The Dernogalizer

October 15, 2010

Obama Administration Environmental News

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:59 pm
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The Environmental Protection Agency has been kind enough to begin sending out regular e-mail updates with press releases about actions difference agencies in the administration are doing to move us forward on sustainability.  Below are a few highlights from the e-mail.

Climate Change Adaptation Task Force

On October 14, 2010, the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released its interagency report outlining recommendations to President Obama for how Federal Agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to respond to the impacts of climate change.  The report recommends that the Federal Government implement actions to expand and strengthen the Nation’s capacity to better understand, prepare for, and respond to climate change.  These recommended actions include:

  • Make adaptation a standard part of Agency planning to ensure that resources are invested wisely and services and operations remain effective in a changing climate.
  • Ensure scientific information about the impacts of climate change is easily accessible so public and private sector decision-makers can build adaptive capacity into their plans and activities.
  • Align Federal efforts to respond to climate impacts that cut across jurisdictions and missions, such as those that threaten water resources, public health, oceans and coasts, and communities.
  • Develop a U.S. strategy to support international adaptation that leverages resources across the Federal Governmentto help developing countries reduce their vulnerability to climate change through programs that are consistent with the core principles and objectives of the President’s new Global Development Policy.
  • Build strong partnerships to support local, state, and tribal decision makers in improving management of places and infrastructure most likely to be affected by climate change.

The Task Force’s work has been guided by a strategic vision of a resilient, healthy, and prosperous Nation in the face of a changing climate.  To achieve this vision, the Task Force identified a set of guiding principles that public and private decision-makers should consider in designing and implementing adaptation strategies.  They include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Adopt Integrated Approaches:  Adaptation should be incorporated into core policies, planning, practices, and programs whenever possible.
  • Prioritize the Most Vulnerable:  Adaptation strategies should help people, places, and infrastructure that are most vulnerable to climate impacts and be designed and implemented with meaningful involvement from all parts of society.
  • Use Best-Available Science:  Adaptation should be grounded in the best-available scientific understanding of climate change risks, impacts, and vulnerabilities.
  • Apply Risk-Management Methods and Tools:  Adaptation planning should incorporate risk-management methods and tools to help identify, assess, and prioritize options to reduce vulnerability to potential environmental, social, and economic implications of climate change.
  • Apply Ecosystem-based Approaches:  Adaptation should, where appropriate, take into account strategies to increase ecosystem resilience and protect critical ecosystem services on which humans depend, to reduce vulnerability of human and natural systems to climate change.

The Task Force will continue to meet over the next year as an interagency forum for discussing the Federal Government’s adaptation approach and to support and monitor the implementation of recommended actions in the Progress Report.  It will prepare another report in October 2011 that documents progress toward implementing its recommendations and provides additional recommendations for refining the Federal approach to adaptation, as appropriate.

 

The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Progress Report is available here.

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Department of Energy Offers Conditional Commitment for a Loan Guarantee to Support World’s Largest Wind Project

Recovery Act-Supported Loan Will Create Jobs and Avoid Over 1.2 Million Tons of Carbon Pollution Annually

 

Washington – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan in support of the world’s largest wind farm to date.  The loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project, an 845 megawatt wind-powered electrical generating facility in eastern Oregon sponsored by Caithness Energy LLC and General Electric (GE) Energy Financial Services.

 

“Thanks to the Recovery Act, we are creating the clean energy jobs of the future while positioning the U.S. as a world leader in the production of renewable energy,” said Secretary Chu.  “This project is part of the Administration’s commitment to doubling our renewable energy generation by 2012 while putting Americans to work in communities across the country.”

 

The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project consists of 338 wind turbines supplied by GE.  The project will use GE’s 2.5xl turbines, which are designed to provide high efficiency and increased reliability, maintainability and grid integration. The wind farm is the first in North America to deploy these turbines, which have been used in Europe and Asia.  Once completed, the project will sell 100 percent of the power generated to Southern California Edison through 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements.  The wind facility will avoid 1,215,991 tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 212,141 passenger vehicles. According to Caithness, the project will directly create 400 construction jobs, followed by 35 permanent jobs on site.

 

The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the largest project to date to receive an offer of a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), a Department of Energy program supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  In a FIPP financing, the Department of Energy guarantees up to 80 percent of a loan provided to a renewable energy project by qualified financial institutions.  The $1.3 billion loan is expected to be funded by a group of institutional investors and commercial banks led by Citi, as lender-applicant and joint lead arranger, and three other joint lead arrangers, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., RBS Securities and WestLB Securities Inc.

 

For more information, please visit http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov.

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EPA Awards $1.5 Million in Environmental Education Grants

WASHINGTON – In an effort to improve environmental literacy and stewardship across the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to 14 organizations in 11 states and the District of Columbia.  The organizations will use the money to fund environmental education efforts, which work to inform the public of environmental issues and help them make educated choices on actions they can take to reduce negative environmental impacts.

 

“Every American community relies on clean air, water and land for their environmental and economic health. We want to help expand awareness on how they can get involved in environmental protection,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. ”These grants will help communities across the country show how a clean environment starts at home.”

 

The grants help EPA expand the conversation on environmentalism by increasing the number of underserved audiences that participate in the agency’s programs and activities. This year, some of the grant money went toward helping tribal communities set up leadership programs, letting students step outside the classroom in order to learn about the environment, and working to help students understand the importance of water quality, among many other projects. Highlights from this year’s recipients include:

 

  • The Native Wellness Institute of Portland, Ore. received $102,000 to implement the “Native Youth Environment Warriors” project, which will provide environmental education and leadership training and support to native youth and their community mentors to design and implement environmental projects in their tribal communities.

 

  • The Island Institute of Rockland, Maine received nearly $124,000 for the “Energy for Maine” project, which includes community discussions and analysis of renewable energy sources. The project is aiming to increase home and school energy efficiency through student/teacher, and family-generated solutions for reducing energy consumption.

 

The annual awards are given to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, community groups, schools and universities. The recipients of the 2010 competition represent a mix of organizations addressing a variety of environmental issues from climate change to water quality, and dealing with local, regional, or national issues.

 

EPA awards the funds under the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, which gives the agency the authority to support and create environmental education programs nationwide.

 

More information about EPA’s environmental education grants recipients: http://www.epa.gov/education/grants.html

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EPA Awards $1.9 Million in Environmental Justice Grants
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1.9 million in environmental justice grants to 76 non-profit organizations and local governments working on environmental justice issues nationwide. The grants are designed to help communities understand and address environmental challenges and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships focused on improving human health and the environment at the local level. The grant program supports Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice.

“Through our efforts to support local environmental justice projects, we are advancing EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment in communities overburdened by pollution,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Providing training to develop a skilled green workforce will help communities become more resilient in the face of economic and environmental changes and help build healthy and sustainable communities.”

The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

In addition to the traditional criteria, EPA encouraged applications focused on addressing the disproportionate impacts of climate change in communities by emphasizing climate equity, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local green economy, and green jobs capacity building. Grantee projects include trainings for local residents to increase recycling, avoiding heat stroke, improving indoor air quality, reducing carbon emissions through weatherization, and green jobs training programs.

Since 1994, the Environmental Justice Small Grants program has provided more than $21 million in funding to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments working to address environmental justice issues in more than 1,200 communities. The $1.9 million in grant funding announced today is the largest amount of total funding in one year for environmental justice grants in more than a decade. The grant awards represent EPA’s commitment to promoting community-based actions to address environmental justice issues.

More information on the Environmental Justice Small Grants program and a list of grantees:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-smgrants.html

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October 5, 2010

Obama is going Solar! (and so is California)

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 7:16 pm
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The President continues an impressive green October by announcing solar panels will be placed on the White House to supply part of the electricity, and heat the water.  This is nice symbolic move from the President.  An even better move which won’t get as much PR is the administration’s approval of the first ever solar projects on public lands.  Below is an e-mail from Bill McKibben announcing the good news about the White House.  Bill’s organization 350.org has been pushing the Obama Administration to put solar on the White House as part of the 10/10/10 initiative.  Below Bill’s e-mail is the press release from the Department of the Interior on the new solar in California.  Keep it up Obama (more…)

October 2, 2010

A Green Start to Obama’s Month

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:42 pm
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Between heightened fuel economy standards, a Presidential Proclamation making this National Energy Awareness Month, and a clean energy weekly address, the Obama administration appears to be pushing the green theme in October.  Why?  There is some chatter and hope that Obama is gearing up for a 2011 climate push, although the success of such a push largely depends on who controls Congress after the midterms.

September 28, 2010

A Day of Fighting for Appalachia

I’ve written a number of columns in the University of Maryland student newspaper about the horrendous practice of mountaintop removal, in particular the Obama Administration’s failure to acknowledge the science behind mountaintop removal, a call for a ban on MTR following EPA regulations earlier this year which in hindsight were over-hyped, and an introduction to the practice and impacts of blowing up mountains for coal.  Although I’ve participated in protesting a bank over funding MTR and taken part in a few campus educational events about it, I’ve never gotten a chance to directly witness the passion, fight, and energy of the movement stemming from Appalachia to stop mountaintop removal.  That changed Monday, where I was fortunate enough to take part in one of the best organized rallies and fiercest urgent calls to action that I’ve seen in my years of environmental and climate activism.

How many people were there?  I don’t know, some people say thousands, others might guess lower, all I know is that there were a lot!  I arrived at the beginning of the rally at Freedom Plaza, where I joined up with a few friends and listened as artists played music along with passionate demands for justice and action from the Obama Administration, along with condemnation of the coal companies for their monumental destruction.  The speakers able to draw the best connection with the crowd and really define what’s at stake in this battle were coalfield residents who might not have been professional speakers, but spoke from the heart in a way that conveyed how dire the situation was to those like myself who are fortunate enough to have clean water and (relatively) clean air, something far too many of us take for granted.

After the speakers were done we were led away from Freedom Plaza and marched towards the White House, with a couple of pit stops on the way.  The first stop was at the EPA building, which in my opinion was the highest of many highs in this rally, as the energy that had been building up in the marchers for hours was unleashed.  As leaders of the march and the movement stormed the steps of the EPA flanked by cameras, reporters, and security, a frustration and anger swept over the crowd (see photo), including myself.  What the hell is the EPA doing?  Certainly not its job, which is why the crowd chanted extraordinarily loudly “EPA do your job!”, so thunderously that if Lisa Jackson was in the building, her desk may have shook.  More local coalfield residents spoke about how the EPA needs to regulate MTR because it’s poisoning their communities, and that Lisa Jackson needs to take a trip to Appalachia to understand the calamity being caused the corrupt politicians and their corporate coal masters.

After the EPA building, we marched onward to the steps of PNC bank, where speakers highlighted how PNC bank is a top funder of MTR.  It was great to see cameras flashing, security guards surrounding the entrance of the bank, and bewildered bank workers looking out onto the massive protest.  There’s a saying that all press is good press.  That quote was proven WRONG today.  What PNC got on September 27th was definitely very very BAD press, which is what it deserves.  Since PNC portrays itself as a green bank because of it’s building practices, it’s hopefully sensitive to this kind of negative attention, and will reconsider its policy of financing MTR.

Next we marched to an area across from the White House for more speakers along with instructions for the civil disobedience that was to follow.  One might expect a crowd to dissipate throughout the day, particularly with the rain that had been pouring on and off throughout the rally.  Not this rally!  If anything, the crowd grew as time wore on, to the point where I looked around when we got to the White House and realized that this wasn’t just a good turnout, this was a great turnout.  Now came the moment of truth, where well over a hundred of the protesters in the rally marched over to the White House fence, risking arrest.  The crowd watching stayed strong in numbers, chanting repeatedly alongside the soon to be arrested protesters.  It took a real long time for the police to start arresting people, and even then they appeared to move very slowly, which I’m sure is owed to so many people risking arrest.  Where were the police going to put all of them?!  I stayed until the very end, taking part in many more chants, and cheering on as one by one the protesters were placed in handcuffs and walked (and in a few cases dragged) away.  Many danced, egged on the crowd, and carried out the action right until the very end.  The was one incident where it appeared the police were being too rough with a protester, which is unfortunate but it demonstrated how big this rally was, as hundreds of rally participants scrambled over to the side of the police tape where the incident was taking place.  The police were forced to bring out officers on horses to push the crowd back and expand the perimeter.

Despite being hungry(but hungrier for change!) and needing to finish work on an essay, I’m glad I stayed for the whole event when I had only intended to march to the White House.  Everyone who came deserves a high five, but everyone who stayed all the way to the end to forcefully support those risking arrest deserve two, it really made a difference.  Needless to say, the protesters who got arrested deserve much more!

The energy in large numbers displayed throughout this rally was truly impressive.  The decision to hit the EPA for their inaction, PNC Bank for placing profit above people, and then President Obama for allowing this atrocity to take place under his watch was smart and strategic.  Apparently some activists also visited the Interior Department.

I have no doubt that those in power and big coal took notice of this day.  I’m very proud to have been a part of it, and sense I will eventually  look back on this day as a big stepping stone on the inevitable path to victory.  But I know that before any of us can look back, we have to move forward.  This was a great day of fighting for Appalachia.  Despite living in Maryland, I know I can do better than one day of action, and I encourage everyone to step up their efforts to win this.

Read more from: Get Energy Smart Now, AP, CNN International, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, Jeff Biggers, Wonk Room, Itsgettinghotinhere, Washington Examiner, RAN. MSNBC, Climate Progress

June 21, 2010

President Obama Continues Push for Clean Energy Legislation

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 7:04 pm
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He’s still afraid to talk about climate change in the same sentence as clean energy, but at least he’s pushing for a bill.

June 15, 2010

Obama’s Oval Office Address Falls Short

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:57 pm
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Photo: Washington Post via Reuters

It can’t be a good sign of the state of energy legislation when I’m giving President Obama points for not mistaking clean coal, natural gas, or nuclear power as clean energy.  The problem with Obama’s speech is that his core message on clean energy wasn’t any different from when he was a candidate, or how he’s sounded since he’s been in office.   (more…)

June 1, 2010

Weekly Mulch: Obama’s Responsibility for the BP Oil Spill

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:43 pm
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Here is the free Weekly Mulch provided by The Media Consortium

Weekly Mulch: Obama’s Responsibility for the BP Oil Spill

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

President Barack Obama is in Louisiana today, and BP is saying it will know in 48 hours if its attempt to “top kill” the leaking oil well in the Gulf Coast by pouring mud and cement over it has worked.

If the scramble to stop the leak has ended, the slog to clean up is just beginning. Thousands of fisherman are still out of work, as ColorLines notes. But there are new jobs in Louisiana. This week Mother Jones’ Mac McClelland visited workers raking oil off a beach in Louisiana. One man, she writes, “can’t count how many times he’s raked this same spot in the 33 hours he’s worked it since Thursday, but one thing he’s sure of, he says, is that he’ll be standing right here tomorrow and the next day, too.”

Next moves

Although the regulatory infrastructure that was supposed to oversee companies like BP failed in this case, the administration is stepping up to ensure that the spill is stopped and the clean-up begun. “I take responsibility,” the president told reporters yesterday. “It is my job to make sure everything is done to shut this down.”

Kevin Drum calls this performance and the media affirmation that came after it “the kabuki of our times”—a show that only pretends that the government has the wherewithal to stop the leak without the resources of private industry.

“The president has to be In Charge whether he can actually do anything or not,” Drum writes. “What everyone should be asking is not what the feds are going to do about capping the leak, but what they’re going to do to make sure all the oil is cleaned up afterward.”

Going forward, the government needs to make sure that BP fulfills its clean-up promises. Without strong oversight, the company could slip out of paying its debts. That’s what happened last time an energy company left a lake of oil in American waters, as Riki Ott’s Not One Drop documents. The book “describes firsthand the impacts of oil companies’ broken promises when the Exxon Valdez spills most of its cargo and despoils thousands of miles of shore,” according to Chelsea Green.

BP’s behavior

BP has little incentive to clean up its operations or to take responsibility for the damage it has already incurred. As Care2 reports, another BP rig had to shut down this week when a power outage caused crude oil to spill from its storage tank to “secondary containment.” And on the Hill, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) charged that the company was deliberately low-balling its estimates of the Gulf spill’s size to avoid additional fines.

At The American Prospect, Monica Potts delves into the logic behind BP’s operations. Even when using one of the highest estimates of the spill’s volume—70,000 barrels a day, or more than 2 million barrels overall—she writes, “Americans burn about 10 times that, 21 million barrels, each day. It would only take us a couple of hours to use up everything in the Gulf. This is despite everything we know about how bad burning oil is. Given that, it’s not surprising that an oil company might rank our desire for oil more highly than our undemonstrated desire to avoid ecological disaster.”

Environmental obscenities

In Texas, activists tried this week to demonstrate to BP that consumers do desire to avoid such disasters, AlterNet reports. A group of women traveled to the company’s headquarters and, wearing little more than sandwich boards, tried to expose “the naked truth about drill, baby, drill.”

AlterNet reports that Diane Wilson, who organized the protest “doesn’t take nudity lightly.” Growing up in rural Texas, “I was taught that flesh is sinful, it’s the devil,” she said. “So for me, using nudity to expose the truth about BP was WAY outside my comfort zone. But I realized that it’s the destruction of our ecosystem by corporate greed that’s obscene, not a woman’s body.”

Real responsibility

It’s important to realize that such destruction is not limited to this one catastrophe in the Gulf. As David Roberts writes at Grist:

“We don’t get back the land we destroy by mining. We don’t get back the species lost from deforestation and development. We don’t get back islands lost to rising seas. We don’t get back the coral lost to bleaching or the marine food chains lost to nitrogen runoff. Once we lose the climatic conditions in which our species evolved, we won’t get them back either.”

Fixing the system

If Obama is ready to take responsibility for the oil spill, he might want to focus on strengthening the government regulators who oversee these dangerous industry. The lack of oversight from the Minerals Management Service—which was rotting from the inside-out long before Obama came into office, TPM reports—played a huge role in this spill. Across the country, the government bodies that are supposed to be guarding the environment have stepped away from that responsibility.

Consider, for instance, Forrest Whittaker’s report in The Texas Observer about his state’s environmental oversight agency. “In decision after decision, the Texas agency that’s supposed to protect the public and the environment has sided with polluters,” Whittaker writes.

President Obama may not be able to fix Texas’ problems, but he can provide leadership by correctly regulating corporations that pollute. In that way, the president can take responsibility not just for cleaning up this spill, but for preventing the next one.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

May 20, 2010

Friedman: Obama and the Oil Spill

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:34 pm
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I saw this op-ed out by NY Times Columnist Tom Friedman out yesterday on what President Obama’s reaction to the oil spill should be, and I have to say its as spot on as he’s ever been.  Friedman has been putting out some great columns on clean energy lately.  I’m re-posting the op-ed below.

President Obama’s handling of the gulf oil spill has been disappointing.

I say that not because I endorse the dishonest conservative critique that the gulf oil spill is somehow Obama’s Katrina and that he is displaying the same kind of incompetence that George W. Bush did after that hurricane. To the contrary, Obama’s team has done a good job coordinating the cleanup so far. The president has been on top of it from the start.

No, the gulf oil spill is not Obama’s Katrina. It’s his 9/11 — and it is disappointing to see him making the same mistake George W. Bush made with his 9/11. Sept. 11, 2001, was one of those rare seismic events that create the possibility to energize the country to do something really important and lasting that is too hard to do in normal times. (more…)

May 17, 2010

Hopeful News, a Corrupt Agency, and the Unseen Damage Beneath

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:18 am
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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.

Hopeful News

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 3, 2010

MoveOn.org Ad calls for Ban on Offshore Drilling

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:21 pm
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