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Fri, 2011-01-14 08:38Farron Cousins
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What Was Missing From the Oil Spill Commission's Report

Earlier this week, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released their final report on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. For those of us who had been following the story, there was nothing new in the report – BP, Halliburton, and Transocean cut corners on safety measures; They received warnings from crew that there were numerous problems, and that the whole disaster should make us take a good hard look at offshore drilling. I’m a little sensitive about this subject because I am a lifelong Gulf Coast resident. While most people only read about the disaster or saw clips on the news, I was living through it, watching tar balls roll up on the beaches I’ve played on since I was an infant.

The report does point some fingers, but the pointing ends with companies like BP, Halliburton, and Transocean. That is the equivalent of blaming Ford if a drunk driver gets into a wreck. In that situation, you have a driver at fault, a bartender who didn’t take away someone’s keys – a collective group making poor decisions. In the Gulf oil disaster, the driver was Dick Cheney, and the bartender was Chris Oynes. Yet strangely enough, neither one of those people were mentioned once in the Oil Spill Commission’s 382-page report.

Wed, 2010-11-17 15:43Brendan DeMelle
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Experts Blame BP For Ignoring Warning Signs That Led To Gulf Disaster

An independent panel of technical experts released its interim report today, finding that BP and its contractors ignored clear warning signs foretelling the disaster at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.  The report, compiled by a scientific committee of the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, criticized BP for an “insufficient consideration of risk” in light of “several indications of potential hazard.”

Convened at the behest of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the committee was instructed to carry out an independent and science-based investigation into the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion which killed 11 workers on April 20, 2010.

The experts note that BP and the other companies failed to learn from “near misses” in the past, and none of the companies or regulators flagged the flawed decisions that contributed to the well blowout.

While the U.S. government continues to allow offshore oil and gas operations following a brief deepwater drilling moratorium, the facts uncovered in independent analyses of the BP blowout point to a systemic industry problem with carelessness and a disregard for safety.  It seems cost-shaving and profit potential are the industry’s key concerns, not the safety of America’s ecologically sensitive coastal environments, and certainly not the safety of workers and affected communities.

Fri, 2010-11-12 10:42Brendan DeMelle
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Koch Industries: 2010's Dirtiest Opponent of Clean Energy

This is a guest post by Josh Nelson, the New Media Director at the Alliance for Climate Protection and its Repower America campaign.

Three weeks ago, we asked our members to nominate the worst corporate polluters of 2010. Our goal was to identify organizations that have hijacked our democracy, devastated our environment and denied the science of climate change — all while reaping massive profits. The response was overwhelming. In just a few days, more than 4,000 people submitted their nominations, many of which were passionate and articulate. The next week, we introduced the top four nominees: Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, BP and Massey Energy. A few days and 13,000 votes later we had our winner: Koch Industries.

Now, you may have heard a thing or two about Koch Industries. Their role in funding climate change deniers is well documented. What you may not realize is that Koch intentionally flies beneath the radar. David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is the biggest company you’ve never heard of. They’re able to remain unknown because they hide behind shadowy front groups like Americans for Prosperity. Co-founded by David Koch, Americans for Prosperity funds advertising and public events designed to mislead Americans about climate change and energy policy.

Wed, 2010-10-20 13:51Brendan DeMelle
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Oil Industry And Canadian Govt Team Up To Attack European Fuel Standards That Could Limit Alberta Tar Sands Development

The Tyee has an excellent piece exploring the joint lobbying efforts of the Canadian government and the oil industry to attack European climate legislation that would set a precedent that could eventually impact the development of Alberta’s dirty tar sands.  

While very little of Alberta’s tar sands oil is currently exported to Europe (nearly all goes to the U.S.), the entrenched tar sands defenders in Canadian government and the oil companies who stand to profit from tar sands development are concerned that Europe’s efforts to favor low-carbon fuel sources could influence other countries that also need to find ways to reduce global warming emissions - say the U.S. for instance.

That could spell disaster for the Alberta tar sands profiteers, since the tar sands are known to have a far greater carbon footprint than conventional oil, and certainly more than rapidly-growing alternative fuels. 

Wed, 2010-10-20 12:04Emma Pullman
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Big Oil Goes to College: Report Explores the Corporate Control of University Energy Research

The Center for American Progress released a comprehensive analysis and independent expert review examining the implications of the confirmed $833 million in corporate funding from Big Oil to energy research at universities over the last decade. The report examines 10 recent university-industry agreements involving as many as 43 companies, 13 leading universities, and two federal research labs. 

B
ig Oil Goes to College: An Analysis of 10 Research Collaboration Contracts between Leading Energy Companies and Major U.S. Universities explores the growing phenomenon of academic-corporate partnerships at universities, and the findings demonstrate why everyone ought to be concerned. As these partnerships are only likely to proliferate and expand, how universities manage knowledge for the public good - particularly research that has considerable ramifications for how we deal with the climate crisis - must be addressed.

Before Congress releases billions of dollars in federal funding for R&D of alternative and renewable energy and energy efficiency through these public-private partnerships, it should take a good look at the CAP report’s findings and recommendations.  

Tue, 2010-08-03 13:46Brendan DeMelle
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Wetlands Front Group Funded By Big Oil Wants To Ensure Taxpayers Foot The Bill For BP's Gulf Destruction

UPDATE: Sandra Bullock has issued a statement through her publicist saying that,

“Ms. Bullock was originally contacted through her attorney to be a part of the PSA in order to promote awareness of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At no time was she made aware that any organization, oil company or otherwise had influence over Women of the Storm or its message. We have immediately asked for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined. Her commitment to the Gulf region has been apparent for many years and she will continue to pursue opportunities that will bring awareness and support to the plight of the Gulf region.”

A group of oil companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chevron and other polluters are using a front group called “America’s WETLAND Foundation” and a Louisiana women’s group called Women of the Storm to spread the message that U.S. taxpayers should pay for the damage caused by BP to Gulf Coast wetlands, and that the reckless offshore oil industry should continue drilling for the “wholesale sustainability” of the region.

Using the age-old PR trick of featuring celebrity messengers to attract public attention, America’s Wetland Foundation is spreading a petition accompanied by a video starring Sandra Bullock, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Emeril Lagassi, John Goodman, Harry Shearer, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and others.

The video urges petition signers to “Be The One” to demand the government devise and fully fund a plan to restore the Gulf. There is no mention that BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron, or any other oil industry player “be the one” to pay for the damage done to the Gulf. Why call on the government to once again foot the bill for this dirty industry’s reckless behavior?

Tue, 2010-07-13 11:14Brendan DeMelle
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ScamWow! Greenpeace Has The Perfect Solution For Scrubbing BP's Oily Image

Mocking the scam that is the BP cleanup, Greenpeace today released the ‘ScamWow!’ infomercial targeting BP and other oil companies who need a quick solution whenever pesky ecological devastation results from their irresponsible, risky drilling practices.

Spoofing the original late night cable sensation, the ScamWow! info-mock-cial demonstrates how the simple budget picker upper’s cleaning powers can instantly sanitize tar-balled beaches, scrub the oil company’s public image, and save shareholders millions in onerous cleanup costs - savings the company can then invest in more insulting “We will make this right” TV commercials and full-page ads.

The scary part is that the ScamWow! spoof isn’t too far off the actual claims made by BP in the wake of the Deepwater disaster. Touring Louisiana’s oil-drenched Fourchon Beach on May 24th, BP CEO Tony Hayward pledged to ‘clean every last drop’ and return the Gulf to full health (which it hasn’t seen in decades, but that’s beside the point for BP’s current PR purposes).

Tue, 2010-06-29 10:56Jim Hoggan
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Lies Concocted By Climate Deniers Likely To Stick Around Despite Corrections

It takes less than a minute to tell a lie that can spread around the world, yet it can take days, months, or years to correct it.  Sometimes the truth never catches up to the lie.

As Newsweek’s Sharon Begley wrote this past weekend, nowhere is this challenge demonstrated more clearly than in the wake of the ‘Climategate’ stolen emails controversy and the recent retraction by the Sunday Times of London surrounding its bogus ‘Amazongate’ reporting. 

Begley details how, despite multiple investigations concluding that climate science remains on solid ground and exonerating the main climate scientists targeted in the University of East Anglia attacks, the “highly orchestrated, manufactured scandal” still manages to fool a large portion of the public into thinking that climate change warnings are overblown.

Begley writes:
A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on, as Mark Twain said (or “before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on,” in Winston Churchill’s version), and nowhere has that been more true than in “climategate.” In that highly orchestrated, manufactured scandal, e-mails hacked from computers at the University of East Anglia’s climate-research group  were spread around the Web by activists who deny that human activity is altering the world’s climate in a dangerous way, and spun so as to suggest that the scientists had been lying, cheating, and generally cooking the books.

    But not only did British investigators clear the East Anglia scientist at the center of it all, Phil Jones, of scientific impropriety and dishonesty in April, an investigation at Penn State cleared PSU climatologist Michael Mann of “falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal e-mails and information, and misusing privileged or confidential information” in February.

Wed, 2010-06-23 17:25Richard Littlemore
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Rick George Defends Oil Industry's Poor R&D Record

Transocean’s Man in the Tar Sands

Suncor President and CEO Rick George - who is also on the Board of Directors of the Gulf-spilling service company, Transocean - seems to have spent Tuesday stumbling over his own tongue. First, he annoyed Alberta Deputy Premier Doug Horner by supporting a carbon tax that is applied evenly across the country.

That, Horner groused, amounts to a national energy policy, the likes of which no Alberta politician will ever tolerate.

Then, at the same event (an Air and Waste Management conference in Calgary), the Suncor boss both prodded the oil and gas industry to do more research - and then rose incredibly to defend the industry’s current, pathetic R&D record.

Mon, 2010-06-21 10:53Richard Littlemore
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BP funds full court press by DC lobbyists

The Washington Post has done a nice round-up of how desperately BP is trying to circle the lobbyists in an effort to minimize the political price it will pay for devastating the Gulf Coast.

But per Jim Hoggan’s analysis here last week, no amount of PR spin will rescue the company when its own partner, Anadarko, is accusing BP of recklessness and incompetence.

The lobbyist line, of course, is that they’re just there to help. In fact, the Post quotes “a lobbyist for one of the key players,” saying this:

“I think for the most part the lobbyists for all the companies have just been trying to give information to people; it has not been focused on policy questions at all. There’s a thirst for information despite the media saturation.”

Wouldn’t that sound so much more convincing if BP (“5,000 barrels per day”) had been disseminating information that was accurate?

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