August 30, 2010

Savethe Possums: Enviros Play Dead in Weekend Feature in the Wash Post – Say They’reDown and Out, But Influx of Lots MoreCash Could Change All That. WashingtonPost (8/29) reports, "On Thursday, some of the country’s most respectedenvironmental groups – in the midst of their biggest political fight in twodecades – sent a group of activists to Milwaukee with a message. We’re losing.A year ago, these groups seemed to be at the peak of their influence, needingonly the Senate’s approval for a landmark climate-change bill. But they lostthat fight, done in by the sluggish economy and opposition from business andfossil-fuel interests. Now the groups are wondering how they can keep this lossfrom becoming a rout as their opponents press their advantage and try to undothe Obama administration’s climate efforts. At two events last week inWisconsin, environmental groups seemed to be trying two strategies: defianceand pleading for sympathy. Neither one drew enough people to fill a high schoolgym. "What was revealed by the last year or two was that the energyindustry hasn’t even had to break a sweat yet in beating this stuff off. Ourside did absolutely everything you’re supposed to do . . . but gotnowhere," said author Bill McKibben, who co-founded the climate-focusedgroup

YouWon’t Believe This; Are You Sitting Down? Turns Out Folks in Europe Are Gamingthe Cap-and-Raid System – Making Lots of Money, with Zero EnvironmentalBenefit. NYTimes (8/29) reports, "The business works as follows: Factories producingrefrigerants install equipment to transform the waste gas so it has lesswarming potential and then apply to the United Nations for permission to sellcredits.  The factories sellcredits in proportion to the overall amount of gas destroyed to buyers thatinclude governments, banks, trading companies and utilities. Buyers can sellthe credits again on emissions trading markets or use them to meet their legalor voluntary obligations to cut emissions. Most of the demand for those creditsis in the European Union, where polluters have operated under a mandatory cap-and-tradesystem since 2005. Europe dominates a market for greenhouse gases worth $144billion worldwide in 2009.  Chinahas been among the biggest beneficiaries by generating offsets under a programknown as the Clean Development Mechanism that is overseen by the U.N. climateoffice in Bonn. Critics have warned for years that this form of offsettingwould encourage profiteering, with little or no value in efforts to curbclimate change. More recently, opponents of offsetting have likened the systemto the kind of financial engineering on Wall Street that helped precipitate therecent banking crisis.

LouisianaGov. Says Offshore Ban Is Hurting His State’s People and Economy – In WaysAnalysts in New York and Washington DC Have No Ability to Comprehend. TheHill (8/29) reports, "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) on Sunday blastedPresident Obama’s failure to revisit his ban on offshore oil drilling.   "We don’t think the fact thatthey’re not doing their jobs in D.C. should cost thousands of Louisianans ourjobs," Jindal told reporters shortly after the president spoke at XavierUniversity in New Orleans. Obama’s speech on the fifth anniversary of HurricaneKatrina addressed the rebuilding of New Orleans and his commitment to clean upthe BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but did not mention his administration’sdecision to halt deepwater offshore exploration until Nov. 30. The White Houseis reportedly considering an early end to the ban but Jindal wants to see a "greatersense of urgency" from the president. "The experts all agree, we can end thismoratorium before six months," he said. "Let’s put our people back towork. "I don’t think they understood how the energy industry worked – I thinkthey really thought that the rigs could simply flip a switch," he said. "In thebeginning, the administration suggested people file BP claims with unemploymentclaims. We made it clear that people want to go back to work." Clickhere to see William O’Reilly’s interview on Platts Energy Weekyesterday – one in which he makes clear that he opposes Obama moratorium.

WhatAbout that Effect? Obama Says Economic Situation in Gulf a Lot Better thanExpected – Just Wait a Couple Weeks, Says API’s Radford – ‘Bout to Get a LotWorse. NewOrleans Times-Picayune (8/29) reports, "Only a few rigs have left the Gulfof Mexico because of the federal deepwater drilling moratorium, but thedirective could dampen long-term activity in the Gulf if it drags on, a seniorpolicy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute said last week.  "Large operators have a number ofleases in play, and they can ride out some level of inactivity," AndyRadford told a group of journalists convened in New Orleans by the PoynterInstitute, a Florida-based school and resource for journalists. "There isa willingness to ride it out," but companies are also waiting to see someindication that they will be allowed to resume deepwater drilling. "Ithink the next few months will be critical," Radford said.  The moratorium, which the Obamaadministration put in place in late May soon after the BP oil spill, suspendsexploratory drilling at 33 deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico for sixmonths, but it remains unclear just how long the moratorium could last.  A long moratorium eventually could curbinterest among energy companies in bidding for drilling tracts in the Gulf andcause a downward trend in offshore production.  "You won’t feel the (full) effects of it until down theroad," Radford said.

Facedwith Far Less Attention After Splashy Release of GasLand, Director Forced toRatchet Up the Bombast to Cling to the Spotlight – Credibility Be Damned. IPAA /EID’s Lee Fuller writes in the GlenwoodSprings (Colo.) Post Independent, "In an Aug. 26 story, Josh Fox – directorof the film Gasland – continues to perpetuate a host of blatantly false claimsabout American’s natural gas industry, particularly the use of hydraulicfracturing technology. Your readers should understand that hydraulic fracturinghas been safely used nationwide over 1.1 million times since it first came intocommercial use in 1949. It’s a technology that has never contaminatedgroundwater, a fact reinforced by top EPA officials as recently as this year.Colorado’s top oil and gas regulator, David Neslin, also confirms "there hasbeen no verified instance of harm to groundwater caused by hydraulic fracturingin Colorado." And while Fox claims that "a huge array of chemicals" are used inthe fracturing process, the truth is these fluids are composed almost entirelyof water and sand – with a small portion of additives (0.05 percent of the mix)used to kill bacteria and reduce friction. These additives can be commonlyfound in one’s kitchen cupboard and in every day food products, and a list ofthese are required by federal law to be available at every well site in thenation. The top environmental regulator in Pennsylvania has called Josh Fox a "propagandist,"saying the film is "fundamentally dishonest" and "a deliberately falsepresentation for dramatic effect." And a longtime New York Times editor calledthe film "one-sided," "flawed," and "in the Michael Moore mode." But you don’thave to take their word for it. Download our point-by-point rebuttal of thefilm at

What’sthe President Focusing on Right Now in the Gulf? Shrimpers? Crabbers? TheClean-Up? Nope – He’s Trying to Convince Brian Williams This Isn’t His Katrina.NBC News(8/29) reports, "As BP struggled for weeks to cap the well that began gushingoil into the Gulf of Mexico in April, Obama came under similar pressure fromenvironmental activists who said the federal government should have stepped inearlier and taken greater control – leading, as Williams noted, to critics’characterization of the oil spill as "Obama’s Katrina."  "That is just not accurate," Obamasaid, pointing to the $20 billion fund BP set up under federal  supervision to compensate victims ofthe oil spill. Obama said failures in the aftermath of Katrina made it clearthat "the real protection for New Orleans and the coast are the wetlands,"lessons that he said provided important guidance in allowing his administrationto respond quickly in the days after the oil spill. "We’ve got a lot more workto do," he said. "But the fact is because of the sturdiness and swiftness ofthe response, there’s a lot less oil hitting these shores and these beaches thananybody would have anticipated given the volume that was coming out of the BPoil well."

Scienceof the Lambs: Extremists Who Took Orgo and Therefore Say They’re "Scientists"Angry that More Hasn’t Been Done Faster to Dismantle Modern Economy. E&E News (8/27,subs. req’d) reports, "Obama outlined a slew of intentions in a March 2009memo, writing that political officials "should not suppress or alterscientific or technological findings and conclusions." Research, he wrote,should be transparent and available to the public, while agencies should hirescientists solely for their expertise. The president also directed the WhiteHouse Office of Science and Technology Policy to create a set of guidelines toensure agencies met these goals. But Holdren wrote in June that Obama’s memoalready bound agencies to improving their policies regarding research andtransparency. "There should not be any doubt that these principles havebeen in effect — that is, binding on all Executive departments and agencies –from the date of issue of the Memorandum on March 9, 2009," he wrote.Advocacy groups are skeptical. "I’m sure there’s been improvement. Thequestion is how much and how widespread," said Grifo. "Is it enough?No. We’re still hearing from folks. … Decisions are being made that aren’twith the best science." The Union of Concerned Scientists has been closelyfollowing the issue for more than two years, keeping track of decisions and newsthat indicate whether federal agencies are beginning to give scientists moreclout. When EPA disclosed the ingredients of the oil dispersant used in theGulf, the nonprofit marked the move as a step forward. But the National Oceanicand Atmospheric Administration earned a "red light" on UCS’s websitewhen scientists criticized the agency for inaccurately measuring the spill’ssize.

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