IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: So far, so good: the 'Top Kill' said to be working; Federal heads are rolling; the President is speaking (finally), and extending the moratorium on off-shore drilling... PLUS: It's official: the BP Oil Disaster is now the Worst in U.S. History ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Clean Air Act settlement will close Ohio power plant; Climate Scientists Claim 'McCarthy-Like Threats'; Another oil spill in Alaska; Last rites in salmon country?; Nissan's electric car sells out in U.S., and it isn't even available yet; An insider's view of climate change; Corporate $$$ & lies behind 'Citizens' initiatives In Calif. ...PLUS: Economists on 'discounting' the future cost of climate change ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- President Obama Announces New Rules on Offshore Drilling, Fires Back on Federal Response to BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf:
- WATCH IT: Presidential News Conference on the Government's Oil Spill Response (C-SPAN)
- READ IT: Transcript of the President's Press Conference on BP oil spill: "I'm fully engaged." (Federal News Service)
- Defending Spill Response, Obama Expresses Frustration (NY Times):
“Every day I see this leak continue, I am angry and frustrated as well,” the president told reporters in the East Room. He acknowledged that not every decision has been perfect, and “we can always do better.” But he added: “Those who think we were either slow in our response or lacked urgency don’t know the facts. This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred.”
The president expressed frustration both with BP for its handling of the disaster and with the criticism of his own team’s oversight. “But make no mistake, BP is operating at our direction,” he said. “Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance.”
- Obama: Gulf Spill Should Propel Passage of 'Long-Term Energy Strategy' (Greenwire)
- Invoking the Oil Crisis, Obama Lauds Clean Energy (NYT Green)
- Obama extends drilling moratorium as BP fights oil spill (Reuters)
- BP deepwater spill to have permanent impact: BP's deepwater spill in the U.S. Gulf will change the way the industry operates for ever, just as the Piper Alpha rig fire two decades ago rewrote the rule book, oil executives told the Reuters Global Energy Summit. (Reuters)
- Reaction to Obama's decision on offshore drilling (Reuters)
- Remarks by the President on the Economy, Solyndra, Inc., Fremont, California (White House, May 26, 2010)
- LATEST on the BP OIL DISASTER:
- BP spill eclipses Exxon Valdez, says government: The amount of oil spilled by BP Plc's blown-out Gulf of Mexico well has eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, and could be flowing at a rate nearly four times BP's recent estimates, according to findings of a U.S. government expert panel released on Thursday. (Reuters)
- How U.S. scientists calculated BP spill rate (Reuters)
- Oil cleanup workers report illness: Some fishermen hired by BP to mop up the gulf spill report nausea and breathing troubles after contact with oil and dispersant. A congressman calls for mobile health clinics to treat them. (LA Times)
- It’s Official: A Fisheries Disaster (NYT Green)
- BP begins 'top kill' procedure in Gulf (CNN)
- Estimates Suggest Spill Is Biggest in U.S. History: A federal team created to produce a more precise estimate of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico has determined that the rate is at least twice what was previously acknowledged and possibly five times as much, officials said on Thursday. (NY Times)
- BP Attempts ‘Top Kill’ Method to Seal Oil Well in Gulf (NY Times)
- Over 300 dead birds are likely Gulf spill victims, along with nearly 200 turtles and 19 dolphins (Reuters)
- BP's Photo Blockade of the Gulf Oil Spill: Photographers say BP and government officials are preventing them from documenting the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. (Newsweek)
- BP well disaster stuns hardened oil men (Reuters):
Hardened U.S. oil men might be able to do deals in dangerous parts of the world and stay cool under perennial political fire, but the gravity of the Gulf of Mexico disaster has left some of them feeling shell-shocked.
"It has a psychological effect not only on America, but our industry, and you try to overcome that," Farris told the Reuters Global Energy Summit in Houston this week.
On top of the environmental catastrophe, the loss of 11 lives in last month's Deepwater Horizon explosion has left a deep emotional impact on the close-knit drilling community.
- BP Oil Disaster Investigation: Fatal Decisions, Fatal Flaws, & Who Will Pay?:
- MMS chief Elizabeth Birnbaum ousted, officials say (Washington Post)
- Panel Suggests Signs of Trouble Before Rig Explosion (NY Times)
- Gulf well 'shouted' warnings for hours before BP rig explosion (McClatchy DC)
- BP Used Riskier Method to Seal Oil Well Before Blast: Several days before the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, BP officials chose, partly for financial reasons, to use a type of casing for the well that the company knew was the riskier of two options, according to a BP document. (NY Times)
- BP Cites Crucial 'Mistake': 'Very Large Abnormality' in the Well Wasn't Heeded Hours Before Fatal Explosion: Oil giant BP PLC told congressional investigators that a decision to continue work on an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico after a test warned that something was wrong may have been a "fundamental mistake," according to a memo released by two lawmakers Tuesday. (Wall St. Journal)
- After argument, BP official made fatal decision on drilling (McClatchy DC)
- Workers describe failures on oil rig before explosion in Gulf of Mexico (AP):
As the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig burned around him, Chris Pleasant hesitated, waiting for approval from his superiors before activating the emergency disconnect system that was supposed to slam the oil well shut at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
The delay may have cost critical seconds. When Pleasant and his co-workers at rig owner Transocean finally got the go-ahead to throw the so-called deadman's switch, they realized there was no hydraulic power to operate the machinery.
Dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster.
- Hearings: Chief mechanic details disagreement between BP, Transocean representatives on displacing mud (Times-Picayune)
- BP Oil Disaster: Regulatory Failure, Corruption at Minerals Management Service
- After argument, BP official made fatal decision on drilling (Miami Herald)
- Oil spill hearings: BP man on Deepwater Horizon rig refuses to testify, says he will take the Fifth (Times-Picayune)
- Hearings: Transocean official denies BP pressured them to complete work quickly (Times-Picayune)
- BP, Transocean workers argued before blast: witness (Reuters)
- BP's Gulf Oil Spill "Plan" (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones):
Case in point: BP's Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico lists sea lions, seals, sea otters, walruses in its evaluation of how a spill might affect local wildlife. The problem? None of these critters live in the Gulf.
And that's just one of numerous errors in BP's 583-page plan identified by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Evidently the MMS officials responsible for approving the plan, which was filed June 30, 2009, didn't give it the same scrutiny.
- MMS: Crisis Places Focus on Beleaguered Agency’s Chief (NY Times)
- BP wants Houston judge with oil ties to hear spill cases (Miami Herald)
- BP Gulf of Mexico operations drew $555,000 in fines from 2001 through 2007: Penalties for violations of safety standards need to be stiffer, senator argues. (Times-Picayune)
- BP’s Ties to Agency Are Long and Complex (NY Times)
- MORE on the BP OIL DISASTER:
- Louisiana coast's battle against drifting oil expected to last months, if not years (Times-Picayune):
For those saddened by the scenes of thick oil washing into Louisiana's coastal wetlands a month after the BP oil disaster began, experts on oil spills and the coastal ecosystem have some advice: Get used to it.
In fact, the consensus building among scientists and oil spill experts this week was that BP's mistake likely will never result in a black wave soaking miles of coast in thick layers of black oil. Instead, Louisiana is probably in for a years-long war of mostly small skirmishes against random, low-volume oilings of coastal marshes and beaches.
"I think we're looking at many months of intense activity, but then years of follow-up work," said Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
- Subsidize my love: Three Democratic senators this week introduced a bill that would close a number of tax loopholes oil companies currently enjoy, which the senators estimate would raise more than $20 billion in the next 10 years.(Kate Sheppard, Washington Post)
- BP's Shocking Memo: A document obtained by The Daily Beast shows that BP, in a previous fatal disaster, increased worker risk to save money. Are there parallels with the Gulf explosion? (Daily Beast)
- BP Puts a Price on Human Life: $10 Million (Mother Jones)
- Experts: Legal issues driving BP's oil spill stance (McClatchy DC)
- Will BP adopt legal strategy to 'fight, fight, fight'? (Anchorage Daily News)
- Cool Graphics!: GOOD Mag: Oil Primer: Where It comes From, Where It Goes (GOOD)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- COAL: Clean Air Act settlement will close Ohio power plant : American Municipal Power, a nonprofit Ohio utility, has agreed to retire a coal-fired power plant as part of a settlement resolving alleged violations of federal clean air laws, the Obama administration announced yesterday. (Greenwire)
- Climate Scientists Claim 'McCarthy-Like Threats,' Say They Face Intimidation, Ominous E-Mails: Global Warming Denier Says His Side Gets Threats, Too (ABC)
- ANOTHER SPILL: Oil spills into Alaska pump station containment area (Anchorage Daily News)
- Last rites in salmon country?: As California's water war grinds on, salmon fishermen gear up for a risky season (High Country News)
- Nissan Says Electric Car Is Sold Out for This Year (NY Times)
- A Trench View of Climate Change: an unvarnished perspective of someone on the ground level of government, who is positioned at the intersection of science and policy. (Collide-A-Scape)
- Corporate Bucks Behind 'Citizens' Initiatives In Calif.:
Take Proposition 16, for example. The initiative, which proponents call the "Taxpayer's Right to Vote Act," would require a city or county that wants to start a municipal utility or expand an existing one to get approval from two-thirds of its voters. The backer of all this extra democracy is Pacific Gas and Electric, California's largest private, for-profit electric company.
"If our opponents can provide cheaper, greener, better electric service, then they shouldn't be afraid to go to the people and sell it to them," [Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for the "Yes on 16" campaign] says.
Except those municipal power providers are forbidden by law from spending a dime on electioneering. PG&E, on the other hand, has already put about $44 million into the campaign for Proposition 16.
- 'Discounting' the future cost of climate change: Economists develop new methods to quantify the trade-off between spending now and spending later (Science News):
To figure out how much we should spend fighting climate change, economists have some questions for you: How much would you be willing to spend now to make your child $100 richer in the future? What about your grandchild in the farther future, or your great-great-great-great-great-grandchild in the very distant future?