Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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My Two Cents: Stop Big Oil’s Assault on America

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Watch the aerial maps.  See the terrible more-than-a-"slick" move closer and closer to the coast, spreading wider and deeper toward Alabama's coast.  The dreaded Loop Current's is poised to snare the oil and push it toward Florida and the Eastern Seaboard.  What's to become of us at the dirty hands of BP? They're fast getting away with the homicide of the American continent.  Is the Gulf Disaster eco-terroism-by-neglect? Do these companies really believe that if they destroy everything in their path, that there will be anything left for their version of commerce? Do they not get that they are destroying themselves along with the rest of us?

Corporatists and Republicans (which are mostly the same thing) have flagrantly abused the term eco-terrorist. They've wantonly misapplied the term to anyone who cares about the environment and works within the system to protect it. That there are some fringe fanatics who are, in fact, eco-terrorists does not justify the wrongful overlay of defamatory labels on a huge sector of Americans who believe resource protection is simply good stewardship of our country. But, like everything else they hypocritically decry, it is the radical so-called "right," and the corporations which love them, which increasingly morph into something approaching eco-terrorism.  This spill may not have been directly intentional, but it happened by intentional neglect. And the result is analogous to a homicide, a homicide of our nation's coastline, its fishing, its tourist industries, and even, potentially much more... but their "solution" is even less regulation.  

Obama or Bust: We Need Leadership from the Top

If you look at any of the 24X7 news shows or even the Today Show, you will see everyone proclaiming that there is an anti-incumbent mood spreading across America. There is good reason to say that as evidenced by the size of Tea Party rallies and even a few of the races last Tuesday. But, my personal opinion is that this is less about an anti-incumbent mood and more about a "pro-change" disposition. Voters are angry about the current state of blame and stall politics. They expect elected officials to keep their promises - and that extends to clean energy and climate legislation.

Even though clean energy and climate issues are rarely at the heart of the anti-incumbency rhetoric, the frustration with all things Beltway could block comprehensive energy legislation this year.

President Obama's leadership is the only force that can change that.

You see, when the electorate turns anti-Washington, Congressmen freeze up. They get scared of taking bold steps and they start saying "no" to everything.

Even on a good day, the odds of passing any bill in Congress--no matter the issue--starts at about 5 percent. Smart gamblers always bet the no vote in Congress.

But being a naysayer becomes even more attractive to politicians when they think their job is at risk. Voting "no" on a big, transformative bill allows them to give the illusion that they are "playing it safe" and to keep the bull's-eye off their back for potential mid-term popularity contests.

"No" may be an easy decision for politicians, but it is the wrong choice for the American people.

Support Crumbling for Offshore Oil Drilling in Virginia?

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I don't know much about this polling outfit, but the results are intriguing.
PUBLIC SUPPORT for offshore drilling in Virginia has dropped significantly in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster, an Inside Business poll has found.

In April, research firm Issues and Answers Inc. polled 200 people, who were asked, "Do you support the opening of the East Coast, specifically Virginia's coastline, to offshore drilling?"

At that time, 62.58 percent replied yes.

On May 2, another 200 people were polled and asked the same question.

This time, only 38.5 percent said yes.

"It's not surprising at all, given what's going on in the Gulf of Mexico," said Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, a big proponent of off-shore oil drilling..."

Well no, Sen. Wagner, these shouldn't be surprising poll results, "given what's going on in the Gulf of Mexico." The question is whether this apparent decline in support for oil drilling off Virginia's coast continues, or if it rebounds once the Gulf of Mexico disaster is history. Of course, given the ecological and economic damage it looks like the Gulf oil spill could cause, it could be many years before it's truly "history."

Good News On the Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster, But…

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It's good news (at least, we all hope!) that "BP succeeded on Sunday in its second attempt at inserting a new tube into its damaged oil pipe that has been gushing oil from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico for three and a half weeks."  Still, even if this latest "fix" actually works for more than a few minutes/hours/days, this situation remains a complete, unmitigated disaster for Gulf of Mexico, as well as for everyone who lives and works along the Gulf coast. In addition, it is important to point out that, even when BP manages to stop this oil gusher, the effects will linger, most likely for years to come.  For more on that, see "Oil spill imperils an unseen world at the bottom of the gulf", "Huge oil plumes found under Gulf as BP struggles", and "Natural Gas Leak 3000 Times Worse Than Oil".

I strongly recommend that Bob McDonnell and others in the "drill baby drill" crowd read this material with an open mind (if that's possible with these lunkheads) and reconsider their uncritical, reckless, whole-hog, mindless support for drilling off Virginia's coast. At the minimum, the Gulf of Mexico disaster should make McDonnell et al. think long and hard about the potential costs (huge) and benefits (minimal) of drilling a few miles from Virginia Beach, particularly in relation to other options like energy efficiency and offshore wind power.  It should make them think long and hard, but knowing these people, it probably won't, unfortunately.

Repower America Gulf Coast Oil Spill Ad

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The takeaway message from this excellent ad? "The only way to end catastrophic oil spills is to end our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels."

Tell Bob McDonnell: “Wind Not Oil!”

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If you care about the environment and don't want to see Virginia's coastline trashed by oil companies, lease sign the "Wind Not Oil" petition by Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).  As CCAN writes, offshore oil drilling "can never be made entirely safe, and the consequences - as we now know - can be catastrophic." Also, it's important to point out that "Virginia could easily get 10 percent of its electricity from offshore windmills, creating 10,000 jobs."  Finally, of course, there's no such thing as a "wind spill." :)

For all of those reasons, we need to tell Bob McDonnell that offshore wind power, not offshore oil drilling, is  "the right direction for Virginia and the nation."  Thanks.

Sen. Webb Statement on Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster

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Courtesy of EnviroKnow, here's a statement by Senator Webb's office about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I agree with this to a large extent, except for two points I'd make: 1) let's face it, offshore oil drilling is inherently risky, as even one accident like the current one can be disastrous; and 2) given this country's relatively small oil reserves and relatively high consumption, the belief that increased U.S. offshore oil drilling will ever constitute a significant component of any "energy independence" strategy for the our country is highly unlikely. With that, here's the statement from Sen. Webb's office.
Senator Webb has said consistently that a comprehensive approach is necessary in order to address our nation's energy needs. Senator Webb believes we must insist on the highest standards of safety and environmental protection, but that we cannot retreat from the goal of energy independence.

Senator Webb has always maintained that offshore drilling be conducted under stringent conditions that safeguard platform workers, the environmentally sensitive coastal region and our nation's marine resources.

While all of the facts are not in, this high standard plainly was not met with respect to the current disaster. Neither British Petroleum nor our federal regulators have adopted provisions for the remote shut-off of oil valves when explosions or other disasters occur. Brazil, Norway and other countries have maintained such standards since the early 90's. The United States-and any country involved in exploration off of our coastlines-should as well. The Senator will urge that these measures be adopted in the review of offshore programs that the President has wisely called for.

Before commencing further drilling projects, Senator Webb believes the facts must be ascertained to determine how the disaster off the Gulf Coast could have been prevented-and whether it was due to the lack of technology or the failure to apply available technology. He believes an examination is also in order as to whether appropriate laws and regulations are on the books.


UPDATE #1: Glenn Nye's office chimes in.
Congressman Nye believes that offshore drilling must be done in an environmentally safe and responsible way that does not threaten Virginia's tourism or fishing industries. He feels that it is appropriate to delay any drilling off the coast of Virginia until the investigation of the gulf disaster is complete so we can ensure the same thing won't happen here

UPDATE #2: Mark Warner says it is "'appropriate' for Obama to delay offshore projects until safeguards are in place to prevent rig explosions like the one that caused the gulf spill."

UPDATE #3: I strongly agree with this letter by enviro groups, urging Congress "to oppose efforts to expand offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling off of our coasts" in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.  

“Offshore Myth Busting”

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Great post by Peter Galuszka of Bacon's Rebellion, "Offshore Myth Busting." Here's the conclusion:
So, McDonnell and Obama should ask themselves, "What's it going to be for Virginia?" Obama says there will be no new offshore drilling until a thorough study is made of Deepwater Horizon. That's cold comfort.

As for McDonnell, he might want to knock off the idiotic "plane crash" excuse and consider that Big Oil with its Big Money would not be the only industry along Virginia's coast that he's sworn to protect. Consider the fishing, tourism and commercial shipping sectors, not to mention the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard which use offshore Virginia waters and pump in billions to the state's economy. That's right here, right now. Not sometime off in 2020.

So true. Unfortunately, the chances of Bob McDonnell having the interest or the brain cells to comprehend Peter Galuszka's article are minimal.

P.S. Also, see Miles Grant's Twitter feed for updates from the Gulf Coast, where he is covering the oil spill for the National Wildlife Federation.

Virginian-Pilot: “Gulf oil spill drifts to Virginia”

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Superb editorial by the Virginian-Pilot, here's an excerpt but definitely read it all!
Since the beginning of the debate about offshore drilling, it has been clear that the promises are as concrete as petroleum fumes across the Gulf of Mexico. Inland lawmakers are lining up to prevent coastal states from getting any royalty money from offshore drilling. They outnumber Virginia's advocates.

[...]

But the most important assurance to residents of Virginia's coast was the one about the environment. Oil drilling, we were assured repeatedly by its advocates, is really safe these days. It won't damage the beaches, or the air, or our marshes. It certainly won't affect the wildlife.

Tell that to the people who live along the coast in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The End Result of “Drill Baby Drill”

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I think Bill Maher speaks for most of us today when he says, "Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill Baby Drill' should have to report to the Gulf Coast today for cleanup duty."

Oh, and let me just add: f*** you Sarah Palin!

Finally, just remember, if "drill baby drill" (or should we call it "spill baby spill?") afficionados like Bob McDonnell gets his way, the following photos could be coming to the Virginia coastline sometime in coming years. Let's all tell him, "no thank you!"

UPDATE: According to Reuters, "White House says no offshore drilling will be allowed in new areas until review of oil spill off La. coast."  Great, but how about offshore drilling in current areas using similar types of drilling equipment and techniques, such as failing to use acoustic valves as part of blowout preventers, as is done in other parts of the world?  Oh, and how about we make getting off of oil our #1 priority?  Until we do, disasters like this will happen again and again. Needless to say, that is completely unacceptable.