Published: Saturday 22 December 2012
Published: Friday 30 November 2012
“The agency’s order temporarily bars new contracting with the oil giant by all federal agencies, although it does not interrupt existing government contracts, including the many large ones it has with the military.”

 

The Environmental Protection Agency imposed a new penalty for wrongdoing against the BP oil company on Nov. 28, but it may fall heavily on the Defense Department, an unflaggingly loyal client that has kept buying fuel from BP since the company’s errors caused its well to disgorge nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The agency’s order temporarily bars new contracting with the oil giant by all federal agencies, although it does not interrupt existing government contracts, including the many large ones it has with the military. It also leaves the door open for BP to prove that it has reformed itself enough to requalify for federal contracts at some point in the future.

But the Pentagon might find itself scrambling if the ban is prolonged, since BP has been the military’s principal single fuel supplier for years and collected billions of dollars for fuel used by U.S. forces in the Middle East and elsewhere, a practice that drew criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and others.

“When someone recklessly crashes a car, their license and keys are taken away,” Rep. Ed Markey (Mass.), the senior Democrat on the Natural Resources committee, said in a prepared statement yesterday. “Suspending BP’s access to contracts with our government is the right thing to do.”

EPA acted two weeks after the corporation entered guilty pleas in federal court to 14 criminal counts, including manslaughter, related to the spill. It was not a speedy decision, however, since EPA employees began considering a contracting ban years ago in response to a BP oil spill in 2006 and a refinery explosion in 2005.

“Do we want to do business with this foreign corporation, which has a horrendous record of chronically violating U.S. law?” former EPA attorney Jeanne Pascal told The Washington Post in 2010. ...

Published: Thursday 29 November 2012
The sanction, however, has been years in the making.

 

When the Obama administration temporarily banned BP from federal contracts Wednesday, it pointed to BP's "lack of business integrity" and conduct relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill.

The sanction, however, has been years in the making.

 

BP has been criminally convicted in four previous cases — including a 

Published: Thursday 29 November 2012
Published: Monday 19 November 2012
There, a loose network of activists is waging a guerrilla campaign not with improvised explosive devices or rocket-propelled grenades, but with zoning ordinances and petitions.

 

There’s a war going on that you know nothing about between a coalition of great powers and a small insurgent movement.  It’s a secret war being waged in the shadows while you go about your everyday life.

In the end, this conflict may matter more than those in Iraq and Afghanistan ever did.  And yet it’s taking place far from newspaper front pages and with hardly a notice on the nightly news.  Nor is it being fought in Yemen or Pakistan or Somalia, but in small hamlets in upstate New York.  There, a loose network of activists is waging a guerrilla campaign not with improvised explosive devices or rocket-propelled grenades, but with zoning ordinances and petitions. 

The weaponry may be humdrum, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. Ultimately, the fate of the planet may hang in the balance.

All summer long, the climate-change nightmares came on fast and furious. Once-fertile swathes of American heartland baked into an aridity reminiscent of sub-Saharan Africa. Hundreds of thousands of fish dead in overheated streams. Six million acres in the West consumed by wildfires.  In September, a report commissioned by 20 governments predicted that as many as 100 million people across the world could die by 2030 if fossil-fuel consumption isn’t reduced.  And all of this was before superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the New York metropolitan area and the Jersey shore.

Washington’s leadership, when it comes to ...

Published: Sunday 18 November 2012
“News reports stated the oil platform was not actively producing oil and that a welder involved in a maintenance operation may have caused the accident.”

An oil platform explosion and fire yesterday near the site of the nation’s greatest offshore oil spill in history—BP’s Deepwater Horizon—sent shivers up the spines of many Gulf residents as the U.S. Coast Guard reported that 11 crew members were flown to area hospitals and two crew members were still missing as of Friday evening. News reports said four workers were critically injured with burns.

A Coast Guard spokesman said the oil and gas platform was 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, LA, and was owned by Black Elk Energy, a fast-growing oil and gas drilling operation based in Houston. News reports stated the oil platform was not actively producing oil and that a welder involved in a maintenance operation may have caused the accident. Although there were reports of an oil sheen near the platform, there were no reports of a major oil leak.

NRDC President Frances Beinecke, a member of the presidential national oil commission that investigated the BP oil disaster, issued this statement:

“Though the BP criminal case is settled, today’s accident makes clear that the hazards of oil and gas drilling are not in America’s rear view.  It is a sad reminder that offshore drilling is an inherently dangerous business. Workers and communities are put in harm’s way every day and will continue to be as long as we ...

Published: Saturday 17 November 2012
“Holding corporations criminally liable reinforces the same fallacy that gave us Citizen’s United v. the Federal Election Commission, in which five justices decided corporations are people under the First Amendment and therefore can spend unlimited amounts on an election.”

 

Justice Department just entered into the largest criminal settlement in U.S. history with the giant oil company BP. BP plead guilty to 14 criminal counts, including manslaughter, and agreed to pay $4 billion over the next five years.

This is loony.

Mind you, I’m appalled by the carelessness and indifference of the BP executives responsible for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed eleven people on April 20, 2010, and unleashed the worst oil spill in American history.

But it defies logic to make BP itself the criminal. Corporations aren’t people. They can’t know right from wrong. They’re incapable of criminal intent. They have no brains. They’re legal fictions — pieces of paper filed away in a vault in some bank.

Holding corporations criminally liable reinforces the same fallacy that gave us Citizen’s United v. the Federal Election Commission, in which five justices decided corporations are people under the First Amendment and therefore can spend unlimited amounts on an election. Even if 49 percent of their shareholders are foreign citizens, corporations now have a constitutional right to affect the outcome of American elections.

We don’t know exactly how much corporate money was spent on the last election but it’s a fair guess that were it not for Citizen’s United, the House of Representatives might now be under control of Democrats, and Senate Democrats might have a filibuster-proof majority.

The perfidious notion that corporations are people can lead to even more bizarre results. If corporations are people and they’re headquartered in the United States, then presumably corporations are citizens. That means they have a right to vote as well.

I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.

Can we ...

Published: Friday 16 November 2012
“As part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the company will pay $4.5 billion in what is the largest fine ever levied on a corporation in the United States.”

 

BP agreed to plead guilty today to charges of manslaughter, environmental crimes, and lying to Congress in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, which killed 11 workers and sent as much as 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

As part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the company will pay $4.5 billion in what is the largest fine ever levied on a corporation in the United States.

The charges against the company stem from BP engineers' decision to ignore a critically important pressure test on the Macondo well structure that could have prevented the deadly blowout and explosion, and for misrepresenting the amount of oil leaking from the open well head after the mammoth drilling rig sank in nearly 5,000 feet of water.

In a separate and unexpected set of charges, three BP managers were indicted for their roles in operating the rig and for misrepresenting facts to Congress, marking the first time that any senior BP personnel have been criminally charged for their roles in the disaster.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Justice, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine — the highest-ranking BP supervisors on board the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the accident — have been charged with gross negligence in their oversight of the safety tests being conducted on the Macondo well the night of the disaster.

Kaluza and Vidrine "observed clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well," the statement said, and then "chose not to take obvious and appropriate steps to prevent the blowout."

Each man has been charged with 11 counts of manslaughter, 11 ...

Published: Thursday 15 November 2012
Published: Tuesday 6 November 2012
“The climate -- the heating oceans breeding stronger storms, melting the ice and raising the sea level, breaking the patterns of the weather we had always had into sharp shards: burning and dying forests, floods, droughts, heat waves in January, freak blizzards, sudden oscillations, acidifying oceans.”

 

The first horseman was named al-Qaeda in Manhattan, and it came as a message on September 11, 2001: that our meddling in the Middle East had sown rage and funded madness. We had meddled because of imperial ambition and because of oil, the black gold that fueled most of our machines and our largest corporations and too many of our politicians. The second horseman came not quite four years later. It was named Katrina, and this one too delivered a warning.

Katrina’s message was that we needed to face the dangers we had turned our back on when the country became obsessed with terrorism: failing infrastructure, institutional rot, racial divides, and poverty. And larger than any of these was the climate -- the heating oceans breeding stronger storms, melting the ice and raising the sea level, breaking the patterns of the weather we had always had into sharp shards: burning and dying forests, floods, droughts, heat waves in January, freak blizzards, sudden oscillations, acidifying oceans.

The third horseman came in October of 2008: it was named Wall Street, and when that horseman stumbled and collapsed, we were reminded that it had always been a predator, and all that had changed was the scale -- of deregulation, of greed, of recklessness, of amorality about homes and lives being casually trashed to profit the already wealthy. And the fourth horseman has arrived on schedule.

We called it Sandy, and it came to tell us we should have listened harder when the first, second, and third disasters showed up. This storm’s name shouldn’t be Sandy -- though that means we’ve run through the alphabet all the way up to S this hurricane season, way past brutal Isaac in August -- it should be Climate Change.  If each catastrophe came with a message, then this one’s was that global warming’s here, that the old rules don’t apply, and that not doing anything about ...

Published: Wednesday 12 September 2012
“Reports indicate that officials will be conducting tests to verify whether this petroleum debris stems from BP’s 2010 Macondo well disaster.”

Tar ball and mats of old oil have washed ashore in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. The State of Louisiana closed a 12-mile stretch of shoreline in the Grand Isle area along with an area stretching from the shore to roughly one mile into the Gulf’s waters. Further, pelicans and other wildlife have been reported found covered with oil. Reports indicate that officials will be conducting tests to verify whether this petroleum debris stems from BP’s 2010 Macondo well disaster.

 

“There are reports of residual Macondo oil along the shorelines near Fouchon [sic] Beach and Grand Isle,” Arturo Silva, a spokesperson for BP, told The Louisiana Weekly via email. “These are areas that were in active response prior to Isaac, so it was expected… that these could be areas where highly weathered residual oil might be exposed.” Silva went on to point out “that there have been 90 reports of oil releases from other sources since the storm, and it is imperative that the parties responsible for that oil act in the same manner as BP and respond quickly in following Coast Guard directions.”

 

A New York Times report dated Sept. 6th confirmed that the oil washing ashore did originate with the Macondo well. Silva told The Louisiana Weekly that BP was conducting its own tests to verify these results. Deputy Director of the Gulf Restoration Network, Aaron Viles, offered a pointed critique. “Isaac’s aftermath shows that BP’s oil is still in the Gulf, and that the Coast Guard should never have allowed BP to stand-down cleanup efforts along Louisiana’s hard-hit coast.”

 

At the same time that Isaac was churning up an oily wake, the Department of Justice was addressing the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which dumped roughly 5 million barrels (205.8 million gallons) of oil into the ...

Published: Sunday 26 August 2012
Published: Sunday 12 August 2012
“If a spill or blowout happened tomorrow in the Gulf of Mexico, or any U.S. water for that matter, any dispersant that is used would not necessarily be safe for the waters, ecosystems, response workers or nearby communities.”

A coalition of conservation, wildlife and public health groups in the Gulf region and in Alaska filed a citizen suit under the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act on Aug. 6 to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a rule on chemical oil dispersants. EPA’s current rules—which during the 2010 Gulf oil disaster failed to ensure that dispersants would be used safely—do not fulfill the requirements mandated by the Clean Water Act.

“We’re disappointed that the agency doesn’t seem to understand the widespread public urgency to initiate this rule making process,” said Jill Mastrototaro, Sierra Club Gulf Coast Protection campaign director. “If a spill or blowout happened tomorrow in the Gulf of Mexico, or any U.S. water for that matter, any dispersant that is used would not necessarily be safe for the waters, ecosystems, response workers or nearby communities.”

During the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, nearly 2 million gallons of chemical dispersants were dumped into Gulf waters with little knowledge or research into the chemicals’ toxic impacts. Currently, regulations dictating dispersants eligible for use in oil spills require minimal toxicity testing and no threshold for safety.

More than 5,000 petitions have been sent by residents across the Gulf Coast region urging the U.S. EPA to use its authority to initiate comprehensive testing of oil dispersants and to create regulations that include safety criteria and identify acceptable waters and quantities for use. But the U.S. EPA still has not created a new rule that will ensure that dispersants will be used safely in the next disaster.

“We sent EPA a notice of intent ...

Published: Saturday 11 August 2012
Published: Sunday 5 August 2012
“All Cheney did was affirm the incontrovertible national consensus: Sarah Palin is, was, and will always be demonstrably unqualified to be president.”

 

Mercifully brief, this week’s rousing Cheney-Palin-McCain food fight delivers more brash hijinks to liberals and Democrats than NBC’s controversial, jingoist Olympic coverage. Really, Dark Vader takes on the Tundra Hussy with pinwheel-loaded McCain pulling up the rear? Summertime, and the punditry’s easy. No doubt, after this merry episode in GOP dissension, we face months of Romney drudgery, slogging through a brittle convention, all the while deflecting Bain/tax/culture scandals until November. 

Beyond the pleasure of the inexhaustible Palin farce, why shouldn’t subtle ironists delight when the great demonic V.P. declares unfit, only four years later, a rogue V.P. pick fully ensconced on the trash heap? Ah, the grudge-filled Cheney gives Romney unsolicited V.P. advice while excoriating his arch-rival McCain.  Did Cheney forget, by impugning the perennial victim – Palin the growling pit bull – he’d foment not just McCain gurgling but fusillades of Tea Party frenzy against “the GOP establishment”? 

All Cheney did was affirm the incontrovertible national consensus: Sarah Palin is, was, and will always be demonstrably unqualified to be president. Or V.P. Or dogcatcher. How valuable: hindsight from the Dubya hindquarter now settles on the great ‘08 “mistake.” You think? Palin’s 17% “approval” last year barely topped BP’s showing (16% for nature’s nemesis-in-chief). But who cares when the rightwing fur flies? Mid-summer, news doldrums, and Mitt Romney veers between pathetic, deranged, and deadly dull, punctuated only by sparkling gaffes. 
  


Lame Leading the Lame 

And Sarah's ever defensive, poor-me victim’s response was to blame (presumably senile) Cheney getting suckered (at this last date?) by a false, ...

Published: Friday 3 August 2012
“Shell is getting ready to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, an ecosystem staggeringly rich in life of every sort, and while it’s not yet quite a done deal, the prospect should certainly focus our minds.”

 

 

When you go to the mountains, you go to the mountains.  When it’s the desert, it’s the desert.  When it’s the ocean, though, we generally say that we’re going “to the beach.”  Land is our element, not the waters of our world, and that is an unmistakable advantage for any oil company that wants to drill in pristine waters.

Take Shell Oil.  Recently, the company’s drill ship, the fabulously named Noble Discoverer, went adrift and almost grounded in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.  That should be considered an omen for a distinctly star-crossed venture to come.  Unfortunately, few of us are paying the slightest attention.

Shell is getting ready to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, an ecosystem staggeringly rich in life of every sort, and while it’s not yet quite a done deal, the prospect should certainly focus our minds.  But first, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the mind-boggling richness of the life still in our oceans.

Last month began with a once-in-a-lifetime sighting in Monterey Bay, California, startlingly close to shore, of blue whales.  Those gigantic mammals can measure up to 100 feet, head-to-tail, and weigh nearly 200 tons -- the largest animal by weight ever to have lived on this planet. Yes, even heavier than dinosaurs. The biggest of them, Amphicoelias fragillimus, is estimated to have weighed 122 tons, while the largest blue whale came in at a whopping 195 tons.

The recent Monterey Bay sighting is being called “the most phenomenal showing of the endangered mammals in recent history.” On July 5th ...

Published: Wednesday 25 July 2012
“In 60 seconds, these five companies earned $261,000 — more than 96 percent of American households make in one year.”

The Big Five oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell – are slated to announce their 2012 second-quarter profits later this week.

We can expect these companies, all of which rank in the top 10 of the “Fortune 500 Global Ranking,” to reveal billions of dollars more in profits, after earning $375 million in profits per day in 2011 ($261,000 per minute), and $368 million per day in the first three-months of 2012 — bringing their combined profits to $1 trillion from 2001 through 2011.

Below is a quick look at just how much these Big Oil companies are making, and where they are spending their billions in profits.

Big Oil’s Big Profits, In 24 Hours

  • In 60 seconds, these five companies earned $261,000 — more than 96 percent of American households make in one year.
  • These five oil companies received $6.6 million in federal tax breaks every day.
Published: Tuesday 24 July 2012
“It was the careerists who made possible the genocides, from the extermination of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust to Stalin’s liquidations.”

The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.

Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, ...

Published: Sunday 22 July 2012
The Obama administration has set a deadline for next month to decide on whether to grant the final drilling permits.

As the oil giant Shell prepares to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic, activists across the world have begun holding protests. The Obama administration has set a deadline for next month to decide on whether to grant the final drilling permits. Over the last decade, Arctic Alaska has become the most contested land in recent U.S. history. But in addition to oil, natural gas and coal, the arctic is rich in biodiversity, and has been home to generations of indigenous people for thousands of years. We're joined by Subhankar Banerjee, a renowned photographer, writer and activist who has spent the past decade working to conserve the Arctic and raise awareness about human rights and climate change. Banerjee is editor of the newly published book, "Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point," and has just won the "2012 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award."

 

Transcript

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill in the Alaskan Arctic drew more protests this week when one of its ships almost ran aground there Saturday. The Noble Discoverer is one of two vessels that will drill exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas this summer. Activists with Greenpeace forced dozens of Shell sites to temporarily shut down this week as part of a ...

Published: Friday 13 July 2012
“The violations stemmed from a 2009 inspection of BP’s Texas City refinery by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

 

Oil giant BP has agreed to pay $13 million in fines to settle more than 400 safety violations at a Texas refinery that suffered a catastrophic explosion in 2005, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Thursday.

The violations stemmed from a 2009 inspection of BP’s Texas City refinery by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA conducted the inspection to see if BP had corrected safety problems that led to the 2005 blast, which killed 15 workers and injured at least 170. It hadn't.

The settlement “will help ensure that workers don’t have to sacrifice their lives for their livelihood,” Solis said in a teleconference with reporters. “This agreement will save lives.” BP has promised to fix all the cited problems in Texas City by the end of this year.

Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said that none of the uncorrected problems is “imminently dangerous.”

BP paid $21 million in fines for violations related to the 2005 explosion. After doing its follow-up inspection in 2009, OSHA cited the company for 270 “failure to abate” violations. BP agreed in 2010 to pay $50.6 million more to resolve those citations.

During the same inspection, OSHA found 439 additional violations and proposed penalties of almost $31 million. The $13 million settlement announced Thursday resolves all but 30 of those violations, which are still being challenged by BP.

BP’s safety performance “significantly improved” after the 2009 inspection and fines, Barab said. “The takeaway is that enforcement works,” he said.

In a press release, Iain Conn, BP’s global head of refining and marketing, said the company aims to be a leader in process safety — the prevention of potentially ...

Published: Tuesday 3 July 2012
“Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality.”

Native Americans’ resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond.

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards.

Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be ...

Published: Friday 8 June 2012
Back in 2010 marine geochemist Chris Reddy and environmental engineer Richard Camilli pinged the plume of spilt oil in Gulf Coast waters with sonar.

 

An op-ed written by two Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, or WHOI, scientists in The Boston Globe this week is heating up a debate about how chilly legal scrutiny can be when it comes to ocean science.

Back in 2010 marine geochemist Chris Reddy and environmental engineer Richard Camilli pinged the plume of spilt oil in Gulf Coast waters with sonar. Remote-operated vehicles thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface helped tell them where the oil was. They analyzed the makeup of that subsurface plume to figure out what kind of light, aromatic hydrocarbons were in it. They calculated an average flow rate of 57,000 barrels of oil a day, for a total release of 4.9 million barrels of oil.

READ FULL POST 2 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012
Published: Wednesday 23 May 2012
Published: Sunday 13 May 2012
“The first question that jumps out for those who have researched this subject with any degree of thoroughness is how this recent report fails to reconcile with previous studies performed by the EPA.”

Quite incredibly, the EPA issued a positive report on May 1, 2012 regarding the safety and toxicity of various dispersants used in the BP Gulf Oil Spill. Included in this assessment was the use of Corexit.

This report “indicated that all eight dispersants had roughly the same toxicity, and all fell into the “practically non-toxic” or “slightly toxic” category. Scientists found that none of the eight dispersants displayed endocrine-disrupting activity of “biological significance.” The same report went on to say that “dispersant-oil mixtures were generally no more toxic to the aquatic test species than oil alone.”

The first question that jumps out for those who have researched this subject with any degree of thoroughness is how this recent report fails to reconcile with previous studies performed by the EPA. Here is some test data retrieved from the EPA website that was posted previous to the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

“The dispersant (Corexit 9500) and dispersed oil have demonstrated the following levels of toxicity per the EPA website link that follows:

  • (1) 10.72 parts per million (ppm) of oil alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.
  • (2) 25.20 parts per million of dispersant (Corexit 9500) alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.
  • (3) 2.61 parts per million of dispersed oil (Corexit-laden) alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.”

This data diverges from the recent report to such a significant degree that the results which were just posted at the EPA.GOV website under the title of “The BP Oil Spill: Responsive Science Supports Emergency Response” must be seriously scrutinized.

What is the buying public to make of such conflicting data? Those who have medical conditions ...

Published: Friday 11 May 2012
“ALEC has faced backlash recently for its role in crafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Now the organization is taking the same secretive approach to kill renewable energy development across the country.”

Today, behind closed doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, legislators from 15 states will meet with the oil and gas industry to discuss so-called “model legislation” as part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The result could be laws that handicap renewable energy targets — while creating loopholes for fossil fuels, written directly by the oil and gas industry itself.

ALEC has faced backlash recently for its role in crafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Now the organization is taking the same secretive approach to kill renewable energy development across the country.

Oil and gas corporations have a very strong role in politics through groups like Americans For Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, and, of course, ALEC. Four of the largest oil and gas corporations and two of the most profitable U.S. corporations overall, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP, sit on ALEC’s task forces. And so today, according to documents posted by Common Cause, representatives from these and other energy groups will discuss potential legislation that would undermine clean energy standards and ...

Published: Thursday 10 May 2012
Six recent clashes and conflicts on a planet heading into energy overdrive.

Conflict and intrigue over valuable energy supplies have been features of the international landscape for a long time.  Major wars over oil have been fought every decade or so since World War I, and smaller engagements have erupted every few years; a flare-up or two in 2012, then, would be part of the normal scheme of things.  Instead, what we are now seeing is a whole cluster of oil-related clashes stretching across the globe, involving a dozen or so countries, with more popping up all the time.  Consider these flash-points as signals that we are entering an era of intensified conflict over energy.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Argentina to the Philippines, here are the six areas of conflict -- all tied to energy supplies -- that have made news in just the first few months of 2012:

1. A brewing war between Sudan and South Sudan: On April 10th, forces from the newly independent state of South Sudan occupied the oil center of Heglig, a town granted to Sudan as part of a peace settlement that allowed the southerners to secede in 2011.  The northerners, based in Khartoum, then mobilized their own forces and drove the South Sudanese out of Heglig.  Fighting has since erupted all along the contested border ...

Published: Monday 7 May 2012
“ALEC’s agenda includes crafting legislation that kills carbon pricing and renewable energy targets, turns over public lands, and prevents fracking disclosure laws, among other harmful laws.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s anti-environment agenda is fueled by none other than Big Oil companies, which sit on ALEC’s “task forces.”

The watchdog group Common Cause published ALEC’s full member list, revealing four of the five major oil companies behind the group’s anti-environment legislation. These four oil companies — Shell, BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil — are also the four most profitable, taking a combined $30.6 billion profits in just three months this year.

Koch Industries, ubiquitous in funding right-wing causes, is also one of ALEC’s corporate members, while ConocoPhillips has its own history of funding the group.

ALEC’s agenda includes crafting legislation that kills carbon pricing and renewable energy targets, turns over public lands, and prevents fracking disclosure laws, among other harmful laws.

The latest chapter of Big Oil shaping local and state laws occurs later this week, where state legislators from 15 oil and gas states will meet with oil and gas companies presenting a fossil-fueled vision for the future.

Published: Sunday 6 May 2012
Over half of all commercial fishermen affected by the spill were Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans but they accounted for less than 10 percent of the vessels hired by BP, the suit says. Of the 5,000 vessels BP engaged, only 350 belonged to Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans.

Vietnamese and Cambodian fishermen in Village L’est and Versailles in New Orleans East were among the first residents to return after Katrina, only to see their livelihoods crushed a few years later by the BP spill. In early April, 41 Asian-American fishermen sued BP in federal Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, claiming discrimination in the company’s Vessels of Opportunity program. Other groups of fishermen have also sued over treatment in the VOO, which hired boats to remove spilled oil.

Asian Americans were underrepresented in the VOO given their numbers in the Gulf fishing community. Over half of all commercial fishermen affected by the spill were Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans but they accounted for less than 10 percent of the vessels hired by BP, the suit says. Of the 5,000 vessels BP engaged, only 350 belonged to Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans.

Plaintiffs in the case are represented by attorney Ryan Beasley in Harvey. The suit says that during the VOO Program, BP sent emails to Danos and Curole Marine Contractors, LLC in Larose, and DRC Emergency Services, LLC, in Mobile, Ala., telling them not to hire vessels owned by Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans. The class action suit was filed against BP, Danos and Curole, and DRC Emergency, and seeks damages for civil rights violations and employment discrimination. The suit says that 4,000 Asian Americans were affected by BP’s policies, and claims that defendants violated Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which says all Americans have the same rights as white citizens.

Why didn’t BP want to hire Asian Americans? Attorneys and others point to the cost of translating legal language, a preference for workers outside the area closest to the spill, and cronyism—between BP and its contractors and certain boat captains hired by the VOO.

Last week, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said “I can’t absolutely ...

Published: Sunday 29 April 2012
A disturbing survey of the Gulf region, why and where the “BP oil spill” has expanded into the massive disaster widely predicted (but officially denied). And the oil drilling industry adventure is surging, Trickle-down Wreck-economics with a vengeance.

If you care about salt water only when gargling, or annual beach parties, might as well skip this piece. Finicky readers will depart anyway, not drawn to environmental catastrophes, here the potential collapse of the Gulf ecosystem. Right off, two years of research proves the causal catch-all phrase, "BP oil spill," drastically underplays the enormity of effects: the damage from double pollutants (oil + dispersant) carried by waves, deposited on seascapes, then absorbed by an incredible variety of living masses.

Phrasing more consistent with real ends: "BP's toxic sludge inundation," or "BP's fatal frothy flood," even "BP's contagion of contaminated crude" -- crude and indiscriminate indeed when this glut of gunk continues its death march. Even bacteria called upon to consume oil slicks are nixed, slain by two million gallons of the solvent concoction Corexit. Keen observer of the Gulf tragedy, I'd be downright remiss to withhold scandalous news about oil stuck to human skin, eyeless shrimp, fish-scale infections, or rising mortality for marine mammals and previously endangered sea turtles. As famed ocean expert Sylvia Earle teaches, "You don't have to touch the ocean for the ocean to touch you." 

If misguided greed makes for business stupidity, like BP "saving" pennies on cut-rate oil platforms only to fork over $60 billion for liabilities and penalties, then moral stupidity denies blatant, eye-popping lessons from this painful experience. My take: research now proves the infamous trickle-down theory -- laughable when applied to job growth or economics -- is working with a vengeance on the entire Gulf region, decimating industries, adding to unemployment, and bringing millions new, hard-to-treat diseases.  

Drill, baby, drill, Obama-style

For this one-time food cornucopia, ecologically compromised long before 2010, ...

Published: Sunday 29 April 2012
According to an affidavit and complaint filed today in a Louisiana court, Kurt Mix, a former drilling and completions engineer, deleted email and text messages he had sent to senior BP managers estimating that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf was many times greater than the amount stated publicly.

Two years after oil from a BP well began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges alleging that a former BP employee destroyed critical evidence in the early days of the unfolding disaster.

The charges are the first to be filed in what the Obama administration has called the worst environmental disaster in American history, and they are significant because they target employee for his actions.

According to an affidavit and complaint filed today in a Louisiana court, Kurt Mix, a former drilling and completions engineer, deleted email and text messages he had sent to senior BP managers estimating that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf was many times greater than the amount stated publicly. Mix was specifically instructed by attorneys contracted by BP to retain his records before he deleted them, the affidavit states.

In a statement released to reporters, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that more charges are likely, describing the indictment as "initial charges" in an ongoing investigation, and saying that the Department of Justice "will hold accountable those who violated the law."

More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico after a blowout caused the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the death of 11 workers on April 20, 2010. The spill continued, unabated, for nearly three months. Analysts have long expected criminal charges against BP or its employees.

A spokeswoman for the agency declined to say when more charges might be expected, or to explain why the case against Mix was the first to be made public.

Mix could not be reached for comment, and we were unable to leave him a message because his voicemail was full.

BP issued a statement saying that the company was cooperating with federal investigators and ...

Published: Thursday 26 April 2012
“The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. More like a scape-kid, really.”

Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.

 

I once ran a Justice Department racketeering case and damned if I would have 'cuffed some poor schmuck like Mix––especially when there's hot, smoking guns showing greater crimes by BP higher ups.

Last week, I released evidence we uncovered that BP top executives concealed evidence of a prior blow-out. Had they not covered up the 2008 blow-out in then Caspian Sea, then the Deepwater Horizon probably would not have blown out two years later in 2010. [Watch the film and read the stories.]

I urge you to read the affidavit of FBI agent Barbara O'Donnell which the government filed in arresting Mix. His crime is deleting texts from his phone indicating that the blown-out Macondo well was gushing over 15,000 barrels of oil a day, not 5,000 as BP told the public and government. If true, it's a crime, destruction of evidence. But Mix is a minnow. What about the sharks? The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only "SUPERVISOR" by the FBI). If "Supervisor" knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. Presumably, even CEO Tony Hayward would have gotten the message on his racing yacht.

Destruction of evidence is not nice, but concealment of evidence and fraud by corporate bigs, is the bigger crime. I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor's supervisors knew and when they knew it––and didn't tell us.

And far, far, far more important: when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let's ...

Published: Wednesday 25 April 2012
“The Justice Department has charged former BP engineer Kurt Mix with destroying evidence on BP’s internal response to the disaster.”

On the heels of the second anniversary of the Deep-water Horizon disaster, federal prosecutors have issued the first arrest related to the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.  The Justice Department has charged former BP engineer Kurt Mix with destroying evidence on BP’s internal response to the disaster.

Mix, who worked on estimating the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf, allegedly deleted hundreds of text messages with a BP supervisor.  This includes one that read “Too much flow rate —- over 15,000,” barrels of oil per day, which was three-times higher than BP’s public estimate of barrels of oil per day at the time.

Attorney General Eric Holder issued the statement [emphasis added]:

“The department has filed initial charges in its investigation into the Deep-water Horizon disaster against an individual for allegedly deleting records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion that led to the devastating tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Attorney General Holder.  “The Deep-water Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.”

As the criminal investigations continue, Congress has still not yet passed legislation responding to a disaster that continues to have devastating effects on fish, beaches, and wetlands.

Published: Monday 23 April 2012
“BP maintains the Gulf is rapidly recovering thanks to the company’s efforts”

Two years since the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, we look at its impact on the Gulf of Mexico's residents and wildlife even as no BP officials have faced criminal prosecution for the disaster. Eleven workers died when the Deepwater Horizon well exploded and almost five million barrels of crude oil leaked into the ocean before the well was plugged after 51 days. BP maintains the Gulf is rapidly recovering thanks to the company's efforts, but Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail describes how scientists say shrimp, fish and crabs in the Gulf of Mexico have been deformed by oil and chemicals released during the spill clean-up effort. Meanwhile, ProPublica's environmental reporter Abrahm Lustgarten says the company failed to learn from past mistakes that could have helped avoid the explosion. He is the author of the new book, "Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster." 

 

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the second anniversary of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. It was April 20th, 2010, when high pressure methane gas from a BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico expanded onto the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. As the gas ignited, it engulfed the rig and caused it to explode, killing 11 workers on board, injuring 17 others. Before the well was plugged, more than 53,000 gallons of crude oil gushed into the Gulf each day for the next 51 days, nearly five million barrels in total.

READ FULL POST 7 COMMENTS

Published: Sunday 22 April 2012
Published: Saturday 21 April 2012
“Evidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon and the Bush Administration in the deadly cover-up—which included falsifying a report to the Securities Exchange Commission.”

Yesterday, Ecowatch.org revealed that, in September 2008, nearly two years before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig had blown out in the Caspian Sea— which BP concealed from U.S. regulators and Congress.

Had BP, Chevron, Exxon or the Bush State Department revealed the facts of the earlier blow-out, it is likely that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been prevented.

Days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, a message came in to our offices in New York from an industry insider floating on a ship in the Caspian Sea. He stated there had been a blow-out, just like the one in the Gulf, and BP had covered it up.

To confirm this shocking accusation, I flew with my team to the Islamic republic of Azerbaijan. Outside the capital, Baku, near the giant BP terminal, we found workers, though too frightened to give their names, who did confirm that they were evacuated from the BP offshore platform as it filled with explosive methane gas.

Before we could get them on camera, my crew and I were arrested and the witnesses disappeared.

Expelled from Azerbaijan, we still obtained the ultimate corroboration: a secret cable from the U.S. Embassy to the State Department in Washington laying out the whole story of the 2008 Caspian blow-out.

The source of the cable, classified “SECRET,” was a disaffected U.S. soldier, Private Bradley Manning who, through WikiLeaks.org, provided hot smoking guns to The Guardian.

The information found in the U.S. embassy cables is a block-buster. 

The cables confirmed what BP will not admit to this day: there was a serious blow-out and its cause was the same as in the Gulf disaster two years later—the cement (“mud”) used to cap the well had failed.

Bill Schrader, ...

Published: Friday 20 April 2012
Published: Thursday 15 March 2012
“Under the Senate bill, the five states would divide 35 percent of the money equally, 60 percent would be directed to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and 5 percent would go to a new Gulf science and fisheries program.”

The Senate approved a highway bill Wednesday that includes a long-sought provision for the Gulf Coast: A guarantee that 80 percent of the fines collected from the April 2010 BP oil spill — an amount that could reach $20 billion — would be distributed for coastal restoration to the five states along the Gulf of Mexico: Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Alabama.

While the bill faces an uncertain outlook in the House of Representatives, Gulf state lawmakers are anxious for Congress to adopt the amendment on the so-called RESTORE Act before a settlement is reached with the Department of Justice and BP.

"I am hopeful that the Senate's overwhelming support for helping Gulf Coast states address long-term environmental and economic damages will be fairly considered by the House of Representatives," said Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. "The nation needs an extended highway bill, and Gulf Coast states need assurance that Congress will allow them to have resources to recover from the oil spill."

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said, "As we approach the two-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, I am glad to have helped pass a bill to direct funds to coastal communities that were impacted."

Under the Senate bill, the five states would divide 35 percent of the money equally, 60 percent would be directed to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and 5 percent would go to a new Gulf science and fisheries program. The House-passed version of the amendment doesn't specify how the money would be distributed. If Congress doesn't act, the fines collected would go to the Treasury.

"I join with our senators in celebrating the fact that a majority on both sides of the Capitol have now committed to bringing most of the Clean Water Act fines back to the states affected by this tragedy," Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., said in a statement.

"These BP fine monies are vital in ...

Published: Wednesday 14 March 2012
“In energy terms, we are now entering a world whose grim nature has yet to be fully grasped.”

Oil prices are now higher than they have ever been—except for a few frenzied moments before the global economic meltdown of 2008. Many immediate factors are contributing to this surge, including Iran’s threats to block oil shipping in the Persian Gulf, fears of a new Middle Eastern war and turmoil in energy-rich Nigeria. Some of these pressures could ease in the months ahead, providing temporary relief at the gas pump. But the principal cause of higher prices—a fundamental shift in the structure of the oil industry—cannot be reversed, and so oil prices are destined to remain high for a long time to come.

In energy terms, we are now entering a world whose grim nature has yet to be fully grasped. This pivotal shift has been brought about by the disappearance of relatively accessible and inexpensive petroleum—“easy oil,” in the parlance of industry analysts; in other words, the kind of oil that powered a staggering expansion of global wealth over the past sixty-five years and the creation of endless car-oriented suburban communities. This oil is now nearly gone.

The world still harbors large reserves of petroleum, but these are of the hard-to-reach, hard-to-refine, “tough oil” variety. From now on, every barrel we consume will be more costly to extract, more costly to refine—and so more expensive at the gas pump.

Those who claim that the world remains “awash” in oil are technically correct: the planet still ...

Published: Tuesday 13 March 2012
“As the probation expired, confusion remained about exactly what improvements BP had made at its refineries.”

BP’s refining subsidiary was released today from criminal probation related to a 2005 explosion in Texas City that killed 15 workers.

The company has addressed the most serious safety deficiencies exposed by the accident and satisfied the terms of a felony plea agreement to settle charges that it failed to protect workers from known risks, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said.

The move closes a controversial chapter for the company, but it leaves an array of worker-safety issues unresolved. BP is still negotiating over more than 400 additional violations brought against its Texas City refinery separately from the criminal case.

Following the explosion, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and BP reached a settlement requiring the company to address safety issues at the refinery. Fixing those problems became one of the Justice Department’s conditions for settling felony charges relating to the explosion and for ending the three-year probation period.

In late 2009, however, after a series of inspections, OSHA determined that BP had not addressed many of its safety lapses and levied 270 additional violations and a $87.4 million fine. It also hit the company with another 439 additional “egregious and willful” safety violations at the refinery that were not a component of the criminal case.

At issue then was whether the company had violated some of the most important terms of its probation even after it was given a second chance. In 2010, BP settled with OSHA, paying the agency $50.6 million and committing to making substantive safety changes by the court-set sunset of its probation period today (March 12).

A Justice Department spokesman said BP has met its obligations for probation, including addressing the 270 violations. The remaining 400 or so OSHA violations, however, were not specific to the Texas City agreement.

“These violations were unrelated to the 2005 ...

Published: Wednesday 7 March 2012
“The public must remain vigilant in demanding that the unfolding legal process is transparent, fair and rigorous, holding BP and all responsible parties fully to account for their failures and crimes.”

On March 2, the first agreement in the historic trial against BP and all of the companies responsible for the largest maritime oil spill in world history was announced. The settlement proposal between BP and some 120,000 individuals and businesses includes key provisions long sought by those most economically and physically devastated by the gulf oil disaster. It also entails a number of critical unknowns, with vital details under negotiation for up to forty-five days.

What this settlement does not address, and what may yet go to trial at any time in New Orleans, are all of the charges brought by state governments and the federal government against the companies, including penalties for harm and restoration to wildlife and the environment, Clean Water Act penalties for the 4.9 million barrels of oil and 500,000 tons of gaseous hydrocarbons BP released into the ocean, the determinations of fault and negligence, and potential punitive damages. Judge Carl Barbier is also set to consider potential criminal charges at a later trial.

If the people and places of the Gulf Coast are to achieve full justice and restoration, and if future disasters are to be prevented, the public must remain vigilant in demanding that the unfolding legal process is transparent, fair and rigorous, holding BP and all responsible parties fully to account for their failures and crimes.

What is behind the pressure for a settlement?

There are four factors driving the parties away from a trial and toward a settlement: the “Valdez curse,” Big Oil’s fears, the Obama administration and BP’s bottom line.

After Exxon’s Valdez oil tanker ran aground in 1989, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska, the legal suit launched by plaintiffs wound its way through the courts over the course of nineteen years before the Supreme Court reached its decision, ...

Published: Monday 5 March 2012
“State and federal governments are still pursuing separate civil claims against BP for environmental damage.”

Investigative journalists Greg Palast and Antonia Juhasz examine who wins and who loses in BP’s settlement. “[BP’s] basically being told, like a bank robber — you put the money back and everything will be forgiven,” says Palast, who also investigated the Exxon Valdez settlement. Meanwhile, state and federal governments are still pursuing separate civil claims against BP for environmental damage. “That’s when we’re going to hopefully uncover those 72 millions pages of investigation that will include wrong doing not just by BP, not just by Transocean, not just by Halliburton, but by every major oil company involved offshore, and very likely based on my research, wrongdoing by the Obama administration,” says Juhasz. “It is a desire to keep that out of the public that has pushed the settlement process forward.” We also speak with Florida State University Oceanography Professor Ian MacDonald about what it means to restore the Gulf of Mexico. In the wake of the oil spill, BP pledged up to $500 million over a decade to conduct independent scientific research on the environmental effects. But MacDonald notes that, “When the oil was gushing, there were literally hundreds of ships … studying this disaster. Now as we try to learn what happened, and prepare ourselves for the next catastrophe, we have nothing like those kinds of resources present.”

Published: Sunday 4 March 2012
“The tentative deal, announced late Friday, does not address state lawsuits and federal claims under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, which could cost BP as much as $21 billion more.”

BP’s announcement that it will pay $7.8 billion to compensate thousands of Gulf Coast residents harmed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster ends one chapter of legal wrangling over the 2010 oil spill, but leaves other, potentially far more expensive, issues unresolved.

The tentative deal, announced late Friday, does not address state lawsuits and federal claims under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, which could cost BP as much as $21 billion more. It has little to do with efforts to assess the extent of environmental damage and to pay for them; that will come later. And BP could still face criminal charges related to the oil spill and be barred from receiving federal contracts.The payout agreed to Friday is BP’s best estimate of what it will cost to meet outstanding claims, but is not capped and could wind up being higher. As of now, though, the amount is significantly less than many had expected and does not appear to require BP to spend any money that it had not already agreed to pay. The settlement will come out of a $20 billion fund set aside in June 2010 by BP at the behest of President Obama to cover claims from disaster victims. The settlement amounts to less than one-third of BP’s 2011 profits, which were nearly $26 billion.

Published: Monday 27 February 2012
“GRA’s special report has been forwarded to Congress in advance of BP’s upcoming trial and has also been submitted to the appropriate federal, state and county authorities, plaintiff attorneys, and environmental and health advocacy groups who have a stake in the outcome of the trial.”

 

Gulf Rescue Alliance (GRA) has just sent a briefing package to the Attorney Generals of Alabama and Louisiana which presents evidence they believe has never seen the light of day concerning the how and why of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster and subsequent release of toxic oil into the Gulf—oil that is still gushing from various seabed fractures and fissures.

The evidence provided therein clearly indicates:

  • The unmentioned existence of a 3rd Macondo well (the real source of the explosion, DWH sinking and ensuing oil spill).
  •  The current condition of this well being such that it can never be properly capped.
  • The compromised condition of the seabed floor being such that there are multiple unnatural sources of gushers continuing to pour into the Gulf, with Corexit dispersant still suppressing its visibility.
  • That the highly publicized capped well (Well A) never occurred as reported, and in fact was an abandoned well, hence it was never the source of the millions of gallons released into the Gulf.

GRA’s special report (a comprehensive compilation of research released by insiders and experts through confidential internet sources) has been forwarded to Congress in advance of BP’s upcoming trial on Monday, February 27th in New Orleans, LA.  Entitled 

Published: Tuesday 21 February 2012
“BP is repositioning itself in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest by upgrading its refineries there to tap a burgeoning crude supply from the U.S’ northern neighbor.”

As political maneuvering continues over the fate of the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, one of the world's largest energy companies -- BP -- is already signaling the direction it plans to take: it's positioning itself to tap the burgeoning supply of Canadian tar sands oil.

BP announced it will divest from its oil refineries on the Southern West Coast -- in Carson, Calif. -- and Texas City, TX, and expand its operations in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest -- a move that would halve the company's U.S. refining capacity.

David Hackett of Stillwater Associates, an energy consulting firm based in Irvine, Calif., called the energy giant’s exit from California “a big deal.”

“There hasn’t been a major refinery sale in California since the late nineties,” he said, adding that the divestment appears to be “an investment decision that BP has made,” rather than being driven by refinery consolidation or government action. Hackett says BP is cutting back on its oil refining business, because of the “thin profit margin.” Oil companies make significantly more profit from producing crude oil, he says, than from refining and marketing it.

“They don’t want to be in refining and marketing in the Pacific Southwest -- Southern California, Southern Nevada, and Arizona,” he said.

The company has significant market share in these states, Hackett says, through the ARCO brand, which BP bought in the ‘90s. The company will continue to operate and supply fuel to ARCO stations in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

A company spokesman said in an emailed statement that the divestment decision, announced last February, is “part of a strategic plan to restructure BP's U.S. refining portfolio.” The company is looking for buyers for its Carson and Texas City refineries, and hopes to complete the sales by the end of the ...

Published: Thursday 16 February 2012
“The amendment sets up the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund for the five Gulf Coast states, and sets aside 80 percent percent of the Clean Water Act fines -- an amount that could reach $20 billion.”

 

The House passed an amendment Wednesday night critical to the Gulf Coast that directs at least 80 percent of BP oil spill fines to the five Gulf states.

The vote was 266-159.

The unexpected inclusion of the amendment, which is a major portion of the Restore Act, in the debate over energy and the surface transportation bill, came after several lawmakers, including Reps. Steve Palazzo, R-Biloxi, Steve Scalise, R-La., and Peter Olson, R-Texas, persuaded GOP leadership to agree to it.

“This amendment is a huge first step, and it will be the first time either House of Congress votes on bringing oil spill fines back to the Gulf Coast states,” said Palazzo.

Scalise said, “This is a really important milestone. We feel like we’ve got a real opportunity to get this passed and get this fund in place.”

The amendment sets up the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund for the five Gulf Coast states, and sets aside 80 percent percent of the Clean Water Act fines -- an amount that could reach $20 billion.

A federal case ...

Published: Tuesday 14 February 2012
“Oil and gas companies are raking in record profits and clearly do not need these tax breaks.”

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 sets a responsible course for rebuilding the economy so that it works for everyone, not just the privileged few. Our middle class is the engine of economic growth, but is threatened by dwindling public investments, a tax system increasingly rigged to benefit the wealthy, a fraying safety net, and assaults on what should be the bedrock guarantees of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

The president’s budget protects those guarantees, boosts critical investments, and takes steps toward rebalancing the tax code so that all pay their fair share. And it does this in a fiscally responsible way, charting a path that nurtures the economic recovery while reducing the federal deficit, all without asking the middle class to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden.

President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2013 budget would make taxes fairer by, among other things, eliminating $40 billion in tax breaks over 10 years for oil and gas companies. About one-fourth of the savings would be invested in domestic manufacturing, which would create jobs.

Oil and gas companies are raking in record profits and clearly do not need these tax breaks. The big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell—made a combined profit of $137 billion in 2011. This beats their previous 21st century record of $136 billion (2011$) in 2008, and ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips were the first, fourth, and 15th most profitable companies on the Fortune 100 List in 2011.

Despite these humongous earnings, however, the

Published: Tuesday 7 February 2012
“BP announced that its 2011 profit totaled $26 billion, a 114 percent jump from the year before, when the company’s ‘failure of supervision and accountability’ caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”

 

 

BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill is still affecting the lives of many Americans, particularly the tens of thousands that have not settled lawsuits with the company. Yet the company has bounced back from the billions it lost in the wake of the spill.

BP announced today that its 2011 profit totaled $26 billion, a 114 percent jump from the year before, when the company’s “

Published: Thursday 12 January 2012
“Several contractors told the Sun Herald their businesses have suffered because of failure by O’Brien’s Resources Management, BP’s prime contractor, to pay for a percentage of their work.”

Companies that responded to the BP oil catastrophe say they are still fighting for payments due from the time the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

Several contractors told the Sun Herald their businesses have suffered because of failure by O'Brien's Resources Management, BP's prime contractor, to pay for a percentage of their work. O'Brien's representatives declined to comment on the situation, while BP spokesman Ray Melick said the oil company's contractors, O'Brien's and United States Environmental Services in this case, are expected to honor their obligations.

George Malvaney, chief operating officer at USES, confirmed that tens of millions of dollars in payments are outstanding Gulfwide. He said representatives of BP, O'Brien's and USES will meet Thursday morning to discuss the payments. Melick said he understands that BP and USES will meet to discuss numerous issues. He declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, subcontractors have sent their contractors demand letters for payment, the last step before litigation. Subcontractors said they want to avoid lawsuits that could take years to resolve.

Tom Elmore, owner of Mississippi-based Eutaw Construction Co., said he has received demand letters from subcontractors and is preparing one for USES, the contractor his company worked under in partnership with T.L. Wallace Construction Inc., also a Mississippi company. Eutaw and Wallace have $5 million to $6 million in outstanding payments, he said.

Under the "pay when paid" contracts, contractors receive their payments before they pay subcontractors.

"USES has turned in all of the billings to O'Brien's," Elmore said. ...

Published: Saturday 26 November 2011
“For the Vietnamese Americans in the area whose labor — fishing, cleaning, sorting, packing, cooking and selling — makes up about one-third of the gulf’s seafood industry, any hard-won stability after Katrina suddenly vanished.”

Some say that Asian America began in Louisiana. In the late 1700s, Filipino sailors escaped Spanish galleons and started shrimping the hot, humid Gulf Coast, where the weather reminded them of Southeast Asia and the water teemed with oysters, lobsters, scallops, crab, crayfish and shrimp. After the Vietnam War, new waves of Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants settled in the area, indelibly shifting the region’s mix of food, culture and history.

 

But neither history nor affinity could protect New Orleans-area Asian Americans from the multiple disasters of the last six years. Neighborhoods were just beginning to recover from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010. Fishermen watched the news nervously, hoping the spill would be contained quickly. It wasn’t. The oil — between 55,000 and 62,000 barrels a day — flowed for 87 days into the gulf before it was capped.

 

For the Vietnamese Americans in the area whose labor — fishing, cleaning, sorting, packing, cooking and selling — makes up about one-third of the gulf’s seafood industry, any hard-won stability after Katrina suddenly vanished. But this disaster presented no riveting Superdome, no wrenching images, to engender sympathy and assistance — only an ongoing series of setbacks and recalculations for this community that has been so central to the ocean economy for decades.

 

They now face protracted compensation battles, diminished business and skepticism about the future. Yet as local Vietnamese Americans apply some entrepreneurial thinking and a rolling up of sleeves to work the land instead of the sea, a new chapter of Asian America seems set to begin in the region.

 

 

“The bread will rise again — it just kneads time.” — sign on Vietnamese-owned Le Bakery and Cafe in East Biloxi, MS

 

Shortly ...

Published: Wednesday 28 September 2011
At this rate, Big Oil could easily exceed $100 billion in profits for 2011. Why can’t these companies afford to forgo $2 billion annually in taxpayers’ money?

 

On September 19 President Barack Obama announced his plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, including raising $1.5 trillion by closing special interest loopholes and other revenue raisers. This includes eliminating $41 billion in tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry (p. 63) over the next decade.

READ FULL POST 10 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 22 September 2011
The bill will now go to the full Senate.

A bipartisan effort to secure at least 80 percent of fines from the BP Gulf oil spill for the five Gulf Coast states — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas — advanced Wednesday as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the bill by voice vote.

Committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., praised the lawmakers from both parties who had worked together to develop the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011. "It is an important commitment to the people of the Gulf," she said.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a member of the panel, said the lawmakers came together because the legislation would direct fines from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout to the hard-hit Gulf Coast. The fund could collect from $5 billion to $20 billion.

"That's where the damage happened," Vitter said. "That's where the restoration has to occur."

The legislation would establish a Gulf Coast Restoration Fund to provide Gulf Coast states with 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines related to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The U.S. Treasury Department would receive the remaining 20 percent of the fines assessed against BP and other parties found to be responsible for the April 2010 tragedy.

Under existing law, the Treasury would collect the entire amount.

Under the bill, the states would equally divide 35 percent of the monies directed to the Gulf states. Sixty percent of the funds would be directed to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, and 5 percent would go to a new Gulf science and fisheries program.

The federal Clean Water Act allows the Environmental Protection Agency to impose a $1,100 fine for every barrel of oil spilled, which can rise to $4,300 per barrel. According to a statement issued by Republican Mississippi Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into ...

Published: Tuesday 16 August 2011
“Oil pipelines and tankers will give people jobs, but if there is an oil spill like the [BP spill] in the Gulf of Mexico, that will take other people’s jobs and the wildlife will die”

Ten-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney stood outside Enbridge Northern Gateway’s office on July 6, waiting for officials to grant her access to the building. She thought she could hand deliver an envelope containing an important message about the company’s pipeline construction. But the doors remained locked.

“I don’t know what they find so scary about me,” she said, as she was ushered off the property by security guards. “I just want them to hear what I have to say.”

The Sliammon First Nation youth put in a great effort learning about environmental issues and the pipeline in particular, and hoped to share her knowledge and carefully crafted words. Enbridge officials said they were unable to provide Ta’Kaiya space or time and failed to comment because the Vancouver office is staffed by a limited number of technical personnel. Their headquarters are located in Calgary.

So Ta’Kaiya stood outside, accompanied by three members of Greenpeace, her mother, and a number of reporters and sang her song “Shallow Waters.” The song’s video has hit YouTube and been viewed more than 53,000 times.


“Oil pipelines and tankers will give people jobs, but if there is an oil spill like the [BP spill] in the Gulf of Mexico, that will take other people’s jobs and the wildlife will die,” said Ta’Kaiya.She co-wrote her song after learning of Enbridge’s bid to build twin 1,170 km pipelines to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to British Columbia’s north coast. Like the proposed 

Published: Friday 29 July 2011
"One year after BP managed to cap the runaway well that fouled the Gulf of Mexico with an estimated five million barrels of oil, most of those people are ill. "

When news of the disastrous BP oil well explosion reached the residents of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana last April, Mayor Tim Kerner did the only thing he could think of to stop the oil from destroying his community. He encouraged everyone in his town to join him on the water, working day and night throughout the disaster to clean-up the spill.

Now, one year after BP managed to cap the runaway well that fouled the Gulf of Mexico with an estimated five million barrels of oil, most of those people are ill. 

"I'm afraid my neighbors will come to me and say, I wouldn't have listened to you and kept my job if I knew it would kill me," Kerner said. 

Kerner's story was one of many shared by Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, at a briefing Wednesday evening, the day after she led a delegation to the Gulf Coast to assess the scope of the emerging healthcare crisis in the wake of the BP drilling disaster. 

"The residents are sick," Kennedy told IPS. "They don't know what the exact cause of their illness is, but because they never suffered this way before the spill and they were all out on their fishing boats throughout the clean-up, they suspect this has something to do with the toxins."

According to Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade - an environmental justice group that partnered with Tulane University's Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy to conduct an on- the-ground survey of residents living in impacted communities - nearly 75 percent of those who believe they were exposed to crude oil or dispersant reported experiencing symptoms consistent with chemical exposure. 

"Coughing, respiratory irritation, and eye irritation were the most common," Rolfes told IPS. "[Respondents] described that the symptoms came on suddenly and they left suddenly and ...

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