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House Republicans Push for Renewed Offshore Drilling

House Republicans Push for Renewed Offshore Drilling

House Republicans passed a bill this week that would require the Obama administration to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. As oil prices shoot up, Republicans have been pushing for more domestic drilling, even as oil companies report record profits.

As Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard reports, oil companies have used those profits in record buybacks of company stock. “This spending spree comes not only as the gas price debate has resurged in Congress, but also as companies lobby to keep the $40 billion in tax breaks and loopholes that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want slashed from the 2012 budget,” Sheppard writes.

The long war

The most recent debates over off-shore drilling, oil profits, and oil subsidies are just one front in the long war to preserve the environment and push back against climate change. There are strategies available here that have yet to be deployed. At Grist, David Roberts offers four that could help fight climate change: put a price on carbon; deploy existing clean energy technology on a much more massive scale; invest large amounts of money in research and development; and invest in infrastructure.

As far as these four policy proposals go, he says, right now, “The U.S. is doing all of them poorly,” and he does not believe that it is possible any more to reverse climate change. As he writes, “Climate change won’t be solved, it will be managed, by us, by our kids, by our grandkids.”

Those kids, however, are not ready to accept their fate without a fight. Yesterday, a group of teenagers filed suit against the federal government for failing to guard a public trust — the atmosphere. As Alec Loorz, who is sixteen years old and a plaintiff in one suit, writes at Earth Island Journal, “The government has a legal responsibility to protect the future for our children. So we are demanding that they recognize the atmosphere as a commons that needs to be preserved, and commit to a plan to reduce emissions to a safe level.”

Loorz explains why he’s fighting the government on climate policy:

Our addiction to fossil fuels is messing up the perfect balance of nature and threatening the survival of my generation. If we continue to hide in denial and avoid taking action, my and I generation will be forced to grow up in a world where hurricanes as big as Katrina are normal, people die every year because of heat waves, droughts, and floods, and entire species of animals we’ve come to know disappear right before our eyes.

The future vs. now

That’s not a world that I’d want to live in. But the current state of affairs isn’t so pleasant, either. No matter what we do, it seems, we wreak havoc on the world around us. At Care2, for instance, Miranda Perry reports that sonar technology, which was known to harm sea mammals like whales and dolphins, also can damage invertebrate animals, like squid found dead on the shore:

Biologists speculated that the giant squid were affected by the sonar, which can range from 157 and 175 decibels and frequencies between 50 to 400 Hertz in marine activities such as oil and natural gas prospecting.

“[W]e hypothesized that the giant squid died in one of two ways: either by direct impact from the sound waves or by having their statocysts practically destroyed and [the squid] becoming disoriented,” marine biologist Angel Guerra told National Geographic. Now, that hypothesis is backed by proof.

And it’s not only animals that are damaged by human activities: it’s us, too. The toxins constantly filtering into the air, for instance, contribute to health problems like asthma. As Susan Lyon and Jorge Madrid write at Campus Progress:

Asthma rates are higher in places with bad air quality, and though asthma has no known cure it can be controlled by limiting exposure to asthma triggers such as smog and particulate air pollutants. Poor air quality caused by exhaust from cars, factory emissions, smoke, and dust can aggravate the lungs and can worsen chronic lung diseases, according to the EPA. Coal-fired power plants are also a big part of the problem.

Rolling back protections

It is clear that our way of living in the world is damaging it. But when governments all over the country should be pushing harder than ever to protect the environment, in many cases, they’re trying to roll back protections already in place.

Public News Service’s Glen Gardner reports that in Florida, a program called Florida Forever, which helped conserve water resources and wildlife habitat, may be sacrificed to the state budget crunch. And The Florida Independent’s Travis Pillow reports that, at the same time, “The Florida House of Representatives just gutted the power of ordinary citizens to challenge decisions made by environmental regulators….[C]hallengers would have less of a say in permitting decisions that affect water quality. The person or company seeking the permit would be able to rebut any of their arguments, with new evidence, without giving the challenger a chance to respond.”

On both the state and federal level, policy makers have failed to safeguard the environment and are leaving a mess for younger generations to clean up.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

Related Stories:

Sonar Found Harmful To Squid, Other Marine Invertebrates

Congress Approves Offshore Drilling Near Chesapeake Bay

Celebrities Duped By Sewage Sludge Industry’s “Compost”


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Photo from mrwalter via flickr
Written by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

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6:43PM PDT on May 13, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:00PM PDT on May 10, 2011

Nicole O,
Agreed. Have our Republicans spayed or neutered.

3:56PM PDT on May 10, 2011

i agree with victoria m we do!!!

12:03PM PDT on May 10, 2011

These poor repugnicans---they seem to not know whay they do.

11:17AM PDT on May 10, 2011

Interesting how the Republicans demonize Obama and try to make Americans think he's not doing anything to help the economy,when it was their policies that caused the economic downturn.
As oil prices shoot up, Republicans have been pushing for more domestic drilling, even as oil companies report record profits.
As stated in the article, "As Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard reports, oil companies have used those profits in record buybacks of company stock. 'This spending spree comes not only as the gas price debate has resurged in Congress, but also as companies lobby to keep the $40 billion in tax breaks and loopholes that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want slashed from the 2012 budget,' Sheppard writes."
So, as we can always expect, this is all about benefitting the shareholders. In fact, benefitting the shareholders appears to be the most important aspect of any company right now, and so the rich get richer and richer and richer and richer.So, I think we can very well glean from this case alone that the Republicans are not at all interested in the average person. Unfortunately, there will be far too many 'average persons' who will cast a blind eye to the Republicans doing this, and will instead blame Obama, fully and completely, for the rise in oil and gas prices and therefore for stealing from them (the average person).It's really amazing how many people have actually forgotten who it was that led them into the economic downturn--i.e., the Republicans.

8:29AM PDT on May 10, 2011

we really need to stop republicans from breeding.

8:12AM PDT on May 10, 2011

Republicans are an enemy to our world...without them our world would be a better place.

2:46AM PDT on May 10, 2011

It is more important that we make the switch from fossil fuel to sustainable energy before we run out of fossil fuel than which company makes how much profit. I wouldn't mind earmarking the dollar amount each fossil fuel company got in subsidies on average over the past ten years for each company PROVIDED the fossil fuel companies were required to invest the subsidy in sustainable energy. I would be glad to see Exxon Mobil transition from petroleum to bio-diesel from algae. I would be glad to see Koch brothers invest their subsidy in wind turbines.

9:15PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Are Republicans stupid? Don't they realize that the world they are destroying will be the same one that THEIR children and grandchild and great-grandchildren live in? Oh wait...they don't care because "it's the future generations' problem"....

6:15PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Sharon C.
we pay the same for crude oil but the europeans pay more for fuel because of taxes.

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