Editor's note: This post originally appeared at The National Journal. If you agree with Jackie, go to the article and click â€śagreeâ€ť!
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 â€“ whether its paying down the debt, protecting social security or providing for a national defense â€“ we simply canâ€™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 Presidentâ€™s proposed changes are economy-wide, and those that arenâ€™t pertain to oil and gas industry activities that simply donâ€™t apply to other industries. In fact, itâ€™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 industryâ€™s pockets and less funds in the Treasury.
On Friday, April 1, Teresa Fitzsimmons and Kimberly Pero hosted Oceanaâ€™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 Floridaâ€™s waters for a decade. And for all you Floridians, weâ€™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!
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?
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.
Well, BPâ€™s â€śstatic killâ€ť 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 wonâ€™t come until the â€śbottom killâ€ť 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 â€śresidualâ€ť or still residing in the gulf and that another 24% was â€śdispersedâ€ť 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 â€śdissolvedâ€ť which doesnâ€™t mean the same thing as â€śdisappeared.â€ť So more than half of the oil could still be dwelling in the Gulf â€“ maybe as much as 8 Exxon Valdez spillsâ€™ worth.
And there are still many, many unanswered questions.
Oceana campaign director Jackie Savitz discussed the dangers of dispersants on CNNâ€™s â€śThe Situation Roomâ€ť 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 â€śthe lesser of two evils.â€ť
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.
Oceanaâ€™s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz commended the president for the decision in an AP article, and had this to say about it:
â€śThe 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.
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 yesterdayâ€™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 donâ€™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 â€śit is time to tell the pusher (Big Oil) that weâ€™re going clean.â€ť
It was an intellectually and emotionally exhausting day â€“ several presenters were brought to tears during their presentations.
TED conferences â€śbring together the world's leading thinkers and doers for a series of talks, presentations and performances.â€ť So it was only a matter of time until TED tackled the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
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:
Today, senior campaign director Jackie Savitz and I went on the first boat trip for conservation groups to observe NOAA's attempt to understand the scope of the oil spill and how to respond to it. The crew we shadowed was trying to measure oil underneath the Gulf's surface. Along the way, we saw shrimpers turned oil skimmers, reddish oil on the water and sadly, a pod of dolphins including calves swimming and feeding in the oil-polluted waters.
In this video, Jackie summarizes a lot of what we saw. We'll have much more video and photos from the trip soon, so stay tuned. Thanks to NOAA for allowing us to come along and learn about this critical work.