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Steve Kretzmann's Posts

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Will Congress keep paying the Koch brothers and others?

As the congressional supercommittee continues to struggle towards an agreement on cutting $1.5 trillion over a decade from the national budget, cutting government handouts to the oil industry is an obvious and oft repeated target for the chopping block. Public support for removing subsidies to the oil industry remains overwhelmingly positive.  Even John Boehner and Paul Ryan have voiced support for the idea -- even if they were later reminded of their obligations and silenced by their oily campaign donors. Democrats though, can't seem to decide if they're serious about ending all these subsidies, or if they're just interested in …

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API shocker: Oil makes money!

In a transparent attempt to blunt impending justified rage over this week's profit reports from Big Oil, the latest piece of spin to emerge from the well-paid creative minds at the American Petroleum Institute is a real classic. The gist, in a nutshell, is that oil makes money -- a lot of money. Really? You don't say! According to the press release: While oil and natural gas stocks make up an average of 3.9 percent of public pension holdings in four key states, they accounted for an average of 8.6 percent of the returns in these accounts from 2005 to …

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yellow subsidies

What oil subsidies is Obama targeting?

On Tuesday, the president once again proposed ending subsidies to the oil industry. As we've said before, this is a great idea, and should be supported in full. That said, although we haven't seen details, it's quite unlikely that the administration is proposing to eliminate all these subsidies. First, there is an important difference from the unmet pledges of the last several years. Obama is apparently no longer talking about eliminating "fossil fuel" subsidies, preferring instead to focus only on "oil" subsidies. So eliminating subsidies to coal and natural gas would seem to be off the table. What's more, the …

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Big Oil's Golden Backup Plan

  One of the few bright spots for environmentalists and progressives over the last year was this week's successful defeat of Proposition 23 in California.  As the organizer Saul Alinsky famously observed, power flows from both people and money.  Unlike every other energy battle this year, for Prop 23, activists had both. It hasn't been an easy year to be green.  Despite an historic effort, there's no climate and energy law.  In March, President Obama caved to the opposition and called for expanding offshore drilling.  Then, BP's Macondo well blew out producing the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history. …

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It's the poor, not the profits -- we promise!

The polluters' newfound concern for the poor

A World Bank project lit this Sri Lankan shop with solar. Unfortunately, the World Bank’s current energy lending portfolio remains heavily biased toward conventional fossil fuels.Photo: World BankTwo days ago in St. Louis, the head of the largest coal producer in the U.S., Peabody Energy's Gregory H. Boyce, delivered the keynote address on "The Future of Fossil Fuels" at the Global Energy Future Symposium at Washington University in St. Louis. His message was to "put people first" by supporting policies that prioritize eliminating global energy poverty by 2050. Similarly, at the World Energy Congress in Montreal last month, the plight …

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Dirty Energy Money Fuels Congress

As Congress begins August recess, those of us who care about America’s addiction to oil, climate change, and a clean energy future have been scratching our heads (or kicking the walls), wondering why, after historic levels of pressure we can’t even pass an oil spill response bill, not to mention a real clean energy or climate bill. When in doubt, follow the money. As the new site DirtyEnergyMoney.com reveals, each Congress over the last decade has become more mired in oil money and choked on coal cash. Over $114 million has been paid by these industries over the last decade …

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Leadership lessons in the Gulf

BP’s Drilling Disaster is quickly unfolding to become one of the world’s worst ever environmental catastrophes. Credible sources already are saying that the volume of oil gushing into the Gulf exceeds the Exxon Valdez, and shockingly, there is no end in sight. As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, as fisherman watch their stocks die, as beaches become tar-filled messes, we will hear a lot about the need to learn lessons. The oil industry has already started to push their predictable spin that although “mistakes were made”, they’ll learn what needs to be learned to ensure that …

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Department of Square Peg, Square Hole

Long term climate finance: FOUND!

We are pleased to report from Copenhagen that after years of searching, long term funding for climate finance has been found…but the question is whether we can pry it out of Big Oil and Coal’s hands.  The pledge by G20 nations championed by the US is potentially a huge new source of funds for developed country finance obligations that can and should be shifted to helping, rather than harming the climate.  Leaders have already agreed that we must phase these subsidies out – the questions are:  by when and where does the money go? How much money will be freed …

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Money for Nothing, and the Climate for Free

Obama to propose ending fossil fuel subsidies in Pittsburgh?

According to a leaked letter, the Obama administration is set to propose ending fossil fuel subsidies next week at the Pittsburgh G20. The letter, authored by Michael Froman who is an Obama advisor on international economic affairs, calls on the G20 to eliminate all fossil fuel and electricity subsidies, as a "logical step in combating global climate change." Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies is a great idea, if it's done right.  This is certainly the right time, but the G20 is likely not the right place. In general, it's so obvious, you can't really believe it hasn't happened sooner.  With all …

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The Unsettling Case of Shell Nigeria

After thirteen years and countless hours by lawyers, community members, and activists around the world, Royal Dutch Shell finally settled the Wiwa v Shell case in a New York court for $15.5 million. Plaintiffs in the case, which included Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., and the families of other Ogoni men hanged in November 1995, charged that the Royal Dutch/Shell company, its Nigerian subsidiary, and the former chief of its Nigerian operation, Brian Anderson, with complicity in the torture, killing, and other abuses of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and other non-violent Nigerian activists in the mid-1990s in the Ogoni region of the …

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