Big Oil

Policy update 10/26/10: One more week

26
Oct
US Capitol small

Next Tuesday's midterm election has major implications for federal climate and energy policy. Many key races will be decide by narrow margins. Polling suggests that the Republicans will pick up seats in both houses, but that only the House of Representatives is likely to change hands. Election Day is next Tuesday, November 2nd.

Climate in the Elections

A number of tightly contested races involve incumbents who support climate legislation and challengers who are emphatically opposed to climate action, or publicly cast doubt on climate science:

  • Climate champion Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) is defending his clean energy record in a district that historically favors conservative candidates. Perriello urges voters to look past short-term payoffs to the big picture of economic growth;
  • Arizona long-shot House candidate Jon Hulburd (D) is leading with a clean energy jobs message and catching up in the polls in the conservative 3rd district just north of Phoenix;
  • Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias has been criticizing Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) for flip-flopping on his climate vote. Kirk supported the climate bill in the House, but then signed a pledge promising to oppose future climate legislation in order to win over an endorsement from Sarah Palin;
  • Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) is using Ken Buck's (R) statements about the uncertainty of climate science to illustrate how far from the mainstream his opposition is.

In every Senate race but one, Republican challengers are self-identified climate science deniers (all except Rep. Kirk in IL). Brad Johnson at the Wonk Room has compiled a list of key climate House and Senate races to watch.

Share |

We won't back down

10
Sep
liz-butler-beach-200px.jpg

It's the end of my first week as 1Sky's new Campaign Director, and I wanted to take some time to tell you about our future plans together.

But first I want to thank my predecessor Gillian Caldwell for her amazing leadership over the past three years. Her work has made the climate movement stronger than ever.

As I step into this new role after three years at 1Sky, I recognize that we face major challenges to solve the climate crisis. Extreme weather events like the record worldwide heatwave and the floods in Pakistan show that we're running out of time to act. Disasters like the BP oil spill and the West Virginia coal mine explosion remind us that dirty energy is as dangerous as ever. At the same time, the Senate has failed to enact comprehensive climate legislation; Congress is drowning in dirty energy money and crawling with lobbyists; and our president hasn't been the fierce advocate we hoped for on climate.

If you're feeling a strong urge to crawl under the covers, I don't blame you -- we've all felt discouraged before. But this isn't the time to give up -- it's time to fight back.

So let me tell you where we stand: 1Sky will not back down -- and neither will I. We won't stop fighting for the changes we need to make our planet safe and build a clean energy future. And we will not lie down and let Big Oil, Dirty Coal and their cronies hijack our democracy and our future with their dirty money.

Here's how we want to work with you in the coming months:

Fight Dirty Coal: Coal power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in this country, so we have to take the fight to them. We're going to defend the Clean Air Act from assaults by Dirty Coal and their allies. In fact, we'll fight to make it stronger and use it to cut climate pollution. We'll also keep exposing the corrupt influence of Dirty Coal money in our politics.

Push the President: As a candidate, Barack Obama made climate and clean energy a priority; as president, his record has been mixed. Obama has pushed through the biggest investments ever on clean energy and is working to crack down on the biggest climate polluters through regulations -- but he hasn't made passing a climate and clean energy bill a high enough priority, and it shows. We're going to support the President where he's making progress and push him hard where he isn't, including his promises to provide climate assistance to developing nations and shut down subsidies for dirty fossil fuels.

Grow the climate movement: The movement has grown dramatically in just a few years, but too many Americans still sit on the sidelines. The only way we'll beat the billions of dollars that polluters spend every year buying votes in Congress is with a massive grassroots movement to hold our leaders accountable. We will help lead the charge to grow the movement in the months ahead.

This renewed push for climate action starts now with the Global Work Parties taking place around the world on Sunday, October 10, 2010. 1Sky is working with our ally 350.org, which is taking the lead around the world to organize local events that will show our leaders what people can do in their own communities to deal with climate change: plant trees, hold bike rides, install solar panels, make homes more energy efficient, and so on. Sign up here to plan your own event or find a 10/10/10 work party in your area.

I'm also interested in your opinion of the campaign and where we go from here. What's needed right now to win on climate and clean energy? What are we doing right? What can we improve? How can we help you become a more effective advocate to create the change we need? Please send me your thoughts and suggestions at info@1sky.org. You can also share your thoughts with me on Twitter and talk with me directly on Facebook. This campaign is about empowering you to take action, so we take your opinions very seriously around here.

Despite the challenges we face, I know we can win. The climate movement keeps growing and getting stronger. More and more Americans understand what's at stake and want our leaders in Washington to take action. We're ready to keep fighting for a safer planet and a clean energy future -- and we're ready to win. Let's get moving.

Share |

Policy Update 9/8/2010: Another oil disaster strikes the Gulf

8
Sep
US Capitol small

The midterm elections continue to dominate the August congressional recess. Members of Congress will go on campaigning for one more week before returning to Washington, D.C. for their final session before the midterms. This week another explosion on a Gulf oil rig entered the news cycle, increasing support for the Obama Administration's drilling moratorium.

Congressional Timeline:

  • 9/13: Congress returns from recess
  • 10/8: Target adjournment for the House and Senate
  • 11/2: Election Day
  • 11/15: Beginning of Senate "lame duck" session (tentative)

Another Gulf Oil Rig Explodes

Another oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a major explosion last Thursday, forcing all 13 crew members to dive off the burning rig. Luckily there were no fatalities or major oil spills. A small firm called Mariner energy based out of Houston, TX owns the the platform. The rig was built in shallow water, so repairs will be much easier than on the Deepwater Horizon Rig, which blew out just 135 miles away. The rig was in active production at the time of the explosion, but so far Mariner and the Coast Guard are saying that the explosion did not result in a substantial oil spill.

Industry representatives are working to minimize Thursday's incident and distance it from the well blowout in April. "We have on these platforms on any given year roughly 100 fires," said one representative. Nonetheless, the disaster has increased support for the Obama Administration's drilling moratorium.

Oil companies have been battling the Obama Administration in federal court to lift the moratorium, which they claim hurts Gulf Coast workers. Workers from Mariner were among 5,000 oil company employees who were bussed to the Houston convention center last Wednesday to protest the moratorium, claiming that "Obama is trying to break us."

Senate RES is Back on the Table

Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) would be back on the table when the Senate returns this fall. Reid noted that two Republicans have expressed interest in the bill, but that he still needed to "tie them down a little more closely.”

One of these Republicans could be Senator Brownback (R-KS), who recently endorsed the RES passed through the energy committee last year. Senator Reid noted that his energy package is more likely to be passed during the "lame duck" session, held after the midterm elections. This final session of the Senate is expected to begin on November 15th, and continue as late as the December holidays.

A major renewable energy developer NextEra Energy has promised to invest $2.5 billion in solar and wind energy if an RES passes, enough to create 40,000 jobs in five years. A 2009 UCS analysis of the Senate Energy Committee's RES (.pdf) suggests that the 15% standard being proposed would not necessarily guarantee renewable energy deployment beyond business as usual levels.

EPA Holds Field Hearings to Discuss Toxic Coal Ash

Last week the second hearing on toxic coal ash regulation was held in Denver, Colorado. The Obama Administration's EPA is considering stronger regulations for toxic coal ash dumps, but their efforts are being met by major pushback from industry. 1Sky and our allies are calling on the Obama Administration to crack down on toxic coal ash.

State of the Movement:

1Sky Board Member and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben wants to focus more on movement building and less on Washington, D.C., while Grist's David Roberts gives blunt predictions for what the coming years have in store for climate advocates.

Prepared by 1Sky Policy Coordinator Jason Kowalski. Please direct questions or comments to jason@1sky.org.

Share |

Weekly roundup 9/3/10: Another (not-so-shocking) offshore rig explosion

3
Sep
oil-rig-explosion-200px.jpg

There's no way to avoid starting this week's roundup with more awful news from the Gulf of Mexico: another offshore oil rig exploded yesterday -- and predictably, there's an oil slick to contend with:

A mile-long slick is spreading from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion forced its 13 rig workers into the water, one of whom was injured, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The workers told rescue crews that the slick was about 10 feet wide but hoped that no more oil would leak into the sea, Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane told AFP.

Thankfully, all 13 workers are alive and safe and this oil leak seems relatively small, but this latest incident is part of a pattern: offshore drilling is inherently unsafe for workers and for the environment. In fact, calls are already pilling up for tighter regulation of offshore drilling:

The fire in the Gulf of Mexico “is further proof that offshore drilling is an inherently dangerous practice,” Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement yesterday. Obama halted deep-water exploration after BP’s Macondo well exploded in April, killing 11 workers and causing the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill in history.

Even more effective than extending the offshore drilling ban, however, would be to tackle the underlying reason why those 13 workers were out there risking their lives yesterday: our addiction to dirty energy sources like coal and oil. As Ada wrote yesterday:

What this explosion reveals is that our oil addiction (80 million barrels a day in the U.S. alone) has unavoidably dangerous consequences. The only way to avoid tragedies like this moving forward is to reduce our dependency on oil and move toward sustainable sources of clean energy. We need to take personal responsibility for our consumption, and also hold our elected leaders accountable.

Share |

Follow the money at DirtyEnergyMoney.com

3
Sep
100-dollar-bills-200px.jpg

By Janelle Corn, Ph.D. See bio at the end of this post. -- Luis

What happened to climate change and clean energy legislation in the U.S. Senate last month? Why did legislation that would have ensured Big Oil pays when it screws up disappear? Steve Kretzmann , director of organization  Oil Change International, wondered too:

As Congress begins August recess, those of us who care about America’s addiction to oil, climate change, and a clean energy future have been scratching our heads, wondering why, after historic levels of pressure we can’t even pass an oil spill response bill, not to mention a real clean energy or climate bill.

Kretzmann proposed we follow the money, and thus the website DirtyEnergyMoney.com  was developed, with the help of some of the nation’s top climate advocacy groups, including 1Sky. For example, you can search Clean Up the Senate  (also known as Bobbing In Petroleum) to see Big Oil contributions to U.S. Senators. As last week’s policy update noted, the site caught the attention of The Hill and Politico's Morning Energy. Recently, 1Sky’s Adi Nochur was interviewed by the Wyoming Tribune about the site as well.

The site’s objective is to increase awareness (and outrage) of the massive amounts of influence-buying money pouring into the U.S. Senate. The Hill ran this quote from Krutzmann at the site launch on August 10:

If you’re wondering why Congress can’t do anything meaningful to end our oil addiction or stop climate change, the enormous amounts of money revealed on DirtyEnergyMoney.com provide some of the answer.”

Share |

Gulf Disaster, Part II? (UPDATED)

2
Sep
oil-rig-explosion-nyt-map.jpg

This morning, another Gulf Coast oil rig exploded within four months, injuring one oil rig worker. This comes at the heels of the April BP oil rig explosion off the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people.

Given the tragic consequences of the April spill -- 11 dead workers, severe impacts on the fishing and shrimping industries, pollution of the coastlines of Louisiana, and hundreds of people out of work -- it's infuriating that the oil industry has done this again.

What this explosion reveals is that our oil addiction (80 million barrels a day in the U.S. alone) has unavoidably dangerous consequences.  The only way to avoid tragedies like this moving forward is to reduce our dependency on oil and move toward sustainable sources of clean energy.  We need to take personal responsibility for our consumption, and also hold our elected leaders accountable.

Find out more about how to demand Congress takes action by getting involved in an October 10th "Global Work Party" event year you.

UPDATE:  There are reports that oil is spilling into the ocean:

The Coast Guard is reporting that a mile-long oil sheen is spreading from the site of today's oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Associated Press.
Share |

Policy update 8/9/2010: Senate goes on recess, punts on spill bill

10
Aug
US Capitol small

This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) canceled a vote on the oil spill response package, punting consideration until after the August recess. Without bipartisan support, the bill did not have the votes necessary for passage. BP's "static kill" finally plugged the deepwater well that has been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for over 3 months. Both houses of Congress are out on recess until September 13th. 1Sky’s board reflects on the state of affairs regarding climate action. During the recess, 1Sky will be "shadowing" members of Congress wearing giant "oily hands" to represent the dirty money from oil and coal companies that is holding our energy policy hostage in Congress.

Share |

Delivering "oily hands" to polluter-funded senators

9
Aug
Delivering_oily_hand.jpg

Last week, the Senate adjourned for the August congressional recess without taking up narrow legislation to address the Gulf oil disaster – let alone a more comprehensive climate and energy bill to address the root problem of our fossil fuel dependence. To decry this unacceptable state of affairs, a climate coalition led by 1Sky took to Capitol Hill last Thursday to call out the Senate for failing to act.

Share |

Weekly Round-Up 8/6/10: Enviros finger-pointing and the state of the climate (VIDEO)

6
Aug
blogroundup_fingerpoint_425px.jpg

This week started with ire over the Senate's delay in bringing a climate bill to vote before the Senate recess. And the week ends with... ire over the Senate delaying in bringing a BP accountability and efficiency bill to the floor! The Senate can't even get 60 votes to pass a small, "no-carbon capping" bill with number of non-controversial measures that easily passed bi-partisan Senate subcommittees, like Home Star?

Share |

How should scientists communicate about climate?

5
Aug
Janelle_Corn_200px.png

By 1Sky blogger Janelle Corn, Ph.D. See her bio at the end of this post. -- Luis

Alex Bea recently posted a review of a publication (.pdf) that will help us all communicate more effectively about climate change. This led me to consider how I, as an ecologist, might add to the discussion about effective communication.

Share |
Syndicate content