U.S. Politics

GRAPHIC: A Day In The Life Of Big Oil

With the money flowing in Washington from Big Oil lobbyists, no wonder politicians on both sides don’t want to discus alternative energy proposals…at all.  Although recent reports on a Koch funded  study on Global Warming may or may not rattle a few feathers in Washington.

Think Progress

Every hour so far in 2012, the five largest oil corporations have recorded a $14,400,000 profit. And every hour, they received more than $270,000 in federal tax breaks. That adds up to $2.4 billion in subsidies every year for the five largest oil corporations — Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips — all ranked as the top 9 companies in the world.

Even though BP posted an unexpected second-quarter loss, these five companies are on track to meet last year’s record profits. Put these numbers into context, and they are not so “disappointing“: Big Oil profits more in one minute than what 96 percent of American households earn in one year. Even so, Mitt Romney and House Republicans want to double what the five companies receive in federal tax breaks to $12.8 million per day, even though the three publicly owned U.S. companies paid an average tax rate of under 17 percent.

The graphic below illustrates where Big Oil directs these profits and its pollution over the course of a day:

Environment · Gulf Coast Oil Spill

Gulf Spill Devastated Marine Life

Everyone in the Gulf region knew this long before this report was released…

BBC News – Science and Environment

Gulf spill’s effects ‘may not be seen for a decade’

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill “devastated” life on and near the seafloor, a marine scientist has said.

Studies using a submersible found a layer, as much as 10cm thick in places, of dead animals and oil, said Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia.

Knocking these animals out of the food chain will, in time, affect species relevant to fisheries.

She disputed an assessment by BP’s compensation fund that the Gulf of Mexico will recover by the end of 2012.

Millions of barrels of oil spewed into the sea after a BP deepwater well ruptured in April 2010.

Professor Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington that it may be a decade before the full effects on the Gulf are apparent.

She said they concluded the layers had been deposited between June and September 2010 after it was discovered that no sign of sealife from samples taken in May remained.

Professor Joye and her colleagues used the Alvin submersible to explore the bottom-most layer of the water around the well head, known as the benthos.

“The impact on the benthos was devastating,” she told BBC News.

“Filter-feeding organisms, invertebrate worms, corals, sea fans – all of those were substantially impacted – and by impacted, I mean essentially killed.

“Another critical point is that detrital feeders like sea cucumbers, brittle stars that wander around the bottom, I didn’t see a living (sea cucumber) around on any of the wellhead dives. They’re typically everywhere, and we saw none.”

Organisms on the seafloor stimulate the activity of micro-organisms and oxygenate the sediments, two tasks at the bottom of the aquatic food chain that will inevitably have longer-term effects on species nearer the surface – including the ones we eat.

Professor Joye noted that after the Exxon Valdez spill, it took several years before it became clear that the herring industry had been destroyed.

As such, she disagrees with the assessment in February, by the administrator of BP’s $20bn (£12bn) compensation fund, that the Gulf of Mexico will have recovered from the spill by the end of 2012.

“The Gulf is resilient,” she said.

“I do believe that it will recover from this insult, but I don’t think it’s going to recover fully by 2012.

“I think it’s going to be 2012 before we begin to really see the fisheries implications and repercussions from this.” 

Gulf Coast Oil Spill · Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus

Navy Secretary Mabus pushes Pentagon to feed soldiers more Gulf seafood

A photo of Ray Mabus, Navy Secretary (2009-)
Image via Wikipedia

My question to Secretary Mabus is this:  Will YOU and senior officers be eating the same seafood from the Gulf?

There are several independent scientists and public health experts who disagree with the Government position that the seafood from the Gulf is ok to eat.  Therefore I think it is outrageous to give contaminated seafood to our military men and women.

Raw Story

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wants the Pentagon to buy as much Gulf seafood as possible to help the region’s seafood industry recover from the damage of BP’s oil spill.

Secretary Mabus reportedly told the Defense Commissary Agency, which operates a worldwide chain of 284 commissaries to provide groceries to military personnel, “that we should be buying Gulf Coast seafood,” according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“He expressed what we wanted to hear; he is in favor of the federal government buying seafood from the Gulf,” Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, said.

Although the federal government has claimed that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat, experts told Raw Story they had serious concerns about the long-term effects of consuming Gulf seafood.

Multiple independent lab tests have found high volumes of crude oil and other harmful hydrocarbons in Gulf shrimp.

“I wouldn’t eat shrimp, fish or crab caught in the Gulf,” said Robert M. Naman, a chemist at ACT Labs in Mobile, Alabama, conducted a test on Gulf seafood after being contacted by a New Orleans activist. “The problems people will face, health-wise, are something that people don’t understand.”

Direct exposure to crude oil can cause a number of short-lived health issues, but the effects of regular consumption of small amounts of crude oil is still being debated by the medical community.

Crude oil contains benzene, which can cause cancer, along with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, which are toxic to the brain and nervous system.

Continue reading here…

GOP Agenda · GOP Fundraising · GOP Hubris · GOP Obstructionism

Web Ad: Pledging Allegiance To Secret Corporate Donors

Think Progress

After reading our ThinkProgress reports on the Chamber of Commerce’s secret corporate funding, an entrepreneurial fan of our blog passed us this web ad he conceived.

The Report

Last week, ThinkProgress published an exclusive story about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s foreign fundraising operation. We noted the Chamber raises money from foreign-owned businesses for its 501(c)(6) entity, the same account that finances its unprecedented $75 million dollar partisan attack ad campaign. While the Chamber is notoriously secretive, the thrust of our story involved the disclosure of fundraising documents U.S. Chamber staffers had been distributing to solicit foreign (even state-owned) companies to donate directly to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6).

We documented three different ways the Chamber fundraises from foreign corporations: (1) An internal fundraising program called “Business Councils” used to solicit direct, largely foreign contributions to the Chamber, (2) Direct contributions from foreign multinationals like BP, Siemens, and Shell Oil, and (3) From the Chamber’s network of AmCham affiliates, which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies. The Chamber quickly acknowledged that it receives direct, foreign money, but simply replied, “We are not obligated to discuss our internal procedures.” Instead of providing any documentation or proof to demonstrate foreign money is not being used for electioneering purposes, the Chamber launched an aggressive media strategy to first, attack ThinkProgress with petty name-calling and second, to confuse the media by highlighting the Chamber’s relatively minor AmCham fundraising, which the Chamber says (also without documentation) totals “approximately $100,000” from all 115 international AmCham chapters. The Chamber and the media largely ignored ThinkProgress’ revelation about the Chamber’s direct foreign fundraising to its 501(c)(6) used for attack ads.

Yesterday, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, who has been spoon-feeding much of the media distortions about our report, went on Fox News (whose parent company donated $1 million to the Chamber recently for its ad campaign) to again try to dilute the issue by dissembling about the Chamber’s fundraising and membership. “We have probably 60 or so foreign multi-national companies in our membership that we have had for decades, many of which have been in the United States for half a century or a century,” said Josten.

The Chamber is being deceptive. In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 84 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Below is a chart detailing the annual dues foreign corporations have indicated that they give directly to the Chamber (using information that is publicly available from the Business Council applications and the Chamber’s own websites.)

U.S. Politics

Bacteria Ate Mostly Gas, Not Oil In BP Spill

BP is trying to shirk its responsibility to the people of the Gulf Coast once again….

Huffington Post

Bacteria that attacked the plumes of oil and gas resulting from the Deepwater Horizon gusher in the Gulf of Mexico mainly digested natural gas spewing from the wellhead — propane, ethane and butane — rather than oil, according to a study published in the journal Science.

U.S. Politics

BP Not Denying, Just Not Paying Nearly 40,000 Oil Spill Claims

Huffington Post

Sheryl Lindsay’s wedding planner business is on the brink, crumbling with each cancellation over concerns about oil. Brides-to-be are walking away from plans for beachside vows, leaving Lindsay waiting to see whether she’ll be part of BP’s promise to make whole everyone who’s suffered from its spill.

BP said Monday it had received 145,000 claims from residents and business owners like Lindsay citing lost income because of the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and had paid out $324 million without denying a single claim.

That sounds pretty good, until frustrated residents and officials point out that 39,000 claims are in limbo – some of them, including Lindsay’s, have been there for months. Some that have been paid are only partial payments, and many of those people are still fighting for more money.

“Therein lies the problem,” Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said recently. “They don’t deny them. They just hold them open forever.”

Hood speculated that BP PLC would rather wait for Kenneth Feinberg, the federally appointed administrator of the $20 billion compensation fund BP established at the behest of the White House, to take over the claims process this month. That way, if a claim is denied, “he’s the bad guy” instead of BP, Hood said.

BP claims director Darryl Willis said the company isn’t deliberately delaying. Rather, 26,000 pending claims are still being evaluated and thousands of others need more documentation, the company said.

“Our intent is to continue paying claims until this process is handed over to Ken Feinberg,” Willis said. “There’s no intent to slow this thing down.”

However, BP does defer “questionable” claims to Feinberg, including “restaurants and tourist claims from areas that haven’t been impacted by an oiled beach,” company spokeswoman Pat Wright said.

“We believe there are some tough decisions out there that need to be made on a variety of these claims because many of these are claims are not squarely within the guidelines of the Oil Pollution Act,” she added.   Continue reading…

U.S. Politics

Gulf Oil Efforts SUSPENDED: BP Shuts Down Well Work Due To Bad Weather

Huffington Post

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) — A tropical depression racing toward the Gulf of Mexico Thursday increased pressure on BP and the U.S. government to decide whether to evacuate dozens of ships at the site of the ruptured oil well.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said a cluster of thunderstorms in the Bahamas formed into a tropical depression Thursday morning. Forecast tracks show it moving into the eastern and central Gulf in the next several days, Hurricane Specialist Michael Brennan said.

Work on plugging the well is at a standstill just days before the expected completion of a relief tunnel to permanently throttle the free-flowing crude.

Worse yet, the government’s spill chief said foul weather could require reopening the cap that has contained the oil for nearly a week, allowing oil to gush into the sea again for days while engineers wait out the storm.

“This is necessarily going to be a judgment call,” said retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who was waiting to see how the storm developed before deciding whether to order any of the ships to leave.   Continue reading…

Fox Nation · Fox News · GOP Lies

Fox Nation asks if Obama — not CEO Tony Hayward — should resign for BP’s negligence.

This is typical Orwellian logic from Fox News…

Think Progress

Last week, Bloomberg reported that BP experienced serious problems with its Deepwater Horizon operation in early February — two months before the fatal explosion that sunk the rig in April — when it struggled to seal cracks found in the well. It informed the Minerals Management Service on February 13th that the cracks were causing uncontrollable bursts of natural gas. Gas surges “are common in oil drilling,” and companies sometimes abandon wells if they determine the risks are too high, but BP chose to press on anyway. Today, under the headline “Should Pres. Obama Resign Over Feb. 13?,” right-wing radio host and Fox Forum contributor Kevin McCullough picked up the story for Fox Nation and jumped to the remarkable conclusion that President Obama is somehow responsible and should probably resign for BP’s negligence:

While defending his own policies President Obama has routinely been rude and sarcastic to his predecessor, George W. Bush. Yet Obama appears to be making the resident of the previous White House look like a genius compared to his own serious missteps in office. […]

It seems incomprehensible that the president and other members of the administration still have jobs when it is now being reported that the federal government was apprised by BP on February 13 that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was leaking oil and natural gas into the ocean floor.

What’s “incomprehensible” is that McCullough would skip straight to calling for Obama’s resignation, without even pausing to consider that perhaps someone from BP — say, the actual person in charge of the well, BP CEO Tony Hayward — should resign first for ignoring this obvious warning sign, along with many others. McCullough offers no criticism of BP, and instead paints them as a helpless victim, begging for the administration to bail them out. After praising newly-crowned “genius” Bush some more, McCullough sagely advises Obama to “change your tactics” and “appear to care” — “Otherwise resign.”

U.S. Politics

Kristol: ‘It’s not healthy for the country…for the President to bully’ BP.

Bill Kristol doesn’t have a great track record on predictions or punditry.  He has tried, and tried and tried to tell the world how things will or should be, but Kristol has been wrong on almost everything that he says.   That’s an amazing track record!   

Think Progress

Last week, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward or what he called a “shakedown” from the White House. While even a number of Republicans have distanced themselves from Barton’s comments, today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace wondered if Barton may have a point. Responding to Wallace, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol appeared to throw out the obligatory attack on BP, calling the oil giant “Beyond Pathetic,” but he nevertheless agreed with Wallace that the White House is being to hard on the company — and big corporations in general:

WALLACE: Question Bill Kristol, is the President standing up to big business or is he bullying boardrooms?

KRISTOL: I think his own Interior Secretary said something about keeping his foot on the throat of BP, which doesn’t sound like standing up to anyone. It sounds like bullying. I have no sympathy for BP. We have an article in the Weekly Standard this week saying that BP should stand for “Beyond Pathetic.” I think it was the least responsible of the Big Oil companies. It has managed to handle itself pretty poorly even since the disaster let alone before. But it’s not healthy for the country, for the economy as a whole, for the President to bully different companies and different industries and I think it’s not helping us.