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Kate Sheppard's Posts


10 reasons to still be pissed off about the BP disaster

BP is gunning to get back to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. When the Department of Interior issued its first deepwater permit since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it was for a well that BP owns half of. Earlier this month, company officials also announced that they are seeking an agreement with the U.S. government to resume drilling at their 10 deepwater wells in the Gulf this July, arguing that they will follow tougher safety rules, The New York Times reported earlier this month. This comes even as the government is said to be considering manslaughter charges against the oil giant for the deaths of 11 workers …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil


How to spell "BP"

Did we learn anything from the BP oil spill?

What did we learn?The National Oil Spill Commission on Tuesday released a voluminous report on the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its implications for the future of offshore drilling in the United States. The report, a doorstop of more than 300 pages, contains a long list of advice for the oil industry and federal regulators about how to avert a future catastrophe. But many of the commission's recommendations require action from Congress -- and given the current political climate, those changes might be hard to make for at least the next two years. "The industry fought measures in …


Bach off

Flashback: Bachmann called for 'armed and dangerous' citzenry on climate bill

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Tucson on Saturday, there has been a lot of talk about the influence of heated -- and at times, violent -- political rhetoric, which has seemingly escalated in recent years. Sarah Palin has gotten plenty of attention for her midterms target map (replete with bulls-eyes) of congressional districts, including Arizona's Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), who was critically injured in the shooting. But it's worth noting some of the other examples of extreme rhetoric -- notably Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) calling on constituents to get "armed and dangerous" over the climate bill. …


Keepin' it deal

Cancun climate breakthrough: It's not perfect, but it's a deal

It's not perfect, and it's not binding, but international climate negotiators have struck a deal. The final hours in Cancun were a world of difference from the closing night of the Copenhagen climate talks. Last year's summit closed with drama, confusion, and plenty of unhappy delegations, but the Mexico conference came to an end with multiple standing ovations for the host country and widespread concurrence among countries to approve the text of an agreement. It was after 3:00 a.m. when the parties adopted the agreement -- or two agreements, really: one that delays a decision on the future of the …


The only change you can count on

Cancun: politics vs. science

There are quite a few numbers tossed around at climate negotiations. Should world leaders agree to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) in the next decade, or 1.5 (2.7 F)? How many gigatons of carbon can the world cut in 10 years? Should they shoot for reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, or can the world deal with 450 parts per million? The numbers can be daunting, and discussions of them can get, well, heated. But they often avoid the reality that we're already on the path to …


Yes we Cancun

What to expect (or not) from the Cancun climate talks

Photo: Pietro IzzoThe hope -- and hype -- surrounding the climate negotiations in Copenhagen last December was hard to miss. Even though the possibility of securing a new global climate pact was scaled back significantly in the weeks ahead of the summit, the level of engagement was unprecedented. President Obama and more than 60 other heads of state from around the world flew in for the brutal final days of the summit, and in the closing hours a deal of sorts was finally hashed out. But a year later, there's almost no build-up to the sixteenth Conference of the Parties, …


Don't count your chickens if you can't count

The feds' oil-spill number games

A still from the BP live feed.Initial government estimates about the size of the Gulf oil spill were low -- way, way low. The number the government repeated for four weeks, about 5,000 barrels per day, was about one-twelfth of the actual rate oil was seeping from the well. So what went wrong with the government's math? It's an awfully good question, one that watchdog groups want answered. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which represents whistleblower scientists at government agencies, announced Thursday that it is filing suit against the Obama administration to gain access to the paper trail on the government's …


The Republican platform is a voice for the dim bulbs

What to expect when you're expecting a GOP takeover

Courtesy of thorinside via FlickrAfter Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP in June for what he described as an Obama administration "shakedown," Democrats saw an opportunity. Within a week, Barton, the ranking minority member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was starring in Democratic National Committee ads titled "How Republicans Would Govern." The White House even got in on the action. "Who would the GOP put in charge of overseeing the energy industry & Big Oil if they won control of Congress?" tweeted White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "Yup, u guessed it - JOE BARTON." Barton certainly has an odious …


gas masked

The Gulf's invisible villain: natural gas

You can’t see or smell the methane released into the ocean with the oil, but experts say the villian is stealthily destroying marine life. Photo: ThinkquestWaves thick with crude, tar-slicked beaches, and oil-soddened wildlife -- it's all visible evidence of the havoc that oil has wreaked in the Gulf. But marine scientists now fear that colorless, odorless natural gas that escaped from the ruptured well is also destroying the delicate ocean ecosystems -- and BP might never be held accountable for the damage this "invisible villain" causes. Investigations have so far indicated that the rig explosion was caused by natural …

Read more: Climate & Energy


this weak in the senate

Senate energy package: Wait, it gets worse!

Just got confirmation from several Senate offices about what is actually going to be in the package Democrats put forward next week. In a nutshell, this is going to be a very tiny package, with little in the way of energy measures. I'm not even sure you can call it an energy package at this point. Here's what we know is going to be in the package: Oil spill response measures, including elimination of the liability cap for damages and granting the power of subpoena to the presidential oil spill commission. Reforms to the Department of Interior division charged with …