BP and EPA in cohorts and shortchanging Gulf states.


Who hasn’t seen those “Making It Right” ads that BP is using to flood the media like so much run-away oil saturating the Gulf?

Over the past nine months, BP has conducted a full-throttle charm offensive, taking out full-page ads in The New York Times , sponsoring small-town festivals all along the Gulf Coast, and running countless television spots, repeating their relentlessly conciliatory message.

They’re pulling out all the stops — clearly subscribing to the notion that the amount of penance owed is directly proportionate to the size of the sin. And with the enormity of the transgression of public trust embodied in the spill, BP sure has a lot of “Making it Right” to do.

But BP’s a company whose bottom line doesn’t account for the cost of restoring our precious natural resources or the health of our communities.

The amount of “Making it Right” BP is going to do is purely a function of some number-crunching cost/benefit analysis. They spend money on ads because they’re more interested in cleaning up their image than cleaning up the Gulf. A clean image means increased profits; a clean Gulf means financial losses in the form of remediation and wildlife rehabilitation costs and Clean Water Act fines.

So while they’re working hard, with a whole lot of fanfare, in street festivals and in TV commercials to make it right, they’re quietly working even harder behind closed doors in Washington to make it all wrong.

In DC, they’re undercutting the American public and our Gulf Coast communities, ensuring that at the bottom line of the ledger, they protect their shareholder profits.

This shouldn’t be news. From day one, BP has tirelessly downplayed the number of barrels of oil that gushed into the Gulf waterways during their 87-day disaster. Remember when they claimed only a 1,000 barrels a day, and then, when pressed, 5,000? That whole time, their internal documents that were turned over to Congress had BP admitting that in truth, 100,000 barrels a day could have been pouring from their blown well.

Even today, in the midst of their “Making it Right” push, BP still struggles mightily to re-shape the truth.

It is now rumors that BP is lobbying hard in private meeting rooms at the Environmental Protection Agency to once again minimize their impacts and stick a make-believe low number on the amount of barrels that poured forth per day from their disastrously faulty oil rig.

It seems as if BP has the EPA over a barrel — the word is that EPA is actually negotiating with agency to officially reduce the number of barrels spilled in order to reduce the company’s fines under the Clean Water Act. By not living up to the true size of this disaster, BP is doing anything BUT making it right.

Correctly assessing the number of barrels released per day during those three months matters. It directly impacts the Clean Water Act fines that BP must pay.

Since this money is to be used to help restore the millions of devastated lives, miles of coastline, and communities that were impacted by BP’s negligence, the impacts of BP’s attempt to rewrite history goes way beyond the immediate financial impacts to the company.

Without an accurate accounting of how much oil was really dumped into the Gulf by BP’s irresponsible actions, researchers will be at a significant disadvantage. There’s no reason, other than pure profit, for BP to lie about the amount of oil it released.

Surely, we can all recognize that “making it right” is nothing more than a transparent public relations slogan; we shouldn’t expect more from a multinational that’s in the business of making money.

But, if its true that EPA is in fact considering officially reducing the scope of BP’s oil spill, than we should question this slogan: “to protect human health and the environment.”

The EPA’s job is protect America’s waters and people – not to protect a polluter corporation or to soften the blow of accountability against a bad actor, mandated by the federal laws the EPA was created to uphold.

The industry-wide problems that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster must be fixed. We can’t stand by and watch BP shy away from taking total responsibility from fixing its own mess nor can we stand by and watch the company move into less protected and less organized areas to wreck havoc on their environment, health and way of life.

“Making it right” means being honest about how much oil was spilled into the Gulf, paying the fines owed under the Clean Water Act – in their full and correct amounts. It means providing Gulf Coast communities impacted by this disaster with whatever it takes to restore their lives and their livelihoods.

If BP and the EPA won’t make it right, then it’s up to you and me to compel them to truly “make things right”. Lives and livelihoods are dependent on the Truth.

Copyright (c) February 14, 2011. All rights reserved.

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Report concludes, Clean up on the oil spill is over. Personal pictures and testimony state otherwise.


Yesterday, the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team released a report from its interagency Operational Science Advisory Team 2  regarding oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that remains on or near sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast left not only the Gulf Coast residents questioning but the Gulf of Mexico as well (left picture).

Federal officials indicate that cleanup operation from the Deepwater Horizon/Gulf of Mexcio oil spill have removed as much oil as is practical from the Gulf coast states by examining data sampled from four representative beaches at Grand Isle, La., Petit Bois Island, Miss., Bon Secour, Ala., and Fort Pickens, Fla.

This report is inconclusive as the oil reached much further East then Fort Pickens, FL and leached into areas such as Navarre and Destin, the later representing a huge tourist industry which has suffered greatly at the hands of big oil as well as are still seeing the effects of the oil and dispersant in their waterways and rolling onto their beaches.

Essentially, the report is intended to inform ongoing beach-area clean up operations by examining the environmental and human health risks posed by three types of remnant oil – tar mats in the shallow water, small tar balls on the shore and buried oil on beaches above the high tide line – that may remain in certain beach areas after standard clean up operations are completed. These risks are compared to the potential environmental impacts of pursuing additional cleanup operations.

Please note how they did not include oil/dispersant in the water column nor the long term affects of the toxic corexit dispersant that they used to weigh down the oil so that it would drop into the water column, out of the public’s view.

Further, the report states that oil damaged areas are “minimal”.

Are they kidding? Is this some kind of cruel joke? Living off the Gulf,
I can assure that the oil and toxic Corexit dispersant is still very much here.

Just because BP sunk the oil into the water column, doesn’t mean that it disappeared. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as now the oil has less of a chance been weathered by the sun and wind.

The report titled, “Summary Report for Fate and Effects of Remnant Oil in the Beach Environment” was drafted by the federal science advisory team studying the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf suggests the following:

Submerged mats of oil still being discovered just off the beaches in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are considered an exception to the rule, the report indicates. Yet the report does not mention any form of removal or clean up.

Aside from the mats, the remaining oil — the report states — is either buried under a few inches of sand or present in small tarballs on the beach.

Take note parents of small children who like to build sandcastles at the beach. Dont dig too deep or you will find your hands submerged in toxicity.

Additionally, what about the the exposure risk  of buried oil and sea turtle eggs and young? That will definitely be a factor in the extinction of the sea turtle if left ignored.

A local Florida resident, Linda Carter, who resides on the Gulf of Mexico disagrees vehemently with this recent ruling and provides her own personal testimony to the ever-standing affects of the oil spill.

“My husband and I took our dog to Princess Beach, an Airforce owned beach between the Fort Walton Beach and Destin bridges in Florida on Friday, February 4th, 2011.”

“It was cold and rainy, but a perfect day to find the small sand dollars that wash in, during the winter. The effects of the oil spill never entered our minds, until we looked down and saw the tar stuck to our shoes.”

“Then we noticed that it was everywhere. Was this why our dog kept wanting to go home? ”

“After seeing the tar and foam bubbles from the Corexit dispersant, we left the beach, only to get home to a very different dog!”

“We immediately bathed her and made sure her feet were clean. She became almost catatonic.  As if she was in shock.”

“She was lethargic and would barely respond to us. Mostly she just stared straight ahead. We held her and petted her and she just laid there like a lifeless lump.”

“She went to sleep and when she woke up she was better and continued to improve. She is fine today, but I have noticed all the exposed areas (she had on a sweater) of her fur are almost mottled with, what looks like tufts of hair that have been cut with scissors.”

“I know the shedding season is almost upon us, but it’s still bitterly cold here, so I don’t really think that’s what it is. She was getting exposed to the toxins on the beach being closer to the sand than we were, and having a nose so sensitive.”

“Mother nature tells the animals when there is danger to get away from. I think this was a perfect example!”

Tell that to the federal officials and BP executives who parrot, “Cleanup operations beyond established standards may disturb sensitive habitats and wildlife — posing a greater environmental risk than leaving the residue in place. In these instances, further cleaning will likely do more harm than good to the ecosystem.”

Way to rip a response from the marshes clean up guide, BP. Unbelievable. I understand the concept of  a fragile ecosystem but not all of our Gulf coast are marshes or wetlands and even then it blows my mind that the govt is not using the foam set in a large cage that was already presented to them to soak up the oil from the fragile areas.

If you look at the NEBA report that I attached below and note the “further cleanup impact”, half the reports reads HIGH. So how did the federal officials come to the conclusion that further clean up would cause more harm than good?

Especially when all one needs to do is drag their foot to see the oil underneath the sand. Remember, if the sand covers the oil then the oil is less likely to become weathered because the sand creates a buffer from extreme elements such as wind and sun. (left picture).

Not to mention that there are ZERO reports of the long term affects of the corexit dispersant that was used in truckloads to weigh the oil down and that of the bubbly residue approaching our shore lines.

Some critics argue that the after effects are “minor” but tell that to a child or an elderly person who had pre existing health conditions who accidentally came into contact with the oil, tar or dispersant after going to the beach after the local officials gave the “all clear”.

The fact of the matter is that the oil is still here, it is not going anywhere and it provides a health risk to the people who come into submerged (via water or sand) contact with it.

Ignoring the facts will not make this issue go away and its imperative that the people of the Gulf Coasts stand up and make their voices heard or our opinion will get sunken just like the oil. Out of sight, out of mind.

Below is a great documentary on newly dispersed oil patties on the Fort Morgan Peninsula on February 9, 2011.

Have you forgotten? Here’s a recap of the after effects of the DeepWater Horizon oil spill which happened less than a year ago.

Copyright (c) February 12, 2011. All rights reserved.


Case in point: Eliminate big oil’s subsidies and royalties and reap the rewards.


With unleaded gas prices rising into the $4/gallon range; it is no wonder that Exxon and other oil companies are unleashing record 1st Quarter profits.

A Natural Resources staff review of recent earnings announcements by the five largest oil companies operating in the United States shows that this industry has generated outsized profits that undermine the necessity for continued tax subsidies and royalty-free drilling access.

Hugely profitable multi-national oil and gas companies are set to enjoy $53 billion in royalty-free drilling over the next 25 years and $36.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies over the next decade.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called for an end to these tax subsidies:

“I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

Tax Breaks and Royalty Relief Ridiculousness

The President’s remarks have focused renewed attention on the impact that outdated legacies of the tax code and failed royalty-relief policies have on our current energy system.

Most oil and gas subsidies have been on the books in the United States for many decades. They represent an era when oil and gas exploration was in its infancy, and when resources were plentiful but remained largely unexplored.

Intangible costs of exploration generally include wages, costs of using machinery for drilling, and the costs of materials like drilling muds, chemicals, and fuel that get used up during the process of building wells.

Since 1968, this program has cost the U.S. Treasury $78 billion. Ending this tax subsidy would raise nearly $8 billion over the next decade.

Tax breaks that allow oil and gas companies to use the “percentage depletion allowance” were first put in place in 1926. Rather than writing off the actual costs of the property over its useful life, like most businesses must do, some oil companies get to simply deduct a flat percentage of gross revenues.

Under this method of accounting, total deductions regularly exceed the actual capital invested to acquire and develop the reserve.

When this program was started, stimulating massive exploration around the geologically unknown United States was so important that oil and gas companies were allowed—through this preferable tax treatment—to recover amounts in excess of their investment.

Since 1968, this program has cost the U.S. Treasury $111 billion. Ending this tax subsidy would raise more than $10 billion over the next decade.

Subsidies to Oil Companies Do Not Benefit the Public

The oil and gas industry argues that the tax breaks they enjoy encourage them to develop more oil and gas deposits, which lead to increased oil and gas supplies and lower energy prices.

The Natural Resources Committee Staff’s analysis suggests otherwise for two primary reasons:

1. Depending on the reservoir and the physical characteristics of the hydrocarbon, the cost of producing oil can range from as little as $2 per barrel in the Middle East to more than $15 per barrel in some fields in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The profit incentive to explore and produce new supplies for this lucrative market dwarfs any marginal benefit that existing federal tax breaks for oil exploration or production could provide.

As President George W. Bush said in 2005, “With oil at more than $50 a barrel, by the way, energy companies do not need taxpayers’-funded incentives to explore for oil and gas.”  Now that oil prices have risen to $100 barrel, the same logic still applies.

2. In recent years, higher oil company profits have increasingly been redirected into dividends and stock purchases, not exploration. Among the Big 5 oil companies, less than 10 percent of profits are reinvested into exploration of new oil deposits.

Net profits directed towards dividends and stock repurchases for the Big 5 oil companies were 58 percent in 2005, 73 percent in 2006, and 72 percent in 2007, 71 percent in 2008, and 89 percent in 2009.

Dumping profits into stock buybacks drives up share prices for remaining shareholders by concentrating ownership, and, in the process, acts to increase the values of stock options for executives.

It also reduces the amount of capital available for new exploration and improvements in drilling safety. The current tax treatment does not incentivize oil and gas companies to diversify into clean energy alternatives.

While some oil companies tout their commitment to research into alternative energy resources, a review of actual corporate investments in research and development (R&D) reveal a business model which appears wildly averse to innovation.

While companies in high-tech sectors like pharmaceuticals and semiconductors regularly invest 15-18 percent of their revenues in R&D, U.S. energy companies invest less than one quarter of one percent of revenues in R&D.

Repealing the oil industry’s tax subsidies will not impact gas prices for American consumers. Oil, the main input and primary cost driver of gasoline, is traded in a global market and oil companies get paid the going market price for the oil they produce.

On the oil market, there is no difference between an unsubsidized barrel of oil that costs $10 to produce and a subsidized barrel that costs $9.50 to produce. Each barrel will sell for the same price, almost $100 on the oil market. Oil companies that receive tax subsidies pass on that benefit to their shareholders, not to consumers.

Reduce the Foreign Dependency

American consumers are price takers when it comes to buying oil. When oil markets react negatively to unfavorable political events or when OPEC decides to cut production, American consumers must simply pay more at the pump.

The world has little spare production capacity that can be tapped during supply crunches, and what does exist lies almost entirely in Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries.

Expanded domestic drilling will not significantly change that dynamic, as the United States lacks sufficient oil reserves and production capacity to offset OPEC production decisions.

Put the Oil Profits Back into the Pockets of the Taxpayer

ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, Conoco Phillips and many other companies are now drilling for free on public land offshore and will continue to do so for the life of these leases no matter how high oil prices climb.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that the federal government and American taxpayers stand to lose up to $53 billion in foregone royalties over the next 25 years.

Ranking Member Ed Markey has authored legislation that would recover these royalties rightfully owed to the American people.

The House has repeatedly passed Rep. Markey’s legislation, including as part of H.R. 3534 that passed the House on July 30, 2010, but the Senate has never taken action.

Oil Profits lay with the Shareholders, not Big Oil operations.

The oil companies and their representatives frequently suggest that their high publicly reported profit numbers are misunderstood because only 7 cents of every dollar in sales is profit, which is similar to other American industries.

However, intensely competitive industries like retail and food service are lucky to earn 1 or 2 cents of profit per sales dollar. The real measure of the oil industry’s financial health is how much profit they generate with the money shareholders have invested. Over the last two years, the Big 5’s average annual return on equity was 21 percent. The U.S. Treasury bond, in contrast, yielded about 3 percent during this same period.

The oil and gas industry’s very high profitability has provided a financial a bonanza for shareholders over the last decade. A $10,000 investment in the Big 5 in 1990 is worth $100,000 today. In contrast, the same investment in an S&P 500 index fund is now worth $60,000. Big difference.

The oil and gas industry is a mature and highly profitable sector that is no longer in need of generous tax breaks or royalty-free drilling access. The $36.5 billion in subsidies that the industry is set to receive over the next decade will not help consumers with rising energy prices.

These subsidies will not strengthen America’s energy independence or help to develop alternatives to oil. Allowing hundreds of billions of dollars to go to an industry who is clearly not in need of the subsidies is a fiscal misstep that must be corrected.

Redirecting a portion of the money saved from the subsidies and royalties into alternative energy while using the rest to pay down our monstrous national debt, would be the best way to start addressing the the US’s financial and environmental concerns.

Copyright (c) February 5, 2011. All rights reserved.

Slashing big oil tax breaks to fund energy efficient buildings.


President Obama will outline his latest energy policy goal Thursday amid uncertainty in Congress about energy legislation and mounting challenges by Republicans to the administration’s climate change agenda.

In remarks at Penn State University on Thursday, Obama will detail a plan to make commercial buildings more energy efficient. The central goal of the proposal will be reducing by 2020 the overall energy intensity of commercial buildings by 20 percent.

Obama will outline a multi-part plan for making commercial buildings more efficient, which, if completed, would save business owners more than $40 billion per year, according to the White House.

As part of the plan, the Small Business Administration will work to encourage lenders to give more financing for commercial retrofits. In addition, the administration will call on Congress to provide grants for local and state governments that streamline building codes and regulations as well as provide new tax credits for energy efficient buildings.

The president will call on corporate executives and heads of major universities to retrofit their buildings to save energy. He will also announce that he is using existing authorities to establish a program to train workers to retrofit buildings.

Obama will detail the cost of his proposal in his upcoming budget request. A senior administration official and a spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget both refused to give a cost estimate of the proposal.

“There is a lot of information in the budget and it will be out in due course,” the senior administration official said.

A White House plan to eliminate tax breaks for the oil industry will pay for the energy efficiency proposal, the administration official said. The oil industry tax breaks proposal will also be outlined in Obama’s budget request.

A noble idea of the Obama administration but one that I do not feel is concrete or even well thought out.  Before this is implemented, a requirement should be that the Budget is passed and outlined to see how much this is going to cost the tax payers.

While Obama is optimistic that the tax breaks to big oil will fund this new environmental attempt- I would be surprised to see that happen.

Even though I am a Republican, I support Obama in his attempt and appreciate his focus on alternative energy and wish him the best of luck in this endeavor.

Copyright (c) February 3, 2011. All rights reserved.

Raise Big Oil’s Liability Cap and Protect the People.


Congress should raise the cap on oil companies’ liability for offshore spills and improve the U.S. Coast Guard’s ability to respond to spills in the Arctic, a presidential panel is set to conclude Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

The panel’s report, which could influence federal policy on offshore drilling, is also expected to recommend that as much as 80% of fines paid by companies for Clean Water Act violations in connection with last spring’s Deepwater Horizon accident go toward funding the long-term restoration of the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem, according to people familiar with the report.

The report will also call on the oil industry to establish a safety institute that would conduct audits of companies’ safety practices and cultures, the people said.

Some findings, such as those on the Arctic, could affect the pace with which the Obama administration approves permits to drill in certain offshore areas.

The panel, formally known as the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, has expressed concern that the Coast Guard lacks vehicles capable of responding to a spill under Arctic winter conditions.

Other recommendations would require congressional approval, making their enactment uncertain.

Legislation to eliminate the current $75 million cap on spill liability passed the House of Representatives last summer, but failed to advance in the Senate.

A spokesman for the commission, set up by President Barack Obama last spring, declined to comment in advance of a news conference Tuesday, where the panel is expected to release its findings. Shocker. Can somebody please tell me when Obama has ever been on the side of the victims of big oil? Don’t worry, Ill wait.

Last week, the commission released an excerpt of its report that concluded that the explosion that Gulf of Mexico oil spill that killed 11 workers on the rig and triggered the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history was an avoidable disaster that resulted from management failures by BP PLC and its contractors.

As a resident off the Gulf of Mexico, I was able to view the threat of big oil first hand. Almost 9 months later, I can still see the threat of big oil as it is encroaching upon our waters, sea beds and shorelines.  I can see the small businesses closing down due to misconception from People that NW Florida is out of business.

We are still very much alive, alebit more scarce as residents had to short close on their home and move out of state in the search for compensation.

I have seen and witnessed first hand the rehabilitation of our ocean life- birds, turtles and dolphins covered with oil- suffocated by the amount of pollution and despite my Republican leanings, I stand firm on this issue.

I understand the importance of having a low cap on oil; we dont want to discourage drilling. Or do we? Perhaps we can invest our monies into research and development of alternative energy so that we have a long term solution instead of a short term answer.

We need to raise the liability cap not only to encourage activity in alternative energy but also because of “accident” such as the Deep Water Horizon spill whose damages ran across Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. $75 million split 5 ways is a drop in the bucket.

To get rid of the liability cap or propose it to stay the same is a slap in the face to the coastal residents who depend on the Gulf of Mexico, which is prime for drilling, for daily living as well as the innocent animals who did nothing to bring about this act of greed and laziness.

In the meantime, please pray for big oil’s  liability cap to be raised and that the US citizens become the number one priority as opposed to big oil interests. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Copyright (c) January 30, 2011. All rights reserved.