Now that our summer with the Senate is over — it was a lot like watching reruns of a show you didn’t like the first time around — it’s time to move on to something with a pulse. And what could be better than dueling road shows?
Tools on the Hill: On one side you have the enviro coalition Clean Energy Works. Next week, it will kick off its “CarnivOIL” 25-city tour. There will be games (a “boxing match” between BP’s Tony Hayward and a giant sea turtle) and prizes (Tony Hayward action figures), but also a loud message about the money muscle of Big Oil on Capitol Hill.
To help you bone up on Big Oil’s biggest tools, there’s also a new website, BobbingInPetroleum.org, from the group Oil Change International. It lays out the misdeeds and oil-money connections of 46 senators — mostly Republicans, but also a few Democratic reprobates such as “Big Oil Blanche” Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Mary “I am not a handmaiden to the oil industry” Landrieu (D-La.).
Crass roots: What would the fall season be without another round of “citizen rallies” orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute? Kicking off Sept. 1, with three simultaneous events in Texas, the message — surprise, surprise — will be that getting rid of tax breaks for fossil-fuel giants and shifting investments to clean energy is a surefire jobs killer. (This is a bit ironic given that the group’s economist acknowledges that clean energy would create more jobs.) How many actual “citizens” will rally around this tired rant is suspect, of course, considering that last year API was busted for packing the events with people who worked for energy companies. To jog your memory, here’s a snippet from the email API CEO Jack Gerard sent to the trade association’s members then:
Our member company local leadership — including your facility manager’s commitment to provide significant attendance — is essential to achieving the participation level that senators cannot ignore.
A seep in the deep: More messy news from the Gulf. First, scientists from the University of Georgia estimated that almost 80 percent of the oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon explosion is still out in the Gulf. And now a team of researchers from the University of South Florida says a lot of crude is still floating under the surface or has settled on the seafloor in places like the Desoto Canyon off the coast of Florida. They also found evidence of plankton being poisoned. Said David Hollander, one of the USF scientists:
This whole concept of submerged oil and the application of dispersants in the subsurface … have changed the paradigm of what an oil spill is from a two-dimensional surface disaster to a three-dimensional catastrophe.
Not surprisingly, the government’s announcement earlier this month that only 25 percent of the spilled oil remains in the Gulf brought out the disaster bashers. Simon Jenkins, writing in The Guardian, says the whole Gulf mess has been overblown, a “classic of state terror” fanned by Barack Obama declaring it a disaster. Writes Jenkins:
With dial-a-quote scientists howling blue murder, any who might have looked at previous spills and thought it might not be so bad would have been unpatriotic disaster-deniers.
Deny, deny, deny: Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is getting lots of attention for his recent claim that global warming is caused by sunspots. But Darren Samuelsohn reports in Politico that there are an unusual number of climate-change deniers among Republican candidates this year. He writes:
Environmental groups fear that adding more voices to the skeptic camp could further polarize the debate and make it more difficult at all levels of government to pass legislation curbing carbon dioxide emissions, especially if coupled with the defeat of standard-bearers such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
The warm turns: Not that the deniers will be paying any attention, but add two more studies to the pile of worrying climate data. One published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that sea ice in Antarctica, which has not melted like ice in the Arctic, will start disappearing more rapidly in the decades ahead. A second by the Wildlife Conservation Society finds that a big rise in the ocean temperature is wiping out coral off the coast of Indonesia.
Bad wrap: It seemed like such a greenerific idea. Frito-Lay shows it commitment to the planet by packing Sun Chips in bags made of biodegradable plant material instead of plastic. Brilliant! Except, as Suzanne Vranica details in today’s Wall Street Journal, the bags are noisy. Incredibly noisy. So noisy that they’ve sparked the Facebook group “SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG” and comments like the following:
… the worst when you’re stoned at 2 am and trying not to wake up the house.