Oil Drilling

New Lawsuit Fights Oil Spill Amnesia

By David Pettit
Natural Resources Defense Council

Today’s post is co-authored with my colleague Jamie Friedland. If we don’t learn from our catastrophic oil spills, we are doomed to repeat them. That’s why on Monday, NRDC and a coalition of conservation groups filed a lawsuit pressing the Obama administration to learn from the mistakes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The suit challenges Lease Sale 216/222, a new round of offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, planned by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

This lease sale is in the Mississippi Canyon, ground zero for Deepwater Horizon. You’d think the oil spill would’ve been on their minds, but the environmental impact statement for the sale boldly ignored the spill’s catastrophic effects on wildlife. Instead, it relied on incomplete information from before the BP spill, in clear violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).   

Time to End the Corporate Tax Break Gravy Train

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

In all the absurdity that is budget politics, there’s a particularly maddening reality that stands out: Corporate tax breaks are costing the state billions each year, providing little to no benefit to our economy, lack transparency and are completely unaccountable to taxpayers.

Enough is enough. Before cutting any more services, these wasteful giveaways need to be thoroughly reviewed. If they’re not serving their intended purpose, get rid of ‘em. And we’re not talking about nickels and dimes here. This is big money that’s likely going to waste at taxpayers’ expense.

Jason Hodge: A Republican in Democrat's Clothing

By David Atkins

Remember Jason Hodge, the corporate-backed Democrat running for California's 19th Senate District who "doesn't think you need higher taxes", running against progressive Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson?

Well, I just got a nice big glossy mailer from an organization called the California Senior Advocates League, saying that Jason Hodge would be the Democrat most capable of defeating the Republicans and calling Hannah-Beth Jackson the derogatory nickname "Taxin' Jackson."

What is the California Senior Advocates League? Well, it's a group that only seems to exist come election time. It runs a now-defunct blog called the Silver Dog Blog, whose latest post trashes the Affordable Care Act. And its funders? Mostly the San Diego and California Republican Parties, big oil and pharmaceutical interests. Most recently it received $20,000 from something called JobsPAC. And who funds JobsPAC? Mostly Philip Morris, Chevron, Anheuser-Busch, Anthem Blue Cross, PG&E and a host of similar companies and institutions.

Fracking Impact On Water Worries Californians

By Ngoc Nguyen
New America Media

Earlier this year, the oil company Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) blasted water and chemicals more than one and half miles into the earth to force oil embedded in a sandstone formation to gush to the surface.

The process – known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – has been debated in many U.S. communities where oil and gas deposits have been identified in recent years. But PXP wasn’t fracking in the much-touted Marcellus Shale on the East Coast, where much of the controversy over fracking has centered. It was fracking two test wells in urban Los Angeles, where 300,000 people live within a three-mile radius.

The drilling was done less than a year after community and environmental groups reached a settlement with PXP, after complaining for years about pollution from the site.

Dirty Crude Spells Dirty Air in California

By Ngoc Nguyen
New America Media

California’s long-running campaign to reduce air pollution has indirectly helped create a new problem: its oil refineries now produce more greenhouse gas emissions than refineries anywhere else in the country.

On average, California refineries emit 19 to 33 percent more greenhouse gases per barrel of crude oil when stacked up against comparable gas-producing regions in the United States, according to a recent study commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report analyzed national and California-specific refinery data and combined it with data gathered by author Greg Karras, who has been studying and writing about refinery operations since 1989.

El Segundo Inc.: Furor Over Chevron’s Sweetheart Deal

By Steven Mikulan
The Frying Pan

The skirmish of words in El Segundo over its city manager’s proposal to raise local taxes on that city’s largest business, Chevron Oil, has suddenly become a full-fledged legal war, with the official making explosive accusations against both El Segundo’s government and Chevron. The story, which Donald Cohen has been following for Frying Pan News, began with Doug Willmore’s efforts to bring the giant refinery’s taxes in line with the taxes paid by other California oil companies. Willmore was subsequently fired on February 9 by El Segundo’s city council.

Next up for Keystone XL and Tar Sands: California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard

By Simon Mui
Natural Resources Defense Council

Make no mistake. President Obama’s decision to delay the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a big deal.

Some 15,000 Americans took the case directly to the White House. People sent more than 300,000 messages and put the brakes on a process that was all but coasting to approval. Americans from all walks of life made a difference in a battle against a well-funded oil industry effort.

BUT, don’t forget: Big Oil is not going to give up on its plan to strip-mine and steam tar sands from deep under the great Canadian Boreal forest and pipe one of the dirtiest crude oil sources 1,700 miles across America. Whoever is president in 2013—Obama or one of his Republican opponents—will have the final say.

Koch Brothers/Americans for Prosperity's New Target: Middle Class Californians Pensions

By Steven Maviglio

The last time we heard from the Oklahoma-based Koch Brothers, they'd dumped $1 million into Prop 23, the Texas oil companies dirty energy proposition. That ballot measure went down in flames, losing by more votes than any other initiative in the United States.

But they're back. And you have to admire the moxie of these two billionaires,  the world's 24th richest men, each worth $17.5 billion. The Oklahoma oil barons' conservative front group, Americans For Prosperity, is launching a "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on Government Pensions" tour that will stop in Santa Clarita at Governor Brown's forum today, and plans other press events up and down the state.

Dead Dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico

By Michael Jasny

It’s always sobering, with our federal reps struggling to foreclose new drilling off California, to check on conditions in the befouled Gulf of Mexico.  Six months after the Deepwater Horizon was capped, biologists in the Gulf are still trying to understand what has happened to their region. One thing they’ve noticed recently is an unusually high number of strandings of bottlenose dolphin calves.

Peripheral Canal Foes Introduce Bill to Protect Delta

By Dan Bacher

Two Delta legislators, Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Assemblyman Bill Berryhill (R-Ceres), have introduced legislation to ensure that the imperiled Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is protected from potential conveyance projects to export water to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and southern California.

Wolk’s legislation, coauthored by Berryhill, establishes specific criteria and assurances that will enable the state to meet its "co-equal goals" for the Delta as established by a package of laws, enacted in November 2009, that canal opponents criticized for creating a "clear path" to the construction of the peripheral canal.