Schwarzenegger turns against oil drilling  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , ,

Mounting a quick about-face in the wake of BP's oil spill, Arnie has decided maybe drilling offshore California isn't such a good idea after all - Schwarzenegger turns against oil drilling.

California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has withdrawn his support for a plan to expand oil exploration off the state's coast. He said the spill in the Gulf of Mexico had changed his mind about the safety of oil platforms in the Pacific Ocean.

Last year he pushed for more oil drilling off California's coastline. But he said after seeing television pictures of the Gulf of Mexico spill he asked himself: "Why would we want to take that kind of risk?"

The state already knows the dangers of offshore drilling. In 1969 a leak from an undersea well just six miles (9.6km) off the coast of Santa Barbara coated pristine beaches with oil and killed thousands of animals. It led to a ban on new offshore development and helped galvanise the state's environmental lobby into the powerful voice it is today.

Governor Schwarzenegger - who has championed the green economy and environmental protection - angered many when he proposed new exploration as a way to raise $100m (£65.6m) towards the huge state budget deficit. Now he says he would rather find another way to make up the money.

Grist says "we shouldn't waste this crisis" - Wake up, Obama. The Gulf spill is our big chance.
President Barack Obama so far has said nothing about the screamingly obvious connection between the spoils of fossil-fuel dependency and the vision of a clean-energy economy that he's been sporadically promoting. Instead he had this tepid statement on the Gulf oil spill Friday morning: "I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security."

What happened to never letting a crisis go to waste? This mother of a crisis runs straight into our fossil-fuel addiction. It's a prime opportunity for progressives and clean-energy advocates to demonstrate the desperate need for new forms of energy. It's a prime opportunity to pressure the Senate to put a price on carbon pollution and invest in the R&D necessary to jump-start a clean energy economy. It's a prime opportunity to do all this without the corrupting influence of Big Oil, which had a hand in writing the elusive Kerry-Graham-Lieberman energy bill. Executives from BP--the company responsible for this mess--and Chevron and ConocoPhillips were planning to stand in support at the rollout of the KGL bill this week. Now's the chance to move a bill that isn't contorted by concessions to the dirty energy industries.

The president doesn't get this, according to his public actions and words so far. He's promised investigations and inspections and put new offshore drilling projects on temporary hold, until we can get more assurances of safety from the drilling industry. But on the big energy picture ... nothing.

Andrew Sullivan gets it half right: "If the Democrats do not use this disaster to advance the energy bill ASAP, they may miss a critical moment to escape the oil-addiction even George W. Bush acknowledged in his final years."

It is a critical moment that Democrats are insane not to use, but the KGL energy bill isn't the plan we need--it's the least-terrible bill that was believed to have a chance of passing in the Senate. Now, with this ongoing crisis changing the political climate, there should be an opening for a better bill.

Says Maggie Fox, president of Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection: "This tragic event is a deafening wakeup call that America's dependence on fossil fuels cannot continue. We know this dependence is a direct threat to our national security. This massive spill is a stark reminder of the environmental and economic dangers we face as well."

It's now being acknowledged that BP's disaster in the Gulf threatens plans to expand offshore drilling. It might even make things difficult for existing offshore drilling to continue. Super. But if that's all we can accomplish in the wake of this crisis--if the end result is that we just pipe in more Canadian oil and ferry in more Venezuelan, Nigerian, and Middle Eastern oil in tankers (the Exxon Valdez was one such tanker)--we're still in trouble. Still addicted.

According to Reuters, BP is one of Obama's top campaign contributors, so perhaps he might be hard of hearing on this one - Obama biggest recipient of BP cash.
While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

In Congress, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who last week cautioned that the incident should “not be used inappropriately” to halt Obama’s push for expansion of offshore drilling, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of BP’s largesse. Her comments created some blowback, with critics complaining that she is too blasé about the impact of the disaster, even though she was among the first lawmakers to call for a federal investigation into the spill.

CNN has a report on the environmental impact of the spill - Consequences of spills can last for decades.
As oil began approaching the coast of the United States, environmental scientists said the effects of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have ecological and biological consequences for years, if not decades.

The intricate ecosystem is a major source of seafood for the United States and hundreds of species of animals and plants are at risk, experts said.

Some areas in the path of the slick are particularly sensitive to problems because unlike the rocky coast of Alaska hit by oil from the Exxon Valdez disaster, much of the coastline that will be hit by the BP spill consists of marshy areas where the water is calmer and more difficult to clean.

The marshes are in extreme danger, said a biologist with the University of Houston who studies coastal wetlands.

"It's likely going to persist for decades because it will get into the marsh where there is very little wave action and the soil is oxygen poor," said Steve Pennings. "The immediate acute impact might not be that severe because there is not much oil getting to a certain spot, but because the oil might stick around [in the sediment] for 20 years you might have a real chronic effect."

Inhabitat says microbes could be used to help remediate the spill - Naturally Occuring Bacteria Could Help Clean Oil Spill.
Almost two weeks after the disaster started, the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico is still gushing up to 10,000 barrels of oil into the ocean every day. Efforts by BP and the US government to stop leakage have come up with empty hands, however it turns out one of the keys to cleanup might already exist in the now oil-infested waters. Natural microbes present in every ocean are superb cleaners, and with the addition of a bit of fertilizer they could prove successful in removing oil from the Gulf. A quick dusting would help the microbes multiply and then they would dine on oil en masse until it’s gone.

The process of using naturally present microorganisms to clean up oil spills is called bioremediation. Unfortunately the process won’t work out at sea and can only be used when the oil reaches shore — which is what the coast guard and clean-up workers are currently trying to prevent. The microorganisms, even without fertilizers, will begin to chow down on the oil when it enters their natural habitat. So, with the addition of sulfate or nitrate fertilizers the microorganism multiply beyond their natural state and eat up the toxic metals invading their home at up to five times the rate that they would without assistance.

There is a side effect to this process, however — Isn’t there always? It is possible that after the microorganisms devour the massive oil spill they could introduce the heavy metals present in the spill into the food chain. Larger organisms eat them and on up the ladder until it reaches humans. So though bioremediation may be lessening the initial impact of oil spills on the surrounding waters it could be introducing that very oil spill into our diets.

I figured as soon as the spill happened we'd soon see some tinfoil wrapped around the story - Prison Planet didn't disappoint - Gulf Oil Rig Fiasco: It’s About Scarcity and World Government.
On Friday, radio talk show host and former Reagan cabinet advisor Mark Levin accused the Obama administration of a plot to nationalize the oil industry. “I think those SWAT teams are there in coordination with the attorney general’s office, the Interior Department, Homeland Security, maybe the EPA….to seize records at these sites and to lay the foundation for more government takeover,” said Levin.

Obama said on Thursday he was dispatching SWAT teams to inspect oil rigs in the Gulf, a response that struck many observers as odd.

This is a public relations stunt designed to make Americans think the federal government is responding to the disaster. In fact, the government has no intention of doing anything significant. Obama’s response if purely cosmetic and for public consumption.

Levin and many Republicans think Obama is a Marxist and wants a Soviet-like centralized economy. Obama, however, is not surrounded by textbook Marxists who want a revolution in the name of the proles. He is surrounded by bankers and monopoly men. The Obama administration is a creature of the CFR, Trilateral Commission, the Federal Reserve, and Wall Street banks, not the Comintern.

Oil rigs are being attacked in order to shut down oil production, not nationalize it. The name of the game is artificial scarcity designed to further cripple the economy. ...

“Publicly available CFR and Club of Rome strategy manuals from 30 years ago say that a global government needs to control the world population through neo-feudalism by creating artificial scarcity,” Steve Watson, Alex Jones and Paul Watson wrote in 2005. “Now that the social architects have de-industrialized the United States, they are going to blame our economic disintegration on lack of energy supplies.”

Also out on the fringes, Free Energy News is propagating a story that Goldman Sachs shorted TransOcean stock before the disaster (though the source may not be entirely reliable) - No joke: Goldman Sachs shorted Gulf of Mexico.
On Apr. 30, the Huffington Post published a story stating:
In what is looming as another public relations predicament for Goldman Sachs, the banking giant admitted today that it made "a substantial financial bet against the Gulf of Mexico" one day before the sinking of an oil rig in that body of water.

The new revelations came to light after government investigators turned up new emails from Goldman employee Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre in which he bragged to a girlfriend that the firm was taking a "big short" position on the Gulf.

"One oil rig goes down and we're going to be rolling in dough," Mr. Tourre wrote in one email. "Suck it, fishies and birdies!"

Not being aware that the author, Andy Borowitz, is a comedian, scores of Internet sites ran with the story as being genuine. As of today, Google search on pulls up 207,000 returns, beginning with the Huffington Post link. Many, such as Infowars, pulled their stories when they realized the mistake. ...

However, just because his piece was satire, doesn't mean there isn't something to it. The reason humor is funny is because it lampoons reality, providing an exaggerative and simplified caricature to bring out the key issues in a non-threatening way. Historically, especially in times of heavy oppression, the best truth tellers have been the comedians. Benjamin Franklin certainly used humor to his advantage in helping to win America's Independence.

A. True Ott, Ph.D., wrote the following to me last night:
I have confirmed that there were indeed numerous "shorts" placed on TransOcean stock just days before the "problem". Was it Goldman Sachs? That is yet to be conclusively determined (there is indeed a SEC investigation ongoing) -- but labeling something as "satire" is a lawyer's shrewd trick to keep from being sued for slander -- even if it is all true. Moreover, there were massive shorts placed literally seconds after the news hit the airwaves.

Who would dare to quote the actual e-mails from "Fabulous Fab", unless the writer would post them as a "satire" - especially after what happened to the Wall Street Journal writers who dared expose the 9-11 short sales involving Goldman Sachs. (They were assigned to Afghanistan, and had fatal "accidents" there.)

Dr. Ott has subsequently confirmed from two sources that Goldman Sachs was indeed in on the shorts being placed on TransOcean stock. And he has confirmed that the comedian was aware of that as well.

One denizen of the tinfoil world who I quite miss (even though his heyday coincided with the demise of Rigorous intuition, which was probably the most entertaining tinfoil site, by a wide margin) is the Iridescent Cuttlefish, who sank without trace shortly after RI became effectively defunct. The Cuttlefish was quite a fan of Rudy Rucker, who seems to share the fascination with multi-limbed sea creatures (security expert Bruce Schneier does as well for that matter) - Is Jaron a Cephalopod? (yes - I've now veered wildly off-topic).
I got to know Jaron Lanier a little bit in the 1990s, when Virtual Reality was becoming a craze. Jaron was one of the very first people to talk about VR—see his April, 2001, Scientific American article, “Virtually There.” By the mid 1990s, his company VPL Research was making one of the first “Data Glove” devices, and the Advanced Technology group at Autodesk was using these gloves for their so-called Cyberspace project. ...

In the last section of his latest book Jaron hints that he seems odd because he’s an alien cephalopod—“More than one student has pointed out that with my hair as it is, I am looking more and more like a cephalopod as time goes by.” The truth is coming out! But maybe I’m overinterpreting! I do love cuttlefish a lot…I pretty much try and work one into every novel that I write…

The book I’m talking about is You Are Not a Gadget. He’s trying to put his finger on some things that might keep the Web from being as wonderful as we’d like it to be. Cephalopod or not, Jaron does a good job of promoting his work, see his recent interview on “The Wisdom of the Hive” in Scientific American, and many more pages and links on his book site. ...

Jaron advocates a very nice solution to the problem that was proposed by Ted Nelson many years ago: this is that there be, in effect, only “one” copy of each artistic creation on the Web, and that whenever anyone access this copy, their browser automatically makes a smallish micropayment to the author. In practice there wouldn’t literally be only one copy of, say, a photo, a song, or a book—but it would be possible to make the system seem to behave as if this were in fact the case.

As things now stand, artists now seem fated to be selling our out-of-print or more obscure creations through things like Google Books or iTunes. These “Lords of the Cloud” (as Jaron calls them) collect the viewing fees and the revenue from sidebar ads and pass on whatever cut they deem reasonable to the actual authors. But why do we need Lords of the Cloud? An iron-clad, possibly government-backed, micropayment system would be cleaner, more open, and more fair.

Though maybe we don’t want the government, per se, involved. But, as Jaron also points out, it’s kind of crappy the way that the main, inviolable thing on so many web pages is ADs, ever more personalized, ever more intrusive and easy-to-mistake-for-something-real.

One more remark about cephalopods like octopi and cuttlefish. Jaron argues that their brains might in fact be comparable to ours, but they don’t get to have a childhood during which their elders teach them things. The edge that they do have is that, with their intensely variable skins, they are in some sense born masters of virtual reality. Jaron encapsulates these thoughts in an equation:

Cephalopods + Childhood = Humans + Virtual Reality.

Or, to quote the title of the great Talking Heads movie: “Stop Making Sense.” You go, Jaron! Lead the fight against bland consensus reality.


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