Category Archives: Gulf oil spill

>Friday Funny: BP Spills Coffee

>This cracked me up. Sometimes, you gotta laugh. Oh, and to Boris Johnson and Lord Tebbit? If you’re reading: fuck you. Our rhetoric isn’t anti-British, it’s anti-BP, and if you’re confusing the two, then Britain is further along the fascist-corporatist trail then America is.

Big Oil really does own the world, doesn’t it?

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Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill

>Punishing BP

>More ideas on punishing BP here. And it turns out my idea for giving BP the equivalent of the corporate person’s death penalty isn’t so crackpot after all:

And killing BP in return would hardly be unprecedented: In America’s first 100 years, we shut down an average of 2,000 “rogue corporations” each year.

Heh.

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Yes, we can. It’s called “discretionary debarment” and it seems to be the best way to finally stand up to the oil giant:

Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways.

Yeah, that worked out swimmingly, didn’t it?

I don’t know why our regulatory agencies are content to let corporations like BP get away with repeated misconduct while looking the other way. Oh wait, yes I do know why. We all know why: it’s just another case of corporations infiltrating every aspect of our government. From regulatory capture to lobbying to astroturfing to outright bribery and graft, our government now represents corporate interests, not the peoples’ interests. And this is the predictable result.

However, it’s the only government we’ve got, and we do have the power to change it. I love right wingers who tell me this is all an example of how “government doesn’t work,” when in fact it is the corporate interests which have corrupted government to begin with. So what are we supposed to do, turn our government over to the fraudsters? Plus, I may not be able to influence BP’s board of directors but I sure as hell have a say over who represents me in Washington.

Anyway, the government can suspend all of its contracts with BP via discretionary debarment:

Federal law allows agencies to suspend or bar from government contracts companies that engage in fraudulent, reckless or criminal conduct. The sanctions can be applied to a single facility or an entire corporation. Government agencies have the power to forbid a company to collect any benefit from the federal government in the forms of contracts, land leases, drilling rights, or loans.

The most serious, sweeping kind of suspension is called “discretionary debarment” and it is applied to an entire company. If this were imposed on BP, it would cancel not only the company’s contracts to sell fuel to the military but prohibit BP from leasing or renewing drilling leases on federal land. In the worst cast, it could also lead to the cancellation of BP’s existing federal leases, worth billions of dollars.

Yes that’s right. You folks diligently boycotting BP in a show of solidarity with our neighbors on the Gulf Coast might like to know that the U.S. government is currently giving billions of your tax dollars to BP to fuel our military. How many billions? This report I’ve linked to estimates around $4.6 billion over the past 10 years.

Yes that would be the same military currently deployed in the Middle East to protect “our” (read: BP and other western oil companies) access to oil. Wow, wrap your ahead around that one for a second. All of which leads most folks to believe that a full-scale discretionary debarment won’t happen:

Discretionary debarment is a step that government investigators have long sought to avoid, and which many experts had considered highly unlikely because BP is a major supplier of fuel to the U.S. military. The company could petition U.S. courts for an exception, arguing that ending that contract is a national security risk. That segment of BP’s business alone was worth roughly $4.6 billion over the last decade, according to the government contracts website USAspending.gov.

Yeah, see when you’ve got the world’s largest military deployed around far-flung reaches of the globe and that military needs the juice, then a little thing like an eco-disaster in the Gulf of Mexico probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Our military needs its juice, because the juice is what enables us to protect the West’s access to oil.

Got that? No wonder our empire is crumbling. It is being crushed by the staggering weight of its own stupidity.

Anyway, if you’d really like to punish BP for its reckless behavior, you might start with this petition advocating debarment. It’s worth a shot.

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Filed under BP, corporations, Gulf oil spill, military contractors

>My Job Is More Important Than Your Job

>[UPDATE]:

Hey Mary Landrieu I wrote this post for you.

——————————————-

One of the most frustrating things about the whole offshore oil drilling debate which has surged to the frontburner thanks to BP is this notion that we need to keep drilling offshore because of jobs.

It’s been simmering on the back-burner during the oil spill crisis, occasionally hitting the headlines: a worry about lost oil jobs from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, or a similar concern from Louisiana Democratic Congressman (and Senate candidate) Charlie Melancon. This week it came to full boil as those sidelined by the moratorium on offshore oil drilling gave voice to some grave concerns about their livelihoods.

And I’m sympathetic, I really am. It’s a terrible thing that happened. Our economy is still in the shitter and then along comes a disaster caused by a company’s concern for profits over safety and now everyone is having to pay the price. It’s awful that these folks are having to deal with this at a time in our country’s history when finding another job is going to be pretty darn impossible. So I’m sorry. You have a right to be scared, and I’m scared for you. You have a right to be angry, and I’m angry along with you.

But here’s the deal: the oil spill has killed off a big bunch of the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf. I hate to be the one to break it to you folks but the shrimp and oysters aren’t coming back, not for years. Maybe not ever. Sport fishing is gone. Tourism will come back, but not this summer, not as long as oil and chemical dispersants and gas fumes pollute the beaches.

So to the oil rig workers and those businesses who depend on that industry: you aren’t alone. This disaster has affected your neighbors, your family, your brothers and sisters who work in other industries that also depend on the Gulf of Mexico. And those people need the Gulf of Mexico to be healthy for their jobs to survive.

So when folks like myself call for a permanent ban on offshore oil drilling, it’s not without the full knowledge of what we are proposing. We understand there are families who need these oil jobs. But at what point does one industry trump another? At what point does it make sense to say, oil drilling may be risky and unsafe but we are willing to put other industries at risk anyway? We are willing to put fishing and shrimpers and tourism in a precarious place for this one unsafe, polluting, dirty industry?

This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Especially when I know that the people who work on oil rigs could easily be put to work building an offshore wind farm or an offshore solar farm. Why not? Has a solar spill ever killed off the oyster beds? Has a wind spill ever destroyed the summer tourist season?

I’m sorry oil people are hurting right now. You want your lives back. Well guess what: so does everyone else. So do shrimpers and the folks who operate tourist restaurants and hotels in the Gulf. So does the guy who rents beach umbrellas and the lady who sells seashells at the gift shop down by the seashore. You’re not the only ones who make a living down there.

Here’s the good news: you folks really could, theoretically, be put to work building offshore wind farms and the like. You have options in the green energy economy. If the state and federal governments could show some freaking leadership and clear the way for clean energy to begin replacing oil platforms now, not at some future “after we transition” date, you guys will be okay.

You know who won’t be okay? The people who harvest shrimp and oysters. The motel owners on the beach. Those people are screwed. They have no fallback.

Just something to think about.

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Filed under alternative energy, energy production, Gulf oil spill

Slow Justice

This is depressing:

BHOPAL, India -A court Monday convicted seven former senior employees of Union Carbide’s Indian subsidiary of “death by negligence” for their roles in the 1984 leak of toxic gas that killed an estimated 15,000 people in the world’s worst industrial disaster.

Survivors of the Bhopal accident, some of whom gathered in this central Indian city chanting slogans, said the light sentences — two years in prison — are too little, too late given the scale of the damage. In India’s notoriously slow justice system, the appeal process could drag on for years, even decades, while those convicted remain free on bail.

Some of you kids reading this blog weren’t even born when the Bhopal disaster happened. Well kids, I remember Bhopal, and let me tell you, it was like the BP Gulf Oil spill squared a thousand times. Because it wasn’t just birds and other animal life killed by a release of toxic gas, but people. Thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of them. And it was Union Carbide’s fault, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical. Accidents happen.

But what’s really sad is that Bhopal happened 26 years ago. And yes, Indian courts may move at a glacial pace, but let’s remember that Exxon took the Valdez court case all the way to the Supreme Court. That case took 20 something years to resolve too.

So yeah, people on the Gulf Coast are screwed. And if we can take over a freaking car company than by God we can revoke BP America’s corporate charter or whatever you call it and give this corporate citizen the death sentence to make sure the people and wildlife of the Gulf don’t have to wait 26 years for their justice.

Just sayin’.

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Filed under Gulf oil spill

>Horror Show

>

The Washington Post has a slide show of the Gulf oil spill’s animal victims.

The photos BP doesn’t want you to see: They will break your heart.

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>"You Maniacs!"

>I think this clip adequately sums up my feelings toward BP and every other “drill baby drill” booster out there. I have said it before (notably, here), and I will say it again: we have poisoned the Gulf of Mexico. Permanently.

No one seems to get this. I don’t think the news media yet understands the magnitude of this disaster. The Gulf of Mexico will be a a dead zone. We killed it.

We finally really did it.

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Filed under Gulf oil spill

Boycott Petroleum

Hey, Code Pink and the rest of you activist types, I love you dearly, you make me laugh and every time you try to arrest Karl Rove you make me want to pump my fist in the air and shout “hell yeah!” But the Boycott BP movement completely misses the point.

Please. Yes BP are pigs but so are Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and every other operation drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world right now.

Don’t boycott BP. Boycott petroleum!

Look, it’s just a fluke that this accident happened on a BP rig. It could easily have been another company’s operation. We could be making hilarious re-designs of the Chevron logo, not BP’s.

I realize in this modern age it is extremely difficult for consumers to single-handedly kick the petroleum habit. This is why we need our government to make strong, decisive, bold steps in this direction. But there are things we can all do to use less of the eco-disaster creating stuff.

I know we can’t all trade in our cars for EVs and hybrids (but those of you who can or are in the market for a new car might consider that). But we can all drive less, and drive more efficiently when we do use the car.

• Try taking one fewer car trip a day and see how that works. If you normally drive your car at lunchtime, try bringing your lunch to work, or walking to lunch. Try combining your errands so you take fewer trips. Car pool. Can you take a bike anywhere or use public transportation?

• Eat less meat. Yes, meat is destructive to the environment and uses a lot of fossil fuels. Mr. Beale and I are trying the Meatless Monday campaign. And let me tell you, it’s been a tough sell with my spouse, who a) doesn’t like vegetables and b) thinks if the plate doesn’t contain meat it’s not a meal (When I first mentioned Meatless Mondays to him he said, “so we eat fish?”). So I’m getting creative in the kitchen. He hasn’t divorced me yet, so maybe we can stick with it.

• Do you have an extra $4 a month? C’mon, you know you do. Buy a block of green power from NES. We buy 10 5 at our house (forgot we cut back when we had the solar panels installed). It’s a lot to add to the power bill every month, not everyone can do that, but surely you can find $4 in the sofa cushions. It’s a gallon and a half of gasoline. Maybe you can find it in what you save by not taking that extra car trip.

• Stop buying bottled water. Seriously, plastic water bottles are disgusting. Get yourself a stainless steel thermos and if your tap water tastes bad, put a charcoal filter on it.

• Raise (or lower) your thermostat. Open windows at night, close windows and blinds during the day. You will adjust, I promise you. Buildings don’t need to be cooled to meat locker temperatures in the summer.

Look, we don’t all have to live in tents and start churning our own butter. If everybody did just one extra thing I think it would have a huge impact.

This spill isn’t just BP’s fault. It’s everybody’s fault. We’re all responsible, every one of us.

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Filed under BP, energy conservation, Gulf oil spill

>Upside Down

>Nearly two weeks ago Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski defeated a bill that would increase BP’s liability cap to clean up the mess it made in the Gulf of Mexico. Her stated reasons (looking out for the oil industry’s “little guys”: all together now, awwwwwww!) were completely bogus, as I explained in my post here. It was basically a big fat kiss to the multinational corporations which keep Alaska’s economy running. Why not just say it and be done with it? You’re not fooling anyone.

And now Murkowski has another gift for her friends at Big Oil: it’s called the Murkowski Resolution. This would basically gut the Clean Air Act by making it illegal for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Yes, you read that right. The Clean Air Act would no longer allow the EPA to regulate the crap that keeps our air from being clean.

While you’re trying to wrap your head around that legislative oxymoron, here’s another one for you: The Murkowski Resolution will come up for a vote on June 10 and three of the Democratic Party’s worst offenders are supporting it:

Murkowski’s resolution would need 51 votes to clear the chamber. She already has 41 co-sponsors, including three Democrats: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Well, isn’t that special. These three names are familiar burrs in progressive knickers, and I would just love to see them squirm on this one. Especially Lincoln, who is facing a tough primary race.

The timing on this should be lost on no one. The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert has an excellent commentary about the Gulf oil spill in this week’s issue. She takes us back to 1969 and the twin environmental disasters of the Santa Barbara oil spill and burning of the Cuyahoga River:

By the end of the year, Congress had passed the National Environmental Policy Act, known by the acronym NEPA, which requires federal agencies to file impact statements for all actions that could have a significant ecological effect. The following spring, millions of people took to the streets for Earth Day, and by the second anniversary of the spill President Richard Nixon had created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed into law the Clean Air Act.

For you young kids who don’t remember: Nixon was a Republican.

So now it’s 40 years later, we have a Democrat in the White House and we’re battling an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that, as Kolbert writes, “makes the Santa Barbara spill look like a puddle.”

We’ve had coal miners die in West Virginia and Kentucky, and we’ve had 1.1 billion gallons of coal sludge cover 300 acres of Roane County, Tennessee. And instead of a massive call to action to stop our polluting ways, we have Republicans and a handful of Democrats voting to gut the Clean Air Act and tie the EPA’s hands on regulating air pollutants.

Crazy.

I really hope everyone gets on the phone and calls their senators about this, pronto. Because if this Murkowski Resolution passes in the wake of a massive oil spill, then what that’s going to tell Washington and the rest of the world is that we really just don’t give a crap about the planet.

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Filed under Clean Air, environment, EPA, Gulf oil spill

>No

>Like President Bush before him, President Obama is apparently determined to miss the opportunity he’s been handed to initiate some serious “get-off-the-oil-tit” policies and get this country out from under Big Oil’s thumb:

Mr. Obama said he would hold both the government and BP accountable. But he did not retreat from his plan to expand offshore oil drilling and in fact portrayed the commission as a means to make that possible.

“Because it represents 30 percent of our oil production, the Gulf of Mexico can play an important part in securing our energy future,” the president said. “But we can only pursue offshore oil drilling if we have assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again.”

Hey, you know what would ensure that a disaster like the BP oil spill never happens again?

A ban on offshore oil drilling.

Seriously, it’s the only thing that will work. So why even talk about “safe” offshore oil drilling? If it were safe we wouldn’t have a disaster on our hands right now. It’s not safe.

I remember how after the 9/11 attacks, the nation was shell-shocked and everyone was donating blood by the gallon because we all wanted to give, we wanted to do something and nobody could think of anything else to do. I wanted to plant a Victory Garden, I was ready to give up sugar and nylons and ration gasoline and all the rest.

A smart president and Congress who had their eye on the future not their wallets would have said: now is the time to conserve energy. Now is the time for us to pull together and use public transportation and raise (or lower) our thermostats and start making the transition away from the policies that forced us to do business with people who hate us. The policies that saw us go to greater and greater extremes to secure oil for multinational corporations who might share some of it with us.

A smart president and Congress would have begun our nation’s transition to renewable energy, urged every municipality to implement strict conservation-oriented building codes, raised fuel efficiency standards, and all the rest. We all would have done it, too. Because we all understood that as long as we consume oil–any oil–we are participating in a game that includes terrorism.

Instead we were told to go shopping and support a war in a country that contains the world’s third largest proven oil reserves.

So here we are, nearly nine years later, and we have an ecological disaster down in the Gulf of Mexico, the magnitiude of which we are only just beginning to grasp.

A smart president and Congress who had their eye on the future not their wallets would say: now is the time for renewable energy. Now is the time for us to begin the transition away from the dangerous policies that destroy the ecosystems on which the entire planet depends, so a few can profit. Now is the time to say never again will we put the needs of one industry above the needs of the planet that sustains us–and the needs of the people and economy that depend on a healthy environment. Industries like fishing, shrimping, oystering, tourism. Never again will we allow the powerful to exploit resources shared by us all, when our food, water and air are at stake and when viable alternatives exist.

But no. We seek “assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again” so we can all go along as before. Pay no attention, move along.

Times like these call for greatness. Sadly, our nation sorely lacks such things. I think of Franklin D. Roosevelt, how he rallied the nation to pull together after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. How a nation weary from the Great Depression still managed to pull together, roll up their sleeves, and fight the threat from Germany and Japan. Women went to work, men went to war, we gave up creature comforts and rationed our gasoline, and bought War Bonds. I wonder if we’ll ever see that kind of effort again.

We’ve had so many opportunities. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and subsequent hostage crisis. After a few months we shake these warning signs off and carry on as before, because no one has had the fortitutude to make us do otherwise.

I don’t know if Obama is playing some kind of political game here or not. But we don’t need politics and we don’t need games. We need leadership.

I found this prayer request from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Present Chief and Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nation of the Sioux. It’s a prayer to all people of all religious traditions around the world. Please read it and consider adding your voice to this call.

Chief Arvol writes:

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

We humans seem awfully slow to learn our lessons. We need some divine intervention here.

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Filed under energy future, Gulf oil spill, President Barack Obama

>Sending BP A Message

>Folks around the world are not happy with BP and they are spreading the word in a variety of interesting ways. National news media has done a piss-poor job of covering what’s happening on the grassroots level, so I’ve compiled a list of stuff you won’t see on CNN.

• On Tybee Island, Georgia, protestors staged a mock oil spill.

• A market in New Orleans bakes a cake:

• At BP’s London, England HQ, Greenpeace protestors re-style the BP logo:

You can watch video here:

http://news.sky.com/sky-news/app/skynewsflash/OBU_Player_30.swf?type=embedded&baseColor=6710886&highlightColor=16711680&channel_key=News&ad_channel=2169867&ad_alias=pre_skynews_skynews_Home_Business&networkId=999.1&unique_id=09361&media_title=GreenpeaceBPHeadquartersProtest&attrib_url=http://news.sky.com&video_url=http://static1.sky.com//feeds/skynews/latest/flash/200510-bp-headquarters-greenpeace-protest.flv&smoothing=true&tracking_account=DM530320KARC

People have staged protests in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Palm Beach and St. Petersburg, while in New Orleans there are calls for a more organized march.

Meanwhile, on the Wall Street end of things:

(Reuters) – A BP Plc shareholder in Alaska on Thursday sued the corporation’s chairman and board members, alleging the officials’ mismanagement led to the disastrous Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and spill and have devalued BP stock.

That should be interesting.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s lots more stuff happening at the grassroots level. Keep your eyes and ears open.

MORE:

They are donating campaign contributions (albeit small ones):

May 18, 2010 (Chula Vistas)– Assemblymember Mary Salas, Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 40th District, donated a $500 contribution she received from British Petroleum (BP) to the San Diego League of Conservation Voters in protest of the company’s response to the massive Gulf Oil spill.She also accused her primary opponent, Juan Vargas, of being “in the pocket” of big oil companies.

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Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill, protests