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Warner & Webb Tag-team a Lift on Oil and Gas Exploration...

Cross posted from Article XI

Who needs Sarah Palin when Virginia has its very own proponents of "Drill, baby, drill" in the form of Jim Webb and Mark Warner? Notwithstanding the fact that drilling today wouldn't start producing benefits for some time to come, the tendency to concentrate on fossil fuels distracts our political representatives from seeing the bigger picture: renewable forms of energy are the future. The argument often follows, among others, that renewable forms of energy aren't economical enough at present. If we take this claim to be true for the moment, it might well be because government subsidies have gone to environmentally devastating forms of energy like the fossil fuels instead of renewable forms of energy (as if Big Oil and Big Coal and Big Gas needed more money).

I can't think of one form of energy that's in widespread use right now that has not received some form of government subsidy to "get the ball rolling." But the tepid investments in energy sources like wind and solar are simply not enough to bring these renewables to scale in a timely fashion. It is as if there are some special interests who are opposed to the widespread use of renewable forms of energy in America!

Of course, there are such groups in America, groups who would rather poison the American people and exterminate the natural world as we know it (or used to know it) for a profit. But my concern isn't simply that of someone who loves the natural world intrinsically. It is a practical argument that takes into account the harmful economic consequences that environmental devastation has had, is having, and will have in the future for America, a form of devastation that has been fueled (sorry for the pun) by nonrenewable forms of energy.

Still we wait and hope for the best. Maybe our rational and scientific minds will find the magical solution to this dilemma. Maybe the "American spirit" will figure out an ingenious method to pour more poison into our rivers and atmosphere without the environmental and human health repercussions. That might be what Senators Warner and Webb think; otherwise their actions bear little rational justification.  

Look On The Bright Side Of Oil Disasters!

Hey, maybe we just haven't been looking on the bright side of oil disasters. The ocean gains new traits ... like being able to light it on fire! And maybe new species will evolve, like birds that ... uh ... enjoy being sticky!

From IFC's The Whitest Kids U' Know (featuring Trevor Moore, who grew up in Charlottesville, and Arlington native Zach Cregger):

Bob McDonnell Wants To, Uh, Y’Know, Do The Thing That Gets...

For someone so anxious to drill for oil just miles from Virginia Beach, Bob McDonnell is awfully terrified to say the word "drill." In his op-ed today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Gov. McDonnell never uses the words "drill" or "drilling" - not even once.

And with good reason! You might remember the image at right, produced in the very early days of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to show what the slick - just a fraction of the size it would eventually become - would look like if it happened off the Virginia coast. And as much as Gov. McDonnell would like us to forget about those thousands of dead birds, hundreds of dead endangered sea turtles, and more than a hundred dead dolphins, he's wrong dismiss the Gulf oil disaster as an "accident." The Gulf oil disaster was no random twist of fate - the bipartisan commission that investigated the blowout said it was the result of a series of bad decisions by the people doing the oil drilling, called the disaster "avoidable," and warned that without significant reform (which we're still waiting on), it could happen again.

But even if oil drilling was less dangerous than it is, would drilling off Virginia do us any good? The U.S. consumes 22% of the world's oil but holds only 1.5% of global oil resources. During the Obama administration, U.S. oil production is up sharply - but that hasn't done a thing to stop gas prices from rising sharply as well. The same story is true on a global scale - worldwide oil production is up, but oil prices are up too. Worldwide consumption is up and the dwindling supplies of oil left underground are getting more & more expensive to drill.

We can't drill our way out of our energy problems. The only way we can reduce our oil costs over the long term is to use less oil - fuel-efficient cars in the short-term, renewable energy-powered electric cars in the long term, and building more transit options & more walkable communities over the really long haul so our lives aren't tethered to the gas pump.

But hey, Bob McDonnell didn't get $33,150 from Exxon Mobil by pushing for hybrid school buses! He got it by promising to open up Virginia's coastline to drilling & leaving it to some future governor to worry about apologizing for how no one could possibly have predicted an oil disaster here.

Will Cantor Lead or Hide Behind Boehner on Cutting Wasteful Big...

In the face of gas prices skyrocketing past $4 a gallon, House Republicans are starting to regret their vote last month to preserve billions in annual subsidies for Big Oil. With U.S. oil production up sharply AND gas prices up sharply, clearly those subsidies aren't doing consumers any good (though Big Oil's profits are doing just fine). House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may finally be backing off his support for oil giveaways.

It's not hard to see why Republicans are reconsidering their positions - an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 74% of voters support eliminating tax breaks to oil companies.

So why are Republicans even thinking about doubling down on billions in subsidies for oil companies? Just in the first quarter of 2011, Exxon Mobil gave Cantor $5,000. (And don't forget that, thanks to the Supreme Court's pro-corporate Citizens United decision, campaign cash is getting harder & harder to track.)

"It couldn't be clearer that these companies are the least deserving of taxpayer money and government handouts," says Navin Nayak of the League of Conservation Voters. "It's past time for Rep. Cantor whose hands are covered in oil to end his support for this obscene corporate welfare and start standing up for the people of Virginia."

What Energy Sources Do Your Tax Dollars Subsidize?

Republicans squawk about incentives for renewable energy because those are new & need approval, while dirty energy sources locked in their subsidies long ago - like, say, the tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks Virginia gives to dirty coal companies every year. Why not eliminate all subsidies & put a simple price on carbon pollution? That's what dirty energy companies (and the politicians they fund) are terrified of.

Graphic via

“Carnivoil” Comes to Richmond Tomorrow

Courtesy of Environment Virginia.
'CarnivOil' Comes to Richmond, Celebrating the Greatest Addiction on Earth Big Oil: Keeping America dependent on oil for 150 years and celebrating victory over Virginia's clean energy future

Richmond, Va. - The U.S. Senate's failure to pass a clean energy and climate bill this summer, coupled with the continued push to block new clean air standards, is reason to celebrate if you profit from America's oil addiction. Highlighting Big Oil's stranglehold on Washington, we present "CarnivOil": the Greatest Addiction on Earth - a celebration of America's addiction to oil with an outdoor midway-style carnival complete with games, concessions, and some Big Oil-style celebrating. Step right up! Don't be afraid. See the world's biggest polluters - by looking behind the curtain.

Games will include the Petroleum Wheel of Doom, Oil Executive Boxing and the Big Oil version of the famous Hammer game. The event highlights Big  Oil's success in pocketing Congress, while blocking progress toward a clean energy future and threatening to kill American jobs and worsen public health with the Dirty Air Act.

WHAT: CarnivOil: The Greatest Addiction on Earth: complete with games to celebrate Big Oil's success
WHEN: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
TIME: 11 am - 1 pm ET
WHERE: Monroe Park, 620 W. Main St., Richmond, Va. 23220

Keith Fimian’s Answer to BP Oil Disaster: Deregulate, “Drill Baby...

This is beyond stupid. This is Sarah Palin/Joe Barton stupid! In all seriousness, if Keith Fimian had his way, BP would regulate itself, government would let Big Oil do whatever it wants, and Gulf of Mexico oil disasters would be commonplace.  Why would anyone vote for someone with Keith Fimian's toxic political philosophy?  I suppose if they hate pelicans, dolphins, turtles, clean water, white sandy beaches, and people who live on the Gulf coast, it makes perfect sense.  

Great Reporting From The Gulf By The Green Miles

Great job by Miles Grant on this. I also strongly recommend The Oil Drum for superb, albeit technical, discussion of the Deepwater oil disaster. Often, over the past couple months, I've learned about things at The Oil Drum that didn't appear in the "mainstream" press until weeks later, if ever. Check it out.

New DNC Ad Goes After the Big Oil Apologist Party

This is excellent messaging which also has the virtue of being true. The fact is, if the GOP (aka, the "Greedy Oil-company Party") take back control of the House of Representatives this November, then Rep. Joe "I Apologize" Barton would be overseeing BP.  More broadly, if Republicans were in charge, Big Oil would rule the roost, as would Wall Street and other wealthy, corporate interests.  In short, if you want a new "Robber Baron Era" to take hold in tighten its grip on this country, then you most definitely want to vote Republican this November.  If, on the other hand, you prefer government that looks out for the "small people" (as BP calls them) once in a while, then you might want to think twice about that.