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Chanting protesters surrounded the historic Jefferson Hotel on Tuesday morning, demanding the criminal prosecution of Massey Energy Co. board members and CEO Don Blankenship.
Six weeks after an explosion inside the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., killed 29 men and injured two -- making it the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in 40 years -- company shareholders met for their annual meeting in a ballroom inside the hotel.
Outside, protesters wore orange prison jumpsuits with Blankenship's name printed on the back. Others held signs accusing Massey of manslaughter.
"Fines are not enough," said Kevin Zeese, executive director for the Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics in Maryland. "We need to prosecute the leaders of this company. Blankenship is the main target. He's got to be stopped from killing again."
Zeese and others in the crowd of more than 1,000 protesters said Massey officials must be held accountable for an industry-leading 52 deaths during the past 10 years.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston, W.Va., said Friday it is investigating Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co., the company operating Upper Big Branch, for "willful criminal activity." Read more.
Local fishermen hired to work on BP's uncontrolled oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are scared and confused. Fishermen here and in other small communities dotting the southern marshes and swamplands of Barataria Bay are getting sick from the working on the cleanup, yet BP is assuring them they don't need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.
Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.
And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.
For two weeks, I've been in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama sharing stories from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which devastated the community I lived and commercially fished in, with everyone from fishermen and women to local mayors to state governors and the crush of international media.
During the 1989 cleanup in Alaska, thousands of workers had what Exxon medical doctors called, "the Valdez Crud," and dismissed as simple colds and flu. Fourteen years later, I followed the trail of sick workers through the maze of court records, congressional records, obituaries, and media stories, and made hundreds of phone calls. I found a different story. As one former cleanup worker put it, "I thought I had the Valdez Crud in 1989. I didn't think I'd have it for fourteen years." Read more.
TomDispatch: The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy, A New Oil Rush Endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the Planet
From TomDispatch this afternoon, a striking analysis of what the BP oil-leak disaster in the Gulf of Mexico really means, and a reminder that it signals the grim beginning of a new oil rush in an onrushing age of "tough oil" -- Michael T. Klare, "The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy, A New Oil Rush Endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the Planet."
"Yes, the oil spewing up from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in staggering quantities could prove one of the great ecological disasters of human history," begins energy expert and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet Michael Klare. "Think of it, though, as just the prelude to the Age of Tough Oil, a time of ever increasing reliance on problematic, hard-to-reach energy sources. Make no mistake: we’re entering the danger zone. And brace yourself, the fate of the planet could be at stake."
Klare is one of our foremost analysts on the coming age of tough oil and of natural resource scarcity. In his latest TomDispatch.com post, he reminds us of a simple fact when it comes to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20th in the Gulf of Mexico: "Whether or not the immediate trigger of the explosion is ever fully determined, there can be no mistaking the underlying cause: a government-backed corporate drive to exploit oil and natural gas reserves in extreme environments under increasingly hazardous operating conditions."
This is a subject on which Klare has been a pioneer in his analysis. Here he focuses on the new oil rush in search of energy reserves into some of the most difficult areas of the planet -- the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Arctic which, by their very nature, involve an ever increasing risk of human and environmental catastrophe -- something that has been far too little acknowledged.
Klare concludes his important new piece on what the BP ecological disaster really portends this way: "The Deepwater Horizon explosion, we assuredly will be told, was an unfortunate fluke: a confluence of improper management and faulty equipment. With tightened oversight, it will be said, such accidents can be averted -- and so it will be safe to go back into the deep waters again and drill for oil a mile or more beneath the ocean’s surface. Don’t believe it... The ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas -- risks be damned. So long as this compulsion prevails, more such disasters will follow. Bet on it." This is a major piece of analysis. Don't miss it. Read it now.
A mixture of union representatives and anti-mining activists gathered outside a historic Richmond hotel Tuesday morning to protest against a common foe — Massey Energy Co.
Hundreds of people sang songs, chanted and held signs across the street from the Jefferson Hotel, while Richmond-based Massey's board opened its annual stockholders meeting inside. Their protests were focused on Massey CEO Don Blankenship, calling for him to resign or to be prosecuted on environmental and workplace safety issues.
The meeting has attracted more attention than usual because it comes six weeks after 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The blast is the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years and has prompted an outpouring of criticism of Massey.
At least two people were arrested inside the hotel by Richmond police. Hotel officials declined to comment, and police did not immediately identify who was arrested or why.
Environmental group Rising Tide DC said group members Kate Finneran, 22, and Oscar Ramirez, 25, were arrested after unfurling a 10-by-10 hand-painted banner that read "Massey: Stop Putting Profits Over People" from the mezzanine above the grand foyer in the hotel. They were charged with trespassing and were expected to be released Tuesday afternoon. Read more.
BP's nuke-powered liability cap
By Harvey Wasserman | Solartopia | May 17, 2010
As BP destroys our priceless planet, its lawyers gear up to save the company from paying for the damage. The same will happen---only worse---with the next atomic reactor disaster.
By law, BP may be liable for only $75 million of the harm done by the Deepwater Horizon.
Ask yourself why the federal government would adopt legislation that limits the liability of an oil driller for the damage it does to us all.
Ask the same question---on another order of magnitude---about nuclear power plants.
Some lawmakers have tried to raise this cap so BP could be made to pay for the wounds they have not yet stopped inflicting.
By any calculation, BP did more than $75 million in harm during the first hour of this undersea gusher. That sum won't begin to cover even the legal fees, let alone the tangible damage to our only home.
But "free market" Republicans have resisted raising the limit. So BP will walk away virtually scot free. All this will be tax deductible. So will the millions they'll spend changing the name of the company, and dumping all those pathetic "Beyond Petroleum" pamphlets.
Now imagine a melt-down alongside the blow-out. See the Deepwater Horizon as a nuclear power plant. Think of the rickety Grand Gulf, a bit to the north, or the two decaying reactors at South Texas, a ways to the west.
Imagine that apocalyptic plume of oil ravaging our seas as an airborne radioactive cloud.
On June 26, 2009, HR 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) passed, purportedly "To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy."
In fact, it lets energy polluters raise prices for huge windfall profits and gives Wall Street a bonanza through carbon trading derivatives speculation. Catherine Austin Fitts' Solari.com blog explained it last July in her article titled, "The Next Really Scary Bubble" is coming, saying:
"If you think the housing and credit bubble diminished your financial security and your community, or the bailouts, or the rising gas prices did as well, hold on to your hat" for what's ahead. "Carbon trading is gearing up to make the housing and derivative bubbles look like target practice," or in other words, be the mother of all scams, courtesy of administration, House and Senate collaboration with Wall Street and the energy giants.
Now the Senate version - a clean energy bill? Not according to the Center for Biological Diversity calling it:
"a disaster for our climate and planet. (The Kerry-Lieberman) proposal moves us one baby step forward and at least three giant steps back in any rational effort to address the climate crisis. (Their bill) would entrench our addiction to fossil fuels by offering incentives for increased oil and gas drilling just days after what appears to be the worst offshore oil disaster in American history."
Their proposal includes "no safeguards....to make offshore oil safe. (It) echoes greenhouse pollution reduction targets that scientists recently called 'paltry' and inadequate to prevent the worst impacts of climate change....The Kerry-Lieberman (bill) is not the answer because it asks the wrong questions."
By Dave Lindorff
(This article appears in full in the new ThisCantBeHappening.net, an e-newspaper put out by the TCBH News Collective)
President Obama claims to have learned a lesson from the disastrous blowout of British Petroleum drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico: a “cozy relationship” between the agency that regulates oil drilling, the Minerals Management Service, and the oil industry, he charges, allowed companies to drill in vulnerable offshore areas without properly assessing the risks to the ocean and its ecology.
He’s only just figuring this out?
Like many of her neighbors, Celina Harpe is angry about the oil pollution at her doorstep. No longer can she eat the silvery fish that dart along the shore near her home. Even the wind that hurries over the water reeks of oil waste.
"I get so mad," she said. "I feel very sad."
Harpe, 70, isn't a casualty of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. She lives in a remote corner of Alberta, Canada, where another oil field that's vital to the United States is damaging one of the world's most important ecosystems: Canada's northern forest. Continued
Dome or Junk Them
By Missy Comley Beattie
Sen. Joe Lieberman has introduced legislation to deprive Americans of their citizenship rights if they engage in acts of terrorism. He advocates turning the bad guys over to the military. Of course, other lawmakers are moving in Lieberman’s misdirection in a nationalistic stampede. So far, John Mc-NeverWasAMaverick-Cain and Chuck Schumer have shown support.
McCain said, “ Americans should lose their citizenship rights if they’re designated an enemy combatant, yes.”
Not to be out-patrioticized, Schumer was quick with a, “That sounds like something I’d support, but I’d have to look at the legislation.”
Attorney General Eric Holder is talking about “modifying” Miranda rights in certain cases.
And there’s this:
Elena Kagan, the president’s choice to join the Supremes agrees with the Bush Administration that anyone suspected of helping finance al- Qaida should be stripped of rights and held under indefinite detention, without trial. Obama’s selection of Kagan shines a spotlight on his inner Bush. In fact, Obama hasn’t seen a Bush action he truly disavows.
Oil from a blown-out well is forming huge underwater plumes as much as 10 miles long below the visible slick in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists said as BP wrestled for a third day Sunday with its latest contraption for slowing the nearly month-old gusher.
BP PLC continues to stockpile and deploy oil-dispersing chemicals manufactured by a company with which it shares close ties, even though other U.S. EPA-approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic and, in some cases, nearly twice as effective.
In total darkness at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico lives a creature with many scuttling legs and two wiggling antennae that jut from a pinched, space-alien face. It is the isopod, Bathynomus giganteus, a scavenger of dead and rotten flesh on the mud floor of the gulf.
An absolutely true news item: British Petroleum says it is considering a plan to plug the main leak on the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig by shooting it full of shredded car tires, old golf balls and knotted ropes.
Workers aboard an exploding offshore drilling platform were told to sign statements denying they were hurt or witnessed the blast that rocked the rig, killed 11 and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the ocean, their attorneys said Tuesday.
...BP and several other organizations working on the spill are apparently running out of ideas. And they’re turning to Twitter, according to gCaptain.
Crew Argued Over Drilling Plan Before Rig Explosion
By Russell Gold | WSJ
About 11 hours before the Deepwater Horizon exploded, a disagreement took place between the top manager for oil giant BP PLC on the drilling rig and his counterpart for the rig's owner, Transocean Ltd., concerning the final steps in shutting down the nearly completed well, according to a worker's sworn statement.
Michael Williams, a Transocean employee who was chief electronics technician on the rig, said there was "confusion" between those high-ranking officials in an 11 a.m. meeting on the day of the rig blast, according to a sworn statement from Mr. Williams reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Williams himself attended the meeting.
The confusion over the drilling plan in the final hours leading up to the explosion could be key to understanding the causes of the blowout and ultimately who was responsible.
What is known from drilling records and congressional testimony is that after the morning meeting, the crew began preparations to remove from the drill pipe heavy drilling "mud" that provides pressure to keep down any gas, and to replace this mud with lighter seawater.
Ultimately, the crew removed the mud before setting a final 300-foot cement plug that is typically poured as a last safeguard to prevent combustible gas from rising to the surface. Indeed, they never got the opportunity to set the plug. Read more.
By Missy Comley Beattie
Eleven people lost their lives when the explosion occurred. British Petroleum is being sued. BP has slipped though the cracks between right and wrong, over and over again. Will this company really be held accountable?
Regardless, our planet cannot sustain the damage.
How many people understand that what has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico is cataclysmic?
I know that for eleven families the death of a loved one is numbing and, then, shockingly assaulting. But beyond this, beyond the pain of fresh death, the aftermath is shattering loss. Some will outlive the paralyzing grief and go forward. Others will be consumed, unable to move with purpose to enjoy the rest of their lives.
The disaster that is unfolding from the oil hemorrhage will continue for decades and, maybe, even centuries. Actually, the REAL truth is that recovery may never occur.
Four hundred species of animals are at risk.
Livelihoods are destroyed.
My talented young cousin works as a rocket scientist at a local aerospace plant. She considers herself one of the lucky MIT grads who landed a job in the space end of the aerospace industry.
Her friends, however, are designing drones that sometimes miss their terrorist target, accidentally bombing innocent brides and grooms in Afghanistan.
My cousin tells me about a colleague of hers, a drone-builder, who had a nightmare; she accidentally droned her own bedroom.
“She’s still designing these drones, though,” my cousin tells me. “That’s where the money is, the jobs, in military contracts, in building sophisticated weapons systems.”
What if our engineers, now building weapons, could build solar cities instead? Under the Solar America Initiative, Boeing started the ball rolling, contracting with the Department of Energy to make solar energy competitive with conventional electricity by 2015.
Aerospace conversion could happen – and should for the sake of our planet.
With engineers giving a best-case scenario of "weeks" before the catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is sealed, some scientists are warning that the region's ecosystem could face major long-term damage.
As many as 70,000 gallons of oil per day have been gushing into the waters of the Gulf Coast since an oil rig operated by British Petroleum exploded on Apr. 20. The well itself is located at a depth of about 5,000 feet, presenting formidable obstacles to efforts to shut it down.
The spill is expected to ultimately eclipse the 11-million-gallon Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It is not known how much oil could potentially pour into the Gulf before the leak is plugged.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says water sampling collected on May 1 and 2 along the Louisiana coast found chemicals associated with oil. "However, these results still indicate that water quality does not pose increased risk to aquatic life, such as fish and shellfish," the agency said in a statement.
"As of May 4, 2010, water sampling results off the Gulf Coast still indicate that water quality does not pose increased risk to aquatic life," the EPA said.
However, Riki Ott, a toxicologist who wrote two books about the Exxon Valdez spill, says she believes the scenario is far worse than officials are presenting to the public.
"BP is trying to say we're winning because oil has not hit the shoreline. That is far from the truth: we're losing. So much toxic oil is spilling every day, they're hammering it with dispersants, another toxic chemical," she said.
BP says it has used about 400,000 gallons of dispersant, which breaks down the oil, and has another 805,000 gallons on order. Read more.
As we die for BP, our military rots in the wrong Gulf
By Harvey Wasserman | May 12, 2010
As you read this, the life of our bodies, nation and planet is being blown out a corporate hole in the Gulf of Mexico and into a BP Dead Zone of no return.
The apocalyptic gusher of oily poison pouring into the waters that give us life can only be viewed---FELT---by each and every one of us as an on-going death by a thousand cuts with no end in sight.
Yet our government---allegedly the embodiment of our collective will to survive---has done NOTHING of significance to fight this mass murder. Not one meaningful thing.
As it did while New Orleans drowned downstream from a willfully neglected levee system, our most potentially effective counter-force dithers on the other side of the world, in the wrong Gulf.
We squander our treasure on the largest conglomeration of people and weapons the world has ever seen. It's bloated with hardware designed specifically to destroy and kill. Hundreds of thousands of Americans sit on our dime in more than a hundred countries, rotting in the outposts of a bygone empire.
Why aren't they in the Gulf of Mexico, fighting for our truest "national security"?
Listen Tonight! KBOO Special Report: The Insanity Of Our Oil Addiction - Connecting The Dots In The BP Oil Disaster - Tonight 6-7 PM Pacific Time
KBOO Special report: The insanity of our oil addiction - connecting the dots in the BP Oil Disaster
Air date: Wed, 05/12/2010 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm Pacific Time
Featuring radical Texas populist Jim Hightower, renowned author and activist Antonia Juhasz (The Tyranny of Oil), discussing the real issues behind the BP oil spill currently gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer and public speaker who has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.
Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. Click here for his website.
Also on the show will be Antonia Juhasz, whose book The Tyranny of Oil has been called the hardest-hitting exposé of the oil industry in decades, examining today's most pressing energy questions:
- Why do oil and gasoline prices rise and fall so quickly?
- How much oil is left?
- How far will Big Oil go to get it?
- And at what cost to the economy, environment, human rights, worker safety, public health, democracy, and Americas place in the world?
After Oil Rig Blast, BP Refused to Share Underwater Spill Footage
Message Control A Key Industry Focus During Oil Disaster Drills
By Matthew Mosk, Avni Patel, John Solomon, and Aaron Metha | ABC News And Center For Public Integrity | May 12, 2010
"The technology that's being used on the surface is over 30 years old," said Jerome Milgram, a professor of marine technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I can say this. I don't see any practical effect for putting out booms when the sea conditions are such that the booms are totally ineffective."
BP's "worst case" scenario for a huge oil spill in the Gulf relies heavily on being able to boom and skim a half million barrels a day, according to the oil spill response plan the company filed with federal regulators.
During a series of dry-run exercises, where the U.S. Coast Guard, other agencies and oil companies practiced their response to major oil spill disasters, industry executives repeatedly pressed federal regulators to give them more say on what information would be released to the public if disaster struck.
Reports obtained in a joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity show oil companies targeted the potential release of "confidential" information as a key concern.
That behind-the-scenes lobbying effort helped foretell a tug of war this week over images that BP America did not want the public to see as the company struggled to try and contain the massive spill unleashed after one of the company's offshore oil rigs exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Throughout the clean-up effort, BP has monitored the spill site around the clock using submarine-mounted cameras at the mouth of the spill. An official at Oceaneering International, the company that operates the submarines under a contract with BP, told ABC News he "could walk right down the hall and watch it, but I can't share it without BP's express permission." Read more.
Billions of oil barrels spilled reminiscent of Exxon Valdez catastrophe
Protesters called out "BP kills" and waved signs denouncing the British energy giant Tuesday as the US Congress opened its first hearing into the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"BP kills wildlife, BP kills people, BP kills the planet," two of the demonstrators, members of the anti-war group Code Pink, called out moments before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources began the session.
The protesters also waved signs that read "BP = Bad People," and one wore a T-shirt with a crudely painted "power to the people."
A second group of protesters staged a more quiet show of opposition in black T-shirts emblazoned with "Energy Shouldn't Cost Lives," applying make-up in the shape of black tears.
(PressTV) – BP dome fails to stop oil leak
British Petroleum (BP) has failed in its first attempt to contain oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico with a metal box as crystallized gas fills the structure. Read More Here
- (McClatchyDC) – Video: Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in gulf. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. Video Link Here
- Video: Southern Boys Show US Government How to Clean Up Oil With Hay! – Video Link Here
- (MediaConsortium) – Weekly Mulch: Slick of Oil Industry Cash Gummed up Regulatory Works
- The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is worse than anyone thought, and the crisis will likely go on for months. British Petroleum (BP) is tripping over itself to say it’ll cover the costs of the clean-up, yet before the spill, the company spent its time and money pushing back against government regulation and safety measures. Read More Here
- (Spiegel) – Expert Recommends Killing Oil-Soaked Birds A German biologist says that efforts to clean oil-drenched birds in the Gulf of Mexico are in vain. For the birds’ sake, it would be faster and less painful if animal-rescue workers put them under, she says. Studies and other experts back her up. Kill, don’t clean,” is the recommendation of a German animal biologist, who this week said that massive efforts to clean oil-soaked birds in Gulf of Mexico won’t do much to stop a near certain and painful death for the creatures Read More Here
- (Guardian) – Chevron wins access to film-maker’s Amazon pollution footage
- Crude, released last year, focuses on the 17-year legal battle between Chevron and 30,000 Ecuadorians who say their land, rivers, wells, livestock and own bodies were poisoned by decades of reckless oil drilling in the rainforest. Read More Here
- (AP) – Oil spill may endanger human health, officials say
- With a huge and unpredictable oil slick drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, state and federal authorities are preparing to deal with a variety of hazards to human health if and when the full brunt of the toxic mess washes ashore. Read More Here
(GreenPeace) – BP working hard to keep the damage hidden – Read More Here
The Cover-up: BP's Crude Politics and the Looming Environmental Mega-Disaster
By Wayne Madsen | Oil Price | Note: Bolding mine. ~Chip :)
WMR has been informed by sources in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection that the Obama White House and British Petroleum (BP), which pumped $71,000 into Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign -- more than John McCain or Hillary Clinton, are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP's liability for damage caused by what can be called a "mega-disaster."
Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working with BP's chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. However, WMR's federal and Gulf state sources are reporting the disaster has the real potential cost of at least $1 trillion. Critics of the deal being worked out between Obama and Hayward point out that $10 billion is a mere drop in the bucket for a trillion dollar disaster but also note that BP, if its assets were nationalized, could fetch almost a trillion dollars for compensation purposes. There is talk in some government circles, including FEMA, of the need to nationalize BP in order to compensate those who will ultimately be affected by the worst oil disaster in the history of the world.
Plans by BP to sink a 4-story containment dome over the oil gushing from a gaping chasm one kilometer below the surface of the Gulf, where the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers on April 20, and reports that one of the leaks has been contained is pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources. Sources within these agencies say the White House has been resisting releasing any "damaging information" about the oil disaster. They add that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf. Read more.
Since Spill, Feds Have Given 27 Waivers to Oil Companies in Gulf
By Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers via Truthout
Given the MMS approvals, however, Galvin said the administration’s pledge appears disingenuous.
“It looks to me like they’re misleading the public,” he said.
Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.
The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling.
The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet. Read more.
RSVP for Transforming Catastrophe into Opportunity
A Conversation on Gulf Eco-Crime, Big Oil, & Carbon Tax as a Tool to Transition Off Fossil Fuels
- Antonia Juhasz - author of The Tyranny of Oil
- James Handley - CarbonTax.org, and
- Kathy Callan - Legislative Coordinator, PDA's Global Warming Issues Organizing Team
RSVP for Instructions to Join Conversation on Monday, May 10 at 5:30pm (Pacific) / 8:30pm (Eastern)
As we recoil in horror that not 1,000 - not 5,000 - BUT 25,000 barrels of oil per day are gushing into ocean waters poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, let us prepare for action. This is another "shock doctrine" moment - and it is up to us to seize it. On May 16, actions will be held in around the country. Don't you think it's time to shift the national dialogue away from Wall Street dependent solutions and time to assess fossil fuels for their true cost?
Backbone Campaign is organizing Monday's (5-10) Conversation with the Cabinet conference call/interview/webcast to help you channel your rage into action with the strongest possible demands. We have a moral obligation and a strategic opportunity to seize the debate and insist on real tools for the transition off fossil fuels and one of those tools is the Carbon Tax.
The owner of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and causing a giant slick, has made a $270m (£182m) profit from insurance payouts for the disaster.
The revelation by Transocean, the world’s biggest offshore driller, will add to the political storm over the disaster. The company was hired by BP to drill the well.
The “accounting gain” arose because the $560m insurance policy Transocean took out on its Deepwater Horizon rig was greater than the value of the rig itself. Transocean has already received a cash payment of $401m with the rest due in the next few weeks.
The windfall, revealed in a conference call with analysts, will more than cover the $200m that Transocean expects to pay to survivors and their families and for higher insurance costs. Read more.
Beach is executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee in Alaska. She said this afternoon: "Today I'm in Gulfport, Mississippi, one of the areas that's going to be impacted. These people have no idea what they're in for. People buy the oil companies' propaganda and allow them to do what they want without a plan or real safeguards.
"Many are claiming that BP will cover the costs, but people in Alaska waited for 20 years to be compensated by Exxon for the Valdez spill and even then only got a pittance of what they were due, if they were still alive."
A Texas fisherwoman and environmental campaigner, Wilson is author of the book An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas.
She said today: "Corporations, whether it's BP in the Gulf or Dow Chemical / Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, don't follow the precautionary principle. They say that their worst-case scenarios won't ever happen and so we shouldn't dare threaten their profits with extra safety costs. Thanks in part to the deregulation from Dick Cheney's energy task force during the Bush administration, the U.S. doesn't require an emergency 'acoustic' shut-off valve that costs $500,000 and could have prevented BP's disaster. ... Yet most of the other oil-producing nations require the 'acoustic switch' and it has been used in Norway since 1993. These corporations don't want to spend a tiny portion of their billions of dollars on something that can prevent a disaster. They get the legal rights of being people and yet take actions that destroy the lives of real people.
"What BP has done is just a giant example of what happens constantly with the chemical and oil companies in the Gulf. They pollute, then they say it didn't get into the water, then they say, well, it was only 20 gallons, then they say it was 200 gallons. Then it's too much to clean up. One big problem is that so much is dependent on industry's self-reporting. You can't get decent information from companies. I find out a great deal because I work with an injured workers group."
Background: On April 2, President Obama stated: "It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."
Both marine protection areas provide safe homes for sea turtles, sharks, breeding sea birds, and coral reefs. But they are also home to major U.S. military bases. Chagos’s largest island, Diego Garcia, hosts a secretive billion-dollar Air Force and Navy base that has been part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Pacific protection areas are home to U.S. bases on Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota, Farallon de Medinilla, Wake Island, and Johnston Island.
In both cases, the otherwise “pristine” protected environments carve out significant exceptions for the military. In Chagos, the British government has said, “We nor the US would want the creation of a marine protected area to have any impact on the operational capability of the base on Diego Garcia. For this reason...it may be necessary to consider the exclusion of Diego Garcia and its three-mile territorial waters.” In the Pacific, the Bush administration stressed that “nothing” in the protected areas “impairs or otherwise affects the activities of the U.S. Department of Defense.”
Just weeks before today’s Earth Day, and for the second time in little more than a year, environmental groups have teamed with governments to create massive new marine protection areas across wide swaths of the world’s oceans. Both times, however, there’s been something (pardon the pun) fishy about these benevolent-sounding efforts at environmental protection.
Most recently, on April 1, the British government announced the creation of the world’s largest marine protection area in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago, which would include a ban on commercial fishing in an area larger than California and twice the size of Britain. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called it “a major step forward for protecting the oceans. Read more.
The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) has offered to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster caused by the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Following an explosion on a BP-operated oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last month, at least 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) of crude oil are thought to be spilling into the water every day.
NIDC managing director Heidar Bahmani announced the firm's readiness to use its decades-long expertise to fight the oil slick, the company's public relations office told Press TV.
"Our oil industry experts in the field of drilling can contain the rig leakage in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent an ecological disaster in that part of the world," Bahmani said. Read more.
One of the key signs that we are in the early stages of an economic collapse and that we are heading towards another Great Depression is America's crumbling infrastructure. The truth is that our infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us. Thousands of bridges are structurally deficient and there have already been some very high profile collapses. Over 30 percent of the highways and roads in the United States are in very poor shape. Aging sewer systems are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. There have already been some regional blackouts, and unless something is done quickly things promise to get even worse. The truth is that a nation's infrastructure says a lot about who they are. So what does America's infrastructure say about us? It says that we are a rusting, crumbling, decaying leftover from a better, more prosperous time.
Just consider the following facts about America's infrastructure from the Pew Research Center website.....
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America's nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
- According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately a third of America's major roadways are in substandard condition - a significant factor in a third of the more than 43,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year.
- The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that traffic jams caused by insufficient infrastructure waste 4 billion hours of commuters' time and nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline a year.