Archive for September, 2010

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

September 30, 2010

From the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
As the Gulf of Mexico begins to breathe easier now that the out-of-control oil spill is dead, major new obstacles are cropping up on land. A shallow drilling company is asking a federal judge to throw out the Obama administration’s second drilling ban. Shell has announced plans to start deep-water drilling in the Gulf despite BP’s experience. Cuba plans to start drilling in the Gulf in international waters 50 miles from the Florida Keys. Scientists are concerned that an oil spill like BP’s in the Gulf could reach the Gulf stream and head north into the Atlantic. An oil spill response fleet being set up by the biggest U.S. and European oil companies won’t get to the Gulf before the drilling ban expires still scheduled for Nov. 30. And a presidential panel’s investigation into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been hamstrung because it lacks subpoena power to call witnesses. The House has passed the measure but the Senate is gridlocked and may go home for election-year politics before it takes action.

Quotable quote:

“BP realizes it has to change. Another disaster like this and it will be stripped of its U.S. operations and may even go bankrupt” – Peter Hitchens, oil analyst.

And this one, too
“Our early analysis has documented clear detrimental effects to animals and habitats in the Gulf ecosystem” – NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco

National News

Times-Picayune: Ensco Offshore asks court to throw out second ban on drilling

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman opened the second hearing on the second lawsuit challenging the President’s drilling ban. Shallow water driller Ensco Offshore Co. is asking the judge to throw out the federal government’s newest ban.

Read more from Rebecca Mowbray

Wall Street Journal: BP’s new chief puts emphasis on safety

Acting to restore BP PLC’s reputation in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, incoming CEO Robert Dudley unveiled big changes designed to improve safety and announced the departure of the senior executive who oversaw drilling operations. Dudley said Wednesday that he will split BP’s exploration-and-production division into three parts and order a review of how the company manages third-party contractors. The overhaul creates a safety unit that will have sweeping powers to challenge management decisions if it considers them too risky

Read more from Guy Chazan

Also see
Will changing of the guard at BP change anything?

New York Times: Drilling plans off Cuba stir fears of impact on Gulf

Next year, a Spanish company will begin drilling new wells 50 miles from the Florida Keys — in Cuba’s sovereign waters. Cuba currently produces little oil. But oil experts say the country might have reserves along its north coast as plentiful as that of Ecuador and Colombia. Ocean scientists warn that a well blowout similar to the BP disaster could send oil spewing onto Cuban beaches and then the Florida Keys in as little as three days. If the oil reached the Gulf Stream, oil could flow up the coast to Miami and beyond.

Read more

Check this one out, too


Wall Street Journal: Shell: Mars platform shows bright future despite for Gulf despite spill
Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Wednesday it has made a final investment decision to build a second platform in its deep-water field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, a move that shows the oil giant’s commitment to the area despite uncertainty about new regulations expected to follow the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Read more

Bloomberg: Big Oil’s spill fleet may lag behind deepwater drilling by 3 months
The biggest U.S. and European oil companies may not assemble a fleet of spill-response vessels that can handle a disaster like BP Plc’s Macondo blowout until March, three months after the deep-water drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico is scheduled to expire. The delay may leave the Gulf and coastal beaches and fisheries vulnerable to another spill for months after the federal government allows deep-water oil exploration to resume.

Read more

Huffington Post: Gulf oil spill booms to be recycled into GM car parts
Anything can be recycled, even Gulf oil spill booms. GM has decided to reuse these booms and turn them into car parts such as air dams and water

Read more


AOL News: Senate gridlock hampers BP oil spill investigation

A presidential panel’s investigation into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been hamstrung because it lacks subpoena power to call witnesses, according to the heads of the Oil Spill Commission. The panel began its work over the summer expecting to be able to subpoena witnesses. But Congress has not yet passed legislation that grants the commission those powers. The House approved a bill granting the commission subpoena powers, but the bill is held up in the Senate as lawmakers get ready to recess to go home to campaign for re-election.

Read more

Chron: Three Mexican states sue BP over Gulf oil spill

Three Mexican states have sued BP PLC, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. seeking unspecified damages over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The negligence lawsuits were filed in San Antonio, Tx., by Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Quintana Roo, known for their beaches. The suits allege the plume has reached international waters.

Read more


Chicago Tribune: Governors take control of $500m research fund
Make way for the governors. BP and the governors of the five Gulf Coast states announced plans Wednesday to funnel a promised $500 million in research funds through an organization run by the governors, not the nation’s scientific community. Scientists raised fears that most of the grants would be doled out to institutions in the governors’ home states, pork barrel projects and not scientific ones.

Read more,0,5087023.story

NOAA: Resource restoration planning process begins
The Department of the Interior, NOAA and the co-trustees for natural resources affected by the Gulf oil spill announced Wednesday an injury assessment and restoration planning phase of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. It’s a legal process to determine the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for harm to natural resources and their human uses as a result of the spill.

Read more

Times-Picayune: Louisiana to create oyster advisory panel after Gulf oil spill

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s coastal advisor on Wednesday announced a new advisory committee to guide decisions about the future of the oyster industry in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oysters have been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the state’s seafood industry following this summer’s oil spill.

Read more from Chris Kirkham

Press-Register: More than $100m in damage claims to one Alabama county
Oil spill damage payments in Baldwin County from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility topped $100 million as of Wednesday morning, according to new data, and at least one business owner, who had received a paltry check, learned that her application was being re-evaluated. It’s part of plans announced by claims administrator Ken Feinberg to implemented major changes and re-evaluate of denied or underpaid claims.

Read more

See this one, too


AP: BP oil spill turns in Gulf of Mexico into scientific gold rush for researchers

Once a backwater in the world of oceanographic research, the Gulf of Mexico has suddenly become the site of a scientific gold rush, all because of the BP oil spill.The environmental disaster represents a once-in-a-generation research opportunity that has oceanographers salivating. There’s big money – $500 million from BP alone – up for grabs. And for scientists who usually toil in near-obscurity, there’s the prospect of lots of media attention, not to mention scientific ones.

Read more from Seth Borenstein and John Flesher



From Politico: Senators agree to break up climate bill

September 30, 2010

Thank you NRDC. In NRDC in the news.This might work and it is a good political strategy…but I say asap.
September 29, 2010 05:43 PM EDT

Key Senate Democrats and Republicans indicated Wednesday that they agree with President Barack Obama’s call to tackle energy and climate legislation “in chunks” come 2011.

From John Kerry to Lamar Alexander, the reaction on Capitol Hill to the president’s remarks in a Rolling Stone magazine interview suggest there’s room for compromise on energy and environmental issues when Congress returns next year.

The senators said a lesson learned after the last two years of debate is Congress won’t have much luck trying to tackle global warming in the same sweeping fashion tried over Obama’s first two years in office.
“I don’t think right now the votes are there for the comprehensive approach,” said Kerry, a lead negotiator on the 2009-10 cap-and-trade bill that failed to reach the floor for a vote.

“But I think it’s possible to have a comprehensive approach that doesn’t necessarily involve direct carbon prices,” Kerry added. “So you can still be comprehensive and get a fair amount done in a less demanding way for some senators.”

Kerry said he spoke this year with several key Republicans, including Alexander and Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, on a way to get short-term greenhouse gas emission reductions similar to earlier versions of his legislation.

“There are ways of doing comprehensive legislation on energy that can get you very close to where we were on the first 10 years of reductions and I think that’s worth trying to see if we can frame that,” Kerry said. “I think that’s a worthy fight.”

Alexander said he’s still looking into his options for next year on the nexus between climate, energy and traditional air pollution – an issue he’s previously been at the center of.

“I haven’t come to a conclusion yet on how to deal with a cap on utilities but I favor the concept,” he told reporters. “And I think if we’d started out there dealing with climate change we’d be a lot further along than we are today.”

Looking ahead to 2011, Alexander said one idea he thinks Congress should consider is passing a bill that places limits on power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen and mercury – also known as the three pollutants, or 3Ps – while saving greenhouse gases for later.

“We’ve got that all figured out,” he said. “We don’t have carbon all figured out. So I think we ought to do what we’ve already figured out, which is the 3Ps while we continue to discuss what to do about carbon.”

A top Senate Democratic leader and many other rank-and-file senators also welcomed Obama’s call to pair back their strategy.

“I agree with the president’s priority,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters. “How we do it, how we achieve it, I’m open to. If there’s a way to do this in smaller pieces with bipartisan cooperation, which we’ll definitely need, then I want to do it.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that if Congress does try to limit greenhouse gases, they should try first with a bill she’s introduced with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that auctions off all allowances and returns revenues back to taxpayers. But she too is open to a less comprehensive measure. “I think that it’d be a far better approach that would likely have more success,” Collins said.

“I think that’s a smart idea,” added Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) ruled out passage of climate legislation along the lines of what was narrowly adopted in the House in June 2009 – a bill that limited emissions across more than three quarters of the U.S. economy.

“I think a comprehensive climate bill like the House passed in this Congress is not likely to pass in the next Congress,” Bingaman said.

But Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) warned that Congress faces an uphill climb on energy and climate change no matter which route it takes.

“We tend not to be very good at chunks, but then you could argue that we tend to not be very good at big things either,” he said.

© 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC

Not Much Going On Birdwise

September 30, 2010

Birds out back this morning were birds that are out back, even during winter. There was one exception. Four Canada Geese flew over. They flew from the Gallatin River, so the geese appeared to be on the move. Other than that not much going on in the morning.

Later in the afternoon I was on someone’s ranch in the valley and I saw a Warbling Vireo, a Ring-necked Phesant and a Red-tailed Hawk, I did not see migratory behaviour in the hawk or vireo.

Naysayers Need To Get Off Their High Horse When It Comes To Climate Change And Report To Deck

September 30, 2010

Unpredictable weather is increasingly the sign of our times, it is also a sign of global climate change. Here it is a day away from October 1 and Montana is averaging 20 degrees above its normal temperature, not for just 1 day, but for over 7 days and what about the heavy rain on the East Coast. We are talking about high levels of rain in fact that Coast is getting a lot of water, an Octobr 1 soaking.

I could care less if I am on the right side of the line when it comes to a warming earth but it is time for global warming naysayers to get off their high horse and tell their followers, that as far as global warming is concerned, we need all hands on deck helping and politicians need to stop blocking progress on climate change in their halls of congress.

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

September 29, 2010

From the fine folks at NRDC.

Today’s summary
There are conflicting reports today that BP may be trying to cut a deal with the administration to settle the billions of dollars in fines it’s expected to incur as a result of the oil spill. The AP quoted Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican lawmaker from Louisiana, on Tuesday saying that there were talks between BP and the White House to come up with a settlement. Then the Justice Department said no talks were taking place. It makes sense though, and we’re expecting something to emerge before too long. BP could be facing billions in fines for the spill, not to mention legal costs. Meanwhile, there are indications that BP and the government are moving swiftly on the next phase of the Gulf spill disaster. BP announced a new set up a new global safety division and make other changes to the way it operates. President Obama endorsed the recommendations of the Mabus commission to fund restoration of the Gulf of Mexico with the collection of fines that BP is likely to pay.

Quotable Quote
“These are the first and most urgent steps in a program I am putting in place to rebuild trust in BP – the trust of our customers, of governments, of our employees and of the world at large. That trust is vital to the restoration of shareholder value which has been so adversely affected by recent events” – BP CEO Robert Dudley

And this one, too
“Washington, D.C., is not going to tell the Mississippi Gulf Coast how to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast” – Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

National News

AP: Will BP cut a deal with White House to reduce fines for oil spill?
There was a flurry of excitement Tuesday when Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise told the Associated Press that BP and the White House are talking about a settlement in fines for the oil giant in an effort to avoid a costly legal fight. It’s a negotiation,” Scalise said “If they can’t reach an agreement then it would go to court. We would be able to get that money to the Gulf coast quicker if they would agree to it.” Late Tuesday, a Justice Department official threw a cold towel over this story and said no settlement talks are taking place.

Read more Feinberg says he’s eliminated claims backlog
Claims czar Kenneth Feinberg said his operation had eliminated the backlog of claims that had been sitting in the system unpaid. “There is virtually now no backlog,” Feinberg told ProPublica. “We are now current with any of the older claims.” The only backlog is claims that have come in during the last few days.

Read more

Bloomberg: Deepwater drilling ban may end soon
Watch for Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar to lift the federal ban on deep-water oil drilling “soon,” now that the measure has met some of its goals, the government said in court papers this week.

Read more

And then check out this conflicting one: Bromwich: No idea when deepwater drilling will resume
Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), told the presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill on Monday that the federal government has no idea when deep-water oil drilling would resume in the Gulf of Mexico, even though the federal moratorium on such drilling expires on Nov. 30. There are rumblings the moratorium may be lifted early but no confirmation yet.

Read more

Dow Jones: Pace of shallow-drilling permits defended
It sure is taking a long time, but offshore drilling chief Michael Bromwich said his agency has approved seven shallow-water permits since it issued guidelines in June and is currently reviewing six other applications, according to a person familiar with the issue.

Read more Poll: Restoration high on list of voter demands
There are few things the beleaguered people of the Gulf coast agree on more these days than repairing the Gulf coast. A new poll shows overwhelming support among all five Gulf states for environmental restoration of the region, according to the poll by the Walton Foundation. “The polling shows that voters believe that environmental restoration is intrinsically linked to the economic well being of the state and the region,” said James Cummings, executive director of Wildlife Mississippi. More than 70 percent of the 2,061 voters polled said they’re more likely to vote for a member of Congress supporting making new investments for the health of the Gulf coast.

Read more

The poll Presidential panel needs subpoena power
A presidential panel investigating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico needs a hammer to get its work done. So far, it just has a stick. The panel’s co-chairs say the Oil Spill Commission needs subpoena power to call witnesses. They say the panel’s investigators have “encountered resistance” as they attempt to interview employees of the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon drilling operations.

Read more

Check this out, too
Houston Chronicle: Oil companies refuse to talk on record about oil spill

New York Times: BP gets serious about safety
Robert Dudley, BP’s new CEO, announced Wednesday BP would set up a new global safety division and make other changes to the way it operates as it seeks to absorb some lessons from the explosion of a oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The new division would aim to improve risk management and safety, and also review how the company manages agreements with contractors.

Read more

Check this one out, too

Washington Post: Obama endorses Mabus Gulf restoration report
President Obama endorsed a new report issued by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. It recommends funding restoration of the Gulf of Mexico with some of the possible fines the federal government could levy on oil and drilling companies involved in the oil spill.

Read more

And see this one
Obama asks EPA administration to take lead on Gulf recovery

Full text of Mabus report


Press-Register: Feinberg pays $200 m in claims in one day
The floodgates have finally opened to pay claims to Gulf coast residents for their pain and damages from the BP oil spill. Nearly $200 million poured into the Gulf Coast from the oil spill claims process Tuesday, and public officials in coastal Alabama said that for the first time all summer, business owners were being made whole for their losses. “It looks like we’re finally gaining the momentum we need,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said. “I’m hopeful now, more so than I’ve been in a while.”

Read more

Times-Picayune: A new tactic to get claims payments: Form letters
About half the households in Plaquemines Parish are using form letters, some provided by Parish Council members on official parish letterhead, to ask oil spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg to cover their personal food costs. Feinberg says none include any documentation.

Read more

USA Today: States tally up damages for BP payments
While the strategies differ, every state bordering the Gulf is calculating the damage caused by an estimated 5 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf and the chemicals used to clean it up, and preparing to present BP with a bill. All of the states say they can back up their claims with a lawsuit if BP won’t pay. “Most every state has either filed a complaint or has one drafted if need be,” says Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

Read more

Webwire: Tyson’s food delivers 50 tons of chicken for Gulf
Tyson Foods, Inc. is stepping up to the plate to help the Gulf coast. It’s delivering more than 50 tons of chicken this week to the Gulf Coast to help fight hunger in communities affected by the recent oil spill. The chicken products are being given by Tyson to the Bay Area Food Bank, which services Central Gulf Coast communities in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi..

Read more


Times-Picayune: Landrieu resists pressure to cave on OMB nominee
Sen. Mary Landrieu has finally found an issue that could help her re-election campaign and the people of the Gulf. With Congress heading toward the exits for the election recess, she maintained her hold Tuesday on the appointment of a key administration official. It’s likely the Obama administration will be lifting the ban early and no matter what the reason, Landrieu is expected to come out a winner on her steadfast parliamentary maneuver. Landrieu acknowledged she was getting considerable “pushback” from the Senate leadership to release her hold on the appointment of Jacob Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget. Nothing like making a few waves.

Read more

Feature Lawyers jockey to be lead counsel on BP oil lawsuits
More than 100 lawyers who are suing BP PLC over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have applied for coveted places on the committee that will lead the multidistrict litigation, citing either the extensive work they’ve already done or the unique role they would serve as the representative of a specific group of alleged victims. Some sought a role as representative for a particular group including African-Americans, Vietnamese fishermen and Hispanics. There are lawyers seeking a leg up representing Florida and Louisiana and a firm representing the three Mexican States claiming to be affected by the spill Plenty is at stake here – money, of course, and a chance to to steer the proceedings in a position favorable to their clients.

Read more

Proposed Pebble Creek Mine Proposed For A Godawfull Place

September 29, 2010

From NRDC in the News. Thank you. A disastor of Alaskan Proportions.

By Susan Carpenter

Access the issue here:


NRDC Statement by Joel Reynolds to Pool 32 from the Senior Attorney and the Director of Marine Mammal Protection.

Bristol Bay is a place frozen in history, representing a vast and diverse ecosystem ranging from tundra to wetlands, with hundreds of rivers and streams crisscrossing the region and feeding some of the world’s most productive salmon runs. The salmon runs support commercial, sports and subsistence fishing, as well as a vast array of majestic wildlife. Bristol Bay is truly a place of reflection and solitude previously untouched by industrialization, until now. Foreign mining companies, including Anglo American, Northern Dynasty, Rio Tinto and Mitsubishi, seek to build Pebble Mine – one of the largest open pit copper and gold mines ever imagined – at the headwaters feeding into Bristol Bay. The toxic tailings from this intensive enterprise will despoil important streams and lakes that serve as a nursery and breeding ground to world-renown sockeye and chinook salmon runs. Research shows us that even trace amounts of copper destroys a salmon’s sense of smell, disrupting their ability to find their spawning streams, reproduce, avoid predators and find food. The development of Pebble Mine would forever change the pristine nature of this extraordinary place and most certainly cause permanent turmoil and devastation to the indigenous people of the region and the salmon and other wildlife upon which they depend.

And here’s a statement from Matt Skoglund, NRDC wildlife advocate, who’s fishing experience in the Bristol Bay region attests to how spectacular the area really is for fisherman.

One of the most memorable days of my life was spent on a tributary to Lake Iliamna. We flew over the lake, and a tributary running red with sockeye caught our attention. We landed on the lake, tied the plane to a small tree, and hiked up the tributary from its confluence with Iliamna. We caught and released enormous rainbow trout, saw enormous brown bears, and sported enormous smiles all day. The lake, the fish, the bears, the scenery, the wilderness, and my memory of that day – it’s way more precious than any quantity of gold.

Bird Migration Report For Bozeman Montana

September 29, 2010

I saw a male Lazuli Bunting out back this morning and it was getting out of here (migrating). It was beautiful, though not as shiney in its fall plumage. They are not rare around here but what a beautiful bird, nevertheless.

The Common Grackles are still moving out of here, there are about 20 birds out back. Savannah Sparrows are flying south and Black Capped Chickadees are also out back.

Evan Lehmann and Christa Marshall, E&E reporters, Obama promises to push climate policies ‘in chunks’ next year (09/29/2010)

September 29, 2010

I got this gem from NRDC…my guess is that Obama needs us to push him on this…I know I will but my sense is that it will take some real pushing on the congress to make this fly so get ready for some hard pushing but believe me it will be worth it just in the dough we will save.

President Obama’st newest pledge to resume an “urgent priority” on climate change next year could mark a new direction by Democrats that veers away from the politically hazardous effort to cut the bulk of national carbon emissions in one sprawling measure.

An umbrella carbon policy failed despite a two-year attempt by the Democratic majority. Bite-size bills on electric cars, natural gas trucks and utility carbon caps might be reflective of a new strategy by Obama as he approaches midterm elections that promise to add Republican muscle to Congress.

“One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels,” Obama said in a wide-ranging interview published online yesterday by Rolling Stone.

He tells Rolling Stone that a price on carbon still rocks.

“We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation,” he added. “But we’re going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it’s good for our national security, and, ultimately, it’s good for our environment.”

The adjustment would replace legislative efforts to design mega-climate bills packed with things like energy efficiency provisions, renewable power incentives, nuclear loan guarantees and complex cap-and-trade systems covering three economic sectors: utilities, manufacturers and transportation.

It became clear this summer that a contingent of Senate Democrats and most Republicans would bristle at the loaded measure, even though it reflected a successful approach in the House a year earlier, of which Obama said: “It wasn’t perfect, but it was serious.”

The Senate never got close to voting on the climate bill, introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The president’s new approach has similarities to the cap-and-trade backup plan that emerged from the frayed “economywide” effort. Representatives of the electric power industry, environmentalists and Senate aides scrambled this summer to find agreement on a narrower approach: capping just utility emissions.

“I think it’s safe to say that time ran out on that issue,” said Paul Bledsoe, a consultant with the Bipartisan Policy Center, which participated in some of the negotiations. “A utility-only cap was an idea that was never really tested in the Senate.”

“There’s an assumption, for some reason, that a more Republican Senate means it’s less likely for climate legislation,” he added. “I don’t necessarily accept that. A more bipartisan Senate can lead to more organic legislation.”

‘I am committed’

Obama was not specific about the “chunks” of policies he would pursue. But there is no shortage of options. Bipartisan bills were introduced in the Senate seeking to ramp up electric cars, increase nuclear power and shut down the oldest coal-fired power plants.

Another element found in most comprehensive climate efforts that is gaining momentum — a renewable electricity standard requiring utilities to provide 15 percent of their power from clean sources and efficiency — has been introduced by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).

Whatever policies the president chooses, he pledged to put the full weight of the White House behind them, something environmentalists accused him of not doing as Kerry and Lieberman scrambled to find support for their bill this year.

“Not only can I foresee it,” Obama said when asked if he will put his shoulder to the legislative process, “but I am committed to making sure that we get an energy policy that makes sense for the country and that helps us grow at the same time as it deals with climate change in a serious way.”

That effort will likely come with diminished Democratic numbers in both chambers, and probably with some newly elected tea party candidates in office. That could disrupt both parties’ cohesiveness, making it difficult to form coalitions and pass legislation, said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

“I don’t know what kind of legislation, if any, you can get next year or even in 2012,” she said. “I think the odds of getting serious stuff done legislatively are very small.”

Claussen gave Obama credit for implementing landmark fuel standards in vehicles — “That was a big deal,” she said — but she’s skeptical of the president’s claim, made in the interview, that the nation can achieve a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 without a price on carbon.

“I’m dubious,” Claussen said.

Did the recession kill climate legislation?

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, also approached the president’s new pledge cautiously. He said legislative strategy won’t be known until after the reshaped Congress is sworn in.

“It’s very apparent that whatever is going to go forward in Congress, it will have to be done in a bipartisan basis,” Krupp said. “It’s too early to know what that might like look like yet without knowing who will be in Congress.”

David Hawkins of the Natural Resources Defense Council is still leaning toward “one package” of climate legislation. “But legislation in chunks is better than inaction,” he said in an e-mail. “Time will tell which we can get done.”

Obama referenced his Energy secretary, Steven Chu, as saying the climate problem needs three solutions: energy efficiency, “some sort of pricing in carbon,” and innovative technologies that don’t yet exist.

The emphasis on technology — and the public incentives that can spark the capital that’s needed to drive it — is an element generally liked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which can mount big opposition to, or support for, any legislative effort.

On the other hand, “Whether it’s going to be a comprehensive approach or a piecemeal approach, we’re going to be concerned with policies that increase cost,” said Matt Letourneau, communications director of the chamber’s Energy Institute.

He pointed to a renewable electricity standard as one example.

“Perhaps it’s a recognition that the public wasn’t ready to accept a big comprehensive cap-and-trade bill,” he added of Obama’s “chunks” strategy.

The president’s comments sought to assuage concerns among his supporters that Democrats had not yet addressed every item on their agenda. It might also be intended to energize complacent Democratic voters at a time when low turnout on Election Day could perhaps propel Republicans to power in the House.

“During the past two years, we’ve not made as much progress as I wanted to make when I was sworn into office,” Obama said. “It is very hard to make progress on these issues in the midst of a huge economic crisis. … That diverted attention from what I consider to be an urgent priority [on climate change].”

But that’s not the entire story.

“I think by putting other things first, meaning health care and financial regulations — and I’m not saying they were the wrong priorities — but by putting them first and because they were controversial and partisan, I think it made it impossible to really get to this,” Claussen said of climate.

“I think we have to be honest about that.”

Summary Of Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disator

September 28, 2010

From the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
The Gulf coast disaster has moved from a rescue effort to a recovery one. Federal officials are searching for the next steps in repairing the Gulf as well as what went wrong and how to keep it from happening again. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus releases a report today spelling out what needs to be done for the Gulf. He says the goal is to create a steady stream of money and a consistent governmental focus on a restoration project that will last years. And he calls for directing penalties collected from the oil spill to repairing the region. Meanwhile, Ret. Adm. Thad Allen questions whether BP should have been in charge of the oil spill response given that the oil giant caused it. The president’s commission investigating the oil spill heard some discouraging testimony Monday from an oceanographer who maintains that more than 50 percent of the spilled oil remains in the Gulf. The Obama administration is expected to decide later this week when to lift the offshore oil moratorium in the Gulf. And a new Gallup poll finds there’s been a 25 percent hike in depression among Gulf residents, not a statistic to be taken lightly.

Quotable Quote
“It is clear that as we move forward, there must be a seamless transition from response to recovery,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote in his report on repairing the Gulf.

And this one
“We should use the BP fine (as much as $19 billion) to establish an endowment to restore, understand and sustain the coastal and marine environment in perpetuity,” said one witness at the President’s Oil Spill Commission

National News

Politico: Mabus report: Use penalties from oil spill to repair Gulf
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus unveiled his recovery plan today to repair the Gulf Coast. It calls for using penalties collected from the environmental disaster. “The Gulf took the risk and the Gulf took the damage and the money should be dedicated to going back there,” Mabus said. His plan creates task forces and designates agencies to oversee the effort; it also includes economic development, community planning, ecosystem and environmental restoration, public health efforts and assistance to individuals and businesses affected by the spill.

Read more

Check this one out, too
New York Times: Panel: BP should pay for Gulf restoration

And this one

Washington Post: Oil spill commission questions BP’s response
BP and government testimony at the president’s Oil Spill Commission claimed at a hearing of the presidential oil spill commission that the initial underestimation of the flow rate of the Macondo well had no impact on the response to the spill. But there was one persistent question: Did BP and the Coast Guard make a mistake by calibrating their initial response plans at the surface and at the sea floor to handle the smaller estimate of gushing oil? “It was a very significant error,” said commission co-chair Bob Graham.

Read more

See this one, too

AP: Public distrust grew over Gov response to oil spill
The Obama administration’s repeated low estimates of the huge BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico undermined public confidence in the government’s entire cleanup effort, leaders of the president’s oil spill commission said Monday. One likened the mistakes to Lt. Col. George A. Custer’s disastrous decisions at Little Bighorn.

Read more

Politico: Moratorium decision coming soon
Watch for interim rules this week to see how the Obama administration plans to end the Gulf oil drilling moratorium before the Nov. 30 deadline. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said Monday he expects to issue interim rules and a key report later this week that will signal the administration’s next move on offshore drilling.

Read more

AFP: More than 50 percent of oil still in Gulf of Mexico
More than half the oil released from the BP remains in the Gulf of Mexico, a witness told the presidential commission investigating the oil spill on Monday. Oceanographer Ian MacDonald said that while much of the oil was dispersed, evaporated or removed by burning and skimming, the “remaining fraction — over 50 percent of the total discharge — is a highly durable material that resists further dissipation.”

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Businessweek: Lawmakers eyeball Feinberg’s claims process
When there’s money involved, there’s always a good chance Congress will jump into the act. In the latest case, claims czar Ken Feinberg will be meeting this week with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) who is focusing on how Feinberg determines eligibility for payments.

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Press-Register: Feinberg to give rejected claims a second look
Claims czar Ken Feinberg announced Monday that the 2,000 individuals and businesses denied payment from his operation will get a second look, and he expects many will be ruled eligible.

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Gallup: 25 percent hike in depression among Gulf residents
Mental health is a hidden problem most of the time. But a new Gallup-Healthways Emotional Health index finds residents of Gulf Coast counties have been experiencing a decline in their overall emotional health in the 15 weeks after the onset of the BP oil spill

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Propublica: Feinberg taken to the woodshed over slow payments
A top Justice Department official has written a strongly worded letter to claims czar Kenneth Feinberg describing the pace of his payments as “unacceptable” and demanding that he improve his operation. “As the present pace is unacceptable, the GCCF needs to devote whatever additional resources — or make whatever administrative changes — are necessary in order to speed up this process.” Since the Sept. 17 letter, Feinberg has started making changes to speed up the process.

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Bloomberg: Allen: BP in charge of spill created potential conflict of interest
Retired Adm. Thad Allen made it clear Monday that putting the company responsible for an oil spill in charge of the cleanup creates a potential conflict of interest. “We need to really think about what we mean by the concept of responsible party and how we want that to work in the future,” Allen testified before the presidential commission investigating the spill.

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Check out this one, too
Allen’s legacy still being shaped by BP spill

Times-Picayune: National Geographic channel relives oil spill Tuesday night
For two hours tonight, the National Geographic Channel returns to the dark days of summer. It is a chilling revisit to the BP oil catastrophe, the months-long efforts to end it and the scientific speculation about the likely years-long ecological impact of the spilled oil and sprayed dispersants. It’s called “Can the Gulf Survive?” and relives the disaster, humanizes it with a visit with people who have been, and will continue to be, most affected by the spill.

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New York Times: Never mind oil, think wind
The Atlantic coast has more energy to give as wind than it does as oil or gas, according to a study sponsored by the environmental group Oceana. The group argues that using wind turbines to make electricity instead of drilling rigs to produce hydrocarbons would not only cut the chance of accidents like the Deepwater Horizon spill in the gulf but would also reduce the use of coal on land, the group said. And in light of the devastating impact of the Gulf oil spill, it’s an idea whose time has come. “The development of offshore wind means reliable energy, good paying American jobs and independence from fuels that pollute our air and drain our economy,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.

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NASA satellite view of the Gulf oil spill

You Can Lend A Hand Also For Climate Solutions

September 28, 2010


10.10.10 — Lend a hand for Climate Solutions, From our friends at Montana Audubon

People all over the world are organizing Global Work Parties (on or near October 10). We are taking one day to show the world that we’re ready for climate solutions. According to, as of today there are 4376 events in 173 countries — at least 8 communities in Montana are planning events.

Please join us! You can join a weed pull contest at our Audubon Conservation Education Center in Billings (Oct 9) or participate in any number of October 10 events in Ashland, The Bitterroot, Bozeman (tbd), Flathead, Helena, Livingston, and Missoula.

We will be weeding our public lands, fixing gardens, building bikes, cleaning up communities and more! We’ll be having fun and collectively sending this message:

We’re working the ground to get seeds growing around Montana and in Washington D.C.!