By Michael Wines, February 27, 2014. Source: The New York Times
A blue whale near rigs off Southern California. Experts disagree on the effects of seismic surveys on sea mammals. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
The Interior Department opened the door on Thursday to the first searches in decades for oiland gas off the Atlantic coast, recommending that undersea seismic surveys proceed, though with a host of safeguards to shield marine life from much of their impact.
The recommendation is likely to be adopted after a period of public comment and over objections by environmental activists who say it will be ruinous for the climate and sea life alike.
The American Petroleum Institute called the recommendation a critical step toward bolstering the nation’s energy security, predicting that oil and gas production in the region could create 280,000 new jobs and generate $195 billion in private investment.
Activists were livid. Allowing exploration “could be a death sentence for many marine mammals, and is needlessly turning the Atlantic Ocean into a blast zone,” Jacqueline Savitz, a vice president at the conservation group Oceana, said in a statement on Thursday. Continue reading
Today Shell announced it was canceling its 2014 drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. This is a guest blog by Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), on the court decision that forced Shell’s hand, and the Indigenous rights context behind it.
By Faith Gemmill, January 30, 2014. Source: Platform London
Photo: Faith Gemmill/ REDOIL
Last week the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the US government violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Alaska Native and conservation groups. Indigenous Plaintiffs included The Native Village of Point Hope, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), among numerous conservation groups. EarthJustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, represented our groups.
REDOIL joined this lawsuit because we strongly uphold and promote the subsistence rights of Alaska Natives and offshore development poses a very real threat to those rights in relation to the Chukchi Sea and Inupiat subsistence and that is unacceptable.
This decision is one that we celebrate. Although we’ve had legal victories in court skirmishes on this issue, we’ve been dealt political blows that favored Shell and ignored the rights of the Inupiat and their food security. This is another opportunity for those in decision making positions to realize that offshore drilling in this region is too risky, not only to Inupiat subsistence but to this critical ecosystem.
December 15, 2013. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies voted 353-134 on Dec. 12 to approve a series of constitutional amendments providing the groundwork for President Enrique Peña Nieto’s controversial “energy reform” [see Update #1202]. The Chamber’s vote completed the amendments’ passage through Congress, since the Senate had approved the measures on Dec. 10. The required ratification of the changes by 17 of the 32 state legislatures is considered certain, since the main sponsors of the “reform,” the governing centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the center-right National Action Party(PAN), dominate the majority of state legislatures.
Opponents call President Peña Nieto’s program a de facto privatization of the state-owned oil and electrical companies,Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the Federal Energy Commission(CFE). In addition to street demonstrations outside the building in Mexico City, the Chamber of Deputies debate on Dec. 11 and 12 was marked by theatrics inside, led by deputies from the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the small leftist Labor Party(PT). Opposition deputies seized the podium at times, occasionally advising “reform” supporters to privatize their own mothers. While speaking against the amendments, PRD deputy Antonio García Conejo stripped down to his underwear to dramatize his claim that the measures would strip Mexico of its resources. At one point PRD deputy Karen Quiroga punched PRI deputy Landy Berzunza Novelo, who was taken to the infirmary. (La Jornada (Mexico) 12/12/13, 12/13/13;Milenio (Mexico)12/12/13)
By Dec. 15 the constitutional amendments had already been ratified by 13 state legislatures. As in Mexico City, the votes in the states brought out demonstrations by activists, many from the newly formed center-left National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party. In the western state of Jalisco riot police used tear gas to keep protesters from storming into the legislature, while legislators in the southeastern state of Campeche met in an alternative location to avoid the demonstrations. (LJ 12/15/13)
By Jacob Chamberlain, August 3, 2013. Source: Common Dreams
Dead fish stuck in oil in Bay Jimmy near Port Sulpher, Louisiana June 20, 2010 Photo: Reuters/Sean Gardner
Hundreds of pages of federal documents released by the U.S. government to theAssociated Press this week show that the controversial and toxic practice of hydraulic fracturing has moved offshore to an extent far greater than previously known.
The documents, obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that the EPA has permitted fracking in the Pacific Ocean at least 12 times since the late 1990s, and has recently approved a new project in “the vast oil fields in the Santa Barbara Channel,” which is also the site of a major 1969 spill of over 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean.
“While debate has raged over fracking on land, prompting efforts to ban or severely restrict it,” AP writes, “offshore fracking has occurred with little attention in sensitive coastal waters where for decades new oil leases have been prohibited.”
Fracking—the process of pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of salt water, sand and toxic chemicals into shale and sand formations—is most commonly referred to as a process of natural gas extraction and has come under fire from a growing anti-fracking movement for its well documented water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Note: After Obama’s visit to Mexico last week, we can rest assured that him and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto discussed sweeping 21st Century energy reform: Privatize the state owned oil company so multinationals can drill the living hell out of the land and the sea, all the while ensuring American corporations will have access to every last drop of oil and gas on the planet. Now that is some drastic energy reform!
-The GJEP Team
By Nick Miroff and William Booth, May 7, 2013. Source: Washington Post
An engineer opens valves on the Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) Bicentennial deep sea crude oil platform in the waters off Tamaulipas, Mexico. Photo: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg
It has been 75 years since President Lázaro Cárdenas seized the country’s foreign-dominated petroleum industry and placed every drop of oil under the everlasting domain of the Mexican people.
But while it once was a source of national pride, the state-run monopoly he created — known as Pemex — has become a dinosaur, sapped by debt, sagging output and dated technology. The Mexican government siphons off the company’s revenue to cover about one-third of the federal budget, leaving insufficient funds for what has become a critical task: finding more oil.
Mexico remains the third-largest source of foreign oil for the United States after Canada and Saudi Arabia. But the country’s easy-pump crude is quickly running dry, and the company lacks the technology and know-how to drill for the vast stores of tougher-to-reach deposits that are thought to exist beneath Mexico’s deserts and seas.
Fixing the company, Petroleos de Mexico, has become a top priority for Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto. With an overhaul plan expected by late summer, U.S. and other global energy companies are waiting to see whether Mexico will once more give outsiders a crack at the country’s hydrocarbon treasures, including the massive, virtually untapped beds of shale gas south of the Texas border.
By AFP, February 25, 2013. Source: France 24
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
Billions of dollars will be at stake Monday at the opening of a complex trial to determine how much BP should pay for the devastating 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The British energy giant has already resolved thousands of lawsuits linked to the deadly disaster out of court, including a record $4.5 billion plea deal with the US government in which BP pleaded guilty to criminal charges and a $7.8 billion settlement with people and businesses affected by the spill.
US prosecutors are determined to prove that gross negligence caused the April 20, 2010 blast that killed 11 workers and sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, sending millions of barrels of oil gushing into the sea.
BP is equally determined to avoid a finding of gross negligence, which would drastically increase its environmental fines to as much as $17 billion.
“Gross negligence is a very high bar that BP believes cannot be met in this case,” BP group general counsel Rupert Bondy said.
December 4, 2012. Source: The New Zealand Herald
Photo: NZ Herald
Brazilian oil company Petrobras has handed back exploration licences it holds for deep sea oil and gas prospects in the Raukumara Basin, off East Cape, in what appears a reaction to a string of difficulties which have seen the oil giant report losses for the first time in 13 years.
Prime Minister John Key told The New Zealand Herald that the decision was “not a reflection on the capacity to undertake deep-sea drilling or the prospect of activity of that area.”
The Raukumara Basin lies in very deep water off the east coast of the North Island and has barely been explored. Petrobras contracted a seismic survey ship to undertake initial surveys of parts of the basin early last year, where it encountered stiff opposition from a protest flotilla organised by Greenpeace and a local Maori tribe, Te Whanau a Apanui.
The New Zealand Navy was despatched to ensure the seismic survey could continue.
By Bill Weinberg, August 24, 2012. Source: World War 4 Report
Romney speaks to supporters in Louisiana. Photo: LA Times
We don’t doubt that Big Oil has its money on the Republicans and Mitt Romney when push comes to shove. But we noted back in 2008 that the reigning petro-oligarchs were deftly playing both sides in the presidential race. The nature of the game is that no matter who gets in, the petro-oligarchs win. But a part of the game is that Romney gets to bait Obama as a Green Stalin for suggesting that some remnants of federal oversight over the oil industry be retained—which only causes Obama to capitulate yet further. In terms of actual policy on oil and energy, the difference between the two parties has been narrowing almost from the moment Obama took office, until today it is vanishingly small.
Source: World War 4 Report, 08/05/2012
A federal court in Brazil on Aug. 1 ordered Chevron and drilling company Transocean to suspend all oil drilling in the country within 30 days in the wake of two oil spills off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A judge for Brazil’s Regional Federal Court of the Second Region ruled that each company must pay 500 million reals, or $244 million, for every day that they do not comply with the suspension. In November, a Chevron appraisal well leaked 155,000 gallons of oil. In March, oil started leaking again from the well and Chevron suspended production in that oil field. In its ruling, the court rationalized that two oil spills in the span of four months demonstrated that Chevron and Transocean cannot operate the wells safely. Chevron plans to appeal the ruling, saying that it complied with all applicable laws and industry standards.
From Jurist, Aug. 3. Used with permission.