White House Protest Corps


15 Myths About the Gulf of Mexico Oil Catastrophe

http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bp-gulf-oil-spill-myths-0622?src=rss

http://seizebp.org

Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20 killed 11 oil rig workers, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to claim the lives of wildlife, like birds and sea turtles, and compromise the fishing and tourism industries, and threaten the culture of the Gulf coast. That, and it’s spawned an awful lot of misconceptions. Here’s a look at a few myths that The Daily Green has been watching:

1. Obama Put a Moratorium on Offshore Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

Myth. President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a moratorium on new oil deepwater drilling permits, and shut down 33 exploratory deepwater wells on May 6. (A similar moratorium on new shallow water drilling lifted three weeks later. “Shallow” in this context means up to 499 feet deep.) Both orders, however, were vague and left 3,600 existing offshore oil wells active in Gulf waters. Since the spill, 17 new offshore oil drilling projects have been permitted. Even the six-month deepwater moratorium was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge June 22, leaving it void if not overturned on appeal or reinstated on different legal grounds. (Nevermind that the judge has invested in Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded, Halliburton, which handled the faulty cementing of the well, and about a dozen other companies involved in offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.) And Obama has always been a supporter of offshore oil, though some of his environmentalist supporters seem to have forgotten that; he made good on a campaign promise shortly before the BP oil spill started and proposed opening additional offshore waters to oil and gas exploration – in the Gulf of Mexico, along the Atlantic coast and off Alaska. (Permits to start drilling in those new waters have been suspended temporarily.)

2. Boycotting BP Gas Stations Boycotts BP

Myth. Lady Gaga is among the leading proponents of a BP boycott, as musicians on summer tours shun the stations, along with Public Citizen and tens of thousands of Facebook fans of a boycott. But while the brand may be offensive and permanently tainted, BP disinvested in its U.S. gasoline chain in 2007, leaving independent owners invested most heavily in local stations. They pay BP a licensing fee and may (or may not) be more likely to carry BP gasoline, but the economics of wholesale oil and gas is such that BP, Britain’s largest company, is unlikely to suffer much from a retail gas boycott, but BP the local station owner could. Anyway, what’s the better alternative? And unfortunately, oil ends up in a lot of products other than gasoline, under a lot of different brands, making it difficult to avoid one company’s product.

3. Offshore Oil Could Make the U.S. Energy Independent

Myth. The U.S. imports 57% of the oil we burn, and two-thirds of those imports come from politically unstable or hostile countries. As a nation, we spend more than $700 million a day on imported oil (the figure was more than $1 billion as recently as 2008, when oil prices were higher). There isn’t enough oil offshore to offset that imbalance. An analysis by the Energy Information Administration, the most credible government voice on energy issues, predicted that new offshore oil drilling would result in a whopping 3-cent difference in the price of gas by 2030. That’s not to say that renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, are ready to fill in and plug the gap either, unfortunately. If you’re looking for a better path toward energy independence, conservation is the most lucrative avenue. Three pennies not spent on gas are three pennies earned (and three pennies worth of offshore oil not drilled).

4. The Deepwater Horizon Rig Was Uniquely Vulnerable to Disaster

pacific walrus

Myth. The facts keep piling up showing negligence – or at the very least, bad decision-making – by BP, and many of those decisions and conditions may be unique to BP, which has been criticized before this for a culture that put profits far ahead of safety and environmental protection. But disaster preparedness by other oil companies drilling in the Gulf, and oversight by the government, is virtually identical. For instance, other companies’ disaster response plans in the Gulf seem to include notes about protecting the walrus and other Arctic creatures that don’t live in the Gulf; unfortunately they don’t include plans to respond to underwater plumes of oil, failed blowout preventers or other real-world issues. And the Mineral Management Service, the agency in charge of regulating energy exploration on federal lands and in federal waters (yes, you own those) was outed repeatedly by its own inspector general of cavorting with oil companies, failing to inspect rigs, waiving requirements for environmental review and otherwise failing its public service mission in favor of its royalty-collecting mission. The MMS determined in 2009 that an environmental review of the Deepwater Horizon rig wasn’t warranted because it would have “minimal or non-existent environmental effects.” The story is the same with hundreds of other drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico – including 49 projects (including two BP projects) exempted from environmental review since the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Clearly, the assumption that these rigs are safe is dead wrong. (Photo: Pacific walrus, by NOAA)

5. Seafood Is Widely Contaminated

Myth. Certainly, oil can make seafood unsafe to eat, and the Gulf of Mexico is the primary source of domestic shrimp and oysters, and a significant source for other popular fish, like red snapper. And roughly one-third of the Gulf has been closed to fishing as the oil spreads. But much of the seafood for sale in the U.S. is imported, and two-thirds of the Gulf remains open to fishing. While fraud can never be fully discounted, there are systems being put in place to inspect Gulf seafood to ensure that it has been caught from clean waters. That said, the story could change as the longterm contamination of the Gulf food chain is studied.

6. The BP Oil Spill Will Lead to a Strong Senate Energy Bill

Myth. The U.S. Senate has been stalled in its efforts to pass an energy and climate bill to match the one passed months ago by the House. A linchpin in the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which would cap carbon emission and invest in clean energy sources, was the expansion of offshore oil drilling. That, along with investment in nuclear power, the shielding of the coal industry from fully owning up to its pollution and other sweeteners were built into the bill to bring Republicans and reluctant Democrats to the table. The catastrophic oil spill will make an energy bill more likely to pass, but without the offshore oil sweetener, a climate bill is not.

7. It’s a “Spill”

Myth. We keep calling it the Gulf oil spill. But it’s a gusher, a geyser, a “four-dimensional catastrophe,” in the words of one fisheries expert: “‘Leak’ is totally wrong. A leak is something you wrap duct tape around and maybe get to next week, next month or next year. The ‘gusher in the Gulf’ sounds way too cute. It’s not exactly a spill: that’s maybe something between your kitchen and your dining room table. ‘Spill’ sounds like a pool. It’s two-dimensional. This is very much a three-dimensional or, rather, a four-dimensional catastrophe,” said Douglas N. Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund. “I think a whole new language is going to have to be developed to discuss accidents – events – environmental catastrophes of this magnitude. Nothing quite like it exists.”

8. The Gulf Coast Will Heal Itself

Myth. While it’s true that natural systems are remarkably regenerative, there’s still evidence of oil spill damage decades after past oil spills of this (or lesser) magnitude. Further, contamination from oil both on the surface and deep underwater could compromise marine ecosystems in surprising ways – leading to tainted seafood, for instance, or degraded wetlands so that coastal communities will be exposed to greater damage from hurricanes and storm surges. Before the spill (even after decades of degradation) the Mississippi Delta provides $47 billion annually in economically valuable “ecological services” – on par with the value of BP. Time will tell how bad and how long the environmental damage will be, but as the oil (hopefully) stops gushing, Gulf of Mexico ecosystems will find a new equilibrium, not return to a previous state.

9. Now We Know How Much Oil Is Spilling

Myth. Just how big is the Gulf oil spill? Recently leaked internal BP documents show that engineers have estimated a worst-case spill rate of 100,000 barrels a day. That’s two-thirds bigger than the worst-case estimate (60,000 barrels) of independent scientists charged by the government with estimating the spill … which was nearly three times the worst-case estimate (25,000 barrels) released by the government in June … which was five times the worst-case estimate (5,000 barrels) released by the government and BP in May … which was itself five times the estimate (1,000 barrels) released by the government and BP in April. The difference between 1,000 barrels and 100,000 barrels is obvious: It’s the difference from being a spill that’s a fraction of the size of the Exxon Valdez spill (previously the worst spill in U.S. history, at 11 million gallons) to a spill that’s many multiples of that infamous spill.

10. The Gulf of Mexico Is Most at Risk from Offshore Oil Spills

Myth. While the Gulf of Mexico holds all of U.S. offshore oil sites currently, President Obama wants to open the Arctic to offshore oil drilling for the first time. Environmental groups are trying to stop the plan, arguing that not only are ecosystems there fragile – think polar bears, seals and, yes, walruses – but a cleanup in icy waters would be even more difficult than in the Gulf of Mexico, and the icy waters themselves would inhibit the (slow, but natural) breakdown of oil. The Interior Department did halt Shell’s plans to start drilling this year, but it’s not a permanent ban. As for which is more vulnerable, it’s a difficult call; the point is that a spill in either place has the potential to devastate entire regions.

11. Shrimp and Pelicans Represent Wildlife at Risk From the Oil Spill

piping plover

Myth. While shrimp and oil-soaked pelicans have become icons of the Gulf oil spill, there is a huge range of wildlife at risk, from the Kemp’s ridley turtle (five of the world’s seven sea turtles spend time in the Gulf, but none more than the Kemp’s ridley, which spawns only there) to the snowy plover (and other shorebirds that stopover in the Gulf on their migration flights) to the bluefin tuna (which spawns in the Gulf and is already at risk from overfishing). Each of these species was endangered before the spill, and dozens of birds, turtles, fish, marine mammals, crustaceans, and other species are at risk from the effects of the spill. (Photo: Piping plover, by Ralph Wright/American Bird Conservancy)

12. There’s Nothing Individuals Can Do

Myth. There’s always volunteering, donating to those cleaning birds or arguing for good energy policy, or writing to Congress directly. But beyond that, there’s federal law. The Clean Water Act empowers citizens to bring suits to stop water pollution and hold polluters accountable. It’s hard to argue that BP’s oil spill isn’t polluting water, and several groups – The Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and Environment America – have filed suit. The potential fine is great, at $4,300 per barrel.

13. On-Shore Drilling is Safer

Myth. It’s hard to compare the risks from different activities, but two forms of oil and gas extraction gaining steam on land are fraught with risk. Natural gas extraction from shale requires hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”), a process that injects a chemical stew at high pressure deep underground in order to force natural gas out of the rock. Groundwater becomes contaminated with toxic chemicals, threatening drinking water supplies across a wide swath of country where shale formations exist (like the Marcellus shale through New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia). Another controversial new form of oil extraction comes from so-called “tar sands” like those in Alberta, Canada; extracting oil from tar sands involves open pit mining on a grand scale or heating the land at high temperatures to sort-of melt the oil out of the land. What each of these – deepwater drilling, fracking and tar sands mining – has in common is that they are very difficult, expensive and risky. And that they are made necessary by our appetite for oil; the cheap oil that’s easy to get at is being exhausted, leading us to these highly complex, highly controversial and highly risky methods.

14. Republicans are the Politicians Most in the Pocket of Oil Companies

Myth. Republicans may scream “drill, baby, drill” louder, but when it comes to political money being spent to influence government, it’s more or less a tie. Key Democrats are among the top recipients of political money from oil companies, as are Republicans. The money flows to those in oil-rich states, to high-profile candidates and those with the most power in Congress (ie, the chairs of key committees). Here’s a look at the Friends of Earth tally of opensecrets.org data, showing the biggest recipients of money from BP and other oil companies since 2006:

Senate

  • John McCain (R-AZ) – $36,649 from BP; $2.43 million total
  • Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – $16,200 from BP; $329,100 total
  • Mark Begich (D-AK) – $8,550 from BP; $85,958 total
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – $8,500 from BP; 223,326 total
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – $8,500 from BP; 408,400 total

House

  • John Culberson (R-TX) – $10,200 from BP; 187,350 total
  • Ron Paul (R-TX) – $7,300 from BP; 134,132 total
  • Charles Rangel (D-NY) – $6,500 from BP; 40,600 total
  • Steny Hoyer (D-MD) – $6,000 from BP; 91,800 total
  • Don Young (R-AK) – $5,500 from BP; $45,500 total

15. It Will All Be Over in August

Through each of BP’s failed attempts to cap its well – from the top hat to the top kill – it has maintained that the worst thing that could happen was that the well would continue to gush into August, when the company would complete its relief well. But there’s no guarantee that the relief well will be fully effective. In a June 15 testimony, BP’s Lamar McKay said that “the design of the relief well is very, very similar to the original well.” In addition, there’s speculation that the oil well leak may have caused the sea floor itself to rupture, meaning the shutting off the well may not stop oil from seeping into the Gulf.

Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bp-gulf-oil-spill-myths-0622?src=rss#ixzz0rhF9AxQX
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THE SHORT FILM BP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE
By Robert M. Young and Edward James Olmos
Olmos Productions; Save our Gulf via Mark Crispin Miller
Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010

http://seizebp.org

THE SHORT FILM BP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE

OlmosProductions — 10 de junio de 2010 — Shot by Robert M. Young and Edward James Olmos on a trip to the heart of the oil spill in the Gulf. Edited by Stephen Cohen.

Robert Young and I jumped on a plane and went to the Gulf of Mexico just to lend our support by documenting what we saw…

Well, the people that we met took up all of our time. It was brutal! I was not ready for the human aspect because no one had prepared me for it.

I thought they would be angry. They are devastated.

Take a look at this video and see for yourself. People are afraid to talk and you will learn why watching this…

Please pass it on, recommend it.

If you feel like doing something, just go down there (anywhere on the Gulf) and support by spending time and energy in the region.

They need our support. Thank you for Caring.

– Edward James Olmos

For More information on what some local organizations are doing on the ground go to:

http://SaveOurGulf.org



A message from Seize BP about the Obama administration’s new position on BP
June 14, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,
Seize BP!

Seize BP!

A message from Seize BP about
the Obama administration’s new position on BP

The Obama administration has just announced a major shift in its handling of BP and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

For six weeks the Obama administration just said NO to the growing nationwide chorus of public opinion demanding that the government seize BP’s assets in an amount commensurate with the damage caused by their criminal negligence, and that the funds be placed into a trust that could quickly and easily pay for damages and compensation now and into the future as more damages accrue.

Directly on the heels of Seize BP’s demonstrations taking place in more than 50 cities — with more demonstrations occurring every day — officials from the administration are now announcing a “new” approach to BP: President Obama has given BP an ultimatum to create an escrow fund administered by an independent body for the payment of claims and damages or the White House will invoke its legal authority to create such an escrow account from BP’s assets. He plans to address the country in a nationwide television address Tuesday night and meet with BP executives at the White House on Wednesday.

But what is the reality undergirding the Obama administration’s announcement? It may appear that the administration is now close to the demand of seizure of assets for an escrow account unless BP commits to the establishment of such an escrow account on its own accord. There are several key factors:

  1. The administration’s 55 days of coddling BP has become unsustainable from a political and public relations standpoint. The government has revealed itself as a subservient appendage to corporate interests. Now they are going out of their way to present a different image.
  2. In recent days, Florida and Louisiana have both made demands on BP that funds be escrowed as a down payment to cover initial damages, totaling $7.5 billion. BP says that it only has $6.8 billion in cash and cash equivalents available. BP itself is reassuring its investors that the damages in the Gulf that BP will have to pay will not exceed $3 billion to $6 billion. It needs to be understood that it is not a lowball estimate of the scope of the damage but a statement of intent, of just how little BP intends to pay. BP is reported to have called its large U.S. stockholders — J.P. Morgan Chase controls deposits and services for 30 percent of BP’s U.S. stock — to pressure the administration. The administration’s plan for an escrow account may be seen like a get-tough-against-BP policy but still be designed to further protect BP. The telltale indicator will be the amount of BP assets set aside for the escrow fund.
  3. The anger of the people is spreading around the country especially as estimates of the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf are growing exponentially. To be more precise, what is changing is the weakening of the corporate and political cover-up of actual spill volume. Substantial amounts of oil being funneled to the surface by BP from its new cap are not being processed by BP’s on-site tanker because it lacks capacity, so the oil is being dumped back into the Gulf. BP says it can’t get more tankers to the area until July. The relief well planned for August may not even work then.
  4. At the same time, President Obama held what was reported as a “warm and constructive” phone call with the British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday in which he recognized that BP “is a multinational company” and reassured Cameron that he did not want to undermine BP’s value. Obama had been hoping that BP would suspend its upcoming shareholder dividend (estimated at more than $10 billion annually), but BP has vacillated publicly on whether it intends to do so. The administration is worried that BP might not do enough to placate the public and that the dire necessity of the situation, as evidenced by Louisiana’s and Florida’s independent demands, will overtake the administration’s attempts to appear in control of the problem.

Seize BP’s position on the Obama administration’s New Approach Toward BP’s Assets

While it is clear that the Obama administration has undertaken what appears to be a dramatic shift in its handling of one part of the crisis, there are two central issues that will indicate whether it is just another sham public relations offensive or something that will make a real difference for the suffering people and communities in the Gulf states: (1) The size or amount of the escrow fund taken from BP’s assets (the real costs are likely to be in the tens of billions of dollars) and (2) that the “real people” of the affected communities, and not corporate and banking representatives or Wall Street lawyers, be selected to be the trustees of the fund.

Seize BP, since it inaugurated the demand to create a trust from seized BP assets, has demanded “that a trust established with the funds seized from BP should be administered by the people from the harmed area. The trustees should include representatives of the fishers, shrimpers, crabbers, unions, small business people and workers in the tourism and recreation industry, local elected officials, clergy, and independent scientists and environmentalists.”

Seize BP will continue to organize demonstrations, rallies, press conferences and banner drops, collect tens of thousands more petitions, and engage in the kind of mass grassroots organizing that can, as it already has, shift the political climate in a way no politician can fail to ignore.

Spread the word. Tell your friends to sign up at SeizeBP.org.