The Dernogalizer

October 14, 2010

Excellent NO on Prop 23 Video

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:20 pm
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Want to help?

  1. Visit the “No on 23″ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.


August 24, 2010

Polluted Politicians: Dirty energy money flowing to U.S. Senate incumbents

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:41 am
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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? (supported by TckTckTck partners, Greenpeace and 1Sky) 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, 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, 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.

Democratic incumbents

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

Republican incumbents

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 26, 2010

Oil Companies: Pick Your Poison

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:17 pm
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I wrote this column in the Diamondback’s summer edition, and it came out last Thursday.  I was motivated to write this after seeing movements for people to boycott BP after the oil spill.  I think this is a poor use of activists energy, which should be focused on bringing about political change to end our oil addiction.

Figuring out where to buy gas these days is more irritating than usual, and it’s already pretty annoying. It began with BP. Back in 2005, BP was talking about investing $8 billion in clean-energy technology over 10 years. Sure, that’s still a smidgeon of their profits, but at least they were tipping, unlike the rest of big oil.

Then, BP considered putting all its renewable energy programs on the auction block, invested $3 billion into the Canadian tar sands, started transferring solar jobs from Maryland to China and had an accident in a small body of water known as the Gulf of Mexico. This begged the question, Beyond Petroleum … to what? Beyond preposterous, I say.

Then, Chevron started coming out with deep, moving commercials about our obligation to future generations. I stopped there once or twice a few years ago — until I found out Chevron had a skirmish in the Ecuadorian Amazon for 26 years. This led to the illegal dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater (enough to fill Lebron James’ new swimming pool) and 17 million gallons of crude oil. Needless to say, lots of cancer, gigantic international lawsuits — I can’t get my gas from these guys!

Shell? Tar sands, leading the way on environmentally destructive shale oil — need I say more? Well, I thought I didn’t, until I read they have extracted $600 billion in oil revenue from the Niger Delta and given them back 6,800 oil spills. They have been privy to the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for the last 50 years. Good grief.

Exxon Mobil? I suppose the Exxon Valdez accident was a while ago. They’re sharing the Niger Delta with Shell. They keep showing Phil Mickelson in their commercials talking about helping children in school. They’re also pretty famous for funding climate denial — I just read the other day they gave $1.5 million last year to organizations that campaign against controls on greenhouse gas emissions.

Where does that leave me? My environmental policy professor last semester said he goes with Sunoco. They do seem to have the fewest black marks of the bunch; the worst I could find was 192,000 gallons of oil dumped into a wildlife refuge. Sigh…

This is why, last week, when I needed to fill up my Corolla, I threw up my arms and pulled into an Exxon for the first time in several years. I mentioned this to a friend who proclaimed they don’t buy at Exxon because they’re “the worst of the bunch.” I try hard not to judge people based on their personal habits through the eye of environmental stewardship, mainly because we’re all sinners faced with terrible choices. The guy driving a Hummer could go home to a house half the size of yours; the vegetarian could have four kids while the meat-eater has one; I’m moving out of my parents’ house that has solar panels on it to a coal-powered apartment close to the campus and Metro, cutting my driving by a lot. Probably a wash.

Ultimately, there isn’t much of a choice, is there? Not yet, anyways. People should legitimately do the best they can in their personal lives with what they have to work with, but at the end of the day, political action is going to be what changes the playing field.

Now if only I could find a Sunoco.

Matt Dernoga graduated in May with a degree in government and politics. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com.

July 12, 2010

Great NY Times Editorial on Big Oil’s Subsidies

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:29 pm
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The NY Times has an excellent editorial about why Congress should pull the plug on subsidies for big oil.  The opening of the editorial says it all…

“No industry enjoys the array of tax breaks and subsidies that the oil and gas industry does. No industry needs them less.”

The rest is pasted below…

“For all the damage it has caused, the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may provide the political momentum to end this special treatment.

President Obama’s 2011 budget, proposed before the spill, would eliminate $4 billion in annual tax breaks for oil and gas companies. Bills in both houses introduced after the spill would achieve many of the same results. Industry has spent $340 million on lobbying over the last two years to block these sorts of initiatives, and until recently Congress has been eager to do its bidding. This year could be different.

The White House has proposed eliminating nine tax breaks. Some are modest, all are complicated, but in toto they provide a range of cushy benefits — fast write-offs for upfront drilling expenses, generous depletion allowances, and the like — that are available at virtually every stage of the exploration and production process.

The net result, as The Times reported recently, is an effective tax rate on investment far lower than that paid by other industries. That, the Treasury Department argues, has encouraged overinvestment in oil and gas drilling at the expense of other parts of the economy.

Industry argues that these and other breaks are vital to robust domestic production and that both investment and employment would fall if they were eliminated. These arguments, which may have made sense years ago, are much less compelling when oil prices are hovering near $80 a barrel and oil companies — including BP — have been racking up huge profits.

Moreover, a Treasury Department analysis says that ending these breaks would reduce domestic production by less than 1 percent. A separate study by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee says that ending the biggest of the deductions — 9 percent of qualified income from gas and oil produced in the United States — would have zero effect on consumer prices.

Apart from these benefits, two other areas cry out for reform. One is the royalty relief program, enacted by Congress in 1995 to encourage the kind of deepwater drilling that has now landed the gulf, its wildlife and its neighboring citizens in so much trouble. Royalty rates are currently 12.5 percent of the per-barrel price for onshore leases, and up to 18.75 percent offshore.

The law suspended royalties as long as oil remained below a threshold price of $28 a barrel. Prices have long since exceeded that threshold, even adjusted for inflation; and because the law was not tightly written, companies have been able to exploit its ambiguities to save themselves billions of dollars.

Sima Gandhi, a tax expert at the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group, estimates that the losses from lost royalties could eventually exceed $80 billion unless Congress fixes the law. It is high time to review the entire royalty relief program, which at current prices is surely outdated and may be unnecessary.

The administration also needs to look carefully at the oil industry’s use of tax havens abroad. The Senate Finance Committee has already announced that it will examine whether Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, exploited tax laws when it moved its headquarters first to the Cayman Islands, then to Switzerland. Other oil companies also have foreign subsidiaries; the question is whether and to what extent they use them to dodge taxes. The Times article reported that Transocean alone had saved $1.8 billion in taxes since moving overseas in 1999.

Instead of enriching the oil companies, Congress should end these unjustifiable breaks and focus on encouraging alternative fuel sources that create cleaner energy and new clean-energy jobs.”

July 8, 2010

Clean Energy Coalition Launches Major Ad Buy to Counter Big Oil

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:47 am
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This 6-figure ad buy is running for one week on national cable television.

June 18, 2010

Maryland Democratic Party Links Bob Ehrlich to Oil Industry

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:02 pm
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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…

MD Politics Watch

Daily Kos

Baltimore Sun

Washington Post

June 15, 2010

Two Arrested for Confronting Chevron CEO Watson at Today’s House Oil Hearing

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:09 pm
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press release

Clean energy advocates send strong message: “BP is not the exception they are the rule for the dirty and dangerous oil industry.”

Briannay Cayo Cotter, 415.305.1943

Hi res photos and broll available

WASHINGTON—Two activists with the Rainforest Action Network, Ginger Cassady and Kaitlin Finneran, were arrested today at the end of the oil hearing in the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee. The two were dragged out of the hearing after Ginger Cassady attempted to deliver a bottle of oil-contaminated water from Ecuador to Chevron’s CEO John Watson. While being escorted out Cassady said: “Chevron is responsible for dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in Ecuador, Chevron is no better than BP.”

At a hearing that was clearly set to determine whether BP is an exception or the rule for the oil industry, youth and concerned citizens were there to ensure their representatives heard loud and clear that the oil industry is riddled with safety violations, human rights abuses and environmental disasters. Just this week, at least 400 to 500 barrels of oil spewed into a Utah creek from a Chevron pipeline.

“The loose safety regulations, slack oversight and outright legislative support that our government provides for corporations—most egregiously dirty energy corporations—have been on clear display with the BP oil disaster.  We are seeing all of Big Oil at today’s hearing, because this is an industry wide problem,” said Cassady earlier in the day.

Four out of forty members of the public who had waited since 5:00am this morning we are able attend today’s hearing. All of them wore black t-shirts that read, “Energy Shouldn’t Cost Lives.”

Today’s hearing is the first time the five top oil executives have been in Washington together since the catastrophic BP explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The activists raised serious concerns about the oil industry’s recklessness, corruption and lack of accountability. For decades Chevron has fought to deny responsibility for cleaning up massive oil contamination in Ecuador. In Alaska, thousands of people died while awaiting settlement on Exxon Valdez. In light of the industry’s track record, the public is rightly concerned that victims in the Gulf will never be fully compensated for BP’s damage.

May 11, 2010

Exxon Mobil Wants to Keep Tax Breaks

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 7:25 pm
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Despite growing profits amongst the oil companies while the rest of us clean up their oil spills, Exxon Mobil’s CEO thinks we should spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize their industry.

February 4, 2010

VoteVets ads Hammer Oil-backed Senators

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:55 pm
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The gloves come off!  You can check out all the new ads here.  Below is one sample.

January 8, 2010

Big Oil’s Bring Your Kid to Work Day

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:56 pm
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Good job League of Conservation Voters!

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