BP Platform Leaks Oil Into North Sea With No Plans to Clean It Up

Oil slick visible from spill off BP Clair platform in the North Sea. (photo: Maritime and Coastguard Agency)

Oil slick visible from spill off BP Clair platform in the North Sea. (photo: Maritime and Coastguard Agency)

By Dan Zukowski, EcoWatch -09 October 16
Source: Readers Supported News


About 95 metric tons of oil leaked into the North Sea on Sunday from BP‘s Clair platform, and it will be left in the ocean. BP says the oil is moving away from land and dispersing naturally, but the spill is a reminder that accidents happen as more oil development is eyed for the Arctic.

In what BP called a “technical issue,” oil was released into the North Sea, located about 46 miles, west of the Shetland Islands. BP shut down the oil rig and said it is investigating the accident.

The oil company said it had conducted five aerial surveys with three more planned for Tuesday to monitor the oil slick.

“It is considered that the most appropriate response remains to allow the oil to disperse naturally at sea, but contingencies for other action have been prepared and are available, if required,” BP said.

In addition to Clair, BP operates the Quad204 facility in the North Sea, 108 miles west of Shetland, in a field that has been drilled since 1998. The North Sea has seen oil and gas extraction for decades, with about half of the estimated reserves having already been taken. Oil production peaked in 1999, but production has been on an upswing in recent years. A recent discovery off Norway, the Johan Sverdrup oil field, is expected to begin production in 2019.

According to energy consultancy Crystol Energy, “The Johan Sverdrup field is expected to be one of the most important industrial projects in Norway over the next 50 years.”

From 2000 to 2011, there were 4,123 separate oil spills in the North Sea, according to an investigation by The Guardian. Oil companies were fined for just seven of them. No single fine was greater than about $25,000.

There have been a number of major oil spills in the North Sea—the largest of which was the 1977 Bravo blowout that released an estimated 80,000 to 126,000 barrels of oil. The well spewed oil for seven days. In 2011, Shell spilled more than 200 metric tons from the Gannet Alpha platform, and a 2007 mishap while a tanker was loading oil resulted in a spill of 4,000 metric tons, or about 25,000 barrels of oil. None of these spills were alleged to have any ecological impact, and all but the Bravo blowout were allowed to disperse, unchecked, by the sea.

As the Arctic Ocean warms, oil giants are eyeing the northern seas for more oil exploration and development. It is a dangerous environment in which to drill.

As Greenpeace stated, “The long history of oil spills around the world has made one thing clear: the only way to prevent an oil spill is to keep oil in the ground.”


The Arctic lacks the infrastructure to stop, mitigate or clean up a major oil spill, or even to quickly aid workers on a damaged platform.

But that isn’t stopping oil companies. Today, Caelus Energy boasted of a “world-class” discovery that could turn out to be one of the largest finds in Alaska. In a press release, Caelus CEO Jim Musselman called the find “really exciting” and the company said the Smith Bay complex could produce 200,000 barrels of oil per day.

“Without the state tax credit programs, none of this would’ve happened, and I’m not sure Caelus would’ve come to explore in Alaska,” Musselman added.

In June, 400 scientists signed a letter urging President Obama to stop any further oil development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. A 2014 study found that the polar bear population in the Southern Beaufort Sea had dropped by an astounding 40 percent from 2001 to 2010.

“Accidents can and do happen, and in this extreme environment, the only truly safe approach to protect the unique and fragile Arctic offshore environment is no drilling whatsoever,” Brad Ack, World Wildlife Fund‘s senior vice president for oceans, said in July.


Remembering Exxon Valdez: Obama Should Cancel Leases in Gulf and Arctic

exoon spill clean

By Margie Alt and Cindy Shogan, EcoWatch -24 March 16
Source: Reader Supported News

Today marks the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe—the 11-million-gallon oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound that remains one of the largest human-caused environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Twenty-seven years later, in some ways, not much has changed. The devastation from the spill lingers. Crude oil remains beneath beaches. The orca whale population continues to struggle. Crab and shrimp populations have yet to fully recover.

The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has surpassed the Exxon Valdez as the largest catastrophe in U.S. history. Shell’s Kulluk drill rig running aground on New Year’s Eve 2012 offered a new, horrific reminder of the risk of offering up one of the world’s most remote and diverse marine environments to oil and gas development.

And last week, the Obama administration issued its latest plan for more drilling and inevitable spilling. The proposal includes 10 new lease areas for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and three in Alaskan waters – two of which are located in the Arctic Ocean.

But many changes over the last three decades also point to a clean energy future. In fact, the scientific, economic and political momentum to stop new drilling proposals and wean ourselves off fossil fuels altogether is increasingly on our side.

Nearly 200 nations have agreed to a goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, a benchmark scientists say we can only meet if we keep the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground. There’s no better place to start than with the fragile Arctic, and with a just transition off fossil fuels that begins with no new drilling in the Gulf.

Time and again, the Obama administration has also proved itself willing to listen to the call of opposition to ocean drilling.

Last year the administration canceled existing drilling leases in the Arctic Ocean, following the actions of “kayaktivists” who sought to block Shell’s icebreaker headed north from Portland, Oregon.

Earlier this month President Obama announced a wide-ranging joint climate agreement with Canada, pledging to take into account climate science and emergency response plans when determining future oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean.

Last week, the Department of the Interior withdrew the southern Atlantic Ocean from its leasing proposal after an outcry from citizens, businesses and local governments up and down the coast.

Just yesterday, in the face of spirited protests at the symbolically-charged Superdome in New Orleans, the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management even temporarily shut down their auction of drilling leases in the Gulf.

Of course, Exxon and its ilk are pushing for the ways of the past. A year ago, in public comments submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Exxon’s Vice President urged the administration to maintain all its proposed leasing areas, and even add the entire eastern Gulf of Mexico, which is currently protected by moratorium. The oil company also lamented at that time that certain areas of Alaska had been removed from consideration.

Today, help us ride the wave of change and push past Exxon and other polluters. Remember the Exxon Valdez disaster by urging the Obama administration to drop its proposals for new drilling in the Arctic and the Gulf.

More Than 100 Scientists Ask Leading Science Association to Cut Ties With Exxon

Exxon Valdez

Exxon Valdez

By Natasha Geiling, ThinkProgress
Source: Reader Supported News

More than a hundred scientists have sent a letter to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the largest association of earth and space scientists in the world, asking it to cut financial ties with Exxon in light of allegations that the fossil fuel company willfully misled the public about climate change for decades.

The letter was initially crafted by three early career scientists from MIT and Harvard, but has since garnered signatures from over 100 prominent scientists, including names like James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, and Michael Mann.

“Our intention is to help rebut the climate misinformation that has been put out, especially by ExxonMobil, by asking the AGU to reject sponsorship from Exxon for its conferences,” Ben Scandella, a PhD candidate at MIT and one of the letter’s original authors, told ThinkProgress. “We’re concerned that by accepting sponsorship from Exxon, AGU is engaging in a serious conflict of interest because it is lending its institutional license to a company that is working publicly to undermine the consensus about anthropogenic climate change that a number of AGU members have worked hard to establish.”

The AGU, which was created to promote the geophysical sciences, claims among its members a number of climate scientists. Of the roughly 104 scientists that have signed the letter, 70 are AGU members.

Posted Monday morning on the science website The Natural History Museum, the letter specifically asks that the AGU reconsider Exxon’s sponsorship of the society’s fall meetings. Exxon has been a primary sponsor of the meeting for years, but has come under increased scrutiny in recent months due to a series of investigations into Exxon’s climate policies published by both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.

The investigations found that Exxon’s own scientists knew about the dangers associated with climate change as early as 1977, and yet continued to fund misinformation campaigns that questioned the scientific consensus around climate change. In light of the investigations, lawmakers have called for the Department of Justice to launch a formal investigation into Exxon, and several state attorneys general have already initiated criminal investigations. Last week, three lawmakers also asked the Department of Justice to begin investigating Shell, citing a growing body of evidence that suggests there could be “a conspiracy between Shell, ExxonMobil and potentially other companies in the fossil fuel industry.”

The AGU, in its own Organizational Support Policy, states that it will “not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.” That policy was established in the summer of 2015, just months before the allegations against Exxon became public.

“Exxon’s track record, with respect to climate science, is long and troubling and entirely inconsistent with [the AGU’s] policy and the society’s climate statement, which is clear and unequivocal about supporting deep reductions in emissions,” Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who also signed the letter, told ThinkProgress. “We set up a policy. We need to implement in a clear way, and we need to have a conversation about Exxon and other companies that misinform in order to avoid regulation with regard to climate.”

Margaret Leinen, AGU president, responded to the questions about the society’s relationship with Exxon in a blog post published on the AGU website, saying that “ExxonMobil’s current public statements and activities were not inconsistent with AGU’s positions and the scientific consensus.” In light of the recent letter, however, Leinen updated the post to add that the AGU Board of Directors will look closely into the matter during an upcoming April meeting.

To be truly reflective of Exxon’s policies, however, many argue that the AGU would need to go beyond public statements and consider the private actions the company has taken to fuel public misinformation.

“If you’re looking at public statements, it’s hard to find because they are funneling their misinformation campaigns through dark money organizations,” Scandella said.

In a study published last November, Yale University sociologist Justin Farrell found a strong connection between the private funding actions of companies like Exxon and the overall polarization of climate change as a topic in the United States. According to Farrell’s research, groups that accepted money from Exxon were more likely to produce texts stressing things like the idea that climate change is a long-term cycle or that carbon dioxide is in fact good for the planet, key tenets of a climate misinformation campaign.

According to both Scandella and Frumhoff, it’s that misinformation — not the fact that Exxon is a fossil fuel company — that has led scientists to voice concerns with the company’s role in funding the AGU’s meetings. Fossil fuels have had a long relationship with earth and geosciences, Frumhoff explained, pointing to petroleum geology as an example. The concern, he added, is that by allowing Exxon to support the AGU’s meetings, the AGU is lending an air of credibility to the company. It’s a public relations tactic known as “greenwashing,” where organizations publicly fund campaigns or events that run counter to their private actions or interests.

“The letter isn’t about saying that Exxon scientists or Exxon-funded scientists have no place in society. The letter is about saying we shouldn’t be advertising Exxon as a good corporate citizen by accepting their funding when their behavior is so unequivocally inconsistent with scientific integrity and our commitment to address climate change,” Frumhoff said.

Bernie Sanders: Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet

Sen. Bernie Sanders joined marchers on September 21, 2014 for the People's Climate March for action on climate change in New York City. (Photo: Sanders Office)

Sen. Bernie Sanders joined marchers on September 21, 2014 for the People’s Climate March for action on climate change in New York City. (Photo: Sanders Office)

By Bernie Sanders,
Source: Reader Supported News

07 December 15

Right now, we have an energy policy that is rigged to boost the profits of big oil companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell at the expense of average Americans. CEO’s are raking in record profits while climate change ravages our planet and our people — all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into complacency in the face of climate change. Enough is enough. It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy, and finally puts people before the profits of polluters.

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

The Problem

Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. The debate is over, and the scientific jury is in: global climate change is real, it is caused mainly by emissions released from burning fossil fuels and it poses a catastrophic threat to the long-term longevity of our planet. If we do nothing, the planet will heat up five to ten degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. That would cause enough sea level rise from melting glaciers to put cities like New York and Miami underwater – along with more frequent asthma attacks, higher food prices, insufficient drinking water and more infectious diseases.

But this isn’t just a problem for the future – the impacts of climate change are apparent here and now. Whether it’s more intense forest fires on the West Coast, or more frequent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, or damaging flash floods in California, climate change is here and it’s already causing devastating human suffering. The worst part is this: people who live in low-income and minority communities will bear the most severe consequences of society’s addiction to fossil fuels.

This is every kind of issue all at once: the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation. We have got to solve this problem before it’s too late.

Why Haven’t We Solved it Yet?

Solving this should be straightforward. After all, the majority of Americans understand the seriousness of climate change, and they demand action. 97 percent of scientists agree about the urgent need to act and the vocal minority who don’t are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. More and more countries around the world are beginning to do their part, by stepping up to significantly curb their use of fossil fuels to become part of the solution. If our democracy worked the way it’s supposed to, that would be enough – the debate would be over, the facts would be heard and lawmakers would obey the will of the people.

But that’s where the billionaire class comes in. Instead of engaging on this issue in good faith and allowing democracy to play out, executives and lobbyists for coal, oil, and gas companies have blocked every attempt to make progress on climate change, and thrown unprecedented amounts of money at elected officials to buy their loyalty. Recent reporting even shows that executives at Exxon pioneered the research on climate change before anyone else did, but may have deliberately lied about it to spread disinformation and confusion to protect their bottom line. It’s eerily reminiscent of the fight over tobacco regulation, when executives from the tobacco companies repeatedly testified before Congress that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. Recently leaked internal documents show that even they knew they were lying.

Let’s be clear: the reason we haven’t solved climate change isn’t because we aren’t doing our part, it’s because a small subsection of the one percent are hell-bent on doing everything in their power to block action. Sadly, they have deliberately chosen to put their profits ahead of the health of our people and planet.

The Future

The debate is over. The vast majority of the scientific community has spoken. Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating harm here in the United States, and to people all around the globe. So what are we going to do about it? We will act boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal because we have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

Here’s the good news: our society is already moving in the right direction. Solar panels cost 80 percent less than they did in 2008 and they’re popping up on rooftops everywhere. In fact, nearly a full quarter of the world’s electricity today comes from clean, sustainable resources like the sun and wind. The leaders of the seven major industrialized nations, including the United States, agreed in the summer of 2015 to a long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels entirely and moving to an economy powered entirely by clean energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. We’re already transitioning to a clean energy economy – but scientists say we need to do it faster and we need to do it right.

Doing it right means ensuring that workers have the skills, equipment, and training they need to succeed in a clean energy economy. It also means workers need to be able to organize and advocate for good wages and safe working conditions. Bernie knows these workers do some of the most important work in America and we need to ensure without a doubt that their livelihoods will be helped – not hurt – by the transition to clean energy. That’s why Bernie is introducing the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act to provide comprehensive benefits to workers as they transition to making the solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries of tomorrow.

The key is to stop funding the problem by subsidizing fossil fuels and instead accelerate our path to progress by showcasing our American innovation to accelerate the transition. This is important, because the support of the American people can make an enormous difference. In the 60’s, President Kennedy set a goal that many said was impossible – but by the end of that decade, Neil Armstrong had successfully taken his giant leap for humanity. Our government needs to think that big today and commit to prioritizing the transition to an economy powered by more than 80 percent clean energy sources by 2050. That starts with simple, commonsense steps: instead of subsidizing massive fossil fuel corporations, we can create millions of jobs for working families by investing in clean energy. The answer is clear and affordable. The solutions are within our reach – we just need average Americans to come together to make it happen.

The Goals

Bernie’s comprehensive plan to combat climate change and make sure our planet is habitable and safe for our kids and grandkids will:

    • Cut U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030 and by over 80 percent by 2050 by putting a tax on carbon pollution, repealing fossil fuel subsidies and making massive investments in energy efficiency and clean, sustainable energy such as wind and solar power.
    • Create a Clean-Energy Workforce of 10 million good-paying jobs by creating a 100% clean energy system. Transitioning toward a completely nuclear-free clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
    • Return billions of dollars to consumers impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change. Bernie will tax polluters causing the climate crisis, and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject us to unfair rate hikes. Bernie knows that climate change will not affect everyone equally – disenfranchised minority communities and the working poor will be hardest hit. The carbon tax will also protect those most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.

The Plan

Reclaim our Democracy from the Billionaire Fossil Fuel Lobby

The fossil fuel industry spends billions and billions of dollars lobbying and buying candidates to block virtually all progress on climate change. At the national level where companies have to report what they spend on lobbying and campaign contributions, the oil companies, coal companies and electric utilities spent a staggering $2.26 billion in federal lobbying since 2009 and another $330 million in federal campaign contributions. Even in Washington, that’s a lot of money.

But that’s just the part we know about. Thanks to the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the fossil fuel industry can pour unlimited amounts of money into the political system without having to disclose how much or where they spend it.

So what does the fossil fuel industry get in exchange for all that money? They get friends who help them keep $135 billion dollars in tax subsidies and corporate welfare over the next decade. They write legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. They block efforts to move us beyond oil by blocking the development and deployment of clean, sustainable energy.

This makes it harder to take action to fight climate change. But the solutions are possible. Together there is nothing we can’t achieve.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House. Massive lobbying and unlimited super PAC donations by the fossil fuel industry gives these profitable companies disproportionate influence on our elected leaders. This practice is business as usual in Washington and it is not acceptable. Heavy-handed lobbying causes climate change skepticism. It has no place in the executive office.
      • End the huge subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies. When fossil-fuel companies are racking up record profits, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies to pad their already enormous earnings. After all, it is immoral that some in Congress advocate harsh cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while those same people vote to preserve billions in tax breaks for the most profitable corporations in America.
      • Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities. Low-income and minority neighborhoods will continue to be the hardest hit if we don’t act to stop climate change now. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast, flooding 80 percent of the city of New Orleans. Some areas of the city were submerged in as much as 10 feet of water, and 28 percent of residents had no way to leave the city. Almost 100,000 African American residents who left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina never returned. The reality of the impacts of the storm on the African American community in New Orleans exposed the broader trend that low-income and minority communities face the brunt of climate change impacts first and worst.
      • Bring climate deniers to justice so we can aggressively tackle climate change. It is an embarrassment that Republican politicians, with few exceptions, refuse to even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone are prepared to do anything about it. The reality is that the fossil fuel industry is to blame for much of the climate change skepticism in America. Bernie recently called for the Department of Justice to investigate Exxon Mobil, which may have not only known about the dangers of climate change, but has spent millions of dollars to spread doubt about the causes and impacts of burning fossil fuels.
      • Fight to overturn Citizens United. In a 5-4 decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations and the super wealthy to spend unlimited and undisclosed money to buy our elected officials. The Supreme Court essentially declared that corporations, including fossil fuel corporations, have the same rights as natural-born human beings. This decision has enabled billionaires and special interests to increasingly control the political campaign finance system, and amounts to legalized bribery.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced a constitutional amendment that prohibits for-profit corporations from making contributions or expenditures into political campaigns. In other words, Bernie’s amendment reaffirms what’s already in the Constitution: the right to vote belongs to people, and not corporate entities whose money is drowning out the rest of us.

      • Back legislation to publicly finance elections. Bernie wants to move toward public funding of elections to promote a more even playing field where anyone can run for office without having to beg for money from the wealthy and the powerful. Public funding of elections increases voter participation, helps lower the influence of outside money and lowers the amount of time politicians spend fundraising, allowing them to implement solutions, as they were elected to do. He envisions a future of inclusivity that would restore our American democracy by ensuring each citizen has equal power in determining the future leaders of our nation.

Accelerate a Just Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

Scientists warn us if we continue burning fossil fuels, we will experience cataclysmic change, in terms of more disease, more hunger, more drought, more famine, rising sea levels, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances and more human suffering. That means we must leave the vast majority of global reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in the ground.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie recently co-sponsored the Keep It in the Ground Act to ban future fossil fuel leases on our public lands. His legislation would keep over 90 percent of the potential carbon emissions from fossil fuels on our federal lands and waters underground forever.

Bernie believes we must transition away from fossil fuel consumption to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. But our transition away from fossil fuels must be fair to those currently working in the energy sector, which means those workers and their families must be able to depend on safe, living-wage jobs.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Embrace a science-based standard for carbon pollution emissions reductions. We have a very limited window of time to transition away from fossil fuels toward clean energy for all Americans to prevent a global temperature increase that will cause cataclysmic impacts. Bernie knows that to maintain a safe and healthy planet for our kids and grandchildren we must listen to the scientists who say we must decrease carbon pollution emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
      • Put a price on carbon. Bernie agrees with leading economists on both ends of the political spectrum: a tax on carbon is one of the most straightforward and cost-effective strategies for quickly fighting climate change.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie is introducing the gold standard climate change bill that will tax polluters causing the climate crisis and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject Americans to unfair rate hikes. The carbon tax will also protect low-income and minority communities that are most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.

      • Protect the health of our children. Kids are uniquely threatened by air pollution from sources like coal plants and oil refineries. Children’s lungs are more sensitive to air pollution than adults. Climate change exacerbates existing air pollution problems, which will only increase the health impacts on children, especially those with respiratory diseases like asthma. As a father of four and a grandfather of seven, Bernie cares about leaving clean air and a healthy, livable planet for all of our kids and grandchildren.
      • Create clean, domestic energy alternatives to power our cars and trucks. The transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. We must move our transportation sector beyond oil by running our cars and trucks on electricity generated by solar and wind power. We need efficient public transportation, advanced renewable fuels and high-speed passenger and cargo rail.
      • Ban Arctic oil drilling. Bernie knows that drilling in the Arctic Circle and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at a time when we face a serious climate emergency is unthinkable. Research shows that drilling in the Arctic is inconsistent with efforts to prevent catastrophic global temperature increases. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which spans 19.6 million acres in Alaska and boasts the greatest biodiversity of any protected area north of the Arctic Circle, is too precious to put at risk from the detrimental consequences of oil production and extraction.
      • Ban offshore drilling. If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence, lowering the cost of energy, combatting climate change and cutting carbon pollution emissions, then we must ban offshore drilling. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, it is that Congress must not open new areas to offshore oil drilling.
      • Stop dirty pipeline projects like the Keystone XL. Back in August 2011, Bernie was the first national politician to publicly oppose Keystone XL, because he saw that it would move us in exactly the wrong direction, toward greater dependence on fossil fuels, specifically tar sands oil, but also on one of the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuels imaginable. Bernie was again the first presidential candidate to oppose the Bakken oil pipeline that would cross Iowa and the first to oppose the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline that would bring fracked natural gas through New Hampshire. We need to invest in clean energy infrastructure not lock ourselves into long-term payments and significant carbon pollution emissions for a pipelines that could cause disastrous oil spills.
      • Stop exports of liquefied natural gas and crude oil. The Department of Energy has found that exporting even half of the natural gas already approved for export could raise U.S. prices by up to 54 percent. Oil and natural gas exports must be in the interest of consumers, the economy, our manufacturing sector and national security – not merely the interest of fossil fuel companies’ bottom line. Especially while we still import oil, we should be transitioning toward clean, sustainable energy instead of incentivizing more extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
      • Stand with Vermont and other states to ban fracking for natural gas. Fracking threatens our air and water. Disposal of wastewater from fracking causes earthquakes. Oklahoma became the number one place for earthquakes on Earth this year because gas companies inject fracking fluid back into the ground. Fracking is a large-scale industrial process that doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard or deserve exemption from laws that protect the health of our children. That’s why communities all over the country from New York to California and Texas to Colorado have stood up to the oil and gas industry and said they don’t want fracking in their backyards. Bernie was very proud when Vermont became the first state to ban fracking. We have clean energy solutions to climate change, and fracking is not one of them.
      • Ban mountaintop removal coal mining and invest in Appalachian communities. Across the Appalachian Mountain Range, coal companies are blowing up entire mountaintops to get at the thin coal seams below. The communities in the region are paying for this destructive practice in their health, their culture and their natural heritage. Bernie is in staunch opposition to this dirty and damaging practice and believes we must invest in Appalachian communities to help them transition to a clean, prosperous, and healthy future.
      • Close the loopholes that allow the chemical, oil and gas industries to pollute our air and water. Bernie served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, which sits on one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, Lake Champlain. Bernie understands the importance of clean water practices and recognizes how it impacts communities. The federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act have reduced pollution, but they are always under attack by polluters who put profits before the health of our children and grandchildren.
      • Increase fuel economy standards to 65 miles per gallon by 2025. Recent fuel economy standards put us on track to reach 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025, which moves us in right direction, but still leaves us lagging behind the rest of the world. Japan is set to reach that level five years before us, and Europe will do even better, reaching over 65 miles per gallon by 2020. Bernie knows we can do more and make our cars internationally competitive by raising our fuel economy standards to 65 miles per gallon by model year 2025. This will save car owners money at the pump, cut carbon pollution emissions and create good-paying American jobs.
      • Protect public lands by promoting natural resource conservation and habitat preservation. Conservation of our public lands such as our National Parks and Forests are an American tradition and a vehicle for economic growth. Our conserved public land also serves an important role in not only preventing climate change but also in mitigating the catastrophic effects of climate change like floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather that have been increasing in frequency. Bernie is committed to ensuring that Americans have access to urban, suburban and rural recreational green space that are vital to our national heritage and our country’s tradition of recreation and conservation.

Investing in Clean, Sustainable Energy

Choosing to lead the clean energy technology revolution to stop the worst effects of climate change means America will remain a worldwide leader in job creation, domestic manufacturing, local community revitalization and clean energy technology development and implementation.

The solar industry is adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy. Solar industry employment has grown by 86 percent in the past five years, resulting in nearly 80,000 domestic living-wage jobs.

For every dollar invested in energy efficiency, families and businesses can enjoy up to $4 in energy savings, and for every billion dollars invested in energy efficiency upgrades we can create up to 7,000-8,000 new jobs, roughly ten times as many jobs as we would create from the same investments in coal. Investments in clean energy technologies will also keep jobs in America and prevent harm to the economy by preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

Bernie strongly supports efforts to develop and deploy clean, sustainable energy technologies like energy efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and create millions of jobs. Scientists tell us we have a short time to make an aggressive cut in our carbon pollution emissions. Transitioning toward a completely clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
      • Invest in clean, sustainable energy sources powered by the sun, wind and Earth’s heat. Massive and sustained investment in clean energy technology development and implementation can get us where scientists tell us we need to be. It’s no great secret that clean energy technologies are a good investment. We actually get more energy out of the money invested in sustainable energy technologies than we do out of fossil fuel. Clean energy technology has no associated fuel costs, which means there are no price spikes like we see with oil and gas. The cost of deploying solar panels has gone down by more than 80 percent since 2008, thanks to tax credits and federally funded research and development. Our national solar capacity will soon provide enough energy to power four million homes.

        Similarly, wind tax credits spurred the development of wind farms that now provide enough power for 16.7 million American homes. In fact, wind provided almost 30 percent of all new domestic power capacity in the last five years. Last year, nearly 30 percent of the electricity used in Iowa came from the wind. The decreasing cost of wind and solar demonstrates that we can have a 100 percent clean energy future.

      • Invest in advanced renewable fuels and keep our energy dollars at home. Renewable fuels have become a key component of our national strategy to move beyond oil in the fight against climate change. Renewable fuels must be produced in a way that achieves our environmental and energy security goals. We must both ensure that our renewable fuels production is truly sustainable, and we must also prevent the oil companies from derailing our progress in developing cleaner and more sustainable alternatives to gasoline and diesel. We should emphasize new, clean technologies like cellulosic ethanol and algae-based fuels. Advanced biofuels have enormous potential to deliver dramatic reductions in carbon pollution and strengthen rural economies, all while keeping our energy dollars here at home instead of sending them overseas to oil oligarchs in Russia and the Middle East.
      • Invest in solar energy and put money back in the pockets of consumers. Bernie believes that solar energy is one of the most promising sources of clean energy for America’s future. That’s why he supports making billions of dollars of investments in renewable energy, like solar. Bernie recently introduced the Low Income Solar Act to increase low-income families’ access to solar energy by making it more affordable for people who own their own home and incentivize access to community solar projects. Investing in solar energy is just as important for the economy as it is for the Earth. Bernie supports solar net metering, which means that people who invest in solar should be able to offset the cost – or in some cases even make money – on their electric utility bill. He recognizes that as we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation careers in this country.
      • Invest in making all American homes more energy efficient. Energy Efficiency is a “low-hanging fruit” because the investments made in energy efficiency are so effective in reducing carbon pollution emissions, and the return on investment is so quick. For every dollar invested in energy efficiency technologies, like weatherization and efficient light bulbs, energy customers can enjoy up to four dollars in savings. Bernie has long been a champion of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that help rural and low-income families make their homes more energy efficient and lower their energy bills. At a time when we spend on average of $350 billion a year on foreign oil, we must take every possible step to invest in cheaper energy here in the United States. That’s why Bernie recently introduced the Residential Energy Savings Act to provide federal loans to states to perform energy efficiency updates to provide homeowners with valuable energy savings.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie secured $3.2 billion dollars for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant initiative in the stimulus bill, which was consistently rated a top-15 job creating program in the years after it was implemented. This grant helped to install over 9,500 solar systems and perform energy upgrades on approximately 86,000 buildings, which is saving consumers many billions of dollars in energy costs while also making our air cleaner by reducing pollution.

      • Support American workers moving into clean energy jobs. Our transition to a clean energy economy has created hundreds of thousands of jobs all over the United States, and Bernie’s climate change plan will create millions more. But we must ensure our transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is a just transition for workers. That’s why Bernie is introducing the Clean Energy Workers Just Transition Act, which provides the most comprehensive package of benefits for workers, including extended unemployment benefits, education opportunities, health care and job training for those transitioning to a career in the clean energy industry. Additionally, the bill ensures that workers in the clean energy industry will be able to organize a union to ensure living wages and safe working conditions. It also makes billions of dollars of investments in communities most affected by a transition to a clean energy future.
      • Invest in an affordable energy storage solution that will allow us to fulfill our clean energy needs. Affordable energy storage technologies like batteries allow clean energy technologies like wind and solar to be integrated onto the electric grid – even when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Effective storage systems can affordably balance energy supply with demand by capturing energy at times when there is excess energy on the system for use during hours of high demand. Battery storage continues to develop and is becoming increasingly more affordable for families all over the country.
      • Build geothermal power plants to create full time family-wage jobs for operations, engineering, maintenance, and administration. Bernie believes that geothermal energy should play an important role in our country’s future energy portfolio. Geothermal systems can use the constant underground heat to provide heating when it is cool outside and to pull heat from buildings when it is warm outside. Geothermal energy power plants are less expensive than new modern natural gas plants and can be called on to produce power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Geothermal conserves energy, reduces pollution and saves money all at once.
      • Utility-Scale Clean Energy Generation. There are hundreds of thousands of roofs with solar panels, but research and technology developments have significantly improved sustainable energy technologies that are making large-scale clean energy an affordable reality. For example, advancements in utility-scale concentrated solar allows power from the sun to be stored for later use, even when the sun is not shining. Most importantly, concentrated solar power installations create permanent jobs and provide economic support for surrounding communities, which tend to be rural.
      • Enable greater consumer choice in energy. Americans should have the ability to choose affordable clean technologies for their home and businesses. Additionally, the electric utilities and fossil fuel industries should not be able to get in the way of that choice. Grid modernization technologies enable greater consumer choice and ultimately utility bill savings by making it easier for families to connect clean energy resources to the grid.
      • Begin a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States. Bernie believes that solar, wind, geothermal power and energy efficiency are proven and more cost-effective than nuclear – even without tax incentives – and that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit. Especially in light of lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima meltdown, Bernie has also raised questions about why the federal government invests billions into federal subsidies for the nuclear industry. We can have an affordable carbon-free, nuclear-free energy system and we must work for a safe, healthy future for all Americans.
      • Provide global clean energy funding to vulnerable countries. The United States should lead the international community in funding technology development and deployment solutions for the most vulnerable developing countries as part of any international agreement.

Revolutionize our Electric and Transportation Infrastructure

In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. That’s the second largest contribution to our total carbon emissions after the electricity sector, which accounts for about 31 percent.

When we built out our state-of-the-art rail system in the early 1860’s we became global leaders. But now our rail system pales in comparison to Japan, Germany and even China in terms of our high-speed passenger and cargo rail systems. Bernie will invest in interstate and intercity high-speed rail systems to bring people and commodities to their destinations more efficiently to save time and money.

We must also invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, just as we built an interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s. Many customers are interested in moving beyond oil toward an electric car, but the concerns of cost and whether there will be access to a charging station prevent many people from being able to choose this low-carbon option.

Both our transportation and electricity infrastructures must be updated. We still have electric lines and bridges that were built around the time Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Modernizing the electrical grid helps balance higher amounts of clean energy, decreases outages and improves efficiency.

Bernie believes that infrastructure investments can create jobs and lead to a cleaner future.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Build electric vehicle charging stations. In a country where nearly 30 percent of carbon pollution emissions come from the transportation sector, it is imperative that we end our dependence on gasoline. Vehicles that run on electricity are more efficient than internal combustion engines and can be powered with renewable energy resources like wind and solar. We need to support the development of vehicle charging stations that will allow us to drive cleanly and sustainably.
      • Build high-speed passenger and cargo rail. Our nation’s rail system is largely obsolete, even though our energy-efficient railroads move more freight than ever, and Amtrak’s ridership has never been higher. While Amtrak’s fastest train travels at an average speed of just 65 mph, high-speed rail now crisscrosses most of Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China with trains that run up to 200 mph. Once we have a state-of-the-art rail system, we will not only be able to move passengers and cargo faster and more efficiently, we will make significant cuts in carbon pollution emissions that cause climate change and create millions of permanent family-wage jobs for electricians, pipe fitters and sheet-metal workers.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced the Rebuild America Act to invest $15 billion to improve rail so America can begin to catch up with the rest of the world.

    • Make our cities more walkable and take more cars off the road. Public transit can move more people in fewer vehicles, which is good for clean air and reducing carbon pollution emissions. Public transportation saves enough electricity to power nearly 5 million homes in the United States. Despite the potential for public transit and biking to save Americans money and reduce emissions, the United States has a long way to go to make the roads safe for those who choose these alternative modes of transportation.
  • Update and modernize the energy grid. Some of our grid infrastructure has not been updated since it was first built in the 1920s and 1930s. This causes hundreds of avoidable power failures and interruptions each year. Today, power failures cost the economy $164 billion annually, stemming from impacts like lost productivity and wasted food. Those costs are only expected to increase as climate change causes more extreme weather, which can knock the power out. Additionally, our grid is highly centralized and therefore susceptible to cyber and physical attacks. Technology development in clean energy resources and electric grid improvements have enabled “smart” technologies, programs and policies to create a safer, more sustainable energy system. The “smart grid” offers real benefits for consumers and the environment.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced the Rebuild America Act, which would invest $10 billion a year for power transmission, distribution and modernization projects that will improve the reliability and resiliency of our ever more complex electrical grid. The bill will also help increase access to broadband internet, which can also enable better, safer and more reliable electrical service.

Lead the International Community to Solve Climate Change and Prevent International Conflict.

Climate change is not just an “environmental issue,” but a global security issue as well. Climate change is an international crisis that threatens vulnerable communities all over the world.

The CIA and the Department of Defense both say that climate change is one of the great security issues facing this planet. As we see more and more drought, as people around the world are unable to grow the food they need to survive, people will migrate for survival. Instability can cause international conflict.

The United States must lead the world by working with China, Russia, India and the rest of the international community to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We need a global commitment to reduce carbon pollution emissions.

The U.S. needs to lead the international community in the fight against climate change to maintain American economic strength and global security.

The United States has a unique opportunity to lead the international community in innovating strategies to cut climate pollution to avoid the most devastating damage of global climate change and adapt to the impacts that we cannot avoid. Our progress in reducing pollution levels over the last ten years has given us the credibility to demand that major developing nations also take bold action. In the past year, we have seen historic new commitments from countries like China and India who are for the first time putting forth their own aggressive climate agendas.

As president, Bernie will:

    • Convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities in his first 100 days. The United Nations Paris climate talks in December are an important milestone toward solving climate change, but even optimistic outcomes of these talks will not put the world on the path needed to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must think beyond Paris. In the first 100 days of Bernie’s Presidency, he will convene a summit of the world’s best climate experts to chart a course toward the healthy future we all want for our families and communities.
    • Lead countries in cutting climate change. Climate change is the greatest global challenge, and must be met with global solutions. The United States has contributed greatly to climate change, but also has the greatest opportunity and know-how to lead in implementing climate change solutions. The argument that we shouldn’t act until other countries do is falling by the wayside as China, India and many other countries have come to the table with initial commitments to take significant action to solve climate change.
  • Plan for peace to avoid international climate-fueled conflict. Changes in rainfall patterns, higher temperatures and more frequent natural disasters such as droughts and flooding due to climate change pose a direct threat to our global food and energy supply. In the United States, this could mean higher food and energy prices. In some developing countries, the effects could be even worse, and lead to temporary or more permanent situations where not enough food or water is available for everyone. This has the potential to result in an international climate-fueled conflict. Bernie believes that we must plan for peace now in order to prepare for this sort of dire conflict that is already beginning to unfold in parts of the world.


US permits Arctic drilling, but questions about safety remain

The Kulluk, Shell’s Arctic offshore drilling platform, was grounded in 2013 after efforts by the US Coast Guard and tug vessel crews to move the vessel to a safe harbor during a winter storm. Zachary Painter/ US Coast Guard/

The Kulluk, Shell’s Arctic offshore drilling platform, was grounded in 2013 after efforts by the US Coast Guard and tug vessel crews to move the vessel to a safe harbor during a winter storm. Zachary Painter/ US Coast Guard/

Earlier this month, the Obama administration gave conditional approval to a renewed plan for Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil offshore of Alaska’s Arctic Ocean coast in the Chukchi Sea.

“As we move forward, any offshore exploratory activities will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards,” the director of the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said in announcing the approval. In response, Shell has moved quickly to mobilize equipment and personnel to conduct drilling operations in this area as early as this summer.

The key question addressed here concerns the “safety” of the proposed exploratory drilling operations.

Both Shell and the Department of Interior contend the proposed operations can be performed “safely.” Both organizations understand nothing beneficial will come if there is a major accident, such as an uncontrolled blowout during the proposed drilling operations.

However, the available evidence indicates the Department of Interior and Shell have not applied the best available risk assessment and management technology to configure the proposed drilling system and its operations to assure they are safe enough.

Risk 101

Safety is defined as “freedom from undue exposure to injury or harm.”

Safety means the likelihoods and consequences of major accidents are “tolerable” (acceptable, safe enough). Accidents with potentially high consequences should have a low likelihood of occurring. What is deemed to be safe is a function of what is determined to be a tolerable risk.

To be valid and realistic, quantitative estimates of the likelihoods and consequences of major accidents must be assessed using the best available knowledge. One must make diligent efforts to eliminate a wide variety of human and organizational biases that can distort risk analyses. Effective internal and external validation processes are the key to neutralize these biases.

A key risk threshold to limit consequences and likelihood of failure: As Low As Reasonably Practicable.Robert Bea, Author provided
Click to enlarge

Risk estimates are based on the proposed configuration of the integrated “system” of hardware as well as the human, organizational and environmental components. Special attention is devoted to understanding potential interdependencies and interactions among the interconnected system components and how the system might fail.

To prevent and mitigate major accidents, experts have processes and strategies to assess and manage the risk of a system configuration at different stages during the life of a system. These analyses assess the risk before an activity is performed, during activities, and after the activities are done. Personal safety is a subset of system safety.

These three integrated, coordinated approaches are meant to reduce the likelihoods and consequences of major system accidents and to increase proper detection, analysis and correction of expected and unexpected deviations in system performance.

Special attention is given to the different categories of uncertainties that pervade the life cycle performance of complex hardware and human organizational systems in different hazardous environments. These include natural variabilities, analysis model uncertainties, and variations in human and organizational performance. Other factors include information access, analysis and other uncertainties (unknown knowables and unknown unknowables).

‘Goal-based’ risk assessment and management

Tolerable risks are defined from structured collaborative processes involving the affected societies, industry and commerce, governments (local, state, federal) and representatives of the potentially affected environments.

Tolerable risks can also be determined from analyses of historic precedents, current standards of practice, and monetary cost–benefit analyses.

Mitigating the risk of an entire system requires assessing and managing the risk of multiple components at once.Robert Bea, Author provided
Click to enlarge

The system regulator – in this case, the Department of Interior – is responsible for definition of the tolerable risks. The system owner–operator, Royal Dutch Shell, is responsible for development of the risk assessments. The objective is to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the regulatory agencies that the risks are tolerable – a term called As Low As Reasonably Practicable by risk management professionals – during the life of the entire system.

Such goal-based risk assessment and management regulatory processes currently are being applied for drilling operations in the UK and Norwegian Sectors of the North Sea and offshore Canada and Australia. In several of these areas, the processes are identified as a Safety Case Regime.

For example, in Australian offshore oil and gas exploration, production, and transportation operations:

“A facility cannot be constructed, installed, operated, modified, or decommissioned without a Safety Case in force for that stage in the life of the facility.”

In the US, comparable risk assessment and management processes – called Process Safety Management – are used for commercial nuclear power generation facilities, and in some cases, in operations of oil and gas chemical refining and processing facilities.

Shell’s 2012 Arctic program

In the case of the proposed drilling in the Chukchi Sea this summer, we are concerned primarily with a major accident involving an uncontrolled blowout of oil and gas from the exploratory well during the drilling operations.

In its current drilling plan, Shell estimated that such a blowout could involve discharges in the range of 8,000 to more than 20,000 barrels of oil per day (natural gas discharges were not specified).

The provisionally approved plans submitted to the Department of Interior include system task performance and equipment risk mitigations intended to control the likelihoods and consequences of uncontrolled blowouts.

These plans are based on the current “best practices” defined and specified by the Department of Interior. Shell does have significant experience with system risk assessment and management processes, including those that follow the Safety Case Regimes and Process Safety Management disciplines.

The mobile drilling unit Kulluk being towed in 29 mph winds and 20-foot seas 116 miles southwest of Kodiak, Alaska on December 30, 2012. The 18 crewmembers were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter and later the Kulluk broke away from one of its tow lines on December 31 and was driven to rocks just off Kodiak Island.

In 2012, Shell unsuccessfully attempted to drill in the Chukchi Sea, an ill-fated venture that included the grounding of the Kulluk drill rig and the failure of the oil spill containment dome. The failures experienced during the initial parts of that exploratory drilling program indicated that neither the Department of Interior’s permit guidelines and requirements, which were revised after the Deepwater Horizon spill, nor the risk assessment and management processes employed by Shell were effective.

Of particular importance was the finding by the US Coast Guard investigation into the grounding of the Kulluk drill rig that “inadequate management of risks by the parties involved was the most significant causal factor of the mishap.”

It was clear that Shell did not properly employ the Safety Case Regime risk assessment and management processes they had successfully used in other offshore areas that require the application of this technology. Shell’s claim that “…Shell has used the Safety Case Approach recommended by the National Commission…for all its contracted drill rigs, globally, for many years” failed to prevent the failures.

Further, it was clear in the wake of the Kulluk incident that the Department of Interior’s guidelines and requirements, developed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well spill in the Gulf of Mexico, also failed to produce the desired results.


One of the major problems is that the Department of Interior oil and gas operations and Arctic operations guidelines and requirements are not based on Safety Case Regime system risk assessment and management processes.

Following the uncontrolled blowout disaster of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, there were investigations by the US National Commission in 2011, the Deepwater Horizon Study Group and the Chemical Safety Board. These studies recommended that the Department of Interior integrate Safety Case Regime system risk assessment and management processes into their traditional experience-based “prescriptive” component-by-component, task performance guidelines and requirements.

Instead, with significant encouragement from the US oil and gas industry, the Department of Interior chose to continue to update and add to the existing best practices prescriptive guidelines, with some of the improvements suggested as a result of the post-Macondo investigations.

In addition, in February 2015, the Department of Interior issued new guidelines specifically for offshore Arctic operations. The Department of Interior also issued a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement covering drilling in this region. The final approved guidelines have not been issued as of this date, and it is not clear how these requirements will be applied to the conduct of Shell’s drilling in the Chukchi Sea this summer.

High stakes

Given this background, what is the concern regarding the safety of the proposed exploratory drilling systems operations?

The concern is that neither the Department of Interior or Shell have determined, demonstrated or documented that the risks associated with an uncontrolled blowout that develops during the proposed drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea meet established requirements for system risk tolerability and safety outlined earlier.

Instead, reliance is being placed on the Department of Interior best practices of experienced-based, “piece by piece” prescriptive guidelines and regulations. These have not been proved or demonstrated to be adequate for the unique drilling systems, operations and environment involved in Shell’s operations in the Chukchi Sea this summer.

The stakes are too high and the potential risks too great for the best available risk assessment and management – Safety Case Regime – processes not to be diligently applied to the proposed drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea.

If we decide to do otherwise, then we must depend on the proper application of the existing guidelines and processes that have been permitted by the Department of Interior to deliver the required safety. We must be prepared to accept the consequences of this decision.
Author: Robert Bea
Professor Emeritus Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at University of California, Berkeley
Source: The Conversation


Demand Clean Power-Robert Redford: Actor, Director and Environmental Activist

robert redfordBy Robert Redford, Reader Supported News, 17 April 14

Four years ago this week, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill platform exploded. Eleven workers died that day. Their bodies were never found. Over the next 87 days, 210 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. It fouled fishing grounds, ravaged the coastline, and shut down tourism. The world got an ugly look at some of the terrible hidden costs of fossil fuels. Spill-related health problems plague the people and the wildlife of the Gulf to this very day.

I personally hoped that we, as a nation, would quickly learn from this tragedy and move swiftly to prevent a repeat disaster in our most vulnerable coastal environments. So it boggles the mind that Shell Oil is still determined to drill in one of the most fragile and remote ecosystems on Earth: the Arctic Ocean — the last bastion of America’s polar bears, endangered bowhead whales and other rare wildlife. For Native Alaskans who live along the coast, this ocean has been the source of their food security and a way of life since time immemorial.

Robert Redford: This Earth Day Let’s Stand Up to Big Oil – NRDC


It’s sheer madness to drill in the Arctic — in treacherous conditions of gale-force winds, 20-foot seas, sub-zero temperatures, shifting currents — and for eight months of the year — solid pack ice. If the oil industry was utterly unprepared for a blowout in the balmy Gulf of Mexico, how in the world can we trust them in a treacherous environment like the Arctic? Nobody knows how to clean up oil there, even during the open water season. And once the ice and long Arctic night close in, there’d be zero hope of plugging a blow-out or containing a spill.

Those harsh conditions also guarantee human and mechanical error. During a disastrous 2012 attempt at Arctic drilling, Shell Oil experienced fires, leaks, slipped anchors, emergency gear that was “crushed like a beer can,” and a 30-mile iceberg that sent its ships fleeing.

A just-released Coast Guard report says Shell’s reckless and failed attempt to tow its Arctic Ocean drill rig in 2012 was riddled with poor planning and judgment — and involved numerous potential violations of the law.

Then, a couple of months ago, the Arctic caught a huge break. A federal appeals court ruled that in 2008, when the government approved drilling there, it wildly underestimated the risks of spills and other hazards. That has stopped all drill efforts for now. And it’s created a golden opportunity for President Obama to chart a new course by putting the Arctic completely off-limits to Shell and every other oil company — for good.

It also sets the president up to lead the fight against climate change. Left to their own devices, oil companies will drill and unleash every last bit of carbon-polluting crude they can get their hands on. Just two weeks ago ExxonMobil said it “takes the risk of climate change seriously,” but that they’d go right on digging and burning all their oil reserves.

To be blunt, that is crazy talk. There’s a clear scientific consensus that pumping that much carbon into the atmosphere will change life on Earth as we know it.

That’s why I made this video, calling on all Americans to stand up to Big Oil by asking President Obama to ban oil drilling in the Arctic and lead the way to a future powered by 100% clean energy. Please make your own voice heard at www.DemandCleanPower.org. But don’t delay. In a court filing last week, Shell indicated it’s counting the days till it can get back into the Arctic. We have to make sure that never happens.

Απαιτούμε καθαρή ενέργεια (Robert Redford: Ηθοποιός, Σκηνοθέτης και Περιβαλλοντικός Ακτιβιστής)

robert redfordΑυτήν την εβδομάδα συμπληρώνονται τέσσερα χρόνια από τότε που η πλατφόρμα γεωτρήσεων της BP, Deepwater Horizon, εξερράγη. Έντεκα εργαζόμενοι πέθαναν εκείνη την μέρα. Τα πτώματά τους δεν βρέθηκαν ποτέ. Στις επόμενες 87 ημέρες, 210 εκατομμύρια γαλόνια (περίπου 800.000m³ ή 8 εκατομ. λίτρα) πετρελαίου ξεχύθηκαν στον Κόλπο του Μεξικού. Ρύπαναν τους τόπους αλιείας, κατέστρεψαν τις ακτές και σταμάτησαν τον τουρισμό. Ο κόσμος είδε την άσχημη εικόνα κάποιων τρομερών κρυμμένων τιμημάτων των ορυκτών καυσίμων. Τα προβλήματα υγείας που σχετίζονται με την πετρελαιοκηλίδα, μαστίζουν τους ανθρώπους και τα άγρια ζώα του Κόλπου μέχρι σήμερα.
Εγώ προσωπικά ήλπιζα οτι όλοι μας ως έθνος θα διαδασκόμασταν γρήγορα από αυτή την τραγωδία και θα ενεργούσαμε άμεσα για να εμποδίσουμε μια επανάληψη της καταστροφής στα ιδιαίτερα ευαίσθητα παράκτια περιβάλλοντα. Οπότε, φαίνεται παράλογο το οτι η Shell είναι αποφασισμένη να κάνει γεωτρήσεις σε ένα από τα πιο εύθραυστα και απομακρυσμένα οικοσυστήματα της Γης: τον Αρκτικό Ωκεανό -το έσχατο καταφύγιο των αμερικανικών πολικών αρκούδων, των απειλούμενων φαλαινών της Γροιλανδίας και άλλων σπάνιων άγριων ζώων. Για τους ιθαγενείς της Αλάσκας, που ζουν κατά μήκος της ακτογραμμής, ο ωκεανός έχει υπάρξει η πηγή τής επισιτιστικής ασφάλειάς τους και ο τρόπος ζωής τους από αρχαιοτάτων χρόνων.

Είναι η απόλυτη τρέλλα να γίνουν γεωτρήσεις στην Αρκτική -σε επισφαλείς συνθήκες θυελλωδών ανέμων, κύματα πολλών μέτρων, θερμοκρασίες υπό του μηδενός, μεταβαλλόμενα ρεύματα, -και για οκτώ μήνες τον χρόνο- συμπαγή πάγο. Αν η πετρελαϊκή βιομηχανία ήταν εντελώς απροετοίμαστη για μια έκρηξη στον γαλήνιο Κόλπο του Μεξικού, πώς στην ευχή μπορούμε να τους εμπιστευθούμε σε ένα επισφαλές περιβάλλον όπως η Αρκτική; Κανένας δεν γνωρίζει πώς να καθαρίσει το πετρέλαιο σε εκείνο το μέρος, ακόμα και την εποχή που τα νερά είναι πλεύσιμα. Και από την στιγμή που η αρκτική νύχτα πλησιάζει, θα υπάρχουν μηδενικές ελπίδες να περιοριστεί μια έκρηξη ή να ελεγχθεί μια διαρροή. Αυτές οι σκληρές συνθήκες, εξασφαλίζουν επίσης το ανθρώπινο ή μηχανικό σφάλμα. Στην διάρκεια μιας καταστροφικής προσπάθειας γεώτρησης στην Αρκτική, η Shell αντιμετώπισε πυρκαγιές, διαρροές, αγκυρώσεις που υποχώρησαν, απαραίτητο εξοπλισμό που «συνεθλίβη σαν κουτάκι μπύρας» και ένα παγόβουνο περίπου πενήντα μέτρων που έτρεψε σε φυγή τα πλοία της. Μια αναφορά τής Ακτοφυλακής που δημοσιοποιήθηκε πρόσφατα, λέει οτι η απερίσκεπτη και αποτυχημένη προσπάθεια της Shell να ρυμουλκήσει την εξέδρα γεώτρησης του Αρκτικού Ωκεανού το 2012, έβριθε από κακούς σχεδιασμούς και κρίση -και περιελάμβανε πλήθος πιθανών νομικών παραβάσεων. Τότε, δύο μήνες νωρίτερα, η Αρκτική έκανε ένα διάλειμμα. Ένα ομοσπονδιακό εφετείο έκρινε οτι το 2008, όταν η κυβέρνηση ενέκρινε τις εκεί γεωτρήσεις, υποτίμησε εξωφρενικά τους κινδύνους διαρροών και άλλους κινδύνους. Αυτή [η απόφαση] έχει σταματήσει για την ώρα τις προσπάθειες γεωτρήσεων. Και δημιούργησε μια χρυσή ευκαιρία για τον πρόεδρο Ομπάμα να χαράξει μια νέα πορεία, θέτοντας την Αρκτική εντελώς εκτός ορίων για την Shell και για κάθε άλλη πετρελαϊκή εταιρία -για πάντα.

Επίσης ορίζει τον πρόεδρο επικεφαλής του αγώνα εναντίον της κλιματικής αλλαγής. Αν αφεθούν στους δικούς τους μηχανισμούς, οι πετρελαϊκές θα αντλήσουν και απελευθερώσουν και το τελευταίο ψήγμα ρυπογόνου με διοξείδιο του άνθρακα, αργού πετρελαίου στον οποίο μπορούν να βάλουν στο χέρι. Μόλις πριν δύο εβδομάδες η ExxonMobil δήλωσε οτι «λαμβάνει σοβαρά υπόψιν τον κίνδυνο της κλιματικής αλλαγής» αλλά θα συνεχίσουν την εξόρυξη και την καύση όλων των πετρελαϊκών αποθεμάτων τους. Για να είμαστε ωμοί, αυτά είναι τρελλά λόγια. Υπάρχει σαφής επιστημονική ομοφωνία οτι η διοχέτευση τέτοιων ποσοτήτων άνθρακα στην ατμόσφαιρα, θα μεταβάλει την ζωή πάνω στην Γη όπως την γνωρίζουμε. Γι’ αυτό δημιούργησα αυτό το βίντεο, καλώντας όλους τους αμερικανούς να εναντιωθούν στις Μεγάλες Πετρελαϊκές, ζητώντας από τον πρόεδρο Ομπάμα να απαγορεύσει τις γεωτρήσεις στην Αρκτική και να ανοίξεο τον δρόμο για ένα μέλλον που θα κινείται με 100% πράσινη ενέργεια. Κάνε και την δική σου φωνή να ακουστεί στο www.DemandCleanPower.org. Μην αργείς όμως. Σε μια κατάθεση στο δικαστήριο την περασμένη εβδομάδα, η Shell ανέφερε οτι μετρά τις μέρες μέχρι να επιστρέψει στην Αρκτική. Πρέπει να βεβαιωθούμε οτι δεν θα συμβεί.

Robert Redford: Αυτήν την Ημέρα της Γης Ας Αντισταθούμε στις Μεγάλες Πετρελαϊκές – NRDC


Ποιός αποφασίζει για το ενεργειακό μας μέλλον; Κάθε πρόεδρος μετά τον Ρίτσαρντ Νίξον, έχει υπσχεθεί να βοηθήσει την Αμερική να θέσει τέλος στην εξάρτησή της από το πετρέλαιο. Και κάθε χρόνο, τα πετρελαϊκά συμφέροντα, δαπανούν περιουσίες στην Ουάσινγκτον προκειμένου να διασφαλίσουν οτι αυτή η μέρα δεν θα έλθει ποτέ. Για παράδειγμα η Royal Dutch Shell. Αυτή η εταιρία αποκόμισε κάρδη δισεκατομμυρίων πέρισυ. Τώρα απειλεί οτι θα κάνει γεωτρήσεις στον Αρκτικό Ωκεανό -κατοικία για περισσότερες από τις μισές πολικές αρκούδες της Αμερικής. Πρόκειται για μια συνταγή καταστροφής, αφού η Shell δεν έχει αξιόπιστο σχέδιο για τον καθαρισμό πετρελαιοκηλίδων στην Αρκτική. Θα αποφασίσει η Shell για το μέλλον του πλανήτη μας; Μόνο αν τους το επιτρέψουμε. Βλέπετε, οι πετρελαϊκές εταιρίες μπορεί να διαθέτουν πάρα πολλά χρήματα, αλλά εσύ κι εγώ έχουμε αυτό που οι πολιτικοί φοβούνται περισσότερο: φωνή και ψήφο. Αν εκατομμύρια από εμάς οργανωθούμε και μιλήσουμε, ΕΜΕΙΣ θα αποφασίσουμε. Ακολούθησέ με, παρακαλώ, να εναντιωθούμε στις Μεγάλες Πετρελαϊκές απαιτώντας καθαρή ενέργεια άμεσα». RobertRedford)

ΠΗΓΗ: Readers Supported News
Απόδοση: climatechangeplanetwomaneveryday