Oil Drilling

What We Learn About Liability Caps from the BP Oil Catastrophe

By J.G. Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

One of the main topics in the aftermath of the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico has been the extent of BP’s liability to compensate those who have been harmed.  The tone of that discussion changed Wednesday, when the company agreed to create a $20 billion fund to pay damage claims for Gulf Coast residents.  Until then, BP’s liability could have been limited, because under federal law covering the oil industry, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the “total of liability . . . with respect to each incident shall not exceed for an offshore facility except a deepwater port, the total of all removal costs plus $75,000,000.”

University of Chicago law professor Richard A. Epstein said BP likely would have had to pay more than $75 million anyway:

Big Oil’s Hazardous Landscape on Repeal of AB 32

By Warner Chabot
California League of Conservation Voters

When Texas oil refiners Valero and Tesoro were contemplating whether to buy their way onto the California ballot last winter, they envisioned a ripe environment for their proposition to repeal the state's clean energy and air standards: skyrocketing unemployment rates, a Tea Party-inspired anti-regulation backlash, and increased skepticism about the science of global warming fueled by the rants of right-wing talking heads Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

How BP Limits What You Learn, and What You Know

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

We linked yesterday elsewhere on this site to an item by ABC News about BP buying Google search words to steer Internet browsers past news articles about the Gulf Oil disaster. But that’s only the latest wrinkle in what appears to be a campaign by the oil giant to control coverage of the disaster.

Individually, these steps are grotesque. Together, they stand as a callous display of corporate arrogance — with the help of U.S. government officials.

Valero (VLO) Bankrolling Effort to Kill AB 32, Also Has Long Anti-Union History

By Steve Maviglio

As if Valero Energy's disastrous environmental record wasn't bad enough (including being ranked the 12th most toxic polluter in the U.S. in a study by the University of Massachusetts), it turns out the company also has a long history of opposing organized labor. A new research report shows the company has thwarted organizing efforts at its refineries, recently reversed a policy of hiring union-only contractors, and aligned itself with anti-union political allies in Texas and California.

Climate Bill To Include State Opt-Out For Offshore Drilling

By David Dayen

This video from Alabama’s John Wathen, taken at the site of the BP oil disaster, shows the massive scope of the oil slick. “For the first time in my environmental career, I find myself using the word hopeless,” Wathen said, despairing. “We can’t stop this. There’s no way to prevent this from hitting our shorelines… the Gulf appears to be bleeding.”

In the midst of this unfolding nightmare, two Senators will release a “climate change” bill that potentially expands the practice of offshore drilling. But it will include new protections allowing states to cancel out domestic production that could impact their shores.

The energy and climate bill Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) will unveil Wednesday will give states the right to veto offshore oil drilling in a neighboring state, according to sources briefed on the plan.

Garamendi Introduces Bill to Ban New Oil Drilling Off West Coast

By Dan Bacher

The outrage over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has spurred many to seek a permanent ban on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the West Coast to prevent a similar environmental disaster from happening in our ocean waters

At the same time, an oil industry lobbyist who has served on three panels charged with designating "marine protected areas" along the California is calling for more oil drilling off the California coast as the unprecedented environmental disaster unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico.

On May 5, Congressmen John Garamendi introduced a bill that would create a permanent ban on new offshore oil and natural gas drilling from platforms on the West Coast.

"We can't change the past, but at least we can stop future exploration in federal waters near California, Oregon, and Washington," said Garamendi. "Why now? For years, supporters of new offshore oil drilling have told us that platform drilling is clean and safe. The tragedy unfolding on the Gulf Coast proves them wrong."

Gulf Tragedy is a Grim Reminder that California Needs to Fight for Clean Energy

By Annie Notthoff
Natural Resources Defense Council

Flash back 41 years ago to a January morning in 1969 on an offshore oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel. And back to now - the oil spill that is devastating the Gulf of Mexico is a wake-up call for California. As anyone of a certain age will recall, the blow-out on a rig off Santa Barbara dumped 100,000 barrels of heavy, viscous crude into the sea over a 10-day period. About thirty-five miles of beach were covered with reeking black goo, and thousands of birds perished.

The Oil Companies Dirty Energy Proposition is a Job Killer

By Andrea Buffa

As the fight over California’s landmark global warming bill, AB 32, heats up in advance of an expected ballot measure to delay AB 32’s implementation, a troubling number of news stories and opinion pieces are misrepresenting some of the research that has been done on the economic impacts of AB 32.

An opinion piece by James Kellogg in this week's Capitol Weekly was no exception. Although the op-ed was more carefully worded than some other pieces by groups like the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and AB 32 Implementation Group, it still misrepresents the findings of a study on AB 32 of which I was a co-author when I worked at UC Berkeley.

What the Louisiana Oil Spill Tells Us About Tranquillon Ridge

By Robert Cruickshank

Following up on Brian's post about the explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast, oil has now been confirmed to be escaping from the well.

About 42,000 gallons a day appear to be flowing into the ocean, which is quite a lot less than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, but could quickly rival the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which spilled about 200,000 gallons into the Santa Barbara channel. That spill led to the moratorium on offshore drilling in California in the wake of the environmental and economic catastrophe it caused.

The Effect of the Oil Rig Disaster on California Politics

By Brian Leubitz

Over at CalBuzz, they're taking a look at how the Louisiana oil rig explosion might affect the Tranquillion Ridge project, coastal drilling, and the political landscape in general:

Now, the metastasizing oil spill* in the Gulf of Mexico, and the apparent loss of the lives of at least 11 oil workers that followed a blow-out on a rig on Tuesday night - Earth Day - provide  a sudden and grim reminder of the high stakes of offshore drilling. ... Many backers of the governor's proposal have argued that oil drilling operations have undergone huge technological advancements in the past 40 years, making unlikely a massive spill like that poisoned the Santa Barbara Channel in 1969.