tagged w/ Big Oil Whores
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK): “I think Exxon should be patted on the back for the way they handled this.”
By Rebecca Leber on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm
ExxonMobil’s recent oil spill dumped some 200,000 gallons into Mayflower, Arkansas, killed wildlife, and caused 22 homes to be evacuated. As the Natural Resources committee takes up another bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) argued at a hearing that the spill is more evidence the Keystone XL pipeline is a safe bet for Americans.
Comparing the safety of a pipeline to other transportation methods, Mullin said there is no reason to make a “big deal” about the spill:
“Would we really rather ship oil across the oceans? You’re talking about a catastrophe, we’re buying the oil. The percentages of barrels that are shipped daily from rail, from road, and from water the accidents versus the pipeline accidents, it’s a fraction. Your group is making a big deal about this ExxonMobil spill? I think Exxon should be patted on the back for the way they handled this. Yes this was horrible, yes we don’t like to see it, but they handled it. They did a great job handling it. I think they showed an example of what could be done when a catastrophe happens.”
In fact, Exxon has been heavily criticized for its public dismissal of the harm and scope of the spill. And thanks to a technicality, the company can avoid paying taxes toward the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund — an exemption that applies to most tar sands crude.
Mullin also claimed the pipeline would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, which he linked to acts like the Boston Marathon bombing. “I mean, would we rather buy oil from the Middle East that sponsors the acts that we see like at the Marathon that we just saw yesterday?” he said. “I don’t know if that was actually sponsored by them or not but that’s the acts that they support.” Setting aside his sheer speculation over the cause of the tragedy at Boston, Mullin’s claims about reducing foreign oil dependence just don’t add up. Keystone XL guarantees more oil is shipped overseas, not less: The pipeline moves Canadian oil across the U.S. straight to the Gulf of Mexico, where it is refined and then exported. A Department of Energy analysis noted that Keystone XL will have virtually no impact on Middle East imports.
For the record, oil and gas companies rank among the freshman congressman’s largest donors.Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK): “I think Exxon should be patted on the back for... more
New estimates of the amount of oil spilled by Exxon Mobil in Mayflower, Arkansas have grown far beyond the initial figures of 84,000 gallons. Susan White at Inside Climate News tries to get a sense of the actual size of the spill:
Engelmann said Friday that "3,500 to 5,000 is not our number" and suggested that InsideClimate News ask PHMSA where those figures came from. A PHMSA spokeswoman confirmed that the higher figures came from ExxonMobil Pipeline Company (EMPCO).
Reports posted online by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimate the spill even higher—at 4,000 to 7,000 barrels—as much as 40 percent more.
Austin Vela, the EPA spokesman at the spill site, said the agency stands by its 4,000 to 7,000 barrel estimate. When asked why those higher numbers aren't being included in the daily press releases issued by the joint command of the cleanup operation, Vela did not respond. The joint command includes five EPA employees as well as ExxonMobil officials.
Few, if any, media reports have cited the higher official EPA figure.
Aside from just a normal curiosity about how big of a mess there is to clean up, pinning down the number of barrels spilled has important financial implications:
Estimating the size of a spill in the first days after an accident can be contentious, because the volume of the spill affects the fines and penalties companies may eventually pay for violating the Clean Water Act. Fines can be as high as $1,100 for every barrel spilled. If gross negligence or willful misconduct is proven, violators can be forced to pay as much as $4,300 per barrel.
And the true size of the spill could be even larger:
Exxon says it shut down the pipeline within 16 minutes of detecting a pressure drop last Friday afternoon. The line continued to leak for 12 hours as it lost pressure, according to the PHMSA corrective action order. Two valves 18 miles apart were shut to isolate the leaking section of pipe.
If full, the 20-inch pipe would contain about 36,000 barrels of oil, or more than 1.5 million gallons.
As Rachel Maddow makes clear in the video above, Exxon Mobil is so profitable, even using the higher fines and the larger spill amount is not nearly enough to penalize the company.
While much attention has been given to the homes of the evacuated residents that are getting new lawns, the activist group, Tar Sands Blockade, has members on the ground in Mayflower risking arrest to show the public areas even local media have not seen, such as this "dumping ground" in the wetlands near the spill site. Tar Sands Blockade says they've heard reports that "because Exxon had already partially destroyed this wetland, they pumped diluted bitumen spilled in other areas here to get it all in one place and keep it out of sight of the media."
As RawStory notes, "While it’s not clear if the oil was intentionally moved into the wetland, the company says it is cleaning pavement with power washing devices, which could cause some of the oil to be pushed off neighborhood streets and into other areas." Whether this area has been used as a place to put oil so it can be cleaned later or it was just polluted with oil during the initial spill, it is clear the wetlands are highly contaminated and will be a massive challenge to clean.
Read more: video...
http://www.treehugger.com/energy-disasters/arkansas-oil-spill-could-be-almost-300000-gallons.htmlNew estimates of the amount of oil spilled by Exxon Mobil in Mayflower, Arkansas have... more
The story from Reuters:
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON | Mon Apr 1, 2013 3:24pm BST
(Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge by the oil lobby disputing a Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rule.
Various industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, originally challenged the 2010 regulation, which set a tighter Clean Air Act standard for short-term spikes in nitrogen dioxide pollution near roads ...
Link to full story:
I'm note sure how important this ruling is, but any loss for the American Petroleum Institute is probably a win for the rest of the country on some level.The story from Reuters: By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON | Mon Apr 1, 2013 3:24pm BST... more
A new study shows the U.S. oil boom is all on private and state land.
WSJ | March 13, 2013, 7:02 p.m. ET
President Obama does a neat John D. Rockefeller imitation these days, taking credit for soaring domestic oil and gas production as if he planned it that way. Not quite. As a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports shows, "All of the increased [oil] production from 2007 to 2012 took place on non-federal lands."
The research outfit reports that thanks to the innovation of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on private and state lands, the U.S. in fiscal 2012 produced 6.2 million barrels of oil daily, up from 5.1 million barrels as recently as fiscal 2007. Private industry's technological advances, operating under state regulation, increased U.S. production last year at the fastest rate in the history of the domestic industry, which drilled its first commercial well in 1859.
The story on federal lands is the opposite. The CRS study finds that federal oil production fell more than 23% from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012 and is today below what it was in 2007. The federal share of total U.S. oil production has slid under Mr. Obama to 26% in fiscal 2012 from 31% in fiscal 2008.
The story is the same in natural gas, with overall production climbing 20% since fiscal 2007 even as "production on federal lands has remained static or declined each year over the same period." Production on non-federal lands grew 40% since 2007, while production on federal lands fell by a hard-to-believe 33%. The federal share of total natural gas production in 2007 was 27.8%. Today it's 15.5%.
This sharp drop in production on federal lands is the direct result of Obama Administration policies. They include the drilling moratorium imposed after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, followed by a limit on new drilling permits—the notorious "permitorium."
Mr. Obama's has blocked exploration and production on significant areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, and the few leases he has put up for auction contain land that is of little value to drillers. The Congressional Research Service reports that the average time to process a federal application for a drilling permit increased 41% from 2006 to 2011—to 307 days.
Readers may recall that Mitt Romney raised this issue in the second presidential debate. Mr. Obama responded that "What you're saying is just not true. It's not true." The Congressional Research Service now documents that it is true.
The U.S. oil and gas boom has been a rare bright spot in the otherwise gloomy Obama economy. Imagine how much more energy the U.S. could produce, and how many more high-paid jobs it could create, if the Obama Administration stopped being an obstacle.A new study shows the U.S. oil boom is all on private and state land. WSJ | March... more
Yet we still give these Maserati driving corporate welfare kings tons of tax breaks on "exploration" as they @ss rape the working class.
Trips to the gasoline pump in 2012 and 2008 took their biggest share of U.S. household income in several decades, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The Energy Department’s statistical arm reported Monday that the average household spent $2,912 for gasoline in 2012, which makes up almost 4 percent of pre-tax income, tying 2008 for the highest percentage in roughly 30 years.
Pump prices took center stage in White House races in 2008 and 2012, but gasoline expenditures as a share of household income remain lower they did than the early 1980s, when they were above 5 percent.
Full article at link.Yet we still give these Maserati driving corporate welfare kings tons of tax breaks on... more
On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings to provide an “update” on climate science. While presumably the Senators will discuss the new Koch-funded study that changed a prominent climate change “skeptic’s” mind, the Republicans on the Committee probably won’t want to hear it.
Almost to a man, the GOP Senators on this key committee have consistently denied the brute fact that humans are causing climate change and/or worked to obstruct any possible solution to the mess we’re making:
1. James Inhofe, Oklahoma: Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Committee, is one of America’s most famous climate deniers. He has written a book alleging that climate science is a conspiracy “perpetrated” by the United Nations and that any climate change that is happening is part of God’s irreversible plan for the Earth. When confronted with the fact that 97% of climate science accepted anthropogenic warming, he – surprise! – denied it.
2. David Vitter, Louisiana: Vitter has referred to evidence for climate change as “ridiculous pseudo-science garbage” and, though his home state was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and is at serious risk from future warming-caused storms, attempted to block federal funding for efforts to mitigate the worst byproducts of global warming.
3. John Barrasso, Wyoming: Barrasso appeared on Glenn Beck’s show to suggest he had a “smoking gun” suggesting the attempt to regulate CO2 emissions was simply an EPA power grab. Relatedly, Barrasso claimed the EPA’s main goal was no longer protecting the environment, but rather “remaking society,” and introduced legislation stripping the agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.
4. Jeff Sessions, Alabama: Senator Sessions reserved his strongest ire for congressional regulation of carbon pollution, calling cap-and-trade a “conceit” that “we can manage the climate.” He has also, in the process of denying the moral importance of addressing the consequences of global warming, described CO2 as “a naturally occurring gas that plants breathe and they can’t grow without” as if that were some sort of evidence that it couldn’t harm the environment (which, of course, it isn’t.)
5. Mike Crapo, Idaho: Crapo’s official website features a page full of misinformation about climate science, claiming among other things that “the underlying cause of…climactic shifts is ultimately not well-understood” and implying that “[n]atural factors such as solar activity, volcanic eruptions and orbital changes” may explain our current period of warming (nope). He has also decried air pollution and then, in the same breath advocated expanded oil drilling in the United States.
6. Mike Johans, Nebraska: Like his compatriots, Johans has rejected the scientific consensus of anthropogenic warming, calling it “contested science.” Johans was also the author of a procedural maneuver designed explicitly to block the majority from overriding Republican obstructionism on cap-and-trade.
7. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee: Alexander is a comparative standout from the group – he believes climate change is both real, anthropogenic, and a serious problem – but that’s only if you’re grading on a curve. He opposed cap-and-trade but voted to block the EPA from regulating emissions because “that’s Congress’ job.” Though he appears to think a carbon tax is a somewhat better alternative, he has dithered on any real action to try to implement it.
There’s nothing about being a Republican or a conservative that requires legislators to be this blinkered about the climate change crisis: Former GOP Representative Bob Inglis recently founded an initiative to develop and push Republican ideas for pricing carbon.
Unfortunately, the vitriolic reaction to similar ideas from the Republican establishment and the views of the GOP leaders most responsible for establishing the party’s position on the global warming crisis suggests that we’ll have to wait for some time for Republican sanity on climate change.
By Zack Beauchamp on Jul 31, 2012 at 5:33 pmOn Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings to... more
By James Hansen, NASA
New York Times | May 9, 2012
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.
That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically.
President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.
The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change.
We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising — and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon — 240 gigatons — to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.
We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them.
We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.
But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.
President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public — which yearns for open, honest discussion — explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course.
History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.
The science of the situation is clear — it’s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait — we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.
James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/opinion/game-over-for-the-climate.html?_r=3&ref=opinionBy James Hansen, NASA New York Times | May 9, 2012 GLOBAL warming isn’t a... more
YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.
By Arctic standards, the region is already buzzing with military activity, and experts believe that will increase significantly in the years ahead.
Last month, Norway wrapped up one of the largest Arctic maneuvers ever — Exercise Cold Response — with 16,300 troops from 14 countries training on the ice for everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats. Attesting to the harsh conditions, five Norwegian troops were killed when their C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed near the summit of Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain.
The U.S., Canada and Denmark held major exercises two months ago, and in an unprecedented move, the military chiefs of the eight main Arctic powers — Canada, the U.S., Russia, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland — gathered at a Canadian military base last week to specifically discuss regional security issues.
None of this means a shooting war is likely at the North Pole any time soon. But as the number of workers and ships increases in the High North to exploit oil and gas reserves, so will the need for policing, border patrols and — if push comes to shove — military muscle to enforce rival claims.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas is in the Arctic. Shipping lanes could be regularly open across the Arctic by 2030 as rising temperatures continue to melt the sea ice, according to a National Research Council analysis commissioned by the U.S. Navy last year.
What countries should do about climate change remains a heated political debate. But that has not stopped north-looking militaries from moving ahead with strategies that assume current trends will continue.
Russia, Canada and the United States have the biggest stakes in the Arctic. With its military budget stretched thin by Iraq, Afghanistan and more pressing issues elsewhere, the United States has been something of a reluctant northern power, though its nuclear-powered submarine fleet, which can navigate for months underwater and below the ice cap, remains second to none.
Russia — one-third of which lies within the Arctic Circle — has been the most aggressive in establishing itself as the emerging region's superpower.
Rob Huebert, an associate political science professor at the University of Calgary in Canada, said Russia has recovered enough from its economic troubles of the 1990s to significantly rebuild its Arctic military capabilities, which were a key to the overall Cold War strategy of the Soviet Union, and has increased its bomber patrols and submarine activity.
He said that has in turn led other Arctic countries — Norway, Denmark and Canada — to resume regional military exercises that they had abandoned or cut back on after the Soviet collapse. Even non-Arctic nations such as France have expressed interest in deploying their militaries to the Arctic.
"We have an entire ocean region that had previously been closed to the world now opening up," Huebert said. "There are numerous factors now coming together that are mutually reinforcing themselves, causing a buildup of military capabilities in the region. This is only going to increase as time goes on."
Noting that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, the U.S. Navy in 2009 announced a beefed-up Arctic Roadmap by its own task force on climate change that called for a three-stage strategy to increase readiness, build cooperative relations with Arctic nations and identify areas of potential conflict.
"We want to maintain our edge up there," said Cmdr. Ian Johnson, the captain of the USS Connecticut, which is one of the U.S. Navy's most Arctic-capable nuclear submarines and was deployed to the North Pole last year. "Our interest in the Arctic has never really waned. It remains very important."
But the U.S. remains ill-equipped for large-scale Arctic missions, according to a simulation conducted by the U.S. Naval War College. A summary released last month found the Navy is "inadequately prepared to conduct sustained maritime operations in the Arctic" because it lacks ships able to operate in or near Arctic ice, support facilities and adequate communications.
"The findings indicate the Navy is entering a new realm in the Arctic," said Walter Berbrick, a War College professor who participated in the simulation. "Instead of other nations relying on the U.S. Navy for capabilities and resources, sustained operations in the Arctic region will require the Navy to rely on other nations for capabilities and resources."
He added that although the U.S. nuclear submarine fleet is a major asset, the Navy has severe gaps elsewhere — it doesn't have any icebreakers, for example. The only one in operation belongs to the Coast Guard. The U.S. is currently mulling whether to add more icebreakers.
Acknowledging the need to keep apace in the Arctic, the United States is pouring funds into figuring out what climate change will bring, and has been working closely with the scientific community to calibrate its response.
"The Navy seems to be very on board regarding the reality of climate change and the especially large changes we are seeing in the Arctic," said Mark C. Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences University of Colorado. "There is already considerable collaboration between the Navy and civilian scientists and I see this collaboration growing in the future."
The most immediate challenge may not be war — both military and commercial assets are sparse enough to give all countries elbow room for a while — but whether militaries can respond to a disaster.
Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the London-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said militaries probably will have to rescue their own citizens in the Arctic before any confrontations arise there.
"Catastrophic events, like a cruise ship suddenly sinking or an environmental accident related to the region's oil and gas exploration, would have a profound impact in the Arctic," she said. "The risk is not militarization; it is the lack of capabilities while economic development and human activity dramatically increases that is the real risk."YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — To the world's military leaders, the debate over... more