Saturday, February 23, 2013

No Shell in Arctic: Coast Guard finds big problems

Coast Guard: Shell Arctic drilling rig findings turned over to Justice Dept.

 — The Coast Guard has found serious safety and environmental violations on a Shell drilling rig used in the Arctic waters off Alaska, another blow to the company’s controversial bid to harvest oil in the petroleum-rich but sensitive region.
The Coast Guard said Friday that it has turned over the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice, which had no comment.
The Coast Guard found 16 violations on the Noble Discoverer, one of Shell’s two drilling rigs for Alaska’s Arctic waters. The company’s other rig, the Kulluk, has its own troubles. The Kulluk broke free from towlines during a New Year’s Eve storm and was grounded for several days off Kodiak Island.
Details of the Noble Discoverer’s violations were obtained by Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee, which had asked the Coast Guard for an accounting of inspections that took place on the rig at the end of November.
“The reports that Shell may have been drilling this summer using a drill ship with serious deficiencies in its safety and pollution control equipment raise additional and continued questions about whether Shell is able to drill safely offshore in the Arctic,” Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, the top Democrat on the committee, wrote Friday to Shell’s president.
The Coast Guard found the Noble Discoverer could not go fast enough to safely maneuver on its own in all the expected conditions found in Alaska’s Arctic waters.
The Coast Guard also found “systematic failure and lack of main engine preventative maintenance,” which caused a propulsion loss and exhaust system explosion.
Among other issues listed were inoperable equipment used to measure the oil in water that is dumped overboard, improper line splices throughout the engine room, piston cooling water contaminated with sludge and an abnormal propeller shaft vibration.
Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow said he couldn’t discuss the details because the investigation has been forwarded to the Justice Department. Wadlow declined to say whether the Coast Guard believed criminal penalties could be warranted.
Wadlow said the investigation started after the Noble Discoverer had problems with its propulsion system while pulling into the port of Seward, Alaska, in late November.
“The inspectors found several discrepancies dealing with the ship’s pollution prevention equipment as well as several crew safety issues,” he said.
The Noble Discoverer is a converted log carrier owned and operated by Noble Corp. for Shell’s Arctic efforts. The 514-foot-long rig was built in 1966 and converted into a drilling ship 10 years later. It has been upgraded and refurbished to work in the Arctic at a cost of $193 million.
A spokesman for Noble Corp. did not return a message Friday asking about the violations.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said Friday that Noble Corp. already has resolved many of the issues the Coast Guard raised. Smith also emphasized that the problems with the main propulsion system surfaced after the rig had left the Chukchi Sea drilling area.
“At no time was the Noble Discoverer found or believed to be a danger to people or the environment while drilling in the Chukchi Sea in 2012,” Smith said in an email. “Had that been the case, we would have ceased all operations immediately.”
The Noble Discoverer and Shell’s other Arctic rig, the Kulluk, will be towed to Asia for inspection and repairs. “The Noble Discoverer’s return to Alaska will be dictated by the scope of work identified while in dry dock and the timeline associated with that work,” Smith said.
Both of the rigs were only able to drill a partial well apiece during a 2012 exploratory season troubled by equipment failures. It’s not clear whether Shell will be able to return to drill in the Arctic this year even if the rigs are repaired in time. The Interior Department has launched a review of Shell’s operations, and investigations are underway over the grounding of the Kulluk.
The Noble Discoverer dragged its anchor and nearly grounded in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, before the start of its drilling work.

Dear President Obama,

Shell spent six years and $4.5 billion to drill exploratory wells in the Arctic last autumn. The operation was a complete failure and the recent grounding of the Kulluk rig only confirmed what experts have been saying all along -- that drilling for oil in the Arctic will never be safe. 

From fires to toxic emissions, near misses to actual groundings, Shell is charging towards a major accident in the Arctic like a raging bull. We must stop this recklessness company from causing a Deepwater Horizon-scale disaster in the pristine Arctic.

Shell intends to try and drill off Alaska again in 2013 but after what I’ve seen, it is clearly not safe for any company to operate in the remote and freezing Arctic. Which is why I am emailing you today.

Even the head of the Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement agrees, stating recently that someone outside the industry needs to call a 'timeout' to review whether or not the technology is keeping pace as companies push into increasingly risky areas.

Mr. President, that someone should be you.

I am urging you to call for a timeout on all Arctic drilling. Please suspend Shell's permits to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas and stop them from risking a devastating oil spill in this unique region.

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Melting sea ice is a warning to humanity. Not an invitation to drill for more of the stuff that is causing the problem in the first place.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, February 22, 2013

TransCanada buying Culture

TransCanada Platinum Sponsor: Indspire Awards & Thundering Hills Powwow Immediate Release

TransCanada appears to be selectively distributing its funds into First Nations communities with its recent “partnership” in the Indspire Awards (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards) and its Platinum “sponsorship” of the upcoming Thundering Hills Powwow on July 5, 6, & 7th hosted by the Nekaneet First Nation.
Could TransCanada be seeking to stifle Indigenous communities’ opposition to the Tar Sands and the XL pipeline?
TransCanada is the Canadian oil and gas company behind the purposed XL pipeline that would bring Tar Sands oil from Alberta to Texas crossing First Nation and Tribal communities along the way.  Opposition to the Tar Sands and the XL pipeline has been strong from various grassroots Indigenous communities and environmental activists including a recent gathering of tribal Nations in Yankton to sign the “International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands and Keystone XL” and the 40,000 plus gathering of activists who descended on D.C. recently to call on President Obama to reject the XL pipeline.
We call on all Tribal Nations, to reject TransCanada’s attempts to “buy” support for its XL pipeline and other Tar Sands related projects.  Projects that not only will cause significant damage to the very tribal communities it is “investing” in, but cause irreversible damage to our planet and first mother Maka Ina.
Let us reject major corporations that are causing reprehensible damage to our communities, homelands, health and welfare from funding powwows, award shows, or any other related activities or events. Call on the Nekaneet First Nation to drop TransCanada as its Platinum sponsor.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

4 Reasons Why a Settlement with BP is a Bad Idea

Thu, 2013-02-14 13:23
Sort of like OJ Simpson (Yes. I figure he did it), BP "got over" in the US Justice Department's criminal case against them. They didn't win, but they gladly settled for $4 Billion rather than face a full trial with full public disclosure of exactly what happened before, during and after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, 2010.
So, kind of like the civil case that did tackle "The Juice" eventually, the Justice Department's civil case against BP must proceed to trial on February 25 - and not be "settled" for less money or less public scrutiny than what a full-blown trial would yield.
A sign-on letter requesting a full civil trial and not just another "settlement" will be delivered to US Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) tomorrow.
Besides knowing that this glove fits BP, my four other reasons for signing are:
    •    Without a full and transparent Civil Trial, the truth regarding the causes and impacts of the largest environmental disaster in US history (Deepwater Horizon) will remain un-aired in any credible or transparent public forum, and remain obscured forever.
    •    A DOJ settlement with BP in lieu of a Civil Trial is very unlikely to result in BP paying the maximum fines allowed under law - a sum which the extremely costly restoration of our Gulf's damaged marshes, estuaries and open waters etc. requires.
    •    Neither egregious misbehavior by BP executives nor preventable disasters like Deepwater Horizon are likely to cease if the corporation and its top executives are not publicly scrutinized and held maximally accountable in a full and transparent Civil Trial. (BP has a long history of criminal offenses concerning environmental pollution and worker safety in addition to "Deepwater Horizon")
    •    Low-income and minority populations continue to bear the heaviest social, environmental and ecological burdens caused by BP's damage to Gulf Coast ecosystems and communities. A very wide range of unmitigated social and environmental impacts continues to fall disproportionately on tens of thousands of Native-, Vietnamese-, African-, Cajun-, Hispanic-, and other poor Bayou-American families and workers whose livelihoods, health, cultural identity and self-determination are the most dependent of anyone's upon the environmental resources that BP has damaged and/or ruined.
To see more on BP's history as a "Serial Polluter and Killer", take a look at this short video.
Derrick Christopher Evans is the director of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives and an adv

"Come and see for yourselves": My remarks at the BP shareholder meeting

Thu, 2012-04-12 16:45
derrick evans at BP shareholder meetingToday, two community advocates and regional leaders from the Gulf Coast, Bryan Parras and Derrick Evans, brought an urgent message to BP's board and shareholders, at the corporation's annual meeting.  Here are Evans' remarks as prepared for delivery.  Evans is the founder of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives (TCCI), a Founding Advisor of the Gulf Coast Fund, and Bridge The Gulf advisor and contributor.  He is from Gulfport, MS.  Read more about the meeting here.
Good morning.  My name is Derrick Christopher Evans and I don't speak for the American government, but I am a citizen of the United States and a resident of the Gulf Coast.   I live in from Gulfport, Mississippi – which is midpoint between New Orleans, Louisiana; 60 miles west of Mobile, Alabama. More specifically, I hail from Turkey Creek – an African-American settlement founded by my former slave ancestors in 1866, and a tidal bayou connected to the northern Gulf of Mexico by Biloxi Bay and the Mississippi Sound.
My community embodies and exudes the same noble history and culture of self-reliance, neighborly good will, slowness to anger, and celebration of les bons temps shared by African-Americans, Native-Americans, Vietnamese, Cajuns and others across a cultural, and ecological region that spans five southern states. Strongly tied to our bayous, bays, wetlands and gulf, people in these communities still eat for lunch and supper what they catch that morning.
I am also a Managing Advisor with the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, a community-based regional philanthropy that has distributed some 4.6 million dollars to more than 250 organizations since Hurricane Katrina and the more recent BP Drilling Disaster.
I am here today on behalf of scores of thousands of everyday people in coastal Alabama,
Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas whose livelihoods, physical health, and inter-
generational way of life have been disrupted, compromised or outright destroyed by one or 
more of the myriad impacts caused by the 200 million gallon oil spill that 
commenced on Earth Day 2010. Unimpeded for three months, the Macondo Well hemorrhage and its multi-sector impacts remain an environmental and social catastrophe of epic proportions that does indeed necessitate an “unprecedented” expenditure of concern, time and money – as well as unprecedented honesty, good will and diligence.
I regret to report, however, that the Gulf is not clean, families and small businesses have not
 been made whole, and other far-reaching consequences are by no means “over” for anyone 
directly concerned – including you who are gathered here today. With dispersed, sunken, 
bulldozed, and buried Sweet Louisiana crude still washing ashore, the possibility of a future 
hurricane storm surge dredging and depositing yet more onto our land-based ecosystems and
 communities is real if not imminent.
So is the possibility that your stock values will suffer significantly once this happens, or once other unfortunate truths about the company’s behavior, impact or liability become more fully disclosed or manifested in ways that cannot be circumvented. False assurances that the oil is gone or that normalcy has returned to the gulf coast should not be taken with any greater confidence than past assurances of Deepwater Horizon’s safety, or of the blown out well’s rate of discharge into the Gulf.
I could easily contrast at great length and in vivid detail that which you and others have been expertly served by a supremely funded PR campaign charged with painting a rosy picture no matter what, but instead – in the name of resolution, good will and brevity - I simply ask if you would come and see for yourselves. On behalf of the Gulf Coast Fund, I invite you without malice – shareholders, board members, and officers alike – to tour gulf coast communities and ecosystems that the Fund exists to serve and renew, and that still suffer acutely from ecological and social impacts that ought not become permanent legacies of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Thank you.
Photo: Derrick Evans speaks outside of the 2012 BP Annual Shareholder's meeting in London, England.  By Liana Lopez.View more of her photos here.
Derrick Evans is the director of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives and an advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. Since 2001 he has worked to help protect and revitalize his coastal Mississippi community and sister communities throughout the region. Prior to that he taught civil rights history at Boston College and social studies in the Boston Public Schools.

Monday, February 18, 2013

CLIMATE CRISIS sparks people Nationwide

According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, 31 indigenous villages in the Arctic region of Alaska face imminent threats from climate change. As many as 12 have decided to relocate, and one, Newtok, has identified a site and will start building new homes this summer. Biologist Carl Wassilie, a Yup’ik Eskimo and one of the founders of Alaska’s Big Village Network, is in town for this Saturday’s Climate Crisis Summit in Chicago at IIT’s Kent College of Law. Today, he stops by Worldview to talk about the Alaskan villages facing imminent threat.


Climate activists descended on Washington, D.C., on Sunday in what organizers boasted was the largest climate-change rally in American history, claiming more than 35,000 attendees.
The Forward on Climate rally, as it was billed by environmental groups Sierra Club and, called forPresident Obama to take immediate action on climate change, with many calling for the government to block the construction of the oil pipeline known as Keystone XL.
Protestors marched through the streets bearing placards and massed on the National Mall, where speakers addressed the crowd. Washington police declined to provide a crowd estimate.
"Today was one of the best days of my life, because I saw the movement come together finally, big and diverse and gorgeous," President Bill McKibben tweeted after speaking at the rally.
Keystone XL has been a signature issue for climate-control activists, who caught policymakers and the pipeline industry off guard with 2011 protests against the proposed pipeline, which would bring so-called tar sands oil from Canada into the United States.
Although other proposed pipelines inside the U.S. would shunt larger amounts of oil around the country, the proposed TransCanada project must pass through a legal bottleneck in order to be built: U.S. law requires federal approval for new pipelines crossing international borders, making the pipeline more vulnerable to concentrated political pressure.
Opposition has since led the Sierra Club to lift a long-standing ban on civil disobedience for the sake of opposing the pipeline's construction. The club's executive director, Michael Brune, was arrested at a Wednesday protest outside the White House.
Obama is expected to make the decision whether to approve construction of the pipeline, which proponents have said would limit U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
Opponents believe the process to produce and refine tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, would be more carbon-intensive than typical oil production, potentially accelerating climate change.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 38% of Americans think global warming will harm them in their lifetimes, up from 25% in 1997. However, according to a January poll, 57% of Americans are satisfied with the environmental state of the nation, up 3 points from 2005.
Except for 1998, the Earth's nine warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, according to reports issued in January -- one by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the other by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Last year was reported as the warmest on record for the lower 48 states.,0,799969.story