November 30, 2010
August 24, 2010
I want to re-post this blog story from TckTckTck about the scary influence of polluter money on our politicians, particularly the US Senate incumbents.
Polluted Politicians: Dirty energy money flowing to U.S. Senate incumbents
2010 has been a particularly good year for the oil industry. All of the big oil companies are on track for record profits again this year, even with the ecological,economic and public relationsdisasters stemming from theirvarious oil gushers.
The U.S. Senate failed to pass substantial climate legislation,and politicians remain eager to accept large amounts of money from fossil fuel industries to fund their political aspirations. It’s a great year to be a petroleum executive.
Fortunately, it’s also a great year to be a voter.
Washington is steeped in dirty energy money, with polluting industries contributing vast sums to political campaigns in order to keep American leadership beholden to the status quo fossil fuel addiction.
One of the many ways voters can show their support for clean energy is by electing candidates with cleaner, greener records and policies. How do you know which candidates are greener than others? One of the simplest ways is to look at their funding sources. Do they take money from dirty energy sources to fund their campaigns?
DirtyEnergyMoney.com (supported by TckTckTck partners 350.org, Greenpeace and 1Sky) andBobbingInPetroleum.org are two great new web resources for tracking the oil and coal industry money polluting Washington politics. Using data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the group Oil Change International created these interactive tools to track the flow of oil and coal industry campaign contributions to members of Congress.
So, how do things shape up with the 111th congress?
In terms of overall campaign contributions, Republicans receive 54% of the fossil fuel funding, holding a slim lead over Democrats who receive the other 46%, according to Oil Change International.
By sorting the data according to the top recipients of polluter money on DirtyEnergyMoney.com, it is easy to see that fossil fuel interests are bipartisan when it comes to buying politicians in the 111th Congress, with Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln collecting the largest sum of dirty energy money ($510,150), followed by Republicans Lisa Murkowski from Alaska ($390,622), David Vitter from Louisiana ($316,278), and Richard Burr from North Carolina ($245,774).
Rounding out the Top 5 is Democrat Arlen Specter of Virginia, who received $185,799 from polluters during the current session. Unfortunately for his supporters, Specter lost his 2010 primary race to another Democratic candidate, Joe Sestak.
Vote with your climate conscience
Using the resources available at DirtyEnergyMoney.com, here is a list of the Top 10 incumbent Senators from each party who accept contributions from polluting companies. All of these candidate are currently running for re-election in November 2010 and these figures represent the amount of campaign contributions received since January 2008.
|Rank||Name & Constituency||$ of Contributions|
|1||Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas||$510,150|
|2||Michael Bennet of Colorado||$96,320|
|3||Chuck Schumer of New York||$78,200|
|4||Harry Reid of Nevada||$63,500|
|5||Kristen Gillibrand of New York||$59,600|
|6||Barbara Boxer of California||$33,150|
|7||Ron Wyden of Oregon||$30,564|
|8||Daniel Inoyue of Hawaii||$23,400|
|9||Patty Murray of Washington||$14,650|
|10||Russ Feingold of Wisconsion||$9,650|
|Rank||Name & Constituency||$ of Contributions|
|1||Lisa Murkowski of Alaska||$390,622|
|2||David Vitter of Louisiana||$316,278|
|3||Richard Burr of North Carolina||$245,774|
|4||John Thune of South Dakota||$163,874|
|5||John McCain of Arizona||$150,410|
|6||Tom Coburn of Oklahoma||$128,650|
|7||Jim DeMint of South Carolina||$121,274|
|8||Chuck Grassley of Iowa||$113,950|
|9||Richard Shelby of Alabama||$99,100|
|10||Johnny Isakson of Georgia||$93,950|
The more information voters have on the policies, platforms and funding sources of candidates running for office, the better equipped they are to cast an informed vote. Please share this information with your climate-minded friends and remind them of the importance of voting with their climate conscience in the next US election.
July 29, 2010
Massey Energy Files ’SLAPP’ Lawsuit against Environmental Activists
Company Responsible for Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster Actively Seeking to Silence Local Critics
July 22, 2010
Larry Hildes, (360) 715-9788
Rock Creek, W. Va. — Massey Energy has filed a politically motivated civil suit, also known as a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit, against fourteen activists arrested last year in relation to a protest on a mountaintop removal mining site. The suit seems to be part of a larger strategy on the part of the mining company to intimidate and silence critics of the company’s safety record and controversial mining practices, particularly mountaintop removal coal mining. (more…)
June 24, 2010
From the media desk of Congressman Ed Markey
Chairman Releases Letters, Documents from BP Challenging Company’s Ongoing Denial of Plumes
(June 23, 2010) – Following the release of a government analysis showing, yet again, the existence of undersea plumes of oil from the BP oil spill, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today released documents he obtained from BP related to their denial of these plumes. The documents, and the follow-up letter from Rep. Markey to BP CEO Tony Hayward, include some of the preliminary information used in this government analysis to show the existence of plumes, even as BP continued to deny the presence of the underwater clouds of oil. (more…)
June 22, 2010
I was absolutely shocked today to read that this happened.
“A federal judge struck down the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, saying the government rashly concluded that because one rig failed, the others are in immediate danger, too.
The White House promised an immediate appeal. The Interior Department had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling of 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama believes strongly that drilling at such depths does not make sense and puts the safety of workers ”at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford.”
I’m also pretty confused as to what authority this judge or any other has in what the Obama Administration does over drilling permits. My impression is the Interior Department has the legal authority to approve or deny permits for oil drilling on our lands. If they choose to deny them for safety reasons, that should be their prerogative.
*As I finished typing this, I saw a news story that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will reimpose the moratorium with new language*
Friends of the Earth has a great statement on this titled “New Orleans Judge May As Well Have Apologized to BP”, and this usful information at the end…
“The judge in question, Martin Feldman, has recently owned stock in Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, which was involved in the Gulf Horizon disaster. More on that here:http://www.judicialwatch.org/jfd/Feldman_Martin_L_C/2008.pdf “
Some offshore drilling investments include…
June 18, 2010
Here’s a video the MD Dems just sent out about Bob Ehrlich’s response to an 80,000 oil gallon spill in Maryland several years ago, and his lobbyist ties to big oil.
There’s already some fallout from this on how appropriate the ad is…
June 17, 2010
Congresswoman Michelle Bachman: “The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund. And now it appears like we’ll be looking at one more gateway for more government control, more money to government. If there is a disaster, why is it that government is the one who always seems to benefit after a disaster, and that’s of course what cap-and-trade would be.”
Governor Haley Barbour
Is it just me, or does that not make any sense? BP paying citizens $20 billion dollars makes them less capable of paying for damages because they won’t make enough income? What?! Who elected that guy?
May 24, 2010
The lax oversight from the Federal Minerals Management Service when it comes to offshore oil drilling is sounding worse and worse with each new media story. We found out yesterday that even with a “moratorium” on new offshore drilling permits, projects are still moving ahead. Solve Climate just reported that MMS was warned about deep water gas blowouts in 2009. An article out today talks about the culture in MMS that caused them to discard reports and findings from scientists that permits for drilling needed an environmental impact assessment, which would slow down the process. One of the permits that’s already been granted amongst these corrupt decisions was to Shell oil to drill in the Alaskan Arctic. Today, Greenpeace staged an action to send a message to the Obama administration. Below is the picture, along with an excerpt from their description of it
“The activists took a stand at a drilling supply ship that’s scheduled to leave for the Arctic this summer. Oil from the spill was used to paint the message “Arctic Next?” on the bridge of the ship. Shell hopes to use the ship to support their plans for exploratory drilling off the coast of Alaska in July. But before that can happen, Secretary Salazar has to approve their plan. He’s literally deciding what to do as you read this.”
May 17, 2010
I’ve come across a number of articles in the past couple of days on the oil disaster in the gulf coast that highlight many of the angles of this catastrophe. The following are some noteworthy excerpts from the articles, and a critique of President Obama for the lack of attention he is bringing to the broader problem with our addiction to fossil fuels.
It appears that BP has scored a partial success at managing the oil disaster.
“In a significant step toward containing a massive Gulf of Mexico oil leak, BP said a mile-long tube was funneling crude Sunday from a blown well to a tanker ship after three days of wrestling to get the stopgap measure into place on the seafloor.”
“The contraption used by BP was hooked up successfully and sucking oil from a pipe at the blown well Sunday afternoon after being hindered by several setbacks. Engineers remotely guiding robot submersibles had worked since Friday to place the tube into a 21-inch pipe nearly a mile below the sea.
Kent Wells, BP’s senior vice president for exploration and production, said during a news conference that the amount being drawn was gradually increasing, and it would take several days to measure it. Company spokesman Mark Proegler at the joint spill command center in Louisiana had initially said the tube was containing most of the oil coming from the pipe, which is contributing an estimated 85 percent of the crude in the spill.”
The Minerals Management Service is corrupt, to say the least! Obama agrees, that’s why he’s proposing to split it into one agency that regulates the mining sites and permits, and another that handles the collection of the royalties.
“The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.”
“The Minerals Management Service, or M.M.S., also routinely overruled its staff biologists and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and the environmental impact of certain drilling proposals in the gulf and in Alaska, according to a half-dozen current and former agency scientists.”
““M.M.S. has given up any pretense of regulating the offshore oil industry,” said Kierán Suckling, director of theCenter for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group in Tucson, which filed notice of intent to sue the agency over its noncompliance with federal law concerning endangered species. “The agency seems to think its mission is to help the oil industry evade environmental laws.””
“On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to reorganize the minerals agency to improve its regulatory role by separating safety oversight from the division that collects royalties from oil and gas companies. But that reorganization is not likely to have any bearing on how and whether the agency seeks required permits from other agencies like NOAA.”
“Managers at the agency have routinely overruled staff scientists whose findings highlight the environmental risks of drilling, according to a half-dozen current or former agency scientists.
The scientists, none of whom wanted to be quoted by name for fear of reprisals by the agency or by those in the industry, said they had repeatedly had their scientific findings changed to indicate no environmental impact or had their calculations of spill risks downgraded.
“You simply are not allowed to conclude that the drilling will have an impact,” said one scientist who has worked for the minerals agency for more than a decade. “If you find the risks of a spill are high or you conclude that a certain species will be affected, your report gets disappeared in a desk drawer and they find another scientist to redo it or they rewrite it for you.”
Another biologist who left the agency in 2005 after more than five years said that agency officials went out of their way to accommodate the oil and gas industry.
He said, for example, that seismic activity from drilling can have a devastating effect on mammals and fish, but that agency officials rarely enforced the regulations meant to limit those effects.
He also said the agency routinely ceded to the drilling companies the responsibility for monitoring species that live or spawn near the drilling projects.”
The Damage Beneath the Ocean
Even though BP has used dangerous chemicals to disperse a lot of the oil to prevent it from reaching the surface, that doesn’t mean it won’t cause long-lasting damage below the ocean. It’s been reported that giant plumes of oil are forming under the Gulf.
“There is beauty in the lightless deep as well. Fan corals, lacylike doilies, form gardens on the seafloor and on sunken ships. The deep is full of crabs, sponges, sea anemones. Sharks hunt in the dark depths, as do sperm whales that feed on giant squid. The sperm whales have formed a year-round colony near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and have been known to rub themselves on oil pipes just like grizzlies rubbing against pine trees.
This is the unseen world imperiled by the uncapped oil well a mile below the surface of the gulf. The millions of gallons of crude, and the introduction of chemicals to disperse it, have thrown this underwater ecosystem into chaos, and scientists have no answer to the question of how this unintended and uncontrolled experiment in marine biology and chemistry will ultimately play out.
The leaking gulf well, drilled by the now-sunken rig Deepwater Horizon, has cast a light on a part of the planet usually out of sight, out of mind, below the horizon, and beyond our ken. The well is surrounded by a complex ecosystem that only in recent years has been explored by scientists. Between the uncapped well and the surface is a mile of water that riots with life, and now contains a vast cloud of oil, gas and chemical dispersants and long, dense columns of clotted crude”
Of course, all this begs the question of whether simply trying to clean up a Federal Agency is going to solve the problem. I think a Grist article by Jonathan Hiskes has it right.
“President Obama has so far declined to give voice to the connection between the massive, stomach-churning fossil-fuel disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the massive, stomach-turning damage that fossil fuels wreak every day. He hasn’t used his bully pulpit to highlight the opportunities to use energy more intelligently and gather it from cleaner sources.”
And that, President Obama, is the change we actually need.
May 12, 2010
While the terrific trio of BP, Haliburton and Transocean blamed each other for the oil disaster that’s been unfolding, members of the of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee lambasted them for their behavior and lack of accountability. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will also get its shot at the companies.
The Public Campaign Action Fund has a couple of nice pictures highlighting how much money lawmakers on both of these committees have taken from the oil companies. Needless to say, there is plenty of blame, and money to go around for our failed energy policy.