juancole.com — BP yesterday agreed to pay a fine of some $4.5 billion dollars from the US Department of Justice for malfeasance in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest fine paid in US history. BP also was forced by President Obama to pay out $20 billion for damage claims, though it has dragged its feet in actually making the payments. It faces further lawsuits and private payouts. The company’s profits in 2011 were were $40 billion. The fine was so slight that BP stock rose slightly on the news. Meanwhile the actual damage that the oil spill did to the environment was almost certainly man tens of billions more than any payouts BP has been forced to engage in.Here are some of the real costs of the oil spill, which typically won’t be mentioned in the media, and which dwarf in their cost a mere $4.5 billion fine.
inthesetimes.com — Even with Barack Obama safely returned, we can expect only incremental progress—nothing at all on the scale necessary to cope with a world spinning out of control. After all, in the warmest year in U.S. history, amidst a remarkable drought, with the Arctic melting and superstorm Sandy slamming into the coast, global warming came up at only one major campaign event—when Mitt Romney mocked the idea at the GOP’s convention. Though we need to make progress in D.C., that seems unlikely to happen if we simply keep appealing to the same politicians. At this point it’s clear that Congress acts as the customer service arm of the fossil fuel industry—you call them up and they put you on hold. It’s time we hang up and go try to put some pressure on the guys who own the store: the Exxons of the world.
colorlines.com — President Obama’s trip to New York City today underscores the fact that it’s time for people who care about racial and economic justice to take center stage in the climate change debate. For years climatologists and economists have warned that the consequences of a changing climate would fall first, hardest and fastest on those already staggering under the weight of racial and economic disparities. This “climate gap”—given its name in a 2009 University of California report—was brought into sharp relief by Sandy. Though the storm’s destructive capacity was spread across 200 miles, the consequences of the damage were uneven. In fact, Sandy revealed that economic inequality has life and death consequences. Nowhere highlights the point more than New York City’s aftermath in the storm’s wake.
grist.org — Bill McKibben and the folks at 350.org have decided to target the pernicious financial influence of the fossil fuel industry and its front groups. On the day following the election, they kicked off a 21-city “Do the Math” tourto “mount an unprecedented campaign to cut off the industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels.” Divestment is a fine strategy, but we all know that it won’t starve Big Oil, Coal, and Gas of needed capital. The goals of the divestment campaign are to make a statement and to get people to engage in the fight. We also need to invest our capital (both financial and sweat) in community-owned, distributed, and small-scale renewable energy. Why? Because we must fundamentally remake the energy economy as if nature, people, and the future actually mattered.
motherjones.com — Now that the election is over and Barack Obama will be staying in the White House for another four years, environmental groups are hoping that some long-awaited new rules will break loose from the regulatory log-jam. It's no surprise that a lot of the rules that seemed to do a disappearing act are the ones that the fossil-fuel industry and Republicans in Congress have opposed. While some rules were delayed this year because of election-season strategizing, others have been backlogged for years. The sticking place for many of them is the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, a White House outpost that is supposed to review draft regulations within 90 days. Many advocates for tougher environmental and public health rules blamed OIRA for being too timid in Obama's first term, weakening or delaying any rule that could be contentious. Here are eight environmental problems that the Obama administration could soon get around to regulating.
prospect.org — On Monday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) came out with a stunner of a projection. The United States will replace Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of oil by 2020, thanks to the unlocking of massive shale oil reserves. With hydro-fracking technology, the U.S. is riding a boom in natural gas as well. Oil production will increase from its current level of about 6 million barrels a day per year to 11 million barrels by 2020. Within a few years, the U.S. will be a net exporter. Pardon me if I don’t rejoice. This good news all but guarantees that the United States government, Democrat or Republican, will turn away from efforts to replace carbon fuels with clean, renewable energy. It guarantees another generation of relatively cheap gasoline for motorists—and an increase in the U.S. contribution to global climate change.
grist.org — Superstorm Sandy — and its revival of the issue of climate change, most prominently through Michael Bloomberg’s sudden endorsement — probably aided Obama’s reelection victory last night. But at the same time, there has been a vast debate about the true nature of the storm’s connections to global warming (as well as plenty of denialism regarding those connections). In fact, there has even been the suggestion, by cognitive linguist George Lakoff, that if we all stopped thinking about causation as something direct (I pushed him, he fell) and rather as something systemic (indirect, probabilistic), then we really could say with full accuracy that global warming caused Sandy. Systemically.
guardian.co.uk — Imagine if in response to Japan attacking Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, our political leaders had debated the best way to deal with the deficits from war spending projected for 1960. This is pretty much the way in which Washington works these days. The political leadership, including the Washington press corps and punditry, were already intently ignoring the economic downturn that is still wreaking havoc on the lives of tens of millions of people across the country. Now, in the wake of the destruction from Hurricane Sandy, they will intensify their efforts to ignore global warming. After all, they want the country to focus on the debt – an issue that no one other than the elites views as a problem.
U.S. voters have delivered their verdict, handing Barack Obama four more years as president. But how will history judge his performance on climate change – which barely got a look-in during the campaign, but may later come to be seen as the defining issue of our era? Passing new laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions remains unlikely, with the House of Representatives still controlled by a Republican majority dominated by climate change sceptics. But Obama has a few key policy levers at his disposal via existing laws – and in his second, and final, term may be less wary of using them. more »
Help us spread the word about these important stories...
washingtonpost.com — Let me propose an initiative for the next administration, starting with Day One: Get the nation started on the surge barriers, flood walls and other big infrastructure projects that can protect our coastal cities from being ravaged by the next Hurricane Sandy. We can sit around and wait for it to happen. Or we can begin to protect our cities, using strategies that are already being employed around the world. It seems foolish not to protect our major cities and their harbors. In the final analysis, we’ll be saving not just money but lives. Great infrastructure projects that are in the national interest, such as the interstate highway system, have been able to garner broad public support — and have helped boost the economy. Here, then, is a project for the young century: Meet the challenge of a rising sea.