Saturday, November 16, 2019
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President Obama Puts Certain Areas in the Atlantic Ocean, Including SE...

Great news from President Obama if you care about protecting the environment, including the coast of Virginia, from disastrous oil development, spills, etc. Now,...

Audio: Donald McEachin says “environment is the most important issue going...

The national corporate media can't seem to figure out that climate change, energy and the environment are absolutely crucial issues facing humanity and every...

The Oil and Gas Drilling Revenue Trap

Drilling the Bakken FormationAre communities really making money off of oil and gas drilling if they have to spend nearly all of the tax revenue building infrastructure to support oil and gas drilling?
The state should invest up to $5 billion in northwest North Dakota communities with the most oil activity, the president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council said Wednesday.

Ron Ness, while testifying to a group of legislators meeting in Williston, said communities need significant resources to do long-range planning, but the state's grant program for those areas is only helping them react. Ness called for a five-year plan with $800 million to $1 billion per year invested in schools, roads and infrastructure for communities in the core areas of the Bakken. [...]

The industry paid $1.3 billion in oil and gas production tax last year, and will pay even more this year, Ness said. Those dollars should be targeted at the counties with the greatest oil activity, he said.

It makes oil and gas drilling sound like a Ponzi, doesn't it? You'll make lots of money eventually, but only if you keep re-investing! As places like Virginia consider whether to allow oil and gas drilling, politicians like Gov. Bob McDonnell make it sound like every penny of tax revenue will go to existing roads and schools. But if the oil and gas industry expects the money to be spent on supporting the industry, how much will really be left for your community?

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?

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.

“Yours truly, BP”


Powerful video courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council, where I start working on Monday.  Oil disaster courtesy of BP ("Beyond Pathetic") and its CEO ("Covering Everything in Oil") Tony "I'd like my life back" Hayward.

So Much for “Drill, Baby, Drill”

It's now Day #52 of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster, and we've learned a great deal. First and foremost, we've learned that all those oil industry apologists, including several who used to post comments here, were absolutely, completely, and horribly wrong when they claimed that offshore oil drilling was "safe." Most of us here at Blue Virginia always knew that this argument was an outright lie, or at best "truthy," but now it's deader than the Gulf of Mexico's fishing industry that BP's arrogance and irresponsibility has killed. :(

Second, we've learned that gutting the government, slashing oversight and regulation, and letting the industry - in this case, Big Oil - run amok, is a catastrophe waiting to happen.  For more on this topic, see this article in today's Washington Post. In short, the horrors we're experiencing right now in the Gulf of Mexico - pelicans covered in oil, turtles floating dead in pools of black goo, an entire way of life threatened, billions of dollars in tourism revenue down the tubes, etc. - is the inevitable result of  Club for Growth-style "conservative" "thinking."  Never let anyone fool you again or claim to represent a "compassionate" strain of this nihilistic ideology.  If they try to tell you that, just remind them what happened to the Gulf of Mexico after years of their "let industry get away with murder" policies.

Finally, we've learned what many of us already knew, that Sarah Palin's crazed chants of "drill, baby, drill" were as mindless and toxic as everything else that comes out of her mouth (or read off her hand).  Check out these poll results, which finds that just 25% of Americans now support increased drilling in U.S. coastal waters, compared to 31% who say it should be decreased and 41% who say it should be kept the same. In contrast, 87% of Americans say we should develop more solar and wind power (correct answer!).  In addition, majorities of Americans blame "weak federal regulations on offshore oil drilling," as well as "Inadequate enforcement of existing regulations" and "Unnecessary risks taken by BP and its drilling partners" for this debacle. Once again, correct answers!

In sum, after 52 days (and counting) of horror in the Gulf of Mexico -- all courtesy of the worldview espoused by people like Sarah Palin and Ken Kook-inelli -- any politician who continues to align himself or herself with Palin should be automatically disqualified from serious consideration for public office.  That includes Palin endorsees Carly Fiorina in California, Rand Paul in Kentucky, and Nikki Haley in South Carolina, none of whom should be allowed anywhere close to the seats of power. Unless, that is, you like seeing pictures of dead, oil-soaked dolphins and pelicans, and people whose way of life has been utterly devastated.

Staunton Newspaper Wants All the Benefits of Drilling, None of Risks

It's not often you read an editorial that so perfectly encapsulates the complete fraud that is offshore drilling advocacy. Time for a quick fisking. Take it away, Staunton News Leader editorial board!

Of the three reactions concerning drilling for oil off the Virginia coast, we agree with the military's. 

OK, well, the military didn't really have a reaction so much as it issued a report on the facts, that offshore drilling off most of Virginia's shores would conflict with military operations & training. But yes, we get the gist. So far, so good.

The others, of course, are Gov. Bob McDonnell continuing his drive to begin drilling off Virginia's shore as soon as possible ...

Right, Bob McDonnell's clearly extreme position to, against the military's advice, let Big Oil drill right off Virginia's shores in even deeper waters than the Deepwater Horizon -- waters in which Big Oil just proved it can't stop a gusher.

... and President Barack Obama's outright cancellation of those plans.

And Barack Obama's apparently equally extremist ... cooling-off period delaying drilling until safety concerns can be addressed. STOP THE INSANITY!

BP Has New Plan To Distract Us From How Screwed We...

As I reluctantly predicted last week, BP's "top kill" effort to stop the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico didn't work. The inescapable conclusion is that offshore oil drilling technology is far more advanced than offshore oil spill stopping technology.

But wait! BP has a new plan to keep us from seeing this spill as an inevitable overdose of our ongoing addiction to oil! Put down that clean energy & climate bill and check this out:

[BP Managing Director] Bob Dudley said there was a greater chance of success with this operation  than with the "top kill" procedure that was tried last week.

"This is a better chance, definitely better. We're not working with  those high pressures and pumping that we weren't sure we were able to  even connect up. The guys that are running the robots, this is something  that they know how to do. The cutting is probably the critical piece.  We may have to try a couple of blades to do it. But from an engineering  sense, this is much more straightforward. 

If this plan was really so much better than the "top kill" scheme, wouldn't BP have done this a lot sooner? Of course. Because this plan has one major drawback -- it inherently has to make the gusher a lot worse before it has any chance at all of making it better: