Archive for August, 2010

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disastor Summary

August 31, 2010

From the good folks at NRDC

This morning’s summary

Killing the Gulf oil spill well is like a movie running in slow motion. With lots of starts and stops, BP is now waiting for the weather to change, for high seas to calm down and for conditions to ripen once again to continue the final stages of operation to plug the well permanently. Meanwhile, there are plenty of disclosures and events taking place on land involving the worst environmental disaster in US history. New information reveals that equipment on the rig should have been checked more often before the April 20 disaster. BP and the federal government are headed toward a showdown over whether the $20 billion claims fund will be enough. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal complains that President Obama has not voiced enough support for restoration. And despite the drilling moratorium, more rigs are at work in the Gulf.

An editorial note: The Gulf Coast disaster summary will be moving to once a day beginning Sept. 1 and will arrive in your inbox weekdays by noon.

Quotable quote:

“The current weather pattern has nothing to do with tropical storms or depressions that are being generated further out in the Atlantic. These are locally induced weather systems … They are generating local sea states that are over the margins for safe operations” – Incident Commander Thad Allen

And he went on to say:
“And I would think right now it is reasonable to look at a two to three day delay. But if some reason the weather lays down we will go immediately. This will be the subject of go/no-go discussions that will be carried out frequently on a daily basis and probably more frequent now between our science team and the BP engineers in Houston.”

National News

Bloomberg: High seas delay BP’s work at Gulf of Mexico well

Expect another two or three-day delay in the final work on the crippled well because of rough seas in the Gulf. Monday Adm. Thad Allen told reporters in a call from aboard a ship in the Gulf. Eight-foot waves were making the work impossible a mile below the surface.

Read more from Jim Poulson and Mark Chediak

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-08-30/high-seas-delay-bp-s-work-at-gulf-of-mexico-well.html

also see
Wall Street Journal: Weather delays progress at well site

http://online.wsj.com/article/
SB10001424052748703369704575461754280001966.html

AP: Federal engineers mistakenly thought failed equipment received independent inspection, now it’s being mandated

The equipment failures blamed for the Gulf oil spill might have been detected if the owners of the Deepwater Horizon continued to have the rig’s drilling equipment verified by independent experts – something federal regulators mistakenly thought was happening offshore. Now, the Obama administration has ordered every rig in the Gulf of Mexico to subject a central piece of drilling hardware – the blowout preventer – to certification by a third party before any can drill again.

Read more from Dina Cappiello

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/30/deepwater-horizon-federal_n_699506.html

Al.com:$20 billion oil spill claims account could cause problems between BP, Feds

Is the $20 billion BP claims fund a down payment on what will be needed to make victims whole? Or it is the whole chunk of change? BP thinks it is. Vice President Joe Biden has called it a “down payment” on Gulf restoration, not the ceiling. The government and BP are headed for a collision, that’s for sure.

Read more from George Altman

http://blog.al.com/live/2010/08/20_billion_oil_spill_claims_ac.html

Chron.com: Tough new rules for drilling regulators
With the ethics violations of MMS employees fresh in their minds, the Obama administration on Monday imposed an unprecedented conflict-of-interest policy on federal drilling regulators in a bid to put greater distance between inspectors and the offshore platforms and rigs they police. Among the rules: Bureau employees now must tell supervisors about any potential conflict of interest and submit formal requests not to be assigned inspections or other official duties when those conflicts arise.

Read more:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7178864.html

Bloomberg: Maker of blowout preventer tries to delay removal
Cameron International Corp., the maker of the blowout preventer now being retrieved in the Gulf oil spill, lost a bid to delay removal of the key piece of safety equipment linked to the BP oil spill from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig. Cameron unsuccessfully asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to postpone retrieval to allow photographing and recording current conditions in the blowout preventer. The company was turned down in no uncertain terms.

Read more:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-30/cameron-can-t-delay-retrieval-of-oil-rig-blowout-preventer-judge-rules.html

Regional

WSDU.com: Oil spill commissioners discuss drilling ban

Two members of President Barack Obama’s oil spill commission were in New Orleans on Monday meeting with leaders and examining the impact of the BP oil spill. One of those commission members is former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. He said the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico should be lifted, but only with enforcement of strict safety regulations.

Read more

http://www.wdsu.com/news/24817265/detail.html

Florida Independent: BP data reveals high stakes for Florida in oil spill claims process

Data released last week by BP shows that Feinberg’s decisions about how to disburse compensation could impact Florida more than any other Gulf state. Floridians filed more claims with BP than people from any other state, and when they got paid, they received the largest average payments — $3,397, compared to an average of $3,114 in Texas, the next-highest, and $2,378 in Mississippi, the lowest. But Floridians also saw the largest number of claims deferred to the claims administrator.

Read more

http://floridaindependent.com/6342/bp-data-reveals-high-stakes-for-florida-in-oil-spill-claims-process

Los Angeles Times: Gulf beaches deemed safe for sea turtle hatchlings

The Gulf is now safe for the sea turtle hatchings, say officials, who have ended the relay of sea turtle eggs from the Gulf to the Atlantic coast.

Read more from Ludmilla Lelis

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-sea-turtle-20100831,0,5676441.story

News Herald: Home, condo sales drop in July

The county’s condo and single-family home sales declined year-to-year by nearly one-third in July in Bay County, Florida.

Read more

http://www.newsherald.com/news/sales-86585-home-condo.html

Politics

Times Picayune: Jindal hoped for more from President Obama on oil spill

In polite political language, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he appreciated the weekend visit of President Obama to New Orleans but wished he had gone further to support an end to the drilling ban and more emphatically, more BP participation in a Gulf coast recovery.

Read more

http://topics.nola.com/tag/barack-obama/index.html

Business

CNBC: Gulf working rigs up despite moratorium, analysts

The number of offshore oil and gas drilling rigs working in the Gulf of Mexico has increased slightly in recent weeks, and the number available has remained steady despite the U.S. drilling moratorium, analysts said Friday. Analysts predicted rigs would flee the Gulf after the U.S. government imposed a temporary ban on deepwater drilling and licensing of shallow water work grew more complicated due to new safety demands. Only two mobile rigs left.

Read more

http://www.cnbc.com/id/38919935

Editorial

Blogger News Network: Do we have Pinocchio in our midst?

This writer is not at all convinced the real story about the effects of the oil spill is getting out. “I have to admit that I am rapidly becoming a believer that every time a see a BP or government official spew forth the latest update, I see their nose’s grow.”

Read more from Simon Barrett

http://www.bloggernews.net/125178

Feature:

MSNBC: This woman’s nose stands between you and Gulf seafood

If you can believe it, the modern technology now being employed by NOAA to determine if Gulf seafood is safe includes the noses of 30 individual ‘sniffers.’ They are called “expert sensory assessors”. This is a profile of one of them.

Read more from JoNel Aleccia

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38885939/ns/health-food_safety/

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The Gulf of Mexico and Birds…More!!!!!

August 31, 2010

Two observations before I get started on this mornings post. I can see snow on the peaks arond here…yes it is still August but we have snow…the other observation is about Hurricane Earl…as most already know I have immediate relatives in coastal Carolina where Earl is going to be a wind event (or so it is thought) but they live close enough to the coast where those winds might be over 100 mph…thats a lot so I can only hope for common sense on their part and lots of luck to them.

Last evening I posted about the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and its impacts on birds…I got the post from one of my favorite sites, NRDC’s WeLoveBirds site. I think it will be awhile before we will know the impacts of the oil spill on birds…I have birded parts of the gulf and I can attest to the importance, and pivitol nature of the gulf to birds…my guess is there will be impacts on those birds.

I found some of my best birding along the gulf and I have birded it 4 times.

Some memories: I remember at least 4 songbird “fall outs” along the gulf.Two of them were just to the west of the oil spill.

I saw Snowy Plovers on the gulf…on what would be termed a sand flat.

I birded Dauphin Island twice and it was some of the best birding I remember.

Ive been down to Aransis twice and if the oil disastor flows that way it might impact the remaining whoopers.

I saw Yellow and Clapper Rails in salt marshes right on the gulf.

I saw skimmers, brown pelicans and Laughing Gulls nesting on barrier islsnds in the gulf…need I write more about the gulf cost’s importance to birds…it is from my viewpoint.
Matt

Experts Say Birds Returning to the Region May Face a “Lurking Time Bomb”

August 31, 2010

Fromthe NRDC Blog WeLoveBirds
Seattle, WA – Millions of Canada’s migratory birds, representing more than a hundred species could be at risk when they return this fall to areas in the Gulf of Mexico affected by the oil spill. The Gulf coast serves as important habitat for hundreds of Canada’s bird species which use the region for wintering grounds and migratory stopover habitat.

“The world’s largest migration occurs every year when billions of birds fly from Canada to areas south, including the Gulf Coast,” said Dr. Jeff Wells, senior scientist at the Boreal Songbird Initiative “We’re not sure what these birds will face when they return to areas hit by the oil spill, but certainly a large number of birds could be vulnerable to illness or even death.”

The migratory birds of Canada’s Boreal Forest represent a significant percentage of the birds

that winter in the Gulf Coast region or stop during their travels further south. Canada’s Boreal

Forest is the world’s largest intact forest and is home to more than 300 bird species, including

80 percent of North American waterfowl species, 63 percent of finches and 53 percent of

warblers.

“There’s been a lot of attention to oil spill effects on local resident species,” said Wells. “But

there’s a lurking time bomb for many waterfowl and shorebirds that breed in Canada’s Boreal

Forest and winter or stop in the Gulf.”

Nearly 5 billion of Canada’s migratory birds fly south every fall, Wells adds. He and other

experts worry these birds could face both long- and short-term adverse effects to shoreline

habitat, necessary winter food sources and health.

The Gulf Coast is vitally important for many wetland bird species. The marshes, beaches and

tidal flats provide ideal nesting areas and habitat for millions of waterfowl, seabirds, shorebirds

and other water birds. These habitats also house fish, mollusks and other marine life that

provide the food supply for many of these birds. The impact on smaller food sources like

plankton could have a ripple effect on the entire food chain. There may also be longer-term

effects stemming from physiological impacts of ingested oil that could lead to lower breeding

success rates.

Currently, nesting birds such as terns, gulls and pelicans are hit hardest by the oil spill.

Louisiana’s coast supports an estimated 77 percent of the U.S. breeding population of

Sandwich Tern, 52 percent of Forster’s Tern and 44 percent of black skimmer. Many of North

America’s most at-risk species also live in the region during a portion of the year, including

Yellow Rail, Black Rail, Snowy Plover, Piping Plover, and Short-billed Dowitcher. The oil spill

could pose long-term implications for the health of their total populations.

“We’ve really only seen the tip of the iceberg so far,” said Wells. “Species from the Boreal and

other areas may encounter habitats and food sources contaminated with oil on their journey

south that may cause illness or even mortality. These birds, and the generations to come after

them, are endangered by the oil spill’s impact to critical marsh and beach habitat.”

While there isn’t much that can be done to mitigate effects of the oil spill on wildlife, he adds,

there are ways to protect bird populations in the future through prevention of habitat loss and

fragmentation—one of the leading causes of declining bird populations worldwide.

“By protecting intact ecosystems such as the 1.4 billion acres of Canada’s Boreal Forest,” said

Wells, “we can give these critical populations of migratory birds a fighting chance of recovering

from devastating occurrences such as the Gulf oil spill.”

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Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disastor

August 30, 2010

From the fine folks at NRDC

This morning’s summary
There’s growing pressure on the Obama administration to lift the deepwater oil drilling ban in the Gulf early before the current Nov. 30 date. Both Republican and Democrat officials in Louisiana say the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, put in place after the BP oil spill, is now that state’s biggest problem. Federal government officials and many environmental activists say the temporary ban on drilling is necessary to prevent further accidents. But people in the Gulf region are worried that many of the well-paying jobs provided by the energy industry might leave and never come back. And there are others who say the drilling ban is no longer needed as the oil leak has been harnessed. Meanwhile, BP engineers are planning to remove the temporary cap today – the next step in the drawn-out dance to permanently kill the well. National Incident Commander Thad Allen calls it a “gentle hug.”

Quotable Quote

“The well will be capped, and nobody will ever want to go near that well again, and there are no plans to develop that Macondo structure field,” said Bob Dudley, BP CEO, who spent part of his childhood in Mississippi.

And this:

“I wanted to come here and tell the people of this city directly: My administration is going to stand with you – and fight alongside you – until the job is done,” President Barack Obama in New Orleans Sunday.

National News

USA Today: BP to remove temporary cap from well

Engineers will start work Monday to remove the temporary cap from the well so crews can raise the failed blowout preventer from the seafloor, according to Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen. A new blowout preventer will be placed atop the well once the one that failed is raised. After that the goal is to drill the final 50 feet of a relief well on Sept. 7, Allen said. It will then take about four days for drilling crews to complete the intercept and the cementing of mud into the middle of the ambient.

Read more

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/08/bp-oil-spill-gulf-1-2/1?loc=interstitialskip

Check this one out, too
http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/08/30/gulf.oil.disaster/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

Times Picayune: BP won’t use well responsible for oil spill

BP does not plan to use the well responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history — or the underground reservoir of crude it tapped — for future drilling, the company’s incoming CEO said. “The well will be capped, and nobody will ever want to go near that well again, and there are no plans to develop that Macondo structure field,” said Bob Dudley. He said the extent of the disaster has been a “shock” that will force BP and the oil industry as a whole to re-evaluate their practices. Dudley said this disaster was “personal” for him because he grew up in Mississippi.

Read more from George Altman

http://blog.al.com/live/2010/08/bp_will_not_use_well_responsib.html

Los Angeles Times: Obama, in New Orleans, promises to “fight alongside” Gulf Coast

In New Orleans five years to the day after the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama pledged that would continue to rebuild the Gulf Coast after the oil spill. “President Obama recommitted the nation to ongoing repair of the Gulf Coast as the region’s fragile recovery hung in the balance and his own popularity needed shoring up amid disappointment with the administration’s handling of the gulf oil spill.”

Read more from Lisa Mascaro

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-katrina-20100830,0,4189807.story

AP: Transcript of Obama’s remarks in New Orleans

Here is the transcript of the President’s remarks in New Orleans Sunday, referencing both the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the government’s response to the Gulf oil spill.

Read more

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jy67c0KgGJ5_37nTvIcNVlbehllQD9HTC9FO0

AP: Feinberg: Most spill claims lack documentation

The administrator of the new claims process for victims of the Gulf oil spill said Sunday most of the individual claims reviewed in the first week lacked the minimal documentation to be paid. “There are thousands of claims that have been filed with no documentation at all,” Ken Feinberg told state officials at the Southern Governors’ Association convention.

Read more from Phillip Rawls

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/29/1798068/feinberg-most-spill-claims-lack.html

Washington Post: For oil executives, total calm before the rig storm

The Washington Post describes one of the most interesting subplots of the Gulf oil spill disaster—the testimony last week of several BP executives who were on board the rig right before it blew, ironically, to talk about safety. “They insisted that they had stayed out of the way, caused no distraction, and distanced themselves from key technical decisions. In doing so, the executives have contended that, despite many collective decades of experience in the offshore-drilling business, they failed to detect the ominous signals of a “well control” problem, and had no clue that they were aboard what amounted to a ticking time bomb.” The testimony shows they were there when the rig started to hiss and shake and chaos broke out on the bridge.

Read more from Joel Achenbach

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-yn/content/article/2010/08/28/AR2010082803568.html

Bloomberg: BP internal report said to find engineers misread Gulf well test results

Bloomberg said it has seen a report that shows that engineers misread a report on the well tests done from the Deepwater Horizon before the well blew. “BP Plc’s internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster found company engineers misinterpreted pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent, according to a person familiar with the report. BP managers aboard the Transocean Ltd.-owned rig misread a test of the Macondo well’s stability on April 20 and began replacing drilling fluid, which is heavier than oil and natural gas, with seawater, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report’s findings haven’t been publicly released.

Read more from Joe Carroll

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-29/bp-internal-report-said-to-find-engineers-misread-gulf-well-test-results.html

MotionAttorney.com: Gulf coast oil spill will likely exceed all estimates

Lawyers estimate hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses from Texas to Florida are seeking losses due to the oil spill in thousands of lawsuits. So far, oil spill lawsuits include oystermen, charter boat captains, travel & tourism businesses and individual property owners. The economic hardship due to unemployment and loss of rental income is staggering.

Read more

http://www.motionattorney.com/gulf-coast-oil-spill-will-likely-exceed-all-previous-estimates/

Regional

NPR: BP assures Southern governors it will restore the Gulf

The three top officials dealing with the oil spill: BP’s Robert Dudley, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and claims czar Ken Fienberg came to reassure southern governors they are on the job.

Read more:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129521779

Check this one out, too
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/08/oil_spill_aftermath_claims_dis.html

PNJ.com: Search is on for oil in more waterways

NOAA and the Coast Guard are making a new search for oil in underways in the of the Florida panhandle after the discovery of a large pocket of submerged oil at Barrancas Beach near Pensacola Naval Air Station.They’re using 75 vessels in bays and inland waterways and up to three miles into the Gulf, from Louisiana to Apalachicola. Other teams are working in deeper depths farther out in the Gulf.

Read more from Kimberly Blair

http://www.pnj.com/article/20100829/NEWS01/8290334/Oil-spill-Search-is-on-for-more-oil-in-waterways

Also see:

PNJ.com: In Gulf Breeze, divers going under to seek submerged oil

http://www.pnj.com/article/20100829/NEWS01/8290335/1124

Business

Daily Telegraph: BP to admit $1m a week advertising spree

BP is expected to tell Congress that it has spent approximately $1 million a week on advertising in the 18 weeks since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. London’s Daily Telegraph quotes President Obama: “What I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on their shareholders and on TV advertising, that they’re nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf who are having a hard time.”

Read more

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7969586/BP-to-admit-1m-a-week-advertising-spree.html

Los Angeles Times: Seafood industry struggles to throw off spill’s stigma

According to this story, even Gulf fishermen are afraid to eat seafood coming out of the Gulf since the spill. “When news first hit of the massive oil blowout 50 miles southeast of here, Kindra Arnesen filled her freezer with shrimp, and has no intention of eating fresh seafood until she stops hearing from her fellow fishermen about blobs of oil on the sea bottom and tiny droplets of dispersed hydrocarbons in the water. “I’m not going to sell somebody something I wouldn’t feed my own kids, and we’re not eating it,” Arnesen said. “They can eat burgers for awhile.”

Read more from Kim Murphy

http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100829/BUSINESS05/308299981/-1/BUSINESS03

VOA News.com: La hit hard by moratorium on oil drilling

While the country looks back on Hurricane Katrina five years ago, VOANews reports that the President’s moratorium on offshore drilling is turning out to be the single most devastating economic issue facing the state of Louisiana right now

Read more

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Louisiana-Hit-Hard-By-US-Government-Moratorium-on-Deepwater-Drilling-101679253.html

Politics

The Hill: Oil spill panel leader says drilling ban should end early, calls for leasing policy overhaul

William Reilly, a leader of the commission probing the BP oil spill, said the federal ban on deepwater oil-and-gas drilling should be lifted before its scheduled Nov. 30 expiration. Reilly, headed the EPA under former President George H.W. Bush.

Read more from Ben Gemen

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/116269-oil-spill-panel-leader-says-drilling-ban-should-end-early-calls-for-leasing-policy-overhaul

denverpost.com: Gulf oil spill fuels Alaska village’s fears over offshore drilling

According to the Denver Post, the catastrophe in the Gulf was not lost on Point Hope, a village in Alaska on the Arctic Circle, which for six years has battled offshore drilling in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas. “That spill in the Gulf, it could have been our ocean,” said Mayor Daisy Sharp. “It’s sad to say, but in a way I’m glad it happened. Maybe now people will take a closer look at offshore oil drilling.”

Read more from Mark Jaffe and David Ollinger

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15928501

Editorial

NaplesNews.com: Guest Commentary: The Gulf oil spill

This writer, a consultant to the maritime and energy industries, criticizes the Obama administration and the media for the tone of remarks aimed at and about BP during the Gulf oil spill. “They embarked on a vicious finger-pointing campaign that encompassed personal attacks on the CEO of BP and the company itself, accusing it of negligence and collusion with the MMS in not having plans and equipment to deal with the spill.”

Read more from Paul Slater
http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/aug/28/guest-commentary-gulf-oil-accident/

Feature

Video Journalism: Archeologist rescues Gulf Coast artifacts from oil spill

There are over 19,000 archeological sites recorded in MS, some holding some of the highest concentrations of prehistoric evidence in the world, dating back 10,000-12,000 years. This four-minute video documents Edward Jackson and his team of students from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), on a “search and rescue” mission to save archeological artifacts from contamination by oil that would make carbon dating impossible.

Read and watch more from Alison Fast

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Environmental groups face their future in climate-change debate

August 30, 2010

Environmental groups face their future in climate-change debate

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 29, 2010; 9:10 PM

On Thursday, some of the country’s most respected environmental groups – in the midst of their biggest political fight in two decades – sent a group of activists to Milwaukee with a message.

We’re losing.

They put on what they called a “CarnivOil” – a fake carnival with a stilt-wearing barker, free “tar balls” (chocolate doughnuts), and a suit-wearing “oil executive” punching somebody dressed like a crab. It was supposed to be satire, but there was a bitter message underneath: When we fight the oil and gas industry, they win.

“We killed the clean-energy bill! There’s still no cap on oil spills!” yelled Heather Brutz, the barker, who was pretending to speak for the industry. “And now, for our graaaaaaand finale, we’re going to pass the diiiiiirty-air act!”

A year ago, these groups seemed to be at the peak of their influence, needing only the Senate’s approval for a landmark climate-change bill. But they lost that fight, done in by the sluggish economy and opposition from business and fossil-fuel interests.

Now the groups are wondering how they can keep this loss from becoming a rout as their opponents press their advantage and try to undo the Obama administration’s climate efforts. At two events last week in Wisconsin, environmental groups seemed to be trying two strategies: defiance and pleading for sympathy.

Neither one drew enough people to fill a high school gym.

“What was revealed by the last year or two was that the energy industry hasn’t even had to break a sweat yet in beating this stuff off. Our side did absolutely everything you’re supposed to do . . . but got nowhere,” said author Bill McKibben, who co-founded the climate-focused group 350.org.

Washington’s climate battle is still far from over. The Environmental Protection Agency is setting limits on some sources of greenhouse gases: first auto tailpipes, then power plants and factories next year. Now, industry groups and senators from coal-producing states are trying to prevent that.

The White House has said President Obama would veto such an effort, but that would be far easier if environmental groups could whip up public support for him.

There could also be fights over smaller pieces of environmentalists’ agenda: efforts to require more renewable-energy generation nationally and to defend state-level climate plans like one in California.

Climate bill’s outlook

Before, green groups had wanted so much more than this – they wanted a “cap and trade” bill that would set emissions limits nationwide. The House passed a bill like that, but – after industry groups said it would kill jobs and slow the economy – the Senate decided last month to not even take the issue up.

The bill’s chances, already bad, will get worse if Republicans gain seats, as is widely predicted, in the midterm elections.

“If it’s not addressed in a lame-duck session of Congress, it will have been punted to the next generation,” said David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.

Environmental groups have won some victories in recent years, opposing individual coal-fired power plants and pressuring banks to stop funding “mountaintop removal” coal mines.

But for the green movement, this year’s defeat was more than a loss; it was a reckoning, a signal that it had overestimated its influence.

Even in the hottest year on record, even with a historic oil spill polluting the Gulf of Mexico, even with a Democratic Congress and a friendly White House, it couldn’t win the fight it had picked. In fact, in the Senate it couldn’t even start it.

“The oil industry has tremendous reach and control in the United States Senate,” said David Di Martino, a spokesman for Clean Energy Works, a coalition of more than 60 groups that includes big names such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund. “Our mistake was miscalculating . . . how far into the Senate it went.”

Looking back, some environmentalists say their problem was timing; once the economy perks up, their logic goes, prospects will improve. Others blame implacable Republican opposition (though a number of conservative and coal-state Democrats also balked), or a president who they say didn’t push hard enough and focused first on issues such as health care and financial regulation. The White House blames them back, for not winning any Senate Republicans over to support the climate bill.

But some activists from smaller groups say the problem is within environmentalism itself. To them, the Senate defeat showed that green groups don’t have enough of Washington’s two currencies of power: money and angry voters. To them, it’s significant that no senator seems in danger of being voted out of office this November for denying the environmentalists the climate bill they wanted.

Spreading the message

This week, oil and coal groups will start a series of pro-industry rallies around the country, repeating a strategy that worked well last summer. In Wisconsin last week, environmental groups were trying to get their message across first.

On Wednesday, a coalition of environmental and labor groups called the “Blue Green Alliance” came to Green Bay during a tour of 30-plus cities. They arrived in a blue bus painted with a windmill, smiling workers – and a painted message that was resilience bordering on denial.

“The Job’s Not Done,” the bus said, meaning the climate bill.

“A new green job can be waiting out there for you” if the bill is passed and stimulates the growth of renewable energy, said Mark Westphal, representing a United Steelworkers local. “I’m here today to tell the United States Senate to get on board.”

But only about 30 people attended the midafternoon event. A half-hour after it began, the speakers were back on the bus and the parking lot was almost empty.

The next day, in Milwaukee, the CarnivOil – put on by Clean Energy Works – took a different tack.

Instead of holding out hope for a climate bill, they declared it dead and tried to blame the oil and gas industry for killing it.

“The message to folks outside of Washington is that, while they’re not paying attention, big oil’s having a carnival in Washington,” Clean Energy Works’ Di Martino said. “Anything and everything that threatens their business model, they’re able to stop. And the message to people is to wake up.”

Every few minutes, there would be a fight. The person in the crab costume – said to be boxing on behalf of the environment – would take on the fake oil executive. Each bout followed the same script: The oil executive would bribe the referee, who would make the crab take off his boxing gloves.

Soon after, the crab would be lying on the mat, KO’d.

“Oh! The Earth is down! It’s taken too many hits!” yelled “ref” Scott Thompson. “Remember, folks, just like in the real world, big oil always gets the upper hand!”

The event drew in scattered pedestrians, and afterward organizers said dozens had signed their petitions calling for action against climate change.

But, even among those drawn in by the spectacle, it was hard to see the seeds of an environmental revolution.

“It catches attention,” said Jenny Schrank, 19, of Milwaukee after playing a game in which she pitched fake fish into bowls of “tar,” a reference to this summer’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Normally, she said, the environment “is not something that I do anything about.”

Would that change now?

“Um,” Schrank said, “maybe.”

“I don’t know about that,” said her friend Rachel Rutter-Smith, 20.

“We’re all lazy,” Schrank said.

Sitting Down Is a Good Strategy For Wildlife Viewing.

August 30, 2010

I have seen some of my best things just sitting there…here are some examples. First I can say that the vast majority of good wildlife film clips that I have seen require quantitiess of sitting or a lot of luck.

The best raptor watching I have seen by far was sitting at a hawkwatch site in a camping chair and watching a lot of birds fly right over my head…Once I was sitting under a Sitka Spruce on Afognak Island in Alaska and I twisted on a mouse call to get a better look at a Varied Thrush, instead I called in a 600 pound brown bear. I was just plain lucky because the bear, grunting, ran right past me.

One of my favorite fishing holes downn in Florida was from a little used bridge that ran over a canal on the road from Boca Raton to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. I used to lean on the rail of the bridge and fish and watch wildlife. I caught Talapia and occasional Horned Pout Catfish in the shade under the bridge. In the sun near the bridge I would catch Peacock Bass and sunfish. On the bank I saw wild feral pigs, Indigo snake and alligator. In the sky, during migration, I would watch Short tailed Hawks glide with Turkey Vulture Flocks, stalkind birds on the ground, that had no notion the hawks were gliding with the vultures.

Once I was napping under a Sub Alpine Fir in Cub Creek, South of Missoula, Montana and a pygmy owl roosted on a branch, 4 feet away and watched me sitting there.

You see a lot just sitting down but I have learned you have to know what your looking for.
Matt

Warblers More Common Out In This Valley Is What I Am Seeing

August 29, 2010

Birds are a passion of mine and I can say that there are two warblers staging behind where I live. Prior to their migration these birds will gather together…in fields like the one out back, that is what staging is.
I have seen Yellow and Common Yellowthroat Warblers around here, Wilson’s Warbler is also around here and lately I have seen Orange-crowned and Macgillvaries warblers staging nearby where I live. I hear them chipping in the morning and then I go out and look for them…so that is what I see.
Matt

Katrina, Busy Brain and Opinion

August 29, 2010

I have been listening to Hurricane Katrina (such dark days for us US Citizens) memorials so I am full of opinions, even on my self imposed day off, but I am going to just write this (an opinion god forbid).

Before Katrina conservation groups were focusing on restoring Louisiana wetlands and barrier islands. If I got anything from hard lessons brought on this country by Katrina it is to stop talkingf about wetland restoration and restore wetlands!
I am watching from Montana and my mobility is more challenged now than at any point in my adult life, but those wetlands, for a lot of reasons, need to be restored.

Now we are faced with a huge mess in Pakastan and with climate change I see Pakastan as a norm for our globe…buckle up!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Matt

Predator Conservation and YtoY

August 28, 2010

The best concept that I have seen for protecting large wild carnivpres is the concept of Yellowstone to Yukom Conservation Strategy (YtoY). Glad to say I had a lot of involvement in its formation as an organization.

I think in its outer limits, for predators we have to conserve lands on the scale envisioned in the Y2Y project (a lot of land already protected).

We can quibble over the size of the connections that are needed between protected clusters. My advise is that the predators, themselves, will tell us and that is why we need more longterm research so that predators can tell us what it takes and how often and if what is effective to get a predator genetic infusion to that predator from another population of the same kinds of critters.

A good example can be found reading, Chadwicks, the Wolverine Way. Just how much and how often and where do wolverines outside of Glacier National Park come into the park and make park wolverines hardy for the longterm…wolverines have to be hardy because sometimes on a daily basis they compete with grizzly’s, black bears, wolves and mountain lions for food they also have to navigate roads, snowmobiles, powder skiiers,et.al. for survivability and such things as a low birth rate and a huge territory are biological artifacts for an animal that needs a Y2Y size area to exsist over the long haul.
My questions are how many YtoY areas are there left in the world. I can see this concebt all over the world. Just in our part of the world this concept has potential in Coastal British Columbia, the Appalacian Chain and Boreal Canada.

My uestion is there political will to accomplish thi type of conservation, how will climate change impact this strategy and what kind of connections are neded to make such a strategy viable…I say wishful thinking but wishful thinkers can still make lemons into lemonade.
Matt

Wildfire, No Not the Song

August 27, 2010

Wildfire. No not the Michael Martin Murphy song…but wildfire season is here in and hazy. We do not have enough traffic around here to have vehicle haze.

I new it right away. Yesterday we had wind and for the first time in a long time-triple digit heat. Today, it is 72, degrees and haze is covering up the Mountain Ranges.

I wakeup, open up the windows and suffer from itchy eyes, I know we have fires outside.

I remember im 1988 when over a million acres of Yellowstone was burning, talk about itchy eyes…I am still scratching…and cannot seem to stop. Is climate change increasing fires as pines die because beetle kill is exacerbated by a warming climate…maybe.
Matt