Last November, as Barack Obama won the election, we recommended a list of "easy things" the new president could immediately do to cement his promises about being a pro-environment president. This is our second update on how he's doing.
The Latest On: Oil
Grins are breaking out in Colorado because of a court decision this week that stymies oil and gas drilling on New Mexico's Otero Mesa grasslands.
The 10th Circuit Court ruled that drilling could not proceed on the Mesa because the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Protection Act with its leasing plan. In short, the court said, the plan failed to consider impacts on habitat, species and water, and didn't look at alternatives.
We’re breathing a cautious sigh of relief here in Florida on the issue of offshore drilling. A dangerous bill that would have lifted the state’s offshore drilling ban appears to be dead. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Our state Senate President told reporters today that the Legislature has run out of time to hear the offshore oil issue. The bill passed the Florida House of Representatives 70-43 on Monday. If it isn’t heard in the Senate, the bill will die.
Shortly after his confirmation, Secretary Ken Salazar declared that there's a "new sheriff in town" at the Department of Interior. If there was one part of the swamp that is DC that needed draining, it was DOI, what with the sex and drugs scandal at MMS and many of former Secretary Gale Norton's cronies sentenced to time in prison.
You've seen the ads by BP (formerly British Petroleum), Chevron and other oil companies, bragging about their commitment to move "beyond petroleum" by developing new sources of clean, renewable energy. With its enormous financial assets, record profits and technological expertise, could Big Oil lead us to a clean energy future?
The Colorado Senate has passed a package of regulations on oil and gas drilling that increases protections for drinking water, wildlife and natural resources. The rules, which will be signed by Gov. Bill Ritter in the next few days, are the strongest, most comprehensive regulations in the nation.
Quick—what country exports the most oil into the United States? Saudi Arabia? Venezuela? Iraq?
Nope. Canada. And the oil we get from our northern neighbor is about the most ridiculous energy bargain imaginable. Most of the stuff comes from vast deposits of tar sands in Alberta. Eventual emissions of CO2 are three times as much as from an equivalent amount of conventional crude oil. Mining the sands requires razing wide expanses of boreal forests and the peat soil beneath the trees, an inconvenient substance the industry sometimes calls "overburden." This is clearly disastrous for wildlife as well as for groundwater and air quality.
And now the capper—extraction of the tar sands and conversion to usable oil is so energy intensive that Canada is considering building nuclear plants to generate the electricity necessary to mine and refine the sands. This would be, according to a series of articles and links gathered by Grist magazine (make sure to look at the photographs), the first time so-called "clean" nuclear electricity would be used to provide decidedly unclean fossil fuels to keep global warming rocketing along on track.
People really are nuts.
Last week, a Colorado legislative committee approved new oil and gas drilling rules that will protect drinking water, wildlife and the state's natural resources. The state spent almost two years developing the rules, which will be the most comprehensive in the nation, to deal with the impacts of the state's unprecedented oil and gas boom.
Earthjustice has been there since the beginning as attorneys for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. Before the committee hearing, Earthjustice activists in Colorado sent more than 1,300 e-mail messages to legislators urging their support.
(UPDATE: Since this was posted, more than 21,000 Earthjustice supporters sent comments to the Minerals Management Service opposing expansion of oil and gas exploration in the "Polar Bear Seas.")
The Beaufort and Chukchi seas are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. That's why these icy waters north and west of Alaska are often called the Polar Bear Seas.
When the history of our times is written, I bet the nomination of Sarah Palin for vice president will be seen as one of the more bizarre political aberrations in American history, which has already had plenty. One would think that the resounding repudiation she and Senator McCain suffered in the general election would have chastened both, but while the senator has been mostly dignified and supportive of the new administration, Gov. Palin rumbles along as if she should be taken seriously. I mean, what’s up with that?