June 20th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
The oil industry, whose image couldn’t be worse in the wake of the BP spill, was less than thrilled that Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) resolution to handcuff the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was defeated.
Predictably, Big Oil’s spokesmouth employed the usual Freddy Kruegeresque scare tactics.
“Massive and rapidly imposed restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions would harm the American economy and hit every American in his or her wallet,” warned Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. “If EPA’s aggressive campaign to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is successful, it will add billions of dollars to the cost of doing business in the United States, raise the cost of energy and other products for American families, wipe out the jobs of millions of American workers and simply shift greenhouse gas emissions from the United States to other nations without any increase in environmental protection.”
Can I come out from under the bed now?
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), a true friend of the environment, quickly shot down Drevna’s sky-is-falling scenario, saying the Murkowski crowd has made false economic claims.
“Quite the opposite, it is [the Murkowski] resolution that will hurt our economy by causing the American people to forfeit a third of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that are projected to come from last year’s historic agreement between the Obama Administration, the states, and the nation’s automakers and autoworkers,” he said.
“Much of what the special interests, and Big Oil and their lobbyists, have been saying in favor of this resolution is steeped not in science, but in politics and mistruths,” Leahy added.
Rebecca Rasch, communications manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, got it right when she noted that the Murkowski resolution would have nullified “EPA’s finding of scientific fact that greenhouse gases cause harmful global warming—a finding that forms the legal basis for any further steps EPA can take to address carbon pollution.”
Supporting the bill, Rasch added, would have been “a vote against the strong scientific consensus that climate change is a real threat we must avoid.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience
Read More:Oil Industry Resorts to Scare Tactics
June 12th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Hmm. Where have I heard this before?
A Republican legislator from Alaska, who happens to be female, wants to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The only surprise?
I’m not talking about Sarah Palin, who’s consistently two dogs short of a full sled.
From somewhere within the bowels of Bizarro World, Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a resolution Jan. 21 to tie the EPA’s hands.
“The Clean Air Act was written by Congress to regulate criteria pollutants, not greenhouse gases,” she said, apparently splitting hairs over the specific particles in our crappy air.
OK, let’s see if we can connect the dots: Murkowski, ranking Republican member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, received $433,989 from the oil and gas industry between 2002 and 2010, as well as $473,563 from the electricity industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Her five top contributors this year included:
- Exxon Mobil (oil company)
- Constellation Energy (natural gas/electricity provider)
- Van Ness Feldman (law firm representing energy/transportation industry)
Do I detect a pattern here?
“You betcha,” as Palin might say.
Now, for the Good News
Murkowski’s resolution was defeated Thursday by a vote of 53–47.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson estimated its passage would increase our dependence on oil by 455 million barrels.
But some Republican lawmakers, like Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, will continue to fight “the Obama EPA’s job-killing, global warming agenda.”
FYI: Over the last 5 years, Inhofe has received $564,700 from the oil and gas industry, as well as $398,390 from electric utilities. His top 20 contributors over the last 5 years include Koch Industries (petroleum refining), Murray Energy, Devon Energy, OGE Energy, Anadarko Petroleum—and the far-from-green list goes on.
Read More:Senate Thwarts Effort to Weaken Clean Air Act
May 31st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
BP’s most recent failure to contain the massive Gulf Coast oil spill will add millions, if not billions, of dollars to the company’s remediation bill.
But American consumers will also feel the pain as gas prices rise. How else can Big Oil recoup the money it has lost from the spill?
Meanwhile, in other financial news, fishermen are losing significant income, and fishing may be banned for an extended period. Coastal towns that survive on tourism dollars will be forced to close recreational areas.
The economics of our dependence on fossil fuels has always posed a fascinating paradox.
“In the last month, we have seen a 15.61% decline [$80+ per barrel to less than $70 per barrel] in the price of oil per barrel, yet the price of gasoline at the pump remains in the stratosphere—$3 and higher, in most instances,” says George R. Cook, MBA, executive professor of marketing at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. “I find it interesting that when the price of oil skyrockets, the next day the price of gasoline at the pump shoots upward, as well—but the reverse is not true. When the price of oil plummets, as it is doing now, the price of gasoline at the pump continues to remain high. Where is justice in this game?
“All we get are excuses from the oil companies about why it has to remain high,” Cook adds. “The real reason is that the oil companies’ philosophy is, ‘Sock it to the consumer,’ while they line their pockets with gasoline profits in the upper stratosphere. Here is an area for Congress and the administration to look into and set up commissions to investigate. Try helping the average consumer for a change.”
But Congress has too much on the line to cut its ties with Big Oil, whose lobbyists have contributed $143.8 million to congressional campaigns over the last decade’s election cycles (73% to Republicans, 27% to Democrats), according to the watchdogs at opensecrets.org.
Clearly, money impedes our transition to a clean energy future. As long as our elected representatives choose their wallets over their constituents’ well-being, nothing will change—and we’ll stand by as the political machine rapes our planet.
Read More:Spill, Baby, Spill
March 7th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Just in time for tonight’s Academy Awards ceremony, leading environmental groups have run full-page ads in Hollywood trade publications to praise Oscar-nominated filmmaker James Cameron for exposing the dangers of tar sands oil in Avatar.
Environmental Defence Canada’s ad in Variety (top left) shows a 797B Heavy Hauler, one of the first trucks used to mine the tar sands—and identical to some of the trucks used in Avatar. It also features the vast open pit mines that cut across the once-pristine boreal forests in Cameron’s Ontario hometown.
“We want Hollywood, and the powerful thought leaders there, to know Avatar does a great job of exposing the tar sands,” says EDC Executive Director Rick Smith. “It’s the world’s most destructive project. Pandora’s ‘unobtanium’ is Canada’s tar sands.”
Meanwhile, the Sierra Club has run a similar ad in The Hollywood Reporter (top right), which reads: “Pandora Isn’t the Only Planet in Peril.” The group is asking Americans to sign a petition that will be sent to President Obama.
“Avatar is like one big advertisement for our fight against tar sands oil,” says Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. “This is one of the most destructive projects on Earth, and we can’t let it expand into the U.S.”
“The photos of oil sands mining operations are frightening,” adds Dirty Fuels Campaign Coordinator Kate Colarulli. “It’s like you’re actually looking at stills from the movie Avatar. The giant trucks they use to destroy forests and mine earth are dead ringers. The lifeless, scarred earth that’s left behind looks exactly the same.
“One of the most important similarities between Avatar and the oil sands is the impacts on people,” she adds. “Indigenous communities near oil sands operations have reported high rates of cancer linked to pollution from the project. They are watching the oil industry destroy the landscape their families have lived in for hundreds of years.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent
Read More:Life Imitates “Avatar”