Monday, December 9, 2019
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Why We Rejected a $150 Blog Ad

It is, has been, and will continue to be the policy of this blog to accept advertisements. However, that doesn't mean we will accept any ol' ad. Sure, we could use the money - to pay hosting feeds, perhaps to buy some better camera equipment occasionally, etc. - but we're not going to completely compromise our values in doing so. Having said that, we seriously considered accepting this ad from the oil and gas industry for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, even though we think it's a huge mistake. In the end, though, we didn't. Here's our thinking in a nutshell.

1. We considered taking the oil and gas industry's money, then using the ad as an opportunity to blast the h*** out of the Keystone Canadian tar sands export pipeline project, as the dirty, destructive (of the environment and probably of jobs as well) boondoggle for the big oil companies that it is.
2. We also considered donating the money to charity - Green Miles suggested this one, for instance.
3. So, under those conditions, I was leaning towards accepting the ad. Why didn't I, then? The clincher for me was very simple, and in my view compelling: the ad contains blatantly false information - that the pipeline supposedly will create 20,000 jobs.
4. Not only is that jobs figure completely untrue, this is information that's been repeatedly exposed as false by neutral organizations, even by TransCanada itself. For instance, a study by Cornell University researchers found that "[t]he project will create no more than 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years, according to TransCanada's own data supplied to the State Department." So, the 20,000 jobs figure isn't even close to being factual, and the people behind this ad have known that for months now (if not longer). In short, they're lying through their teeth, and they have no shame in doing so.
5. One last point. In rejecting this ad, Blue Virginia is going way beyond the supposed "standards" of most media outlets, which would almost certainly take (in fact, they do so all the time!) the oil money and run the ad, even though it's demonstrably, unequivocally false. That's not what legitimate media organizations are supposed to be doing, but they're desperate for money and/or greedy, plus they apparently have few if any scruples or ethics, so they do so. Well, sorry, but that is NOT what we got into progressive political blogging for, to be like the dying (for good reason), corrupt, corporate-owned-and-occupied, conservative media. Sure, we could use the $150 (although it's not going to change our lives in any way, that's for sure), but in the end, it simply doesn't fit with our view of ethics, morality, and being a progressive. Take that and shove it up your pipeline, oil industry! Ha.
5a. On a related note, I'd point out that we have far higher standards at Blue Virginia than they do at the Kaplan Post, for instance, for commenting. Check out any article's comments at the Kaplan Post, and you'll see what I mean - ad hominem attacks, bigotry, viciousness, totally nuts. Looking at those comments, I'd say that on average, 25% or more would be deleted here at Blue Virginia, the commenters banned. At the Kaplan Post, desperate as it is for "eyeballs" (and, again, $$$$), they basically let anything go. They also, I'd note, frequently (usually?) fail to give proper credit/attribution to other media sites, certainly to Virginia blogs (both conservative and progressive, they're just really unethical about this stuff). Finally, we don't present the false "both sides" nonsense the Post uses to pretend to be "objective."  The fact is, they are NOT objective, they're just sloppy, lazy, and cowardly. But go ahead guys, keep telling yourselves you're real journalists with "standards," if it makes you feel any better about yourselves.

Democratic Leaders Blast Allen’s Reckless, Hypocritical Pipeline Rhetoric

From the Democratic Party of Virginia, more criticism of George Allen's latest idiocy:
Democratic Leaders Blast Allen's Reckless, Hypocritical Pipeline Rhetoric

Richmond, VA - Virginia Democrats spoke out today against former-Senator George Allen's reckless and hypocritical rhetoric on the possibility of building more oil and natural gas pipelines in Virginia without giving them the proper environmental and public safety review.

As reported by radio station WINA, Allen said during an interview yesterday that "Virginia would not study the route of an oil or natural gas pipeline inside its borders:"

"If there were an issue, gosh we'd put a natural gas pipeline, or should we put an oil pipeline through Virginia, it wouldn't be worrying about gosh, lets have a study, let's determine the danger of this." He continued, "if Virginia were trying to hold up a gas pipeline, or oil pipeline, it simply wouldn't happen because we have them."

House of Delegates Democratic Leader David Toscano (Charlottesville) condemned Allen's dangerous suggestion that new pipelines would not require study because "we have them:"

"Building a pipeline through Virginia without conducting a single study or review is not in the best interests of our citizens. While a decision to build may ultimately make sense, the failure to conduct a comprehensive review sets a dangerous precedent.  

"George Allen's suggestion that we can build an oil pipeline through Virginians' backyards without a thorough review of the consequences demonstrates, once again, that he puts the oil industry's interests before public safety and the good of the Commonwealth."

Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin (Arlington), a member of the Argiculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee continued:

Virginians React to Keystone XL Decision

There's a ton of reaction this afternoon pouring in regarding President Obama's decision on the proposed Keystone XL Canadian tar sands project. The statement from the White House is available here (basically, it blames "the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people"). Also, keep in mind that this project would have created no jobs, and in fact might have caused a net loss in jobs, according to an independent study by Cornell University researchers. Basically, this thing is a boondoggle for Big Oil, combined with really bad news for the environment, for absolutely no good reason. Other than that, it's freakin' brilliant! LOL

Anyway, here are reactions by Virginian politicians and environmental groups, starting with Rep. Jim Moran, with whom I agree 100% on this. I'll add more as I see them, or as you let me know about them in the comments section. Thanks.

Moran Statement on Denial of the Keystone XL Pipeline Application

Washington, DC - Congressman Jim Moran, Ranking Member on the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement on the Obama Administration's decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline:

"I applaud President Obama's decision to deny the application for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Our collective national interests, whether economic, environmental, or national security, would be better served by reducing our addiction to fossil fuels. Instead, we should be investing in safer, cleaner energy sources of the future like wind and solar power. A robust investment in clean energy promotes thousands of higher-tech, higher paying jobs. Building a pipeline to tap one of the dirtiest sources of fuel and the few temporary jobs it might create are not in our nation's best long term interests."

Will GOP Demand Drug Tests for Coal and Oil Subsidies?

Spirit of Freedom 2011 Jim ClyburnSteve Benen flags this quote:
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of House Democratic leadership, told POLITICO he rejects a host of the top Republican offsets, illustrating the tricky path Democrats must travel when negotiating with the GOP.

"I have a real problem with what I consider a penalty to the federal employees; I got a real problem with the mandated drug testing for unemployment insurance," he said Monday, citing an extended federal pay freeze and a favorite conservative change to jobless benefits. "We don't demand drug testing for people getting farm subsidies."

Will the GOP be demanding the CEO of Exxon Mobil be drug tested before Big Oil gets the billions of dollars in subsidies that the GOP supports? What about for nuclear power industry executives and the billions in subsidies House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has asked for? How about here in Virginia, where tens of millions of dollars in subsidies for mining & burning coal are handed out each year - will Gov. Bob McDonnell & Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli be forcing Dominion Virginia Power CEO Tom Farrell to fill a Dixie cup to prove he's clean?

Of course not. Republicans only want to bully the least powerful & most vulnerable among us in the 99%. The 1% can keep collecting their huge taxpayer subsidies, no questions asked.

Wait, I Thought Obama Was Killing U.S. Oil, Gas Production?!?

Wait, you mean President Obama isn't killing U.S. oil production? In fact, according to US Energy Information Administration statistics, U.S. oil production actually fell by about 1 million barrels per day while George W. Bush was in office, and now has risen by nearly 1 million barrels per day since Barack Obama's been in the White House? Fascinating, huh? Oh, and U.S. oil company profits are through the roof, with the supposedly anti-oil president in the White House. Hmmmm.

Now, check out the "flip" for the story on natural gas. Hint: it's not what you'll hear from Faux, Rush, etc.

UPDATE: Also note that EIA forecasts U.S. domestic crude oil production to increase again in 2012, by about 230,000 barrels per day. D*** Obama!!! LOL

“We Can’t Quit Dirty Fuels Today”: Enabling America’s Oil Gluttony

Let's say you had an overweight coworker. One who repeatedly professed to be desperate to lose lots of weight. But you walked into the break room day after day to find him chowing down on Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing. Finally, you decide you have to say something. "Hey, Sam. If you really want to lose weight, why don't you ease off on the cheese fries?"

"What, you expect me to lose 100 pounds today?" your coworker scoffs between greasy bites. "It's going to take years to lose all that - I can't possibly stop eating right now."

Now as President Obama considers whether to green light a ranch dressing tar sands pipeline, some are warning against putting America on an oil crash diet:

Iran, Koch Stories Demonstrate Yet Again: Oil Fuels Terrorism, Corrupts Everything...

Cross posted from Scaling Green

A recent, blockbuster article in Bloomberg detailed how the dirty energy baron Koch brothers - who, the article points out, "blazed a path to riches -- in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations" - flouted U.S. law by "[selling] millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism." The connection between oil, corruption, and terrorism detailed in the Bloomberg article sounds like something out of the film Syriana. But in this case, it's not fiction, it's absolutely real: the connection between oil, corruption and Middle East-based terrorism cannot be clearer.

Barely over a week after the Bloomberg story broke, the oil-corruption-terrorism nexus was made even more glaringly obvious with breaking news of an Iran-backed terror plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir.

In the Iranian plot outlined on Tuesday by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in Washington, officials in the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are accused of scheming to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States by hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million. The main suspects were identified as Mansour J. Arbabsiar, a naturalized American citizen of Iranian descent from Corpus Christi, Tex., who has been taken into custody, and Gholam Shakuri, described by the Justice Department as a member of the Quds Force, who is at large and believed to be in Iran.

Bob McDonnell Holds Energy Summit, Stacks the Deck for His Dirty...

Is this energy summit, being held on October 4 in Alexandria as part of Bob McDonnell's newly-announced "Energy Month" in Virginia, supposed to be satire, a bad joke, or is McDonnell actually serious? Just a few problems here. First, check out the people on the panels, listed below. Can we get any more biased, against clean energy and the environment, than this?!?

Oil and Gas Development: The Onshore and Offshore Challenge
8:45am Keynote:  Honorable Mark Warner, U.S. Senate, Virginia
8:55am Remarks: Mr. Terry McCallister, Chairman and CEO, Washington Gas
9:00am Remarks: Mr. Mike Ward, Executive Director, Virginia Petroleum Council
9:05am Discussion: Beginning with Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama (more on climate science "skeptic" Bentley here)

Nuclear Energy: Renaissance or Requiem
9:30am Keynote: Honorable Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senate, South Carolina
9:40am Remarks: Mr. Stephen Kuczynski, Chairman, President & CEO, Southern 
Nuclear Operating Company
9:50am Discussion Beginning with Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi

EPA Regulations and Impact on Energy and the Economy
10:15am Keynote:  Honorable Joe Manchin III, U.S. Senate, West Virginia
10:25am Remarks: Mr. Kevin Crutchfield, CEO, Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.
10:35am Discussion Beginning with Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia

A few comments. First, where are the advocates for clean energy? Where are the voices for energy development that's safe for the environment? Where are the non-corporate voices? Where are the regular Virginians who would be harmed by oil spills, global warming, mountaintop removal coal mining, etc?

Could Oil from a Cuban Spill Reach Virginia’s Coast?

Brown Pelicans Wait for Cleaning at Ft. JacksonWith Cuba set to begin oil drilling, Anya Landau French blogs for the Christian Science Monitor that a Cuban oil spill could deliver disaster far beyond the Gulf of Mexico:
Now, after several delays, with a Chinese-built Italian oil rig, the Scarabeo 9, on its way to Cuba, drilling of the first of five exploratory wells in Cuban deep water is set to commence this December.

A spill from this first, easternmost exploratory well to be drilled by the Repsol consortium could be particularly damaging due to its location where the Gulf Stream exits the Gulf of Mexico for the Atlantic. Whereas the BP disaster was somewhat "contained" in the northern Gulf, Piñón tells me to "imagine a fan-shaped spill with the well as the axis." If something were to go wrong on Scarabeo 9, we could see and feel the effects of a major oil spill in Cuban deep water not just in Florida, but far up the Atlantic coast.

And as Fareed Zakaria writes, "the nearest and best experts on safety procedures and dealing with oil spills are all American, but we are forbidden by our laws from being involved in any way with Cuba." What could go wrong?

Warner’s Webb of Drilling Mania

Nothing says I care about environmental health more than another big oil and gas rig planted serenely in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. What beauty, you might be thinking! What elegance! Look as the infrastructure corrodes and this giant's legs rust and grow barnacles with each passing week. What visual splendor!

Of course, think of the view those marine animals must have. Aren't you jealous? I'd imagine the feeling is akin to having an individual Eiffel Tower being placed over my home. Wouldn't you be thrilled? Think of the economic benefits, after all!

The first two paragraphs were satirical. But what many of us turn a blind eye to everyday is no laughing matter. Senators Webb and Warner have not assured Virginians that safety issues aboard oil and gas rigs have been appropriately addressed (when that unimportant little incident in the Gulf of Mexico is even mentioned these days), and yet the gallant efforts for more oil and gas in the Atlantic continues.

I won't purport to be an expert on rig safety just as I won't allow myself to be played for a political foul. Safety measures cost time and money, in some cases, a lot of time and money. And we all know how the game of capitalism has worked in the U.S.: make profits and then make some more, even if it means cutting necessary safety corners.  

Maybe Virginians like to drill holes in the ground, period. Not only do Virginia's political "leaders" want to drill holes in the Atlantic, they want to drill holes in southern Virginia. And I'm not even mentioning the preexisting holes that have been drilled in Virginia's soil.

So what, you might gab back? In the case of the Atlantic Ocean in particular, drilling holes stands to create a complex host of effects for marine animals living in the area, effects that are still unknown to many scientists and policy "experts." What's the value of disrupting and possible eliminating any number of marine species? Of course, this outcome may or may not happen, but are we really willing to chance it for questionable amounts of oil and gas resources?

Between Senator Webb's history writing adventures and Senator Warner's grand visions of becoming president, Virginia seems to have lost its progressive leadership. Maybe it was never truly there to begin with. Or maybe our politicians have themselves been worn down by the political process. Any way you spin the bottle, the results may be the same: a grim future for Virginia's environmental integrity and ecosystem sustainability.