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Obama Stands up to Big Oil and Polluter Politicians

5:59 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

President Obama stood up to Big Oil and its puppets in Congress and denied a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline yesterday. This is encouraging news for the communities whose air and water would have been directly threatened by this pipeline, from Canada to Nebraska to the Gulf Coast. And it’s an important piece of the struggle to avert a runaway climate catastrophe. But since the Keystone XL has become a pitched political battle, this announcement is also an encouraging affirmation of the power of people, creative protest, and grassroots organizing in the face of the entrenched power and big bucks of the oil industry.

Earlier this month, American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard, the oil industry’s top lobbyist, directly threatened President Obama with “huge political consequences” if he rejected Keystone XL. Speaker of the House John Boehner has been pushing the tar sands pipeline at every opportunity. Like most of the members of Congress that support Keystone XL, Boehner has taken piles of campaign cash from the very oil companies that were hoping to boost their profits with this scheme to pipe Canadian tar sands through America’s heartland to the Gulf of Mexico and overseas markets.

This immense pressure from the oil industry came after months of grassroots organizing against the pipeline, weeks of creative protest in Washington DC where we and more than 1200 others were arrested in front of the White House, and a broad, diverse coalition mobilizing all around the United States and Canada to stop this pipeline.

Faced with a clear choice between Big Oil and all its money, threats, and politicians on the one hand, and a people powered movement determined to stop this enormous threat to our air, water, food security, and climate on the other, President Obama made the right call.

Of course, this does not mean the end of the oil industry’s efforts to expand production of the tar sands. TransCanada and other oil companies will continue to seek other ways to exploit the tar sands, and the politicians who do their bidding will devise new bills to push tar sands pipelines. No doubt the American Petroleum Institute will take out even more astroturf “Vote 4 Energy” ads slamming the President for his decision.

When that happens, we hope President Obama remembers how good it feels to stand up to the oil industry’s political threats, and keep working to make good on his promise to “end the tyranny of oil” and move America to a clean energy future.

Co-Authored by Greenpeace Executive Director, Phil Radford and Actress/Activist, Daryl Hannah

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Trimming Astroturf From the American Petroleum Institute’s ‘Vote 4 Energy’ Ad

11:20 am in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

It’s not surprising that the American Petroleum Institute — Big Oil’s premium lobbying entity — is using a synthetic media strategy. Their Vote 4 Energy astroturf campaign spews misinformation like a two-stroke engine belching greenhouse gasses. It attempts to portray ‘real (cough cough) Americans’ who are ‘energy voters,’ which translates to voting for whichever politicians support Big Oil’s dirty agenda.

API also bought the back page of the A section of the Washington Post with a Vote4Energy ad that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s about as genuine as a gas-station burrito.

If you want authentic insights on Big Oil’s scheming, start with our own mock Vote 4 Energy commercial.

Anticipating this new misinformation campaign, PolluterWatch created a mock Vote 4 Energy commercial to show how API and it’s oil company members (Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron and all the usual suspects) are generating this phony citizen support for Big Oil.

What’s really fueling this bogus outreach is API’s $200 million budget to push dirty energy incentives and tax handouts for oil companies — something the petrol pushers can’t do on their own. Hence the need to prop up a phony corps of pseudo-interested citizens. They’ve even gone so far as to stage faux-rallies for their Energy Citizens astroturf campaign, as revealed by Greenpeace in a confidential API memo to oil executives. The con-job is essential to their strategy because American’s overwhelmingly support clean energy over dirty oil development. Read the rest of this entry →

Big Coal and Oil Play Dirty but EPA Mercury Ruling Proves We’d Rather Keep It Clean

11:53 am in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

Starting today, we can begin to breathe, eat, and drink a bit easier. The EPA begins enforcement of the Mercury and Air Toxics standard, a 20-year-old mandate that set limits on mercury emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants.

These safeguards are not for show. They reflect a raft of highly credible research proving that mercury, along with other toxic metals including arsenic, chromium and nickel, is spewed in to the air as an insidious byproduct of fossil fuel burning. These metals contaminate waterways, where they infuse the bodies of commercial fish and seafood. It’s no surprise that women of childbearing age are urged not to eat salmon and shrimp. High accumulated mercury levels in these and other frequently consumed species can be devastating to the unborn and infants.

That reality gave this effort tremendous momentum — a record-breaking 500,000 Americans reached out to the EPA in support of the standard, reinforcing the notion that we’d rather have healthy moms and babies than antiquated power plants raining contaminants down on our communities. We salute President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson for standing fast against the antiquated interests of Big Coal and Big Oil in order to make this ruling a reality.

Unsurprising, however, has been the utility industry’s prolonged, expensive campaign of misinformation — millions of dollars and countless lobbying hours spent trying to convince legislators, and thus the American public, that a little mercury mutating a developing human nervous system was no big deal.

Some utility companies, along with members of Congress swimming in their campaign contributions, made heel-dragging on this issue an art. Their lobbyists are understandably upset, but we’re happy to treat them to a seafood dinner if that assuages their grief.

The barrage of tiresome talking points from Republican and industry opposition about how this epitomizes big government’s job-killing intrusion on free enterprise is already underway, but let’s be as clear as the forthcoming air:

This rule will save lives. According to EPA, the rule will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks each year, as well as almost 3,000 cases of chronic bronchitis yearly. Emergency room visits will drop by almost 6,000!

This rule will protect the environment. In 2008, nearly half of all U.S. river-miles and lake-acres were under water contamination advisories. The vast majority of this contamination was due to mercury, including 100% of the Great Lakes. Over time, just one gram of mercury per year will contaminate a 20-acre lake.

This rule will create jobs and boost productivity. EPA estimates that this rule will lead to 46,000 short-term construction jobs and 8,000 long-term utility jobs. Currently only 17 states have established mercury emissions limits on coal plants. That’s far from adequate, especially since the states with the largest volume of mercury emissions do not have emissions limits. In addition, we’ll avoid 540,000 sick days each year, enhancing productivity while lowering health care costs.

The downside for fossil fuel facilities is negligible at best. A mere eight percent of our nation’s coal-generation capability will be taken offline in the years ahead — decrepit, 30-to-50-year-old power plants that even utility companies agree need to be modernized or shut down outright as they have become too costly to upgrade or maintain, let alone operate.

So, let’s take a well-deserved deep breath and celebrate the fact that regard for a nation’s health and well-being has won out over the interests of a few backward-thinking bribe recipients who don’t lose sleep over causing cancer and birth defects.

Victory: Shell Announces They Won’t Drill Offshore Oil in Alaska in 2011

2:21 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

The Arctic has won a reprieve from offshore oil drilling this year. Oil giant, Shell, just announced they won’t pursue offshore oil drilling in the fragile Arctic environment in 2011.

This one-year delay was a hard-fought victory for environmentalists.

On the heels of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, thousands of Greenpeace members wrote the federal government asking them to halt offshore oil drilling.

Greenpeace activists took action on one of the vessels Shell was planning to use in the Arctic. Others stood up at government hearings, calling on President Obama’s team to stop offshore drilling. And, last summer, our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, documented and exposed the truth around the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, bringing important information to the government and the public.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to stand up with us to fight for the people and wildlife of the Arctic.

As you know, we have been persistent in urging President Obama and Secretary Salazar to deny Shell permission to drill in the Arctic. Shell acknowledged that the continued delays in the federal permitting process were the primary reason for canceling drilling in 2010.

But, before we celebrate too much, we have to make sure that Shell’s plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic are canceled, not just for one year, but permanently. And we won’t result until the government bans ALL new offshore drilling. The stakes – and the risks – are just too high.

[Philip D. Radford is the Executive Director of Greenpeace US.]