Weekly Mulch: When will America be free from BP?

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

On July 4th, Americans are supposed to celebrate their independence. We may no longer have to worry about a greedy, distant monarch. But our country is still held in thrall to powerful interests that prize profit over individuals and their freedom—the energy industry comes to mind. As Jason Mark puts it at AlterNet:

“We’re in an abusive relationship and unable to leave our abuser. The plight of the people in Louisiana proves the point. Louisianans have been punched in the face by the hand that feeds them, and yet their biggest worry is that the oil and gas industry is going to walk out the door and leave them.”

Where’s the love?

It’s clear that BP, for instance, isn’t playing carefully with our country or its resources. At Mother Jones, David Corn relates the latest example of the company’s callousness. Its recovery plan had no stipulations about handling even a small storm like the one that stopped clean-up this week. It did, however, include plans to save sea life that hasn’t lived in the Gulf for millions of years. As Corn put it, the company was “prepared for walruses, not prepared for hurricanes.”

The biggest problem, of course, is that BP wasn’t prepared to handle a blow-out to begin with. The leak has gone on for so long that governmental officials are now taking unprecedented measures to protect the wildlife most vulnerable to its effects. Beth Buczynski reports at Care2 that official are going to dig up about 700 sea turtle nests on Alabama and Florida beaches that are at risk from the oil.

“Once the eggs have hatched, the young turtles will be released in darkness on Florida’s Atlantic beaches into oil-free water,” she writes. “Translocation of nests on this scale has never been attempted before.”

Halliburton

No matter how badly these companies treat us, it seems we can’t get rid of them. Take Halliburton. The company has latched its talons into the country and will not let go. It is second only to BP in shouldering responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon spill. As Jason Mark reports for the Earth Island Journal, just before the oil spill, Halliburton took over Boots & Coots, a company that deals with oil-well blowouts; that company now has a contract with BP to help with the relief well.

“Halliburton is essentially making money from causing the accident and then helping to repair it,” Mark writes. “Halliburton’s many-fingered tentacles is just the latest illustration of how powerful the company is.”

Wimpy Washington

Washington isn’t strong enough to fight back against that sort of corporate  power. Over the past year, energy interests have whittled down the climate change legislation to a tepid half-step. Right now it looks most likely that a bill that passes will regulate only the utilities sector.

“We believe we have compromised significantly, and we’re prepared to compromise further,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told Politico this week after a White House meeting on the bill.

“If you’re looking for the sorry state of American energy politics distilled into one line, there it is,” writes Jonathan Hiskes at Grist. “Kerry fights harder for clean energy than just about any national politician.”

Still, if anything passes the Senate, Washington will celebrate. As Aaron Wiener explains at the Washington Independent, “For all the disappointment among environmentalists over the repeated compromises Democrats have made on climate legislation to win over moderates, some argue that a utilities-only cap would achieve most of the goals of an economy-wide carbon pricing scheme. The question now is whether Democratic leaders in the Senate can muster 60 votes for even a weakened bill to overcome a Republican filibuster.”

Our friends abroad

On an international level, our governing bodies might be doing a better job, but not by much. Inter Press Service reports that the countries at the meeting promised to scale back taxpayer subsidies of fossil fuels. Even that promise is limited, however. “Countries agree to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” but each country decides what those are,” IPS reports. “Some countries like Japan, Australia, Italy and others have already said they don’t have any.”

And at Earth Island Journal, Ron Johnson heard a different story.

Johnson spoke to Kim Carstensen, who leads the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative, who compared this meeting’s report to that of the last G20 summit and found that climate issues had dropped off the radar. “There were eight references to clean energy in the final report from Pittsburgh (the last G20 Summit) and they have been completely vacuum cleaned,” he said. “That is kind of scary.”

Fight back

In situations like this, it takes massive pressure from outside to move the political apparatus forward. At AlterNet, Heetan Kalan has some ideas about how to progress—reach beyond the environmental community; enlist “doctors, nurses, public health officials and patients speaking out about the connection between consumers of coal energy and their immediate health concerns.” Kalan writes:

“After all, climate change is not solely an environmental problem — it is a human/planetary problem. If we are going to rely on a small base of environmentalists to carry us through this crisis, we are in trouble. Our spokespeople on this issue have to come from a wide spectrum of citizens and leaders.”

Certainly, they have to come from somewhere, and as Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly, whoever is speaking on this issue now, they’re not speaking loud enough.

“Lawmakers aren’t facing much in the way of public pressure,” he writes. “The polls look encouraging, suggesting the public is inclined to back the Democratic proposals, but that support hasn’t translated into aggressive advocacy — phone calls to lawmakers’ offices, letter-writing campaigns, district meetings, sizable rallies, etc….If engaged constituents want more, Congress will have to feel considerably more heat than they are now.”

In other words, if America wants to be free of coal, oil, gas, and the energy industry, we’re going to have to fight for it.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Mulch: When will America be free from BP?

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

On July 4th, Americans are supposed to celebrate their independence. We may no longer have to worry about a greedy, distant monarch. But our country is still held in thrall to powerful interests that prize profit over individuals and their freedom—the energy industry comes to mind. As Jason Mark puts it at AlterNet:

“We’re in an abusive relationship and unable to leave our abuser. The plight of the people in Louisiana proves the point. Louisianans have been punched in the face by the hand that feeds them, and yet their biggest worry is that the oil and gas industry is going to walk out the door and leave them.”

Where’s the love?

It’s clear that BP, for instance, isn’t playing carefully with our country or its resources. At Mother Jones, David Corn relates the latest example of the company’s callousness. Its recovery plan had no stipulations about handling even a small storm like the one that stopped clean-up this week. It did, however, include plans to save sea life that hasn’t lived in the Gulf for millions of years. As Corn put it, the company was “prepared for walruses, not prepared for hurricanes.”

The biggest problem, of course, is that BP wasn’t prepared to handle a blow-out to begin with. The leak has gone on for so long that governmental officials are now taking unprecedented measures to protect the wildlife most vulnerable to its effects. Beth Buczynski reports at Care2 that official are going to dig up about 700 sea turtle nests on Alabama and Florida beaches that are at risk from the oil.

“Once the eggs have hatched, the young turtles will be released in darkness on Florida’s Atlantic beaches into oil-free water,” she writes. “Translocation of nests on this scale has never been attempted before.”

Halliburton

No matter how badly these companies treat us, it seems we can’t get rid of them. Take Halliburton. The company has latched its talons into the country and will not let go. It is second only to BP in shouldering responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon spill. As Jason Mark reports for the Earth Island Journal, just before the oil spill, Halliburton took over Boots & Coots, a company that deals with oil-well blowouts; that company now has a contract with BP to help with the relief well.

“Halliburton is essentially making money from causing the accident and then helping to repair it,” Mark writes. “Halliburton’s many-fingered tentacles is just the latest illustration of how powerful the company is.”

Wimpy Washington

Washington isn’t strong enough to fight back against that sort of corporate  power. Over the past year, energy interests have whittled down the climate change legislation to a tepid half-step. Right now it looks most likely that a bill that passes will regulate only the utilities sector.

“We believe we have compromised significantly, and we’re prepared to compromise further,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told Politico this week after a White House meeting on the bill.

“If you’re looking for the sorry state of American energy politics distilled into one line, there it is,” writes Jonathan Hiskes at Grist. “Kerry fights harder for clean energy than just about any national politician.”

Still, if anything passes the Senate, Washington will celebrate. As Aaron Wiener explains at the Washington Independent, “For all the disappointment among environmentalists over the repeated compromises Democrats have made on climate legislation to win over moderates, some argue that a utilities-only cap would achieve most of the goals of an economy-wide carbon pricing scheme. The question now is whether Democratic leaders in the Senate can muster 60 votes for even a weakened bill to overcome a Republican filibuster.”

Our friends abroad

On an international level, our governing bodies might be doing a better job, but not by much. Inter Press Service reports that the countries at the meeting promised to scale back taxpayer subsidies of fossil fuels. Even that promise is limited, however. “Countries agree to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” but each country decides what those are,” IPS reports. “Some countries like Japan, Australia, Italy and others have already said they don’t have any.”

And at Earth Island Journal, Ron Johnson heard a different story.

Johnson spoke to Kim Carstensen, who leads the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative, who compared this meeting’s report to that of the last G20 summit and found that climate issues had dropped off the radar. “There were eight references to clean energy in the final report from Pittsburgh (the last G20 Summit) and they have been completely vacuum cleaned,” he said. “That is kind of scary.”

Fight back

In situations like this, it takes massive pressure from outside to move the political apparatus forward. At AlterNet, Heetan Kalan has some ideas about how to progress—reach beyond the environmental community; enlist “doctors, nurses, public health officials and patients speaking out about the connection between consumers of coal energy and their immediate health concerns.” Kalan writes:

“After all, climate change is not solely an environmental problem — it is a human/planetary problem. If we are going to rely on a small base of environmentalists to carry us through this crisis, we are in trouble. Our spokespeople on this issue have to come from a wide spectrum of citizens and leaders.”

Certainly, they have to come from somewhere, and as Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly, whoever is speaking on this issue now, they’re not speaking loud enough.

“Lawmakers aren’t facing much in the way of public pressure,” he writes. “The polls look encouraging, suggesting the public is inclined to back the Democratic proposals, but that support hasn’t translated into aggressive advocacy — phone calls to lawmakers’ offices, letter-writing campaigns, district meetings, sizable rallies, etc….If engaged constituents want more, Congress will have to feel considerably more heat than they are now.”

In other words, if America wants to be free of coal, oil, gas, and the energy industry, we’re going to have to fight for it.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Sarah Palin's Right: You Should Run on Energy

Over the past week, Sarah Palin encouraged Tea-Party candidates to make energy issues a central part of their campaigns. "There’s nothing stopping us from achieving energy independence that a good old national election can’t fix," she said.

Palin’s full of surprises, but this piece of campaign advice caught me off-guard. After all, a recent poll found that energy is the issue that inspires the most faith in Democratic lawmakers. Since President Obama made clean energy a central part of their campaign in 2008, this poll suggests that this is what the majority of people want. Therefore, Democrats AND Republicans should all be running on clean energy.

Tea-partiers are always more than welcome to pontificate &peddle" more of the same", blathering about dirty, old energy technologies that date back to the 19th century.

When in fact it will be bold Republicans and smart Democrats that support clean, innovative, job generating "energy ideas" that will truly get a lift by campaigning on energy.

Eight years of "Drill, baby, Drill," during the Bush administration got us exactly where we are now – in trouble and dependent on foreign oil. But that isn’t what the American voters want now. American voters want progress and they want jobs. The clean energy plan at the center of the economic package, which just approved a $100 million investment in smart grid technology, will lead to 30,000 Americans getting new job training.

These are the energy policies that Americans will have the most faith in. And that’s why I encourage the undecided Senators out there–those lawmakers and candidates from both parties who have been quiet about clean energy and climate legislation–to step forward and declare their support for a clean energy future for America and show some leadership.

Rather than being scared about what the Tea Party will say in response, lawmakers should be listening to American voters. People want to see progress right now, not more Congressional gridlock.

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is primed for passing. It has already passed in the House. A new Senate bill is expected to become public in the coming days and will have tri-partisan support in the Senate thanks to Senators Kerry (D), Graham (R), and Lieberman (I). After the bill is unveiled, negotiating will begin in earnest. Forward movement is further propelled by the White House backing, thanks to President Obama’s repeated requests for a bill to be delivered to his desk. And it has already gone through numerous hearings and been thoroughly debated on the Hill.

Senators should pass a clean energy and climate bill this summer and head into the final campaign push with a real success in hand–an action plan to deliver on the three of the most pressing issues for American voters right now:

• Jobs: The clean energy and climate bill that passed the House last just is projected to create nearly 2 million jobs. In fact, for every $1 million invested in clean energy, we can create 3 to 4 times as many jobs as if we spent the same amount on fossil fuels.

• The Economy: There is a consensus among economists that America can prevent the worst impacts of climate change without hurting the economy. As Paul Krugman explained recently, the House bill would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.

• National Security: This week, the U.S. Military http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply that oil would be in dangerously short supply in the next few years, exacerbating political tensions and around the world. In contrast, Think Progress found that clean energy and climate legislation would reduce Iran’s petrodollar receipts by $1.8 trillion through 2050. That’s an average of $100 million per day that doesn’t fall into the hands of a regime that sponsors extremist groups around the world!

These are the kind of real numbers that Americans are looking for. That’s why those up for reelection this fall should run on a positive, forward-looking energy policy instead of the 19th century leftover rhetoric that Palin is dishing out.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

Sarah Palin's Right: You Should Run on Energy

Over the past week, Sarah Palin encouraged Tea-Party candidates to make energy issues a central part of their campaigns. "There’s nothing stopping us from achieving energy independence that a good old national election can’t fix," she said.

Palin’s full of surprises, but this piece of campaign advice caught me off-guard. After all, a recent poll found that energy is the issue that inspires the most faith in Democratic lawmakers. Since President Obama made clean energy a central part of their campaign in 2008, this poll suggests that this is what the majority of people want. Therefore, Democrats AND Republicans should all be running on clean energy.

Tea-partiers are always more than welcome to pontificate &peddle" more of the same", blathering about dirty, old energy technologies that date back to the 19th century.

When in fact it will be bold Republicans and smart Democrats that support clean, innovative, job generating "energy ideas" that will truly get a lift by campaigning on energy.

Eight years of "Drill, baby, Drill," during the Bush administration got us exactly where we are now – in trouble and dependent on foreign oil. But that isn’t what the American voters want now. American voters want progress and they want jobs. The clean energy plan at the center of the economic package, which just approved a $100 million investment in smart grid technology, will lead to 30,000 Americans getting new job training.

These are the energy policies that Americans will have the most faith in. And that’s why I encourage the undecided Senators out there–those lawmakers and candidates from both parties who have been quiet about clean energy and climate legislation–to step forward and declare their support for a clean energy future for America and show some leadership.

Rather than being scared about what the Tea Party will say in response, lawmakers should be listening to American voters. People want to see progress right now, not more Congressional gridlock.

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is primed for passing. It has already passed in the House. A new Senate bill is expected to become public in the coming days and will have tri-partisan support in the Senate thanks to Senators Kerry (D), Graham (R), and Lieberman (I). After the bill is unveiled, negotiating will begin in earnest. Forward movement is further propelled by the White House backing, thanks to President Obama’s repeated requests for a bill to be delivered to his desk. And it has already gone through numerous hearings and been thoroughly debated on the Hill.

Senators should pass a clean energy and climate bill this summer and head into the final campaign push with a real success in hand–an action plan to deliver on the three of the most pressing issues for American voters right now:

• Jobs: The clean energy and climate bill that passed the House last just is projected to create nearly 2 million jobs. In fact, for every $1 million invested in clean energy, we can create 3 to 4 times as many jobs as if we spent the same amount on fossil fuels.

• The Economy: There is a consensus among economists that America can prevent the worst impacts of climate change without hurting the economy. As Paul Krugman explained recently, the House bill would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.

• National Security: This week, the U.S. Military http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply that oil would be in dangerously short supply in the next few years, exacerbating political tensions and around the world. In contrast, Think Progress found that clean energy and climate legislation would reduce Iran’s petrodollar receipts by $1.8 trillion through 2050. That’s an average of $100 million per day that doesn’t fall into the hands of a regime that sponsors extremist groups around the world!

These are the kind of real numbers that Americans are looking for. That’s why those up for reelection this fall should run on a positive, forward-looking energy policy instead of the 19th century leftover rhetoric that Palin is dishing out.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

Sarah Palin's Right: You Should Run on Energy

Over the past week, Sarah Palin encouraged Tea-Party candidates to make energy issues a central part of their campaigns. "There’s nothing stopping us from achieving energy independence that a good old national election can’t fix," she said.

Palin’s full of surprises, but this piece of campaign advice caught me off-guard. After all, a recent poll found that energy is the issue that inspires the most faith in Democratic lawmakers. Since President Obama made clean energy a central part of their campaign in 2008, this poll suggests that this is what the majority of people want. Therefore, Democrats AND Republicans should all be running on clean energy.

Tea-partiers are always more than welcome to pontificate &peddle" more of the same", blathering about dirty, old energy technologies that date back to the 19th century.

When in fact it will be bold Republicans and smart Democrats that support clean, innovative, job generating "energy ideas" that will truly get a lift by campaigning on energy.

Eight years of "Drill, baby, Drill," during the Bush administration got us exactly where we are now – in trouble and dependent on foreign oil. But that isn’t what the American voters want now. American voters want progress and they want jobs. The clean energy plan at the center of the economic package, which just approved a $100 million investment in smart grid technology, will lead to 30,000 Americans getting new job training.

These are the energy policies that Americans will have the most faith in. And that’s why I encourage the undecided Senators out there–those lawmakers and candidates from both parties who have been quiet about clean energy and climate legislation–to step forward and declare their support for a clean energy future for America and show some leadership.

Rather than being scared about what the Tea Party will say in response, lawmakers should be listening to American voters. People want to see progress right now, not more Congressional gridlock.

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is primed for passing. It has already passed in the House. A new Senate bill is expected to become public in the coming days and will have tri-partisan support in the Senate thanks to Senators Kerry (D), Graham (R), and Lieberman (I). After the bill is unveiled, negotiating will begin in earnest. Forward movement is further propelled by the White House backing, thanks to President Obama’s repeated requests for a bill to be delivered to his desk. And it has already gone through numerous hearings and been thoroughly debated on the Hill.

Senators should pass a clean energy and climate bill this summer and head into the final campaign push with a real success in hand–an action plan to deliver on the three of the most pressing issues for American voters right now:

• Jobs: The clean energy and climate bill that passed the House last just is projected to create nearly 2 million jobs. In fact, for every $1 million invested in clean energy, we can create 3 to 4 times as many jobs as if we spent the same amount on fossil fuels.

• The Economy: There is a consensus among economists that America can prevent the worst impacts of climate change without hurting the economy. As Paul Krugman explained recently, the House bill would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.

• National Security: This week, the U.S. Military http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply that oil would be in dangerously short supply in the next few years, exacerbating political tensions and around the world. In contrast, Think Progress found that clean energy and climate legislation would reduce Iran’s petrodollar receipts by $1.8 trillion through 2050. That’s an average of $100 million per day that doesn’t fall into the hands of a regime that sponsors extremist groups around the world!

These are the kind of real numbers that Americans are looking for. That’s why those up for reelection this fall should run on a positive, forward-looking energy policy instead of the 19th century leftover rhetoric that Palin is dishing out.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

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