This post first appeared on Think Progress. Six months ago, BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing eleven men and beginning an ecological catastrophe that flooded the Gulf of Mexico with approximately five million gallons of oil over the ensuing months. The effort to assess the damage continues, as does the tortuous claims process for the thousands of affected residents. Following news headlines that the oil had “largely disappeared” by August, nearly all of the Gulf waters closed to fishing have been reopened, and the Coast Guard has declared “very little recoverable oil” remains. However, the disaster is not over:
Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.
New Orleans Times-Picayune photojournalist Matt Hinton confirmed the sightings in an overflight of Louisiana’s West Bay: Because of the disaster, BP’s third quarter profit was only $4.6 billion.
This post first appeared on Think Progress. Colorado Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck, like his endorser Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), believes “global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated.” Buck is part of the Tea Party army storming the U.S. Congress this November that believes the overwhelming scientific consensus about the threat of fossil fuel pollution is a conspiracy. On Wednesday, Buck toured the state with Inhofe, whom he celebrated as “the most conservative senator in the U.S. Senate.” Meeting with supporters, Buck said the “evidence just keeps supporting” Inhofe’s senseless conspiracy theory:
Sen. Inhofe was the first person to stand up and say this global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated. The evidence just keeps supporting his view, and more and more people’s view, of what’s going on.
In reality, the year 2010 is in the course of becoming the hottest year in recorded history, with Zambia the 18th nation this year to reach an all-time record high. In their joint appearance in Longmont, CO, Inhofe explained whom he and Buck will be fighting for — corporate lobbyists:
I never dreamed that we would end up with someone in the White House with a huge majority that would attack every institution that made America great. Right before we broke for this recess I had in my office five groups of people. One was a group that was the insurance industry, one was the fiscal industry, one was the military — the defense contractors — one was the energy industry, and of course, the health care industry. Each one of those groups thought they were being targeted.
Watch it: “I came out here because I’m lonely,” Inhofe said. “Ranked the most conservative senator? That’s right. But we’ve got a lot more coming in, more than any other election in the history of this country.”
Update The League of Conservation Voters has released an ad hitting Ken Buck for his oil-fueled global warming denial:
This post first appeared on Think Progress. While it tells the American public it cares about American jobs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce actually works to send jobs overseas on behalf of its corporate members, which include some of Asia’s top offshoring companies. Its secretly-funded $75 million political ad campaign attacks the “anti-jobs record” of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Alexi Giannoulias (D-IL), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), and others. As ThinkProgress previously noted, the Chamber has repeatedly sent out issue alerts attacking Democratic efforts to encourage businesses to hire locally rather than outsource to foreign counties. The Chamber has also bitterly fought Democrats for opposing unfettered free trade deals. The Chamber’s anti-American jobs agenda serves not only the profit-seeking of right-wing corporate executives in the United States, but also works to send jobs overseas to the following outsourcing companies, who are some of the dozens of foreign corporations that pay member dues to the Chamber of Commerce’s 501c(6) account, which is used to fund its political ads:
KPIT Cummins, Pune, India (at least $7,500 in annual member dues): “Strategic global networking, together with industry-proven practices & processes, give KPIT Cummins a cutting edge in the realm of outsourcing.” – Patni Americas, Mumbai, India ($15,000): “Patni, the world leader in IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing provides offshore software development, global sourcing, custom software development, and a vast array of product engineering and IT services to companies worldwide.” – NIIT Technologies, Delhi, India ($15,000): “[L]eadership in the area of outsourcing.” – QuEST Global, Singapore ($7,500): “QuEST is a leader in the engineering services outsourcing (ESO) space.” – Rolta, Mumbai, India ($7,500): “Rolta’s global footprint and track record along with its capable off-shoring model gives it a unique positioning in this large market.” – SKP Crossborder Consulting, Mumbai, India ($7,500): “SKP’s core outsourcing practice is managed out of a fully equipped, spacious premises based in Pune with access to facilities in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore.” – Wipro, Bangalore, India ($15,000): “India’s biggest destination for U.S. offshoring.”
In its “American Free Enterprise” campaign, the Chamber says that there is no “greater or more important” policy challenge “than creating the 20 million jobs needed in the next decade to replace the jobs lost in the current recession and to meet the needs of America’s growing workforce.” Perhaps the Chamber should actually start working toward that goal of creating jobs in America, instead of promoting the offshoring agenda of its foreign sponsors.
Cross-posted from Think Progress. Millionaire businessman John Raese, running as the GOP Senate nominee to fill Robert Byrd’s West Virginia seat, wants to take the state back to the 19th century. Not only does he want to return capitalism to the era before child labor laws, Social Security, and civil rights laws, he also promotes a pre-industrial vision of science. In an interview with Real Clear Politics, Raese said he has “zero” trust that “human activity is contributing to climate change”:
The oceans that surround the world produce 185 billion tons of CO2 per annum. Man per annum only produces six billion tons, so what could possibly be the concern? One volcano puts out more toxic gases-one volcano-than man makes in a whole year. And when you look at this “climate change,” and when you look at the regular climate change that we all have in the world, we have warm and we have cooling spells.
Although Raese is well-versed in conspiracy-theory talking points, they’re as nonsensical as his desire to abolish the Departments of Energy and Education. Human activity puts about 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, well over 100 times as much as all the volcanoes in the world. The oceans actually vent about 332 billion tons of CO2 per year, but also absorb that much. Human emissions have disrupted the balance of the carbon cycle, leading to rising concentrations of greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 40 percent, and global temperatures are on an inexorable rise, overwhelming any natural cycles. Far from protecting West Virginia’s coal industry, Raese’s desire to abolish the Department of Energy, kill the Recovery Act, and deny global warming would end federal policy to support advanced coal technology, the only hope for this 19th-century fuel in the 21st century. Cross-posted from The Wonk Room.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. Today, the Corn Refiners Association petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to approve the name “corn sugar” to replace “high fructose corn syrup.” The sweetener, made from processed corn syrup, was introduced to consumers in the 1970s before becoming a pervasive culprit in the epidemic of American obesity. The corn refiners lobby — led by agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill — have begun a national television and Twitter campaign with the slogan, “Whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.” Audrae Erickson, president of the lobby group, hopes “a new name will ease confusion about about the sweetener”:
Clearly the name is confusing consumers. Research shows that “corn sugar” better communicates the amount of calories, the level of fructose and the sweetness in this ingredient.
In fact, some scientists have found that high-fructose corn syrup — which, unlike tariff-protected cane sugar, is heavily subsidized by the American taxpayer — actually can cause obesity greater than a real-sugar or high-fat diet. (HT: Grist)
This post first appeared on Think Progress. A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, only one — Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware — supports strong climate action. Even former climate advocates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now toe the science-doubting party line. If Castle loses his primary on Tuesday to Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell, the GOP slate will be unanimous in opposition to a green economy. Many of the Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America. The second plank of the Contract From America is to “Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.” In reality, a carbon cap-and-trade market — by rewarding work instead of pollution — would increase jobs, lower electricity bills, restore American competitiveness, and forestall a climate catastrophe. Overwhelmingly, the Republican candidates not only oppose action to limit global warming pollution, they question the validity of climate science. Here are a few quotes drawn from the Wonk Room report:
Gov. John Boozman, Arkansas:
“Well I think that we’ve got perhaps climate change going on. The question is what’s causing it. Is man causing it, or, you know, is this a cycle that happens throughout the years, throughout the ages. And you can look back some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming and things. That’s the question.” [KTHV Little Rock, 3/10]
Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri:
“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” [Human Events, 4/29/09]
Rep. Rob Portman, Ohio:
“When you analyze all the data, there is a warming trend according to science,” he said. “But the jury is out on the degree of how much is manmade.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/25/10]
Jim Huffman, Oregon:
He casts doubt on scientists’ findings about global warming. It’s “rooted in some fairly vague science,” he says. “There are a lot of studies out there that offer alternative explanations for global climate variations.” Huffman opposes a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, largely because it will be too expensive. He argues that it’s more realistic to adapt to climate change than disrupt peoples’ lives trying to prevent it. If some island nations become uninhabitable, he says, “I think that’s a tragedy, but we can adapt to that.”[Portland Tribune, 9/2/10]
To recap: 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming, but 97% of GOP Senate candidates disagree. See the comprehensive listing of all 37 races at the Wonk Room.
Cross-posted from Think Progress. In a telling exchange with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria yesterday, long-time polluter apologist Pat Michaels admitted that “40 percent” of his funding comes from the oil industry. Michaels, introduced as “a scientist who now works for the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank that strongly opposes caps to carbon dioxide,” has promoted global warming denial for decades, funded by a network of oil and coal companies and their ideological allies. Michaels initially denied that he is funded by the petroleum industry, but backtracked under steady interrogation by Zakaria:
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you what people wonder about, advocates like you. They say — MICHAELS: I’m advocating for efficiency. ZAKARIA: Right. But people say that you’re advocating also for the current petroleum-based industry to stand pat, to stay as it is, and that a lot of your research is funded by these industries. MICHAELS: Oh, no, no. First of all, what I’m saying is — ZAKARIA: Well, is your research funded by these industries? MICHAELS: Not largely. The fact of the matter is — ZAKARIA: Can I ask you what percentage of your work is funded by the petroleum industry? MICHAELS: I don’t know. 40 percent? I don’t know.
Watch it: As the Wonk Room reports, Zakaria also calmly made a mockery of Michaels’ advocacy of doing nothing as the world burns, while fellow guest Jeffrey Sachs plainly described the “catastrophic planet” we are creating by burning billions of tons of fossil fuels every year.
Update George Scoville, Manager of New Media at the Cato Institute, contacted ThinkProgress to distance his think tank from Michaels' oil money:
We are proud to have Pat Michaels and his research associated with the Cato Institute. However, Pat works for Cato on a contract basis, not as a full-time employee. Funding that Pat receives for work done outside the Cato Institute does not come through our organization. Kindly note that we receive less than 1% of all operating income from private corporations.
The Cato Institute was founded with the oil fortune of Charles Koch, a right-wing billionaire who denies the threat of global warming pollution. The Cato Institute does not disclose its individual contributors.
Cross-posted from Think Progress. Dan Maes, the Tea Party-supported candidate in the Colorado governor’s race, has argued that a popular Denver bike-share program is a “very well-disguised” part of a plan by Denver mayor (and Democratic gubernatorial candidate) John Hickenlooper for “converting Denver into a United Nations community.” Last week, Maes told the press that Denver’s membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) “could threaten our personal freedoms” because environmental initiatives like the cycling program are “very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.” This afternoon, Maes appeared on MSNBC to explain his conspiracy theory. Although the “bike program in and of itself is fine,” he said, what worries him is “what’s behind it all“:
We’re trying to differentiate myself from the mayor. If I win the primary and when I win the primary tomorrow, people are going to say what the difference is. We’re both business people. When a mayor signs onto a program sponsored by the United Nations, that should bring concern to people as to how the program may or may not be compatible with our state constitution.
Watch it: Despite Maes’s dark fears, Denver’s participation in ICLEI carries no legal obligations and raises no constitutional issues, but does allow city planners to share information and ideas with other urban communities throughout the world. Maes has not yet commented on Colorado State University’s support for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the suspiciously named Denver International Airport, the University of Colorado Model United Nations Club, or Denver’s international sister cities, like Brest, France, Chennai, India, and Kunming, China. Transcript: More »
Cross-posted from Think Progress. As the right-wing media machine pursues the “Southern Strategy” of stoking fear among their white conservative audience about black and brown people destroying America, pundits have argued whether the Tea Party movement — closely aligned with Fox News, conservative talk radio, and right-wing websites — is “racist.” Although instances of racist sentiment at Tea Party rallies can be easily found, defenders of the movement argue they are aberrations, if not part of a liberal conspiracy to smear tea partiers. As TP’s Matt Yglesias wrote in this weekend’s Washington Post, right-wing xenophobes are fueling a “summer of fear” that has its roots in the economic downturn. The strategy of linking racial resentment to fears of economic redistribution and government control under a black presidency — in right-wing storylines including Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, New Black Panther Party, ACORN, the “Ground Zero Mosque“, and “anchor babies” — is finding a ready audience among the people who identify themselves as tea party supporters. National surveys of the Tea Party have found that explicit racist sentiment is a strong component of the tea-party make up, in addition to economic conservatism and strong Republican partisanship. The April, 2010 New York Times/CBS News national survey of Tea Party supporters found that they are:
– More than twice as likely as the general public (25% vs 11%) to believe that “the policies of the Obama administration favor blacks over whites.” – Half as likely as the general public (16% to 31%) to believe that “white people have a better chance of getting ahead in today’s society.” – Almost twice as likely as the general public (52% to 28%) to believe that “too much has been made of the problems facing black people” in recent years.
Drudge Report: July 19 racism Drudge Report, July 19, 2010
In a broad study of adults in Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and California conducted between February and March, the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality (WISER) asked a number of questions about “racial resentment” — such as whether blacks don’t try hard enough or have gotten more than they deserve. Conservatives are 23 percent more likely to be racially resentful, and Republicans 15 percent more likely than Democrats. However, the institute found that this racial sentiment isn’t simply a byproduct of white conservativism:
[E]ven as we account for conservatism and partisanship, support for the Tea Party remains a valid predictor of racial resentment.
It is untrue, as political commentator Dave Weigel argues, that racism in the Tea Party is merely reflective of its conservatism. The WISER study found that compared to other conservatives, Tea Party supporters are:
25 percent more likely to have racial resentment. – 27 percent more likely to support racial profiling. – 28 percent more likely to support indefinite detention without charges.
Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fairness and DiversityTea Party supporters are also significantly more likely to hold racial stereotypes, with a majority believing blacks are not hard-working, intelligent, or trustworthy. Their fear of others transcends race, however — the WISER study found that a majority of tea party adherents distrust Latinos, Asians, and other whites as well. Of course, this means there are still millions of Tea Party supporters whose views on race and equality are indistinguishable from most Americans. However, it is a unfortunate fact that deep-rooted racial resentment is a key distinguishing feature of Tea Party activism, above and beyond non-racist tenets of American conservatism or partisanship.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. BP’s blownout Deepwater Horizon well gushed up to 2.6 million gallons a day, the federal government now says, a total equivalent of 19 Exxon Valdezes. For months, BP insisted the figure of 5,000 barrels a day (less than one tenth the actual amount) was the “best estimate” — even as outside experts got it right. According to this new estimate, the oil giant liable for the Gulf of Mexico disaster will be responsible for a $21 billion fine — $4,300 for each barrel of oil. The subscription-only Energy Guardian notes that this figure for the oil disaster “reveals how far off initial estimates turned out to be”:
At its height, BP’s leaking well gushed 62,000 barrels of oil a day, the federal government said Monday in a revision of its figures that reveals how far off initial estimates turned out to be. The government and BP initially offered estimates of the leak at 1,000 and 5,000 of barrels a day shortly after it began in late April, eventually reaching an estimate of between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day after several revisions. The new estimate Monday by federal scientists means 4.9 million barrels of oil likely were released by the well before it was temporarily capped last month. BP hopes to complete an operation this week that will permanently seal the ill-fated well.
Although BP is getting a tax refund on the billions of dollars spent to contain its toxic mess and burnish its image, the company will not be able to write off this fine against its profits. Meanwhile, Republicans are expected to filibuster legislation this week that would reform the oil industry to prevent another such disaster.
Update By comparison, BP's 2008 profit was $21.2 billion. During the global recession of 2009, BP's profit was $14 billion on $239 billion in sales.