The Dernogalizer

October 25, 2010

Markey: BP Chief Officially Refuses to Testify Before Congress

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:36 pm
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From the desk of Congressman Ed Markey

As Bob Dudley Blames Media, Everyone Else for Reaction to Spill, New BP CEO Avoids Talking to Congress, American People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Chairman Ed Markey, 202-225-4012

WASHINGTON (October 25, 2010) – In a speech today in London, BP’s new Chief Executive Officer, Bob Dudley, blamed the media, industry rivals and “a fair number of observers” for the reaction to his company’s more than 4 million barrel oil spill – the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Meanwhile, Dudley officially refused to testify before Congress in Washington, sending a letter late Friday to Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to decline an appearance at a congressional hearing to discuss the spill. Dudley also claimed in the speech that the company’s relationship with American officials had improved.

“The American people were told that as CEO, Bob Dudley would change BP’s attitudes and practices,” said Rep. Markey, who had requested that Mr. Dudley appear before his Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Yet BP is continuing to point the finger at everyone but themselves. Since this disaster began, BP has stood for ‘Blame Passed.’

Since the last appearance by BP leadership before Congress on June 17th, BP has released findings from their own internal investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, announced an overhaul of their safety practices, and installed a new CEO.

“The American people deserve answers from BP, but when it comes to appearing before Congress, one thing BP certainly does not stand for is ‘Being Present,'” said Rep. Markey. “If BP is truly committed to repairing their image and standing with the American people and government officials, Mr. Dudley can start by appearing before Congress.”

Dudley’s letter of refusal can be found HERE

Rep. Markey’s letters to Dudley can be found HERE

 

July 20, 2010

Markey Expresses Concerns on “Bullhead Kill”

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 9:51 pm
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How sound is the current solution to the oil spill?  See this press release from the desk of Congressman Ed Markey

Pressure Readings, Well Integrity Still Worrisome Says Chairman; Sends Letter to BP, Thad Allen

July 20, 2010 – With the possibility of a new well-killing strategy put on the table by BP, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today asked BP and Admiral Thad Allen about the risks of the procedure, and whether it has been authorized yet by Unified Command. In the letter, Rep. Markey notes that questions remain about the integrity of the well, leaks from the cap, and low pressure readings during the current cap test.

“We all want a quick resolution to this disaster, but we must be assured that proposed solutions will not make the disaster any worse,” writes Rep. Markey in the letter. Rep. Markey is chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee. “It is critical that we understand the implications of a bullhead kill attempt under the various scenarios that may be operating in the well.”

Rep. Markey notes that the same lower-than-expected pressures exerted by the oil and gas during this current testing phase that have provided the potential opportunity for this new well-killing strategy “is also at the center of an ongoing scientific assessment regarding well integrity.”

Rep. Markey also continued his calls for a better measurement of the flow rate from the well, if the opportunity presents itself, through a 100 percent collection method with ships at the surface. In the letter, Rep. Markey asks if this “bullhead kill” would kill off any chance at performing this test.

Rep. Markey asked Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior Department, about the “bullhead kill” today at a hearing Rep. Markey chaired. Sec. Salazar stated that there were concerns that would have to be addressed before the procedure was given the green light by the Obama administration.

full copy of the letter is available HERE and the questions sent to BP America CEO Lamar McKay and Admiral Allen are listed below:

  1. If the well integrity has been compromised, what are the potential implications of attempting a bullhead kill procedure?
  2. What additional risks are undertaken with the bullhead kill compared to the alternatives (i.e., a return to containment using production platforms at the sea surface or a continuation of the integrity test conditions)?
  3. Under what conditions (e.g., pressure threshold) would the choke and kill lines used in the bullhead kill be at risk of damage?
  4. Could forcing the hydrocarbons back into the reservoir through the bullhead kill procedure cause damage that could make the bottom kill more challenging or exacerbate any seeps that may be present?
  5. If hydrocarbons are flowing in the annulus, will this decrease the chances of the success of the bullhead kill?
  6. Would a bullhead kill attempt slow progress on the bottom kill in preparation?
    Under what conditions and on what timeline will a bullhead kill be authorized by Unified Command and pursued by BP? Once initiated, how long is the bullhead kill anticipated to take?
  7. Would the bullhead kill also kill off any chance of conducting a 100 percent collection strategy?

July 15, 2010

Markey Amendment to Recover Billions in Royalties from BP, Oil Companies in Gulf Passes Committee

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:27 am
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From the media desk of Congressman Ed Markey

Taxpayers Could Lose Up to $53 Billion Without Markey Legislation; Recovered Funds Fully Directed to Deficit Reduction

July 14, 2010 – Legislation authored by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to recover upwards of $53 billion in lost oil drilling royalties in the Gulf of Mexico passed the Natural Resources Committee today, putting the legislation on a path towards fixing a 15-year-old legislative flaw. The recovered money would go directly to deficit reduction efforts.

“Instead of drilling for free in the Gulf of Mexico, we will finally drill for deficit dollars from these profit-rich companies,” said Rep. Markey. “This was an easy choice between standing with BP and the other oil companies that are drilling for free, or standing with American taxpayers and reducing our deficit. My colleagues chose today to stand with the American people.”

The amendment, which passed by a voice vote, would offer the dozens of oil companies currently drilling for free in the Gulf of Mexico a simple choice – they can continue to drill for free on public lands no matter how high oil prices climb, but if they do so, they will not be able to purchase new leases from the federal government.

Because of an oil company court challenge to the 1995 Deep Water Royalty Relief Act authored by the then-Republican majority along with faulty leases offered by the Interior Department in 1998 and 1999, the Interior Department is currently being forced to refund more than $2.1 billion in royalty payments that oil companies had already made from these leases, including $240 million to BP. In addition, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that taxpayers could lose an additional $53 billion over the next 25 years as a result of royalty-free drilling when oil prices are high.

Similar legislation has repeatedly passed the House of Representatives in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with bipartisan support.

June 24, 2010

Markey Questions Why BP Exceeding Dispersant Directives

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:18 pm
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Another press release from the desk of Congressman Ed Markey

Letters to EPA and Coast Guard Cite Recent Increases in Volume of Dispersants Used by Company

(June 24, 2010) – Responding to increasing use of dispersants by BP in recent days, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard asking for an update on the analysis of the chemicals, and to respond to BP’s continued use of dispersants. The questions follow yesterday’s findings by government scientists that the underwater plumes identified are consistent with those that would be formed following the use of the chemicals, and ongoing concerns over the chemicals’ impacts on human and marine life health. (more…)

Markey: As NOAA Confirms Plumes Again, BP Denies Plumes…Again

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:14 pm
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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…)

Joe Barton’s Twitter Dooms Him

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:04 pm
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Picture from The Hill

How could we forgot Joe Barton’s apology to BP last week about them having to pay $20 billion to handle damages in the gulf?  Republicans quickly forced Barton to apologize for his apology, but Barton showed yesterday on twitter how sincere that apology was.  The tweet was soon deleted, but not before the media got a picture.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) promoted an article on Wednesday on his official Twitter account by a writer who backed his criticism of the government’s handling of BP.

Barton’s office posted a letter to the editor from the conservative American Spectator magazine suggesting “Joe Barton Was Right” in his criticism of the government’s decision to force BP to set up a $20 billion fund to pay out damages to victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

June 21, 2010

Rush Limbaugh Bashes GOP for Shaming BP Apologist Joe Barton

A another gift from Rush on top of the political gift Joe Barton gave us last week…

“Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh is taking aim at Republican leaders for rushing to demand Texas Rep. Joe Barton retract his controversial apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward during last week’s congressional hearing.

On his radio show Monday, Limbaugh suggested the GOP leadership likely agrees with Barton’s sentiments, but are driven by recent national polls which suggest the majority of Americans support President Barack Obama’s push for BP to set aside $20 billion for future liability claims.:

Efforts to Protect Wildlife Endangered by BP

Filed under: environment — Matt Dernoga @ 6:33 pm
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June 19, 2010

BP CEO’s yacht outing infuriates Gulf residents

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 9:12 pm
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From Boston Globe

This article in the Washington Post was too funny for me to pass up on posting.  It’s like BP is trying to make a mockery of public relations!  Notable excerpts below.

“BP chief executive Tony Hayward took a day off Saturday to see his 52-foot yacht “Bob” compete in a glitzy race off England’s shore, a leisure trip that further infuriated residents of the oil-stained Gulf Coast.”

“While Hayward’s pricey ship whipped around the Isle of Wight on a good day for sailing – breezy and about 68 degrees – anger simmered on the steamy Gulf Coast, where crude has been washing in from the still-gushing spill.”

“He noted Hayward is a well known as a fan of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, one of the world’s largest, which attracts more than 1,700 boats and 16,000 sailors as famous yachtsmen compete with wealthy amateurs in a 50-nautical mile course around the island at England’s southern tip.”

“The British press, much more sympathetic than the American media to BP’s plight, has expressed disbelief at the company’s strategy.

“It is hard to recall a more catastrophically mishandled public relations response to a crisis than the one we are witnessing,” the Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner wrote Friday.”

“I think everyone has the right to do what they want in their free time, but he doesn’t have the right to have free time at all,” said Canevari, who scouts the bayous, bays and Gulf for driftwood and other found objects, and turns the debris into nature-themed art. “Not until this crisis is resolved.”

June 18, 2010

Weekly Mulch: Can Washington Stand Up to the Energy Industry?

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:54 pm
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The following is a re-post of the Media Consortium’s Weekly Mulch

Weekly Mulch: Can Washington Stand Up to the Energy Industry?

By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders spent this week trying to stand up to the oil industry. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama pushed BP to siphon $20 billion into a escrow fund that will cover liability claims, and Congress grilled BP CEO Tony Hayward and other oil bigwigs as to how they were protecting the country’s coastal waters.

While these developments are promising, mopping up the current crisis and guarding against future incidents will take more momentum than a speech, a meeting, or a few hearings can deliver.

$20 billion

BP’s escrow fund indicates that the company is willing to take some responsibility for the damage this spill has visited on the Gulf Coast. But not everyone in Washington is pleased with the fund. As TPMDC’s Eric Kleefeld writes, “some Republicans have come out strongly against it—with the sum total of charges being that it will turn into a political slush fund procured through dirty Chicago thug tactics that will be paid out to ACORN.”

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) became the poster boy for this sentiment when, at a Thursday hearing, he apologized to BP for the president’s actions. TPM sheds some light on the Congressman’s possible motivation. It seems Barton might have his own interests at heart, not the needs of the spill’s victims (or of the Republican Party—by the end of the day, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) forced Barton to retract his apology).

“Barton’s number one career campaign contributor, Anadarko Petroleum, has 25% ownership in the well where the April 20 rig explosion occurred,” Justin Elliott writes. “The firm, which has given Barton $146,500 over the years, has been sent a bill by BP for cleanup costs.”

Clean-up coasting

As far as the clean-up efforts, Mother Jones’ Mac McClelland reports that the company is not doing all it can for Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge. McClelland talked to one clean up worker who said:

“They’re up to 120 guys on Elmer’s now, but I can’t see any considerable difference. They’re only working five sites and it’s eight miles of beach. No one seems concerned about cleaning it up. The contractors are getting their money; they don’t care. They’ve got all these people out there, but they’re not accomplishing anything.”

So far it doesn’t seem like BP—or the oil industry—is learning from these failures, either. Also at Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard reports that as bad as BP’s clean up response has been, at this week’s hearing, the public “got a glimpse of how ridiculous it was on paper.” The clean up plan, Sheppard writes, referenced a deceased sea turtle expert and ways to protect walruses and sea lions, which do not live in the Gulf Coast.

“It gets even worse,” Sheppard says. “The other four oil giants are using almost the exact same plans.”

The next disaster?

BP, at least, needs solid disaster plans, and not just for spills like the one in the Gulf. As Truthout reports, the Deepwater Horizon site isn’t the only BP project that poses a safety risk. In Alaska, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield is host to “a long list of safety issues that have not been adequately addressed,” reporter Jason Leopold writes. Marc Kovac, a BP employee, told him:

“The condition of the [Prudhoe Bay] field is a lot worse and in my opinion a lot more dangerous. We still have hundreds of miles of rotting pipe ready to break that needs to be replaced. We are totally unprepared for a large spill.”

More energy disasters

These sorts of dangers are not limited to BP’s operations or the oil industry. As Forrest Whittaker writes for The Texas Observer, “In the past three months, each of the three major fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—has had its own Kaboom! moment. It’s almost like Mother Nature is trying to tell us something about our energy policy.”

In addition to the BP spill, Whittaker is thinking of the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in April, and two more recent blowups of natural gas wells in Texas.

“On June 7, workers struck a 36-inch gas pipeline near Cleburne, causing a massive eruption of flames seen miles away,” he writes. “One worker was killed, and eight others were severely injured. An eyewitness described the heat from 300 yards away as “unbearable.” The next day, another pipeline explosion in the Panhandle killed two workers when their bulldozer punctured another gas pipeline.”

GritTV reports on yet another oil spill—this one in Utah, where a hole in a Chevron pipeline starting pouring thousands of gallons of oil into a Salt Lake City creek a week ago.

“Oil is a messy business, even when it’s legal,” filmmaker Joe Berlinger tells GritTV’s Laura Flanders.

Colorado drilling

In Colorado, on-shore drilling is most definitely legal, and BP is looking to restart natural gas drilling there, the Colorado Independent reports.

“[BP] found the jackpot,” Josh Joswick, a Colorado organizer, said. “Not only are they on top of the most productive coal-bed methane field in the United States, they are paying next to nothing compared to what they would be paying elsewhere.”

The BP disaster in the Gulf is resonating here, too. “Several much smaller incidents in Colorado and neighboring states are quietly highlighting the need for increased onshore oil and gas drilling regulation,” the Colorado Independent’s David O. Williams writes.

There is an opportunity right now for lawmakers at the federal and state level to push for real reform; it’s not clear yet that anyone’s jumping at that chance.

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.

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