge into oil-spill response efforts.

"The Gulf of Mexico has become Frankenstein's laboratory for BP's enormous, uncontrolled experiment in flooding the ocean with toxic chemicals," said Andrea Treece, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The fact that no one in the federal government ever required that these chemicals be proven safe for this sort of use before they were set loose on the environment is inexcusable."

Dispersants are chemicals used to break oil spills into tiny droplets. In theory, this allows the oil to be eaten by microorganisms and become diluted faster than it would otherwise. However, the effects of using large quantities of dispersants and injecting them into very deep water, as BP has done in the Gulf of Mexico, have never been studied. Researchers suspect that underwater oil plumes, measuring as much as 20 miles long and extending dozens of miles from the leaking rig, are the result of dispersants keeping the oil below the surface.

On May 24, EPA Administrator Jackson expressed concern over the environmental unknowns of dispersants, which include the long-term effects on aquatic life. Nonetheless, the federal government has allowed BP to pump nearly 1 million gallons of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico. Read more.

Feds Move to Block Transocean's Bid To Cap Damages For Gulf Oil Spill

Feds Move to Block Transocean's Bid To Cap Damages For Gulf Oil Spill
'This It Cannot Do,' Says Justice Department, And Compares Transocean To Titanic's Owners
By Jason Ryan | ABC News

"Suffice it to say, eleven crewmembers lost their lives in the immediate disaster stemming from the explosion and fire aboard the vessel. As for the oil spill, we shall forego a cascade of words like 'catastrophic' and 'cataclysmic' as they simply do not do justice to the magnitude of economic, health, and environmental devastation wrought upon the nation's waters, across a swath of States, and upon entire communities."

Hours after Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed ongoing criminal and civil probes related to the Gulf oil spill , the Justice Department has filed motions to block Transocean from seeking to limit their liability in the unfolding disaster. The documents were filed late Tuesday night in federal court in Houston, Texas.

The motion filed by the Justice Department follows Transocean's May 13 motion to seek limited liability of just $26.7 million. The Justice Department initially signaled to Transocean that it would oppose this in a May 24 letter to Transocean's counsel. Transocean has asked for limited liability under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, the same act invoked by the owners of the RMS Titanic when they awarded a paltry $95,000 to the survivors of the Titanic tragedy.

The May 24 letter said, "It is simply unconscionable, in the circumstances of this case, that Transocean is attempting to use this same shield of liability potentially leaving thousands of people who have been damaged by your clients' actions with no remedy."

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, the mobile offshore drilling platform that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. The explosion triggered the ongoing oil spill that has become the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In the Tuesday filing, the Justice Department said, "Transocean seeks to absolve ('exonerate') itself from liability concerning the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill, or, alternatively, limit its liability to approximately $27 million. This it cannot do." Read more.

Crime and Cover-up in Gulf of Mexico

By Orpheus Reed and Larry Everest

From World Can't Wait

When you stick your finger into one of the orange-brown or black, asphalt-smelling globs of oil now washing into the wetlands where the Mississippi Delta meets the Gulf of Mexico, it just gloms on and sticks. It's hard to get off. You see it stuck to the stalks of the roso-cane reeds, which hold the wetlands in place.

Then you start thinking about what happens when a fish, a bird, or some other creature gets caught in this toxic stew. And you think about how these pools are only the first, small waves of oil from the exploded wellhead of British Petroleum's "Deepwater Horizon." And you just can't take it.

BP Hires Cheney's Press Flack

BP Hires Cheney's Press Flack
By Kate Sheppard | Mother Jones

BP has hired Dick Cheney's former press flack, Anne Womack Kolton, to serve as the new "head of U.S. media relations" as the company deals with the PR disaster of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Kolton was Cheney's press secretary during the 2004 campaign, and then moved to a job in public affairs at the Department of Energy.

One of her tasks in her previous job was defending the administration's secret meetings with energy officials, even as courts were telling the White House to turn over documents about the task force: "We are ready to defend our principles in court. This goes to the heart of the presidency and to the ability of the president and vice president to receive candid, discreet advice."

Not a lot is known about the task force, since the administration succeeded in shielding it from the public. But it is known that BP officials were among the oil chiefs involved in the secret meetings. Read more.

The BP Oil Gusher Is Just The Latest In A Long Line Of Assaults On The Gulf Of Mexico

The BP oil gusher is just the latest in a long line of assaults on the Gulf of Mexico
By Diane Wilson | Grist

I'm a fourth-generation fisherwoman from the Texas Gulf Coast, on a boat since I was eight. Over the last two decades, I've become a self-appointed watchdog of the chemical, oil, and gas corporations that are decimating the Gulf.

I hate to say it, but what I'm seeing now in the Gulf ain't nothing new. The toxic releases, the lies, the cover-ups, the skimping on safety, the nonexistent documents, the "swinging door" with regulators, the deaths. Same ole same ole.

What is new is the massive nature of the oil gusher and the fact that it can't be covered up because it's ongoing and being videoed. This elephant can't be swept under the carpet, but I'm sure if BP could, BP would.

There are politicians out there -- we've all heard them -- who say this oil spill is just one accident and one accident does not a case make. Heck, one plane crashes and you don't stop flying, do ya? Well, this isn't just one accident. This is the biggest flame among the thousands of fires set by Corporate America on its Sherman-like march across the Gulf. Read more.

Harman Uses Bush/Cheney Fear Tactics On Winograd & Voters

By Linda Milazzo

For eight hellish years, Bush and Cheney ruled America by fear. Images of Osama Bin Laden were drawn on us like weapons. Terror. Terrorism. Terrorists. War. Fear. Warfare. This was the Bush/Cheney mantra that kept Americans in despair.

Today, because of their tactics, our nation is in tatters, with wars not jobs, bombs not books, and warfare not health care. America lacks the resources to confront immediate dangers that have nothing to do with bin Laden: hurricanes, oil spills, floods, tornadoes, unfunded education, decaying infrastructure, exorbitant health costs, corporate greed, and more. Because of partisan politics and hawks like California Congresswoman Harman, more dollars are spent on unending wars than are spent on education. Perhaps you've seen this expenditure chart based on our 2009 taxes:

Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord, and Corporate Shill


Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord, and Corporate Shill
By Stephen Lendman

It shouldn't surprise because no one gets the top job or any government position of power unless they're safe, yet, naively, most people thought Obama was different. Many still do.

As a candidate, he promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists" - the same ones who bought and now own him.

He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.

At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides operating in a regulatory-free environment.

The 1995 Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA - courtesy of Bill Clinton) exempted royalties on defined amounts of deep water production. After its 2000 expiration, the law was redefined and extended to promote further deep water drilling.

US Coast Guards Harass Journalists Covering BP's Oil Spill Disaster

US coast guards harass journalists covering BP's oil spill disaster
By Greenslade Blog | Guardian.co.UK

News photographers and TV camera crews are claiming that they are being prevented from reporting on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

They complain that US federal and local officials, including coast guards, are blocking access to beaches where the effects of the spill are most visible.

A CBS TV crew was threatened with arrest when attempting to film an oil-covered beach last week. On Saturday, reporter Mac McClelland was blocked by police from visiting an island in Louisiana.

On Tuesday, a photographer with the New Orleans Times-Picayune was prevented from flying over the ocean after the plane company was issued with a temporary flight restriction after BP officials learned that a member of the press would be on board.

The US coast guard insists that its staff and BP have gone to great lengths to accommodate journalists. A coast guard spokesman said: "Roughly 400 members of the media have been given tours of the spill on either BP-contracted aircraft or coast guard helicopters." Read more.

Protest BP in Charlottesville on Memorial Day

PROTEST BP IN CVILLE ON MEMORIAL DAY


Blow-Out Polluters, Bull Promoters, Bellowing Pigs, Beyond Prosecution?

What ever you call BP, it's destroying the Gulf of Mexico, utterly destroying it. 

Think I'm kidding?  See these images.

And people in Charlottesville, in addition to through their taxes, are giving money directly to BP every day at gas stations.

This has got to end!


Memorial Day- Protest BP

$5 Friday: SaveTheWildUp.org

For $5 Friday I just gave $5 to http://savethewildup.org

As my friend (and book editor) Crystal Yakacki explains (like many websites, this worthy group's website does not explain itself to newcomers and just gives the latest developments):

"The UP is the upper peninsula of Michigan, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The native people there, and local neighborhoods, have been trying to protect a sacred site from a mine by Kennecott Eagle that will not only destroy the sacred site, but pollute the river, kill the fish, and possibly impact the Lake Superior shoreline.

TomDispatch: BPing the Arctic?, Will the Obama Administration Allow Shell Oil to Do to Arctic Waters What BP Did to the Gulf?

From TomDispatch today: a unique first-person account by an Arctic photographer of the next deep-water oil drilling danger, Shell Oil's venture into America's Arctic seas -- Subhankar Banerjee, "BPing the Arctic?, Will the Obama Administration Allow Shell Oil to Do to Arctic Waters What BP Did to the Gulf?" (Note as well that there is a TomCast audio interview with Banerjee on the impact of drilling in Arctic waters which can be found here, and that three of Banerjee's remarkable Alaskan Arctic photos accompany the piece and can be reproduced with credit.)

Writes photographer Subhankar Banerjee, "I've come to know Arctic Alaska about as intimately as a photographer can. I’ve been there many times... crisscrossing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- 4,000 miles in all seasons by foot, raft, kayak, and snowmobile." He's spent almost a month in a near-continual blizzard camped out before a polar bear den. He's counted almost 1,000 Beluga whales in a mile stretch of the Chukchi Sea coast and has been on native whale hunting expeditions. He's been unable to go to sleep at night because of the cacophony of calls from 180 nesting species of birds.

This is what it has meant for Banerjee to photograph the Alaskan Arctic for the last decade -- and he offers it up in all its vivid detail in his first TomDispatch post. (His highly regarded photographs of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were infamously censored in the Bush years by the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History - because pressure to drill for oil in the refuge was so high.)

Now, as Shell Oil prepares to send a drilling ship into Alaska's Arctic seas this July, he describes in vivid prose the world he's explored. It's one of the richest ecologies on the planet that, sooner or later, will -- as events in the Gulf of Mexico make clear -- be despoiled if the Obama administration doesn't at the last moment deny access to Arctic waters to that oil company.

This is the rarest of accounts of a world in danger, as vivid as any set of photos. It's news; it's a passionate hymn to an ecology that should be preserved; and it's a plea to the president and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar not to grant the last permits that will lead to the tragic BPing of America's Alaskan waters.

Banerjee concludes: "If the remaining permits are approved for Shell in the coming weeks, [the drilling ship] the Frontier Discoverer will be in the Chukchi Sea less than six weeks later. President Obama and Secretary Salazar should stop this folly now. It’s important for them to listen to those who really know what’s at stake, the environmental groups and human rights organizations of the indigenous Inupiat communities. It’s time to put a stop to Shell’s drilling plan in America’s Arctic Ocean for this summer -- and all the summers to come."

This is a unique piece for TomDispatch to publish. I hope you'll give it special attention by reading it now.

Oily Apocalypse or Green Wave?

Kucinich: We Must Look to the Consequences of our own Demand and Consumption

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 25, 2010) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement on the Floor of the House of Representatives about the ongoing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico:

“We are now in the 36th day of a man-made environmental disaster which is fast becoming an ecological apocalypse for countless species of marine life. The ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico cannot survive wave after wave of toxic substances hitting the beaches.

“The ultimate surprise is not that it happened. Oil companies, and Democratic and Republican administrations, refuse responsibility and rejected alternatives. In this privatization of the natural world, damage to sea life is the cost of doing business. The ultimate horror is that we can’t stop the oil flood, won’t stop consumption of oil products and fail to admit the limits of technology.

Protesters Pose Nearly Naked At BP HQ


Protesters pose nearly naked at BP HQ | ABC 13 KTRK

Activists staged a nearly naked protest to bring attention to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dozens of Codepink activisits, in a women-led, women-initiated action, took their message to the public in front of the BP headquarters on Westlake Park Boulevard just before noon Monday. The women posed nearly naked, dripping with 'oil' and dragging nets of fish.

The protesters mourned the deaths of the 11 workers and devastation of wildlife and livelihoods all along the Gulf Coast. Read more.

BP Houston: The Naked Truth--Rallying the Troops!

BP Houston: The Naked Truth--Rallying the Troops!

BP Houston: The Naked Truth--Singing in Action!

Enviros Go Veal Pen 2.0 With BP’s Money

Enviros Go Veal Pen 2.0 With BP’s Money
By Jane Hamsher | FireDogLake

“Some purists believe environmental groups should keep a healthy distance from certain kinds of corporations, particularly those whose core mission poses risks to the environment.” No, what the “purists” actually believe is that these groups should not be raising money from the public to act as watchdogs of the oil companies, and then take money from the oil companies to rubber stamp their green washing efforts and shield them from criticism when they richly deserve it. It’s known in common parlance as a “scam.”

Ten days after the BP oil rig collapsed into a flaming ball of oil on April 20, I wrote a post about how most of the environmental groups still had nothing about it on their landing pages. [At left] Here was the Sierra Club’s landing page on the morning of April 30.

I chalked it up to an unwillingness to buck the White House, as President Obama had a press conference in the Rose Garden to announce the expansion of offshore drilling on March 31:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration. We’ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.

That’s why my administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic. That’s why we’ll continue to support development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska, while protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

But the Washington Post is reporting that money from BP itself was also complicating matters for the enviros: Read more.

BP Oil Spill Day 35: Is It Time to Push BP Aside?

BP Oil Spill Day 35: Is It Time to Push BP Aside?
Government Threatens to Take Over if BP Does Not Make Progress
By Sam Champion and Kate McCarthy | ABC News

Frustration along the Gulf Coast is mounting and the government has threatened to take over the cleanup process in the Gulf of Mexico if BP does not make progress soon as the oil spill enters its fifth week.

"If we find that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately and we'll move forward to make sure that everything is being done to protect the people of the Gulf Coast," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Sunday.

BP acknowledged that the government is not happy with the progress in capping the underwater gusher so far, but said the government's position "is no different from our own view."

"We are putting everything we know how to do at this. We've got the best people, the best scientists with us from our own company or across the industry or from government," BP COO Doug Suttles said on "GMA." "I think everyone is frustrated, we're frustrated, clearly the secretary [Salazar] is and they want us to get this done as quickly as we can." Read more.

Screw the Environment: BP and the Audacity of Greed

By Dave Lindorff

Even as BP’s blown well a mile beneath the surface in the Gulf of Mexico continues to gush forth an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil a day into the sea, and the fragile wetlands along the Gulf begin to get coated with crude, which is also headed into the Gulf Stream for a trip past the Everglades and on up the East Coast, the company is demanding that Canada lift its tight rules for drilling in the icy Beaufort Sea portion of the Arctic Ocean.

In an incredible display of corporate arrogance, BP is claiming that a current safety requirement that undersea wells drilled during the newly ice-free summer must also include a side relief well, so as to have a preventive measure in place that could shut down a blown well, is “too expensive” and should be eliminated.

Will Marcy Winograd Pull a Sestak and Beat Jane Harman in the June 8th California Primary?

By Linda Milazzo

Americans spoke out loudly this past Tuesday. In two of the nation's most anticipated primaries, the Sestak vs. Specter Democratic primary in Pennsylvania and the Paul vs. Greyson Republican primary in Kentucky, the party underlings defeated their party leaders' choices and demolished the status quo. On the Democratic side, despite the full throttle barrage for Specter by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Governor Ed Rendell, Congressional upstart Joe Sestak beat three decade incumbent Arlen Specter by 54 to 46 percent.

In Kentucky, political neophyte, libertarian extremist, and tea party enthusiast, Rand Paul, clobbered the hand picked candidate of Senator Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in D.C. The results of both elections send an earsplitting message to the leadership of America's two dominant parties, that warns: 'Your choices, endorsements and power don't matter. We're electing who WE want.'

Trucking Toward Climate Change

Trucking Toward Climate Change
By Dahr Jamail | Truthout

The tar sands mining project in Alberta, Canada, is possibly the largest industrial project in human history and critics claim it could also be the most destructive. The mining procedure for extracting oil from a region referred to as the "tar sands," located north of Edmonton, releases at least three times the CO2 emissions as regular oil production procedures and will likely become North America's single largest industrial contributor to climate change.

Most of the oil produced by the project will likely be consumed by the United States, a country that, along with Canada, is already heavily invested, on many levels, in the project.

The project is operated by Imperial Oil, whose parent company, ExxonMobil Canada, has a long-term production goal of more than 300,000 barrels of bitumen (extra heavy oil) per day. To do this, they will require new equipment to be shipped through the United States.

Trucks and trailers moving specialized, nontoxic mining equipment from where it is manufactured in Korea to the Kearl oil sands project, located in the Athabasca oil sands in northeastern Alberta, are slated to use highways in Idaho and Montana to transport the gear. This would happen after it has been shipped across the Pacific Ocean to Portland, Oregon, where it would then be barged up the Hood and Snake Rivers to Lewiston, Idaho, from which it would be hauled over land into Canada. Read more.

Weekly Address: BP Spill Independent Commission

Obama’s BP Disaster Commission: Looking Forward with No Subpoenas
By emptywheel | FireDogLake

As promised Obama signed an executive order forming a presidential commission to study the BP disaster today. I thought it’d be instructive to compare what he just formed with what Edward Markey and Lois Capps proposed. Starting with this detail:

 

Sec. 4. Administration. (a) The Commission shall hold public hearings and shall request information including relevant documents from Federal, State, and local officials, nongovernmental organizations, private entities, scientific institutions, industry and workforce representatives, communities, and others affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, as necessary to carry out its mission. [my emphasis]

Obama’s envisioning this Commission “requesting” information from entities like BP and Halliburton. Capps and Markey, however, envision subpoenas: Read more.

Lessons from the Gulf


Lessons from the Gulf
By Stephen Lendman

On April 22, AP reported the news - an initial April 20 explosion, then a larger one igniting Deepwater Horizon's oil drilling platform that burned for more than a day before sinking and releasing thousands of barrels of oil daily into surrounding waters, enough potentially to cause the greatest ever environmental disaster if not sealed in time to prevent.

Transocean Ltd. owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon platform under contract to BP Exploration and Production Inc., a division of BP - 4th on Fortune Global 500 with $239 billion in 2009 operating revenue and $14 billion in profits. It ranked fourth behind Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart. Of the world's 10 largest companies, six are oil giants. Transocean, an offshore drilling contractor, owns operates about 140 drilling rigs. More on its culpability below.

On April 29, the Institute for Southern Studies published "Facts and Figures" about the Gulf explosion and emerging disaster saying:

Democrats Want Criminal Inquiry Into BP

Democrats want criminal inquiry into BP
By Jake Sherman | Politico

Eight Democratic senators asked the Obama administration Tuesday to open a criminal investigation into BP for allegedly making false statements to authorities about the ability to stop a massive oil spill.

Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee are taking aim at a BP statement in a Feb. 23, 2009, document submitted to the Minerals Management Service, in which the oil company claimed that “in the event of an unanticipated blowout resulting in an oil spill, it is unlikely to have an impact based on the industrywide standards for using proven equipment and technology for such responses.”

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Democratic senators contrast the 2009 statement with BP’s May 10, 2010, press release, in which the company claims “uncertainties” with the methods used to stop the oil leak because “they have not been tested in these conditions before.” Read more.

Baby You Can Drive My Oil Spill

Asked the earth what it wanted to be
It said baby, can't you see
I wanna be dirty, with oceans of oil
Stick in your toes and feel them boil

Drill Baby Drill my gas
Yes the fish are dying fast
Drill Baby Drill my gas
And BP will love you

BP 'm BP yeah

I told the earth that her prospects weren't good
she said baby, it's understood
I may be reaching the end of the line
But the BP executives are living fine

Drill Baby Drill my gas
Yes the fish are dying fast
Drill Baby Drill my gas
And BP will love you

BP 'm BP yeah

Drill Baby Drill my gas
Yes the fish are dying fast
Drill Baby Drill my gas
And BP will love you

I told the earth I can start here today
Clean up this mess and lock those bastards away
There're no more fish and it's breaking my heart
But BP's in trouble now and that's a start

Drill Baby Drill my gas
Yes the fish are dying fast
Drill Baby Drill my gas
And BP will love you

BP 'm BP yeah
BP 'm BP yeah
BP 'm BP yeah
BP 'm BP yeah

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