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Global ocean temperatures spiking.

Burning for two weeks, American oil company Chevron denies that this oil rig explosion is causing environmental damage in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

The company says that the leaked and burning oil poses no risk to human health or the environment. There seems to be no concrete plans to stop the fire, which has been burning since about January 23rd. 

Chevron is paying off a nearby village with food, and activists are being stonewalled by the company. 

Why are oil companies not forced to have emergency systems in place? 

Al Jazeera has video, here.

Talk about a double standard. Just as British Petroleum petitions the Obama administration for permission to drill for deepwater oil in the Gulf of Mexico, one of its oil rigs breaks and gets stuck in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. On the one hand, BP says its personnel are well trained and rigs are safer than ever. On the other, BP personnel were not fully prepared for a rig breaking and getting stuck just days ago.

Stage right
: “BP is asking regulators to approve a blueprint for new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time since its Macondo well blew out last year, triggering the nation’s worst oil spill….Federal regulators broadly signed off on BP’s plans to drill up to five wells at the site in 2008. In the new filing, BP is asking permission to drill two more wells at Kaskida and change the location of two others.”

Stage left: “BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the rig became stuck in “an inconvenient spot” along Spine Road, a main artery in the network of oil field roads around Prudhoe Bay. Rinehart said the rig became stuck when a wheel broke through the road surface as the rig drove across a section with culverts.”

Bottom line: BP should not be allowed to continue drill operations on US soil until it can prove it can handle simple tasks, such as moving an oil rig to a new location.

Follow up to my previous post: Starvation returns to the Horn of Africa, extreme drought, high food prices, rape. The Economist and Al Jazeera are vigilantly covering the devastating drought in east Africa - the worst since the 1960s effecting Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Aid groups can’t get in sufficiently to provide food, water, and shelter. Refugee camps, it seems, are run by militant rebel groups.

Some rebel groups have cut deals with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab to allow starving refugees cross borders. The U.S. State Department has issued a strongly worded letter to al-Shabaab to allow foreign aid into Somalia. Update below

Who is to blame? An oscillation in the climate in the form of La Niña—a cooling of the surface temperature across the equatorial eastern-central Pacific, causing big changes in airflow and weather patterns—is likely to have contributed to the droughts.

But humans too play a part. “This is a preventable disaster and solutions are possible,” says Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s humanitarian director. It is no coincidence that the worst-affected areas are also the poorest in the region. Long-term investment could have made villages and towns more resilient.

Sources: The Economist, Al Jazeera, CNN Africa

Update: US Dept. of State sending food aid.

This week, USAID activated a disaster assistance response team (DART) operating out of Ethiopia and Kenya to work with the World Food ProgramUNICEF, and over a dozen other organizations to coordinate emergency efforts to relieve the crisis. So far this year, the United States has provided more than $366 million to respond to the drought in the Horn of Africa, and continues to explore additional ways to assist those in need.

 Read the Press release, here.

Gulf of Mexico dead zone expected to be the largest on record. Result of chemicals from farm runoff and the recent flood. EPA’s stance is to allow farmers to self-regulate and volunteer efforts to clean up. This method is not working. 


The record flooding of the Mississippi basin is leading to record levels of farm chemicals and waste, which is going to pollute the Gulf of Mexico to a record level, and increase the size of the ‘dead zone’ at the mouth of the river.

Leslie Kaufman, Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi

Government studies have traced a majority of those chemicals in the runoff to nine farming states, and yet today, decades after the dead zones began forming, there is still little political common ground on how to abate this perennial problem. Scientists who study dead zones predict that the affected area will increase significantly this year, breaking records for size and damage.

For years, environmentalists and advocates for a cleaner gulf have been calling for federal action in the form of regulation. Since 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency has been encouraging all states to place hard and fast numerical limits on the amount of those chemicals allowed in local waterways. Yet of the nine key farm states that feed the dead zone, only two, Illinois and Indiana, have acted, and only to cover lakes, not the rivers or streams that merge into the Mississippi.

The lack of formal action upstream has long been maddening to the downstream states most affected by the pollution, and the extreme flooding this year has only increased the tensions.

(via underpaidgenius)

Note the highlighted sentence.

Chevron to Add Marcellus Acreage

Chevron Corp. announced Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire oil and gas assets, primarily 228,000 net leasehold acres, in the Marcellus Shale from Chief Oil & Gas LLC and Tug Hill, Inc. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close before the end of the second quarter, were not disclosed.

George Kirkland, vice chairman, Chevron Corporation, said, “This opportunity is aligned with our strategy to acquire early-in-life assets with long-term organic growth potential. Over the last year, Chevron has acquired nearly five million net acres of shale gas assets in the United States, Canada, Poland and Romania.”

"This expansion of our shale gas portfolio gives us additional high-quality resources with strong growth potential, as well as proximity to and synergy with existing operations," said Gary Luquette, president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company.

The acreage, which is principally located in southern Pennsylvania, will give Chevron an estimated five trillion cubic feet of additional natural gas resource in its Marcellus Shale operations.

Don’t forget USAID’s role in this. They’re helping tribes get cellphones and private property rights. Is democracy for all? Apparently, there’s no other choice.


Ethiopia’s Vanishing Tribes

Brent Stirton is a senior staff photographer for Getty Images and a contributor who routinely spends nine months of the year on assignment, all over the world, covering everything from narco-wars in Afghanistan to “fog harvesting” in Nepal. In 2007, Stirton spent two weeks in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley, documenting tribal groups that still live largely as they have for centuries.

Good work by MJ. I read a lot of environmental law, and companies get fined everyday for stupid shit. The media rarely picks up these stories. Worse, fines are so small they barely evoke a punitive effect. With no media coverage, weak inspections, self-reporting, and tiny fines, companies have very little incentive to comply with environment laws.


MJ’s Mac McClelland, reporting on the BP spill a year later, brings you your fun petrochemical-accident fact of the day.

(via theweekmagazine)


Yisrael Katz, the Israeli minister for transport, said the plan had been under consideration for many months and had been encouraged by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. He said it would also relieve Israel of the obligation to be the transit point for goods into the enclave.

The Gaza Strip has no sea port and its airport was destroyed. The area is the sixth most crowded place in the world. Since 2007, Israel, which controls the majority of Gaza’s borders has only allowed limited kinds of goods into Gaza and allowed very few exports out. Gazans have got round restrictions by smuggling goods from Egypt through tunnels.

Katz said he expected the island would be under international control for at least 100 years to ensure Israel’s security.

I didn’t know so many oil companies were located in the U.S. Wonder why?


  1. Exxon Mobil
  2. Bank of America
  3. General Electric
  4. Chevron
  5. Boeing
  6. Valero Energy
  7. Goldman Sachs
  8. Citigroup
  9. ConocoPhillips
  10. Carnival Cruise Lines

(via andrewgraham)

Media stunner: New York Times partners with Shell Oil

"In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation’s biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found.

The administration has awarded more than 179,000 “categorical exclusions” to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

Coal-burning utilities like Westar Energy and Duke Energy, chemical manufacturer DuPont, and ethanol maker Didion Milling are among the firms with histories of serious environmental violations that have won blanket NEPA exemptions.

Read the dirty mess HERE.

News Corp., owner of Fox and WSJ, is carbon neutral. WHY??


So, why push for climate change initiatives if you profess not to believe in climate change?

It’s a question that might be asked of News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch this week after the parent company of Fox, the Daily, and the Wall Street Journal announced that it is now carbon neutral.

The carbon-neutral goal, first announced in 2007, was achieved through a combination of carbon offsets (controversial in and of themselves) and creative internal initiatives, according to Greenbiz. The company’s Dow Jones campus in New Jersey, for example, set up a solar system that will provide up to half of its energy when completed—and it will be the largest solar system at a commercial site in the country. A joint program between Fox Home Entertainment and Walmart also slashed material and transportation emissions by making DVD packaging lighter.

News Corp. now has a series of goals for 2015 to work towards, including cutting absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 15% compared to 2006 levels, improving the environmental impacts of its 100 largest suppliers, and measuring and reducing its waste footprint.

All of this from the company that owns Fox News, whose Washington editor commanded during the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 that the network shouldn’t mention climate change ”without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”

So what’s the deal? News Corp. claims that the business side of things is completely separate from the creative and editorial side of the organization. Apparently, News Corp.’s real beliefs about climate change can be deduced more from its actions than from the words of its writers and news anchors.

God, if you’re going to ignore reality, you should at least have the moral fiber to commit to it.

Landscapes of Extraction: Slide show of landscape scarring for fossil fuels.

Mountaintops leveled. Tar sands scraped and boiled. Water taps aflame. These are just a few of the ways that mankind’s quest for fossil fuels manifests itself, beyond the obvious utility of being able to power a home or business or drive a car.