Archive for May, 2010

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce likes to claim that regulation stifles the economy and prevents businesses from creating jobs. But it seems like the president of the Chamber, Tom Donohue,  jumped the gun in complaining about regulations after the BP oil catastrophe: no proposed regulatory fixes have taken serious shape.  Donohue said, “I am not too much of an advocate of doing the surgery before the diagnosis.”

Yesterday, Obama announced some recommended steps he and his administration were planning to take in response to a review he ordered. Among them were the sensible steps of suspending planned drilling off the coast of Alaska, canceling lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia, and suspending – for just six months – new deepwater drilling.

Considering the Obama administration’s deference to BP on many aspects of the effort to stop and clean up the spill, Donohue’s comments verge on non sequitur.  At this point, the Obama administration appears to be at no risk of over-regulating.

The real question is whether efforts taken by the administration and Congress will

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It has been a long, long haul for Congress to fashion a legislative response to the devastating Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which unleashed a flood of unlimited corporate money in elections. Finally, we could almost see the horizon for a legislative response.

After months of prolonged negotiations among congressional leaders and civic groups, they finally produced the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175), legislation designed largely to require full transparency of who is funding campaign ads by corporations, unions and advocacy groups. The House Administration held two hearings in two weeks on the DISCLOSE Act, marked it up in near-final form, and sent it to the House Rules Committee on Thursday to set the terms of the floor debate, which was expected today (Friday).

Thirty minutes before the Rules Committee was scheduled to hold its hearing, I received notice from a colleague outside the Rules Committee room that a sign has been posted on the door:

“Committee Meeting Postponed until Further Notice.”

Turns out we are nowhere near the horizon.

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Out of sight, out of mind will not work in this situation. We are just starting to see the effects on wildlife stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. What’s worse? What we aren’t seeing.

On Good Morning America, Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, dove 25 feet below the water’s surface in the Gulf. His report was astonishing, calling the situation a nightmare. Cousteau said that the chemical dispersants aren’t working — only breaking the oil up into little droplets that animals can more easily absorb or eat. Devastating.

The stuff we are seeing isn’t too great, either. From today’s Washington Post:

“Now that the stuff is really sort of coming ashore, it really is living up to its potential. It’s certainly breached the sort of outer defense system of Louisiana,” said James H. Cowan Jr., a professor at Louisiana State University. “It’s the very worst-case scenario, for things like birds and mammals.”

The Post also reports that members of the Minerals Management Service had been accepting gifts from oil companies. How’s that for regulation and enforcement? Big Oil isn’t just stopping at the executive branch. The director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, Tyson Slocum, was quoted in this NPR story about Big Oil’s lobbying efforts post-spill:

“Big Oil’s legislative agenda is still able to function, even after a devastating event like we’ve got going on in the Gulf of Mexico right now,” Slocum said.

Looks like We, the People will have to take this into our own hands. Forget Beyond Petroleum, let’s get Beyond BP. Join our boycott of the oil company. 1,000,000 to boycott BP. Sign the petition, join us on Facebook and tell your friends. (We’re featured in this NPR story about the boycott, too.)

Jeez. Still no good news when it comes to cleaning up the oil spill that started more than a month ago. Oil is still gushing into the water, the industry’s plans to top the geyser keep failing, the government still has not intervened and no entity has accepted responsibility for the environmental catastrophe. And as we wait, birds are covered in oil. Crabs are covered in oil. Marshes are covered in oil. Sea turtles are washing ashore, dead. Jellyfish, too. You get it. It’s bad.

But in case you’re a visual learner, these images will leave you horrified and searching for a way to help.

What’s Public Citizen doing in response? Using the power of the purse. We are boycotting BP, the company that leased the rig responsible for the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf every day. Our petition page already has more than 12,500 signatures (add yours now!), our Facebook page has nearly 3,500 fans (join that, too!) and media outlets keep our phones ringing off the hook, wanting more information on this devastating spill. Help us reach our goal of a million supporters!

The Washington Post ran a piece today highlighting our boycott. In it, some people talked about ignoring the boycott for the sheer convenience of going to BP stations. They’ll never learn! Join our efforts and show them what it means to affect change.

Our sister blog has a post about another Washington Post story revealing that some environmental groups take money from oil companies, including BP. (Public Citizen is not among them; we take no corporate or government money.)

And in case we’ve depressed you too much, a little something to give you a laugh, courtesy of Politico.

Weissman

Boycott BP.

Why?

Because BP must pay.

Eleven oil workers are dead. One of the largest oil spills in U.S. history continues to worsen. BP’s oil gusher at the floor of the Gulf of Mexico may be 100 times worse than BP first estimated (and 20 times worse than the company presently claims). 100 times!

BP’s oil gusher is now threatening coastal lands in Louisiana and is almost certain to destroy fisheries and the livelihoods of people who fish and shrimp in the Gulf, or rely on the Gulf for tourism business.

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