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

 

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August 20, 2010

Weekly Mulch: Green Daydreams? A Clean Gulf, Energy Efficiency, and More

Filed under: energy,environment — Matt Dernoga @ 9:14 pm
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Below is a free cross-post from the Weekly Mulch, enjoy!

Weekly Mulch: Green Daydreams? A Clean Gulf, Energy Efficiency, and More

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Yesterday, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) took Obama administration officials to task for encouraging Americans to believe that the majority of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico had dispersed.

“People want to believe that everything is OK and I think this report and the way it is being discussed is giving many people a false sense of confidence regarding the state of the Gulf,” Markey said.

Belief, after all, is powerful force. As coal baron Don Blankenship says, “You have to have your own beliefs, your own core beliefs, your own strengths and do what you think is right. You can’t do what others believe is right, you have to do what you believe is right.”

But what if your beliefs, even those backed up by science, are wrong? If you believed government officials who reported the oil in the Gulf of Mexico had dispersed—wrong. If you believed McDonald’s or Sara Lee really was helping save the planet—wrong. (Does anyone actually believe that one?) And if you believed you were conserving tons of energy by flicking off the light switches when you left the room—wrong again!

Gullible Greens

Wait, what? Yes, it turns out that environmentally friendly folk don’t know how little energy they save by line-drying clothes, recycling bottles, or turning off the lights, Mother JonesKevin Drum writes. Don’t worry! Those activities still conserve energy. Just not as much as you might have thought.

Drum’s evidence comes from a study that asked people to estimate the amount of energy they were saving by engaging in a given activity. Green-minded people tended to miss the mark on how much energy certain activities conserved. Perhaps they want to believe their conservation activities have a more dramatic impact, the studies’ authors suggested.

There’s a kicker, though. “The most accurate perceptions about energy use, it seems, are held by numerate, conservative homeowners who don’t bother trying to save energy,” Drum writes. Ouch. Apparently, knowing how much energy they’ll save, conservatives decide it’s not worth it to even try.

“A green-tinged fog”

But perhaps energy conservationists aren’t to blame for their own confusion. After all, as Anna Lappé writes at Yes! Magazine, corporations increasingly are using green messaging to sell their products:

McDonald’s recently launched an “Endangered Species” Happy Meal, “to engage kids in a fun and informative way about protecting the environment,” explains project partner Conservation International…. Earlier this year, Sara Lee unleashed with much fanfare a new line of “Earth Grains” bread that promotes “innovative farming practices that promote sustainable land use” as part of what the company calls its “Plot to Save the Earth.”

Lappé calls the confusion created by these campaigns “a green-tinged fog” that consumers can get lost in. And in the same way that green advertising is increasing, tips for green living are proliferating, which could explain the confusion about which ones are actually useful.

Government spin

But for the government, there’s no excuse for spreading misinformation. For instance, earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report showing that most of the oil in the Gulf had either been collected or dispersed. Scientists questioned the report from the very first day of its release, and this week evidence is mounting that the report misrepresented the situation in the Gulf.

At the Washington Independent, Andrew Restuccia writes that a group of scientists in Georgia have released a report countermanding the claims of the government’s study, and that other scientists have found a 21-mile smear of oil still in the Gulf.

Riki Ott reports at Chelsea Green on a more vivid argument against the Obama administration’s claims that the oil in the Gulf is no longer a problem:

Off Long Beach, Mississippi, on August 8, fisherman James “Catfish” Miller tied an oil absorbent pad onto a pole and lowered it 8-12 feet down into deceptively clear ocean water. When he pulled it up, the pad was soaked in oil, much to the startled amazement of his guests, including Dr. Timothy Davis with the Department of Health and Human Services National Disaster Medical System. Repeated samples produced the same result.

How’d it happen?

So what is the government’s excuse? Right now, NOAA is standing by its analysis, Restuccia reports. Bill Lehr, a senior scientist with the agency, said yesterday that NOAA will release more documentation supporting its claims in two months.

“I assure you it will bore everybody except those of us that do oil spill science,” he said, according to Restuccia.

But as Ott explains, part of the government’s issue is the standard they’re using to evaluate the fate of the oil to begin with:

The problem is the ‘rigorous safety standards’ are outdated. The protocol relies on visual oil. What of the underwater plumes? The chart produced by NOAA last week shows, in effect, that over 50 percent of the oil (not to mention dispersant) is still in the water column as dispersed or dissolved oil. Scientists have found that the oil-dispersant mixture is getting into the foodweb.

In other words, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. And in this case, what NOAA believes is less important than the scientific facts on the ground. To deal with the oil spilled in the Gulf, NOAA and its partners might have to admit that they were wrong.

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.

August 2, 2010

Enbridge Oil Spill

Filed under: environment — Matt Dernoga @ 11:30 pm
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Footage of the oil spill in Michigan

July 31, 2010

House Passes Oil Spill Bill: Markey Safety, Whistleblower and Royalty Recovery Legislation -Recovering up to $53 Billion from Oil Companies

Good news from the desk of Congressman Ed Markey

MARKEY: Oil Spill Bill Boosts Safety, Reduces Deficit

House Passes Markey Safety, Whistleblower and Royalty Recovery Legislation -Recovering up to $53 Billion from Oil Companies

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2010) – Today, by a vote of 209 to 193, the House of Representatives passed critical oil spill legislation that will protect families living and working in the Gulf Coast. The CLEAR ACT (H.R. 3534) implements policy measures co-authored by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), including strong new safety measures for oil drilling, and royalty recovery legislation that will cut the deficit by up to $53 billion. The House also passed the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 5851) co-authored by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) by a vote of 315 to 93.

“This bill will cut the deficit and stop oil companies from cutting corners on safety,” said Rep. Markey. “Families and businesses in the Gulf who have been suffering for over 100 days from BP’s oil spill disaster can take some comfort tonight knowing Congress has acted to protect them from future oil spills.”

The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon took the lives of 11 workers and caused the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. The oil spill has sidelined thousands of workers in the fishing industry and crippled tourism across the region.

“Congress has conducted an extensive investigation into this disaster, and the CLEAR Act corrects the fatal safety flaws that oil companies have allowed to occur,” said Markey. “My whistleblower legislation will give voice to workers who have the courage to stand against oil companies when they observe a dangerous situation.”

The legislation includes several key provisions authored by Rep. Markey, including:

Oil Revenue Recovery & Deficit Reduction:

The CLEAR ACT includes legislation authored by Chairman Markey to close royalty loopholes that have historically allowed oil companies to drill for free on public lands in the Gulf of Mexico. This legislation will recover up to $53 billion in lost tax revenue that will be directed toward reducing our national deficit.

Whistleblower Protection:

The Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 5851) which Chairman Markey co-authored with Rep. George Miller (D-CA). Currently there is no federal law protecting oil and gas workers if they are retaliated against after speaking out on workplace health and safety violations on drilling rigs like the Deepwater Horizon. H.R. 5851 is modeled after other modern whistleblower statutes. For more information on the legislation, please CLICK HERE.

Blowout Preventer Act:

The CLEAR ACT includes legislation to ensure new safety standards for offshore oil and gas drilling. The Energy and Commerce Committee conducted a vigorous investigation into the causes of the BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. This investigation showed that the blowout preventer was riddled with problems, including a significant leak in a main hydraulic system that was improperly modified and not powerful enough to cut through joints in the drill pipe. Plus the “deadman switch” – the last line of defense – had a dead battery. Poor cementing and fatal decisions made by BP in the hours and minutes before the explosion have also been uncovered by the committee.

The Blowout Prevention Act – or BP Act – of 2010, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, Bart Stupak, and Markey was developed with bipartisan support in the Energy and Commerce Committee, passing by a unanimous 48-0 vote.

# # #

July 29, 2010

Another Spill: EPA: 1M gallons of oil may be in Mich. river

Filed under: environment — Matt Dernoga @ 12:15 pm
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It appears an 800,000 gallon oil spill from Tuesday in Kalamazoo is not being contained, has swollen to over a million gallons, and is at risk of devastating Lake Michigan if it reaches it.  This is just another example of why we need to get off of oil, accidents that devastate the ecosystem and local economy will continue to happen. (more…)

July 27, 2010

Reid Unveils Weak Energy Bill

Filed under: energy,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:16 pm
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Harry Reid has unveiled his weak energy bill that can muster the 60 votes to break the filibuster.  Absent from it is a price on carbon, climate provisions, and a Renewable Energy Standard.  Here is the 24 page summary.

Now that there aren’t some good provisions, it’s just they feel like baby steps compared to the problem we’re trying to solve.  The good parts are…

1.  A section on new regulations for offshore drilling to prevent another massive oil spill like the one we just had.

2.  A transportation section that included $400 million for accelerating electric and plug-in vehicles, along with their infrastruction.

3.  A section on Home star, which is a $5 billion dollar energy efficiency measure to help retrofit homes across the county.

4.  A section on increasing the oil spill liability cap up to $5 billion dollars.

5.  A section on fixing the Land and Water Conservation fund, which is good bill, but environmentalists rightly wonder what it’s doing in an energy bill.

The bad part is a title in the transportation section on incentives for natural gas vehicles, which is as laughable as the money we’ve thrown corn ethanol.

So like I said, most of this stuff is good, but none of it is bold.  In fact, I’m disappointed that there aren’t more baby steps included that could add up to something significant.  A few things that come to my mind is Building Star, A Green Energy Bank, and Bernie Sander’s solar bill.  A big step would be a strong RES.

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.

July 13, 2010

How to Clean Up an Oil Spill – Scamwow!

Filed under: environment — Matt Dernoga @ 8:42 pm
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From Greenpeace

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.

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