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Posts Tagged ‘oil’

Joseph Nevins

As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, just one of many manifestations of perilous ecological degradation across the planet, the need to challenge war and militarism—especially in terms of the United States—becomes ever-more pressing. The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.

The costs of U.S. militarism and war are high and many. In addition to the growing civilian and military death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, total monies appropriated by Congress for the two wars surpassed the one-trillion-dollar mark on May 30th. Among other would-be purchases, such an enormous sum could provide 294,734,961 people with health care for one year, according to the Northampton, Massachusetts-based national Priorities Project.(1) Instead, the monies are dedicated to death and destruction—all in the name of “national security”—greatly enriching military contractors in the process.

The costs that one rarely hears about—at least here in the United States—are the associated environmental damages that regularly and systematically occur. Indeed, it is far more common to learn of the Pentagon’s efforts to “go green.”

In March, the Center for American Progress, for instance, reported on the Pentagon building’s “big green renovation.” When completed in 2011, “the Pentagon’s 25,000 military and civilian personnel will not only work in one of the biggest office buildings in the world,” the article gushed, “but one of the most energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.”(2)

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UK Protestors shut down the Islington based Shell petrol station on the 15th of May 2010 for 5 hours on a sunny Saturday in protest against Shell’s involvement in the Canadian Tar Sands project.

Crank up the volume and enjoy…….

Party at the Pumps is in solidarity with communities around the world who are resisting Shell and BP’s destruction of lives and livelihoods, poisoning of lands and waters, and fuelling of climate chaos. In Northern Canada, Shell’s tar sands projects are ignoring First Nations treaty rights, causing rare forms of cancer and killing wildlife.

This action is jointly called by London Rising Tide/London Tar Sands Network and Climate Camp London.

Day of Action Night of Mourning

Day of Action, Night of Mourning
Against Offshore Drilling

Once again the fossil fuel industry has brought crisis to the Gulf Coast. Devastation of untold proportions spews non-stop from BP’s oil well as politicians try to save face with empty promises, and oil companies preserve their profits with PR campaigns. This catastrophic spill comes on the heels of Obama’s plan to expand offshore drilling. The price of burning fossil fuels is too high. From combustion to extraction the oil industry poisons our communities, destroys ecosystems, and destabilizes the climate. Now is the time to stop offshore drilling dead in its tracks and drive another nail into the fossil fuel industry’s coffin.


Map of actions up soon.  Let us know about your action here!

Take action Friday May 14 to demand:

-An immediate ban on all offshore drilling

-A rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels

-No bailouts for the oil industry. All recovery costs must be paid for by BP, Halliburton, Transocean and other implicated companies.

-The federal government must remove any caps on liability for oil companies.

-BP provides full compensation for impacted communities and small businesses.

-BP provides full funding for long-term ecosystem restoration for impacted areas.

-Oil companies operating in the Gulf fully fund restoration of coastal ecosystems damaged by canals, pipelines, and other industry activities.

Take action at:

-BP gas stations and offices

-Halliburton and Transocean offices

-Federal buildings

-Offices of members of Congress

-State government officials in states affected by Obama’s offshore drilling proposal.

-Critical Mass bike rides

-Vigils to mourn the unspeakable loss brought by this spill

-Get creative!

Please report your actions to

Andy Rowell on the Oil Change blog

Whilst the media have been focussing on the untested nature of the 4 story dome or “cofferdam” that is going to be lowered over BP’s spill at the sea bed, its use of dispersant is also coming under scrutiny.

Alarmingly, according to the dispersant manufacturer, no toxicity tests have been conducted on this product.

The New York Times reports this morning that BP has sprayed some 160,000 gallons of chemical dispersant on the water’s surface and pumped an additional 6,000 gallons directly onto the leak, a mile beneath the surface.

When he gave his interview to the BBC the other day, Tony Hayward the CEO of BP was at pains to stress how the use of dispersants at such depths had never been tried before.

What he did not mention was that these dispersants are highly toxic and the ecological impact of doing it is completely unknown.

The NYT reports that the main dispersants applied so far, from a product line called Corexit, are so toxic they had their approval rescinded in Britain a decade ago “because laboratory tests found them harmful to sea life that inhabits rocky shores, like limpets”.

I should point out that, whilst the dispersant failed the “limpet test” it passed an offshore safety test.

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The oil major BP spends aggressively to influence US regulatory insight, and many would argue this has bought it leniency

Antonia Juhasz in The Observor

While the explosion of BP/Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was a horrific event, it was neither surprising nor unexpected.

BP is one of the most powerful corporations operating in the United States. Its 2009 revenues of $327bn are enough to rank BP as the third-largest corporation in the country. It spends aggressively to influence US policy and regulatory oversight.

In 2009, the company spent nearly $16m on lobbying the federal government, ranking it among the 20 highest spenders that year, and shattering its own previous record of $10.4m set in 2008. In 2008, it also spent more than $530,000 on federal elections, placing it among the oil industry’s top 10 political spenders.

This money has bought BP great access and, many would argue, leniency. “I personally believe that BP, with its corporate culture of greed over profits, murdered my parents,” Eva Rowe testified before Congress in 2007. The Congress was investigating the worst workplace accident in the US in more than 15 years, a massive explosion at BP’s Texas City Refinery in March 2005 that killed 15 workers, including Rowe’s parents, and injured 180.

The US Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency, investigated the blast and released a devastating indictment of BP. “The Texas City disaster was caused by organisational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP corporation,” the 2007 report found. “The combination of cost-cutting, production pressures and failure to invest caused a progressive deterioration of safety at the refinery.”

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Andy Rowell on the Oil Change blog

If you have never been to an oil company AGM it is worth going to watch two parallel words colliding for a few hours.

On the one side are the protestors arguing passionately for the company to listen to how their activities are destroying someone’s homeland or are polluting the earth.

Up on the top table sit the company’s top brass, who go through the motions of this annual public inconvenience.

They bat the questions away like an experienced cricketer annoyed to be outside in the mid day sun. In the middle are the shareholders who shuffle in, listen and then shuffle out.

In the early nineties, I routinely attended both BP’s and Shell’s AGMs, as a whole host of environmental and social concerns was put to their boards and raised before shareholders.

But questions about corporate pollution or human rights abuses would be dismissed by the board and booed from the floor.

The shareholders were there for their day out, that included a free lunch and as much free wine they could drink in the proscribed time limit.

Any questions from the floor were an inconvenience that ate into the amount of time they had to scoff their free wine. But scoff they did.

So if they were doddery before they came in, they were certainly doddery on the way out.

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Action in the UK

An excellent day of action, including the closure of three BP petrol stations!


BP hit by tar sands protests in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge

Oil company targeted by nationwide protests in advance of crucial AGM vote

Protesters demand BP pulls out of “the most destructive project on Earth” – the Canadian tar sands

For photos, see and Brief reports of the London and Oxford actions can be seen at and

Today, oil giant BP was struck by multiple protests over its controversial plans to extract oil from the Canadian tar sands (1). Hundreds of climate activists in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge (2) targeted the company with simultaneous demonstrations and street parties, including forecourt invasions which closed three BP petrol stations in London and Brighton (3), (4).

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TWO women chained themselves to petrol pumps at a Plympton garage yesterday in a protest aimed at petrol giant BP.

The two women locked themselves to pumps at the BP Chaddlewood Service Station garage in Ridgeway after 2pm in a demonstration against BP’s investment in tar sands oil.

Tar sands is a type of heavy bituminous oil found chiefly in Canada and Venezuela which has been criticised by environmentalists. They claim the extraction process generates two to four times as much greenhouse gas per barrel of product as conventional oil refining.

Six people from the Plymouth Rising Tide (PRT) and Kernow Anarchist Network groups demonstrated, but only two chained themselves to pumps while the others handed out leaflets and held banners.

The station, which is run by a franchise but supplies BP petrol to customers, was shut during the protest. Sarah Mana, of PRT, protested but was not one of those arrested. “We saw it as necessary to make a radical call,” she said. A BP spokesman said: “We support the demonstrators’ right to express their views, but not to put their lives or the lives of others in danger. “Our prime concern was the safety of staff, customers and the site. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience this caused.”

Two people were arrested by police in connection with the incident.

Today the Yes Men called a faux press conference and posed as Shell Oil apologizing for human rights violations in the Niger Delta.

Great fun. Hopefully we’ll see more pranks and publicity stunts tomorrow as Fossil Fool’s Day kicks into high gear.

Ottawa / March 26, 2010 – The Indigenous Environmental Network, the Council of Canadians, and the Alaska based REDOIL Network have issued an open letter calling for an international moratorium on all new exploration for fossil fuel resources in the Arctic region. The letter is directed at the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Norway, Denmark, Russia and the United States who will be present at the Arctic Summit in Chelsea, Québec, March 29, 2010.

The discovery of 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Arctic region has triggered a rush to secure access that includes petroleum companies such as Shell and Exxon.

“New oil and gas development is anything but responsible in the face of a very serious climate crisis which requires governments like those meeting in Chelsea to rapidly reduce emissions,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “It is no small irony that increased access to exploit reserves in the fragile Arctic Ocean ecosystem is largely the result of melting sea ice.”

“We believe that a moratorium on fossil fuel development would be a first step to addressing the climate crisis we are in. Strong actions need to be taken now by Governments of the world to effectively address climate change. Indigenous peoples worldwide bear the consequences of Global Warming daily and we want concrete action now,” states Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of the Alaska based Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL).

“Climate change is responsible for increased levels of contaminants like mercury, DDTs and PCBs in staple edible fish species near my home community,” says Daniel T’seleie, a K’asho Got’ine Dene from Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories. “Increased development of Arctic oil and gas would not only contribute to the climate crisis that is devastating Arctic communities, it would also add more direct pressure to fragile ecosystems that are already stressed by the combined impacts of climate change and existing development. This would be an unconscionable infringement on the rights of Arctic Indigenous Peoples.”

BC gov’t aims to win hearts and minds, and open province to extractives

Dawn Paley in The Dominion

VANCOUVER—Beyond rhetoric about establishing British Columbia as a centre for innovation, among the most concrete strategies suggested in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources 2010/11-2012/13 Service Plan are government-sponsored marketing campaigns to promote the benefits of the extractive industries.

The Service Plan, released in early March, outlines the BC government’s primary strategies for the energy, mining, and oil and gas industries up to 2013. The public relations efforts articulated throughout the plan contradict the demands of Indigenous nations, in whose territories these projects would be built.

One of the objectives of the Service Plan is to increase the involvement of First Nations in the oil and gas industry. This includes “advising” First Nations on how resources can be developed in an “environmentally responsible manner” by strengthening links to industry and government and negotiating revenue-sharing agreements.

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[NY Times original story – pub. 2/26/2010]

The oil industry’s biggest trade group has nabbed one of the environmental community’s top grass-roots organizers as it ramps up efforts to build a network of citizen lobbyists.

Deryck Spooner, who ran Nature Conservancy’s push to spur legislative action on climate change, will now head American Petroleum Institute’s grass-roots activism arm. The hiring move sends a nervous flutter through environmental groups. By recruiting Spooner, green groups said, API adds someone with both credibility and deep knowledge of grass-roots strategy. Spooner previously ran campaigns for labor group AFL-CIO and abortion rights organization NARAL.

“He’s a big dog,” said Tyson Slocum, energy program director at watchdog group Public Citizen. “It gives API somebody with enormous grass-roots experience running major campaigns. This indicates that API is taking their grass-roots strategy in a very serious direction.” Read the rest of this entry »

November 22, 2009 (Calgary, Alberta) —

The first of a series of citizen-organized peaceful sit-ins targeting elected officials, tar sands financiers, and the coal and tar sands industries began today at Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s Calgary constituency office. Six people – five of whom are constituents of Minister Prentice – entered the office just after 10:00 AM refusing to leave, demanding that the Harper government and all parties act to combat the climate crisis and stop the millions of deaths and displacements that will result from more inaction on global warming pollution.
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from Rising Tide Abya Yala Norte October 27, 2009

Some three hundred indigenous people from the Peruvian Amazon region of Madre de Dios are on their way to the town of Salvacion to evict the Texas-based company Hunt Oil from their ancestral territory.

According to reports on, hundreds of Peruvian police officers are waiting in the town for their arrival.

Last month, Indigenous leaders from the Madre de Dios issued a formal statement rejecting Hunt Oil’s presence in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve—a legally protected biodiversity ‘hot spot’ which the government handed over to the company in 2006. The leaders warned Hunt Oil to voluntarily exit the territory within a week or they would be forced out.

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LA Victory: Community stops power plant

LA Victory: Community stops power plant

A Victory For LA’s Air And A Victory for the Planet!
Communities for a Better Environment

Move over Al Gore, make room for some new environmental leaders – working class Latina mothers and high school youth from South East Los Angeles!

After 3 years of organizing, mobilizing, advocacy and lawsuits, CBE members in Southeast Los Angeles stopped a 943 megawatt fossil fuel power plant that would have emitted over 1.7 million pounds of toxic pollution per year as well as 2.8 million tons of greenhouse gases.

The strength of this exciting grassroots effort compelled the City of Vernon to withdraw their application for the power plant on September 28th, 2009. The was a life-and-death struggle since the power plant emissions could have caused as many as one dozen deaths every year. Since these facilities usually operate for fity years, literally hundreds of lives have been saved.

This was not only a local victory. By preventing the emission of more than 200 million tons of greenhouse gasses, the mujeres and youth made a major contrubution to the flight against global warming. They have also created a community empowerment model for teh other 22 California communities facing a similar threat of fossil fuel power plants.

In the immortal words of Cesar Chavez: Si Se Puede!