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PR lessons from a 1960 oil trade group [VIDEO]

The oil drilling and oyster industries both extract things from coastal waters, so it's no surprise they've been interacting for decades. Here's a cheesy 1960 video from the American Petroleum Institute that gives a fun look into that relationship, and the industry-funded science that keeps it humming: I don't know the full background, but Louisiana oyster harvesters claimed that offshore drilling was sickening oysters. The API responded with $2 million worth of research into oyster health -- they pumped oil into a tank of oysters, poured in drilling mud, even measured the effect of dynamite charges on oysters. "Every possibility …

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BP relief ship struck by lightning, bum luck

Photo: MReece via FlickrNot even the Big Guy can saviour BP’s luck.There have been many, many striking things about the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: the carelessness of BP CEO Tony Hayward's comments, the ridiculousness of BP's spill-response plan, the scope and scale of the spill itself, the list of failed attempts to plug the leak whose names sound like they were made up by a seven year-old. And now, perhaps most striking (ahem) of all, comes news that the only functioning, albeit imperfect, solution for containing the runaway oil -- the ship siphoning off about 15,000 barrels …

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Oil execs turn against BP in Congress hearing

Lamar McKay, President BP AmericaPhoto: BP The planet's most powerful oil executives found their well-tailored behinds planted in the Congressional hot seat today, as the House Energy and Commerce Committee grilled the chiefs of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Shell, and, of course, BP America about the Gulf oil spill and drilling safety. Recaps of the hearing are all over by now, so here are just the highlights. And by "highlights" I mean examples of corporate irresponsibility and political ineptitude. Here we go! Throwing BP under the bus. As expected, the four executives whose companies aren't currently fouling the Gulf of Mexico …

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Waking America from the BP nightmare

57 days ago, in the dead of night, the worst environmental nightmare in U.S. history began. The spill cam, requested by Congress, has brought the horror into homes across the country, as we watch tens of thousands of barrels of oil billowing into the Gulf every day. For years, the oil industry swore this could never happen. We were told that technology had advanced, that offshore drilling was safe. BP said they didn't think the rig would sink. It did. They said they could handle an Exxon Valdez-sized spill every day. They couldn't. BP said the spill was 1,000 barrels …

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Will the new climate bill damage U.S. energy security?

This piece was co-authored by Michael A. Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations. Few groups have been more strident in their opposition to cap-and-trade legislation than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Last year, four prominent members of the powerful business lobby, including Exelon Corp. and Pacific Gas & Electric, quit on account of its obstructionist approach to climate policy. When some activists announced, in a prank press conference, that the chamber would throw its weight behind an ambitious climate bill, the group responded with a lawsuit. In arguing against cap-and-trade, the chamber has repeatedly advanced the notion that such …

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The great carbon market crash of '09

As we know, one of the few beneficial side effects of the Great Recession of 2009 was the decline in global greenhouse gas emissions as our consumer-centric economy sputtered. But that also sent the voluntary carbon markets into a tailspin, according to a new report released Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Ecosystem Marketplace. Voluntary carbon markets, such as the Chicago Climate Exchange, allow companies to trade carbon credits, usually as part of corporate sustainability programs where they pledge to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions by buying offsets tied to forestry programs, the capture of methane gas from landfills and …

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Libertarian answer to oil spill: Privatize the ocean

Industrial disasters create cleanup jobs. See, the system works!If there's one thing the leaking gash in the Gulf of Mexico seems to make clear, it's that private companies shouldn't be left unwatched to meddle with the messy innards of our planet. They shouldn't be allowed to open a hole they can't close, as William Saletan puts it. The disaster makes a rather obvious case for powerful, independent, competent safety regulators that improve on the worthless oversight we got from the Minerals Management Service. But if your ideological persuasion is that government can never be the answer, that requires more creative …

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Tiny desert town goes solar in a big way

Nipton, Calif. solar arrayGrist's Dave Roberts sent out a Tweet to his Tweeps today asking which city has installed the most solar. I've got an answer for you, Dave: Nipton, California. The desert micropolis -- population 38 -- announced Thursday that it had installed a solar array that will provide 85 percent of the town's electricity. (The population of this outpost on the edge of Mojave National Preserve spikes to 250 or so during tourist season.) The solar system is ground- rather than on rooftop-mounted, and only generates 82 kilowatts. But what is notable is the technology developed by Skyline …

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World Cup: Should U.S. team wear “BP sucks” shirts vs. England?

Original photo: g55 via Flickr, Lame Photoshopping: the author Since the U.S. and Britain are totally BFF's and the British Petroleum oil spill is definitely not a sore point between the two nations, we're happy to see these tender feelings of friendship manifested in the international sports arena as the U.S. gears up to take on England in the World Cup this Saturday. Especially touching is film director Spike Lee's suggestion that the U.S. soccer team sport undershirts reading "BP sucks" under their jerseys and flash them when they score on England. Such delightful displays of fraternity and sportsmanship, no? …

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Florida’s poisoned farmworkers, chefs schooled, Big Food’s raking it in

When my info-larder gets too packed, it’s time to serve up some choice nuggets from around the Web. Get 'em while they're hot.  The fruits of industrial agricultureIn the Atlantic, Barry Estabrook has a great, infuriating short piece showing an instance in which agribusiness has shown "utter disregard for the environment and for the welfare of workers." It's not pretty. It involves a tract of drained swampland at the edge of a lake in Florida, "almost in the shadow of Disney's Magic Kingdom." For decades, it was the site of chemical-intensive vegetable production, and workers and the lake were subjected …