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Staff Spotlight: Jackie Savitz

Oceana’s Vice President for U.S. Oceans Jacqueline Savitz

Oceana’s Vice President for U.S. Oceans Jacqueline Savitz (Photo: Oceana / Melissa Forsyth)

Going forward, The Beacon will feature one Oceana staff member every month, highlighting their role at Oceana and personal history with the oceans. The first spotlight is on Oceana’s vice president for United States Oceans, Jackie Savitz. Take a look below to learn more.


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Subsidize the Solutions, Not the Problem

Editor's note: This post originally appeared at The National Journal. If you agree with Jackie, go to the article and click “agree”!

For decades, the oil and gas industry has benefited from a long list of financial boons totaling billions of dollars each year. In an economy where we have to make tough choices about continuing important programs – whether its paying down the debt, protecting social security or providing for a national defense – we simply can’t keep letting Big Oil, possibly the biggest player in our economy, off the hook. They should have to pay taxes just like we do.

The industry is quibbling over semantic arguments about whether a tax break is a subsidy, or whether they are being singled out. In fact, the President has not singled the oil industry out. Many of the President’s proposed changes are economy-wide, and those that aren’t pertain to oil and gas industry activities that simply don’t apply to other industries. In fact, it’s the petroleum industry that has singled itself out by building a network of tax loopholes, and then gaming them in a way that allows benefits that few, if any, other industries could even imagine. And whether the funds come in a check after taxes, or as a break on taxes, the result is the same. More money in the oil industry’s pockets and less funds in the Treasury.


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Oceana’s Florida Debut

Hostess Kimberly Pero, Oceana’s Florida representative Dustin Cranor, hostess Teresa Fitzsimmons, Oceana’s Executive Vice President Jim Simon and and Zasha Langer. © Oceana/Redmund

On Friday, April 1, Teresa Fitzsimmons and Kimberly Pero hosted Oceana’s first Florida event at their home in Wilton Manors. The private cocktail reception and silent auction raised $12,000 for Oceana.

The event was well-attended by a large cross-section of south Florida, including local business owners, politicians, advocates, and socialites. While Oceana is new to south Florida, we have been working to protect Florida’s waters for a decade. And for all you Floridians, we’re planning to host another event in Fort Lauderdale in early 2012, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this event a success!


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Oil Spill Commission Finds Right Problems, Wrong Solutions

Jackie Savitz is Oceana's Senior Campaign Director for Pollution Programs. This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Remember that evil offshore oil deposit that went out of control last summer, blew up a drilling rig and then spewed oil and gas into the gulf of Mexico for months until the government forced the oil companies to finally stop it? Well, surprise! It turns out it wasn't the oil deposit that was out of control, it was the drilling companies. And the National Oil Spill Commission report puts it all on the table.

Unfortunately, the Commission's recommendations don't fit its findings. Why after documenting gory detail of corporate mismanagement, missteps, miscalculations and mistakes that paint a picture reminiscent of a Three Stooges episode, would your recommendations look like they were made after a run of the mill oil leak?


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Kill The Drill, Not The Bill

Oil

Oil in Barataria Bay, LA in June. Oceana/Suzannah Evans

Some call the U.S. Senate "the place good ideas go to die." Those of us that live and breathe energy policy have already witnessed the death of the climate bill this year. Now, we are sitting at the bedside of the Senate's oil spill response bill. And in spite of what the President called the worst environmental disaster in US history, the "Spill Bill" is on life support as Congress winds to a close.

In the wake of BP's unparalleled Gulf of Mexico disaster some lawmakers recognized the urgent need to overhaul offshore drilling regulations. In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten safety requirements and make companies pay for damages. Since then, all eyes have been on the Senate to reciprocate. Yet seven months after the blowout, with just a few weeks left in this Congress, we are still waiting.

There is no shortage of facts about the perils of offshore drilling.


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Oceana Testifies on Dispersant Use

© Oceana

Well, BP’s “static kill” seems to have finally plugged the leak in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 3 months after it began spewing oil into the ocean. (Though the final nail in the coffin won’t come until the “bottom kill” succeeds.)

And despite the optimistic reports today, the amount of oil remaining in the gulf is still equivalent to at least four times the amount that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster, and possibly double that.

NOAA predicts that 26% of the oil is “residual” or still residing in the gulf and that another 24% was “dispersed” but much of that may still be hanging around waiting for mother nature (a.k.a. bacteria) to break it down.  Further, NOAA says some of the oil is “dissolved” which doesn’t mean the same thing as “disappeared.”  So more than half of the oil could still be dwelling in the Gulf – maybe as much as 8 Exxon Valdez spills’ worth.

And there are still many, many unanswered questions.


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Jackie Savitz Discusses Dispersants on CNN

Oceana campaign director Jackie Savitz discussed the dangers of dispersants on CNN’s “The Situation Room” last night, check it out:

And tomorrow she will testify before the full Senate Environment & Public Works Committee about the known effects of dispersants. Savitz will offer her perspective on use of Corexit, and will argue that dispersant use is “the lesser of two evils.”


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New Drilling Moratorium is a Good Start

Yesterday the Obama administration issued a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling through Nov. 30 in order to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks.

Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz commended the president for the decision in an AP article, and had this to say about it:

“The Administration has no choice but to put a hold on offshore drilling. New drilling poses major risks, which we simply can not take, especially while thousands of victims of the ongoing drilling disaster continue to wait for an end to this oil and gas nightmare. 


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Tears and Laughter at TEDxOilSpill

Oceana Pollution Campaign Director Jackie Savitz. (Photo by Kris Krug)

After watching and reading news reports and blog posts about the Gulf oil spill for more than two months, I was wondering if anything new could be said about the catastrophe.

As I found out at yesterday’s TEDxOilSpill conference, the answer is a resounding yes. Scientists, entrepreneurs, anthropologists, activists, musicians and writers came together to vent, and to try and wrap their heads around how this could have happened, and to bat around solutions, immediate and long-term.

Over and over, I heard riffs on a theme: this is an unprecedented disaster, and we are still in the thick of it. We don’t know how bad it will get, or what the long-term effects will be. And now is our moment to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless fired off a list of ten myths about the oil spill and offshore drilling, and Oceana campaign director Jackie Savitz told the crowd that “it is time to tell the pusher (Big Oil) that we’re going clean.”

It was an intellectually and emotionally exhausting day – several presenters were brought to tears during their presentations.


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Join Us at TEDxOilSpill Next Monday

TED conferences “bring together the world's leading thinkers and doers for a series of talks, presentations and performances.” So it was only a matter of time until TED tackled the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Next Monday, TEDxOilSpill will tackle the tough questions raised by the ongoing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. And you can be a part of the conversation.

Topics will include: mitigation of the spill and the impending cleanup efforts; energy alternatives; policy and economics; and new technology that can help us build a self-reliant culture.

The presenters will include the following experts:


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