Vote green, Circle your boats, and Invite marketers
Full liability, Safe fishery, and a Right Green Alliance?
Limiting the liability of those imposing risks on others was never a good idea. Now the home to enormous salmon runs and majestic scenery could be traded in for dollars and minerals. Unless Greens and marketers coalesce. We trim, blend, and append three 2010 articles from: (1) CNN, July 31, on liability; (2) Los Angeles Times, Aug 4, on Alaska by Kim Murphy; and (3) New York Times, Aug 5, on green scissors by Ross Douthat (Op-Ed columnist).
by CNN, by Kim Murphy, and by Ross Douthat
House votes to remove oil spill liability cap
The House of Representatives passed legislation -- 209 to 193 -- which would lift the current $75 million liability cap for oil spills while imposing new safety standards for offshore drilling.
The Senate has yet to act, however, so the prospects for final oil spill and energy legislation are unclear.
The bill would also impose stiffer penalties for oilrig safety violations while requiring independent certifications of key drilling equipment and demonstrations of a company's ability to respond to future rig blowouts or spills. It would also ban the practice of granting environmental waivers for drilling plans.
Top Republicans have opposed the measure.
The Senate is expected to consider its own version of energy legislation before senators leave for their August recess. If that measure is approved, House and Senate negotiators would need to reconcile differences between the two bills.
JJS: What some Congress people are trying to do for the Gulf of Mexico --protect it from drillers -- some fisher people are trying to do for an Alaskan bay -- protect it from miners.
Alaska fishermen circle their boats to fight mine
Alaska has the world's largest sockeye salmon run, supporting a fishery worth $440 million a year, and in the hills behind it, a massive deposit of copper, molybdemum, and gold worth at least $300 billion.
As the landowners Pebble Ltd. Partnership prepares its application to mine late this year or early next, Bristol Bay fishermen try to convince government and the public to reject poisonous mine drainage into some of the world's last pristine salmon streams.
This industrial-scale mine that could produce 8 billion tons of waste is being contemplated for an area home to rare, healthy runs of all five species of salmon. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the area "simply too special to drill" and placed it off-limits to offshore oil and gas development.
Digging the mine would bring an unprecedented level of industrial development to a region known until now for its majestic solitude. It would require an 86-mile road and miles of pipelines straddling salmon streams, a deep-water port in Cook Inlet, a power plant capable of generating up to 300 megawatts of electricity, and 200 miles of power transmission lines.
The Legislature has appropriated $750,000 for a full scientific review of the project's potential effects on Bristol Bay. In addition, a series of science panels paid for by Pebble is scheduled to begin public meetings in December. Many local residents fear the meetings were aimed at railroading approval for the mine.
The Pebble Mine is only the largest of several being contemplated on 1.1 million acres of the Bristol Bay watershed.
Even a small amount of toxic copper sulfide generated when copper is mined -- leached through the porous rock or leaked from a broken pipe -- could be fatal to fish.
"Every other mine of this size, this type, near water, has contaminated the water. There is not one example they can give us of something this size and this type that hasn't," said Lindsey Bloom, 30, a commercial salmon fisherwoman from Juneau who has been working with the conservation group Trout Unlimited to fight the mine.
"I don't have problems with mining in Alaska in general," said Katherine Carscallen, a third-generation fisherwoman from Dillingham. "But Pebble is unbelievably huge. All the rest of the mines in Alaska could fit inside it."
Though polls show 80% of Bristol Bay residents opposed to the mine, many residents of the Alaska Native villages closest to the site have elected to remain neutral until mine operators conduct their studies and make a specific proposal.
They admit they are lured by the promise of 1,000 skilled, high-wage jobs over the 30-year life of the mine, 2,000 additional jobs during construction, and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual operating expenditures.
"Commercial fishing isn't sustaining and supporting our communities. We're basically dying up here," said Lisa Reimers, chief executive of the Iliamna Development Corp., a native-owned venture at Iliamna which has already won some work during Pebble's exploratory operations.
JJS: Alaska's oil dividend goes only so far. Most ordinary people have only one source of livable income -- jobs -- until society finally pays a Citizens Dividend from the rents for all resources. Meanwhile …
Before mining could be considered worth it, the mine owners should have to pledge their own livelihoods as compensation (accept full liability), set aside an Ecology Security Deposit, buy Restoration Insurance, bid for Emission Permits, pay Land Dues, and not get any subsidies, such as free infrastructure. If they pay all their costs, and don’t get any of the socially-generated rental value of the natural resources (but profit only from their investment of labor and capital), then they might not even apply to mine. If, under the above conditions, they still did apply, then and only then should the Alaskans consider their proposal seriously.
Another who’d like to take subsidies out of the equation is a big-time editor.
Can Conservationists and Conservatives Get Along?
Quick, which gets subsidized more heavily around the world, fossil fuels or renewable energy? Bloomberg crunches the numbers and finds that it’s not even close -- oil, gas, and coal get a whopping twelve times as much total government support … And those subsidies add up, pollution-wise. A report from Harvard’s Kennedy Center last year found that the world could cut global CO2 emissions nearly 6% simply by scrapping price supports for fossil energy. And yes, removing subsidies might, in the short term, have a regressive impact in the form of higher energy prices, but countries could easily take the money saved and use it to cushion the blow, via efficiency upgrades or even lump-sum payments [to consumers].
The worst offenders are China, India, and Russia, but the United States does plenty of fossil-fuel subsidizing, too. We may not bankroll gas-pump purchases the way Egypt or Venezuela do, but an analysis last year from the Environmental Law Institute found that the U.S. government offered $72 billion in incentives for oil, gas, and coal producers between 2002 and 2008.
One needs corporate welfare (and corporate tax subsidies) to become a symbol of government excess.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
Will BP Make Out Like Bandits From Its Gushing Oil?
Can a Freed Market Save Our Ecosystem?
Why Pay the Privileged our Public Money?
Email this article Sign up for free Progress Report updates via email
What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report:
Page One Page Two Archive Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?