Friday, January 29, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill History

Here's a summary of the major oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico in the last 30 years or so. These are from drilling, shipping and on-shore infrastructure. You lay down with dogs, you get fleas. You invite the oil industry in, you get..................oil.

· June 3, Gulf of Mexico: Exploratory well Ixtoc 1 blows out, spilling some 140 million gallons of crude into the open sea.

· June 8, off Galveston: Mega Borg releases 5.1 million gallons of oil some 60 nautical miles south-southeast of Galveston after a pump room explosion and fire.

· Nov. 28, Mississippi River south of New Orleans: Tanker Westchester loses power and runs aground, dumping 567,000 gallons of crude oil. The spill was largest in U.S. waters since Exxon Valdez in 1989.

· August-September, New Orleans: The Coast Guard estimates that more than 7 million gallons of oil spilled from various sources during Hurricane Katrina.

· June 19, Calcasieu River, La.: Some 71,000 barrels of waste oil are released from the CITGO refinery during a violent storm.

· July 25, New Orleans: A 61-foot barge, carrying 419,000 gallons of heavy fuel, collides with a 600-foot tanker in the Mississippi River. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel leak from the barge, halting all river traffic.

· September, Houston Ship Channel: An oil spill prompted a three-day closure to accommodate cleanup efforts. A 458-foot vessel was trying to turn around when it struck a barge, gouging a hole in the vessel's fuel tank and leaking 10,500 gallons of oil.
· October, 40 miles offshore of Galveston, Texas: a supply vessel crashed against a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, resulting in an 18,000 gallon oil spill.

· January 23, Port Arthur, Texas: About 462,000 gallons of oil spilled when an 800-foot tanker headed for an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Beaumont collided with a vessel pushing two barges.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Green Light for Offshore Drilling..........or Not?

This is from President Obama's State of the Union address last night:

“But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”

So the question is, what does "It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development" mean? Is it a tough decision when you say yes, or when you say no?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rethinking Virginia Drilling; Both Florida Candidates Oppose Drilling


US Govt pushes any drilling off Virginia past 2011
“The Obama administration put that plan under review when it came into office, and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he will decide by this summer whether the prior Bush plan will go forward. However, the department's Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling, said the proposed Virginia leasing plan will be delayed. The department may still decide against any energy exploration in the area.”

McDonnell concerned about a new possible delay in offshore oil drilling
"Any delay beyond 2011 I would strongly oppose,'' McDonnell said. "A delay of a year in the lease means yet another delay in the revenue...I am dead serious about trying to make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. We have every God-given natural resource that a state could want to make that happen and a big piece of that goal of energy independence is offshore production of oil, gas and wind and we don't need federal government delays. We need cooperation."

Thank You, Interior Department: Oil Drilling Off Virginia Delayed Indefinitely


Candidates for governor agree offshore oil drilling a threat
“Proposals to drill for oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico are also pending before the 2010 legislative session. Sink said she is totally opposed while McCollum said he thinks three to 10 miles from the coast is too close, and that he does not like what he's seen so far. "This is not a proposal for offshore drilling," said Sink. "This is a proposal for near-beach drilling." McCollum said, "I'm a huge skeptic" and that an oil spill "would just completely terrorize our beaches.””

Protect Florida’s Beaches with Hands Across the Sand (Audubon of Florida)
Also: Be a Part of "Hands Across the Sand" at Shell Point Beach


More PXP Deal Fallout
“After AP picked up our story last week on the once-secret offshore oil drilling agreement between PXP oil company and the Environmental Defense Center, Calbuzzer and campaign media consultant Don Ringe worked up an animated political cartoon featuring a monologue by “Mr. PXP” about the deal, which you can find here.
And special Calbuzz T-Ridge props to KQED’s John Myers, who closely questioned Schwarzmuscle about the issue at the governor’s Monday appearance at the Sacto Press Club and offers a smart take on the exchange on his blog at Capital Notes.
Two points worth noting here: a) As Myers reports, it’s interesting to see how breezily Arnold is in abandoning the notion of “principles” when the going gets tough; b) the governor clearly formulates the deal on T-Ridge as a “budget-driven” decision, not an energy vs. environment balancing act.
That is precisely the point that most concerns many environmental opponents of the deal: that California’s landmark environmental protections should be conditioned on the ebb and flow of the budget. In other words, any time Sacramento is in the red, just suspend the Coastal Sanctuary Act or AB 32 or local development guidelines and generate some fresh cash. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
The environmentalists who support the deal, like the EDC, do not agree with this fiscal argument of Arnold’s for the deal: to them T-Ridge has always been a pathway to end some offshore oil drilling permanently, essentially by horsetrading a lease to slant drill in state waters for a promise to decommission four operations in federal waters.
But: Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shock Waves in the Atlantic; Arnold's World in California

Interior to look at drilling in Atlantic Ocean
Government plans cautious moves on Atlantic drilling
"Before deciding on those requests, the Interior Department first is required by federal law to study the potential environmental impacts of the seismic testing. Some environmental advocates have said the shock wave surveys can injure whales and other marine life or cause them to change their breeding habits and other behavior."

North Carolina - Perdue's offshore drilling panel meets

California - Schwarzenegger: "Look Beyond" One's Principles
"It will be satisfying so many ends," he said. "First of all, we get less dependent on foreign oil. Second, we will get extra revenues. The environmentalists are happy, business is happy, so everyone is happy, so why not go ahead with it?" My question is, what world is this guy living in?

Alaska - Off Shore Oil Drilling Threatens Marine Life

Monday, January 25, 2010

Big Texas Oil Spill; Follow the Money in CA


Collision Causes Crude Oil Spill in Texas
The U.S. Coast Guard says about 450,000 gallons of crude oil has spilled into the Port of Port Arthur area in southeast Texas after two vessels collided. "This is a big one," said Petty Officer Third Class Richard Brahm. The Port Arthur spill can be described as large, according to the classification established by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd., which tracks oil spills around the world. According to the ITOPF, large spills are those that are over 700 metric tons. The size of the Port Arthur spill is estimated at about 1,500 metric tons. The spill is the second to afflict the Texas coastline recently; in October, a supply vessel crashed against a Liberian-flagged oil tanker offshore of Galveston, resulting in an 18,000 gallon oil spill—equivalent to about 429 barrels of oil or 58 metric tons.

Texas Spill: Oil and Water Still Don't Mix (Mother Jones)
“In a healthy dose of irony, the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce's motto is, "Where oil and water mix, beautifully." Proponents of drilling often tout how environmentally friendly their practices are these days. But Saturday's spill is a healthy reminder that no matter what you do to oil, there's nothing very green about it.”


AP Article Says Environmentalists Paid Thousands By Oil Company
Oil company, environmental groups in secret deal

Maldonado and Nava clash over offshore oil

Firms, trade group helped fund GOP legislators' retreat,0,7805604.story
“Chevron and other oil companies have long battled a proposed oil-extraction tax. One such proposal was vetoed last year by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.Asked why Chevron donated the money for the retreat, Comey said, "We wanted to attend the event and we made the contribution." He added that the firm supports such conferences for legislators of both parties "to facilitate their ability to reinvigorate the economy."Plains Exploration would have been the major benefactor of a bill last year to open the door to more oil drilling in the Tranquillon Ridge field off the coast of Santa Barbara County. Fourteen of the 15 Republicans in the state Senate voted for the legislation. The bill failed, but the proposal is back in Schwarzenegger's proposed budget for the next fiscal year.The company sent a representative to the retreat "to get the message out on the Tranquillon Ridge project," Plains Exploration spokesman Steve Rusch said.”


Offshore drilling resolution delayed again
“Commissioners agreed with the draft's main premises: that the city's economy relies heavily on tourism revenues tied to the beaches, especially the centerpieces of Honeymoon and Caladesi islands, and that oil wells within 3 miles of the coastline could risk Dunedin's "largest industry and quality of life."”

Nelson: Oil drilling is incompatible with military training
"It remains the Defense Department's policy that military exercises and training in the eastern gulf are incompatible with oil drilling operations.''

Friday, January 22, 2010

More Critcism of Oil-for-Parks in CA; More Threats to the Beaches in FL

Oil-for-parks plan derided as blackmail (CA)

Senators push to bring oil drilling closer to Florida’s coast
“This isn’t even thinly veiled,” Nelson said. “Its an oil industry bailout plan.”

Offshore Drilling Language Poses Problems for 'Energy Only' Bill
"We need a balanced energy menu with vegetables and protein, not just a pile of Cool Whip."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Debates in Florida, Shady Deals in California


Offshore drilling remains hot topic at Tallahassee debate

Florida oil drilling opponents challenge report

Florida State to Host Second Symposium on Offshore Drilling (Audubon of Florida)

Is oil drilling safe in the Gulf of Mexico? SAFE says so – or do they?
“Please join your fellow Floridians and tourists alike for Hands Across the Sand on Saturday, February 13th.”


More Questions Than Answers on Offshore Drilling Agreement
“EDC is setting a precedent that absolutely will lead to widespread drilling on the coast. Instead of maintaining a strict opposition to offshore drilling on the merits, they've indicated that such opposition has a price, and once met, opposition will go away.”

Oil & Secrecy


Shell offshore oil drill plan in Alaska challenged


The phony oil drilling debate (Scitizen)
This is from September 2008, but it’s still relevant.
“It’s at least order of magnitude more important to worry about the demand side, rather than the supply side.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interview - Why Offshore Drilling is a Bad Idea for Florida

Not the Answer recently had the chance to interview John Jelks (known to his friends as “JJ”). John is a marine geologist who spent over 10 years in the 1980s and early 1990s working as a Houston-based contractor for major oil companies on oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. He now works as a network engineer in Florida.

John, tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up and go to school? What degree(s) do you have?

I grew up in Delaware, where we spent most of our time out at Mom’s house in Bethany Beach. As long as I can remember, my Dad would push us into waves riding those old blue canvas surf mats with the rubber yellow ends. I rode kneeboards at Indian River Inlet (“Southside” jetty break) during the 1970s and early 1980s. I bodysurfed there a lot during blackball time. I went to college at Long Island University in Southampton, NY. The surf on Long Island is great and it took discipline to balance my studies and surfing. I graduated with a B.S. in Marine Geology in 1981. By then I was riding a fish, a long board, and my kneeboard.

After getting your degree in Marine Geology, tell us about your job working as a marine geologist on oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. What did your work consist of?

I worked as an oil and gas exploration geologist; both out in the field drilling and in the computer center processing data. Offshore, it takes roughly 2 to 6 months to drill a well. The time it takes to drill a well depends on the depth of water in which the drilling is done, the depth into the earth one is drilling, and accidents like snapping the drilling pipe and losing the drill bit. My job was to be on these rigs for 1 to 3 days and check progress of drilling by analyzing the rock chips in the drilling mud that comes back out of the hole. Drilling mud is injected at high velocity for lubrication, and to keep pressure on the hole if pockets of natural gas are hit. I would make several visits to a platform during the drilling of one well. After the drilling was done, all of the pipe would be pulled out of the drilling hole so we could lower instruments into the bottom of the well and take measurements all the way up the well hole. When the drilling was completed, the drilling platform was moved to a new location. The well was capped and a pipeline was attached to pump the oil onto land for refining.

Were there any drilling or operational practices that you observed on the drilling rigs that concerned you? What were they? How often did they occur?

One practice that bothered me was that all of the garbage generated by daily human activity was simply thrown off the rig (refuse from cooking, cleaning, equipment maintenance). Bear in mind that the working and living space on these drilling platforms is extremely confined. This garbage dumping occurred daily.

The other practice that bothered me was that the drilling mud coming back out of the hole ended up in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the mud came up to the platform so that rock chips could be analyzed, but most of the mud was dispersed out into the Gulf. Onshore, it is placed into mud pits. Offshore, it is simply released into the water. Although some studies have indicated that roughly 90% of the drilling mud falls within 100 meters of the rig, my observations indicate a larger impact. Flying to the offshore platform by helicopter, I could see a plume of sediment moving down current, especially with wells drilled in shallower depths. This practice of dumping mud occurred for the duration of drilling. The drilling mud used in the 1970s and 1980s was oil-based Bentonite clay. This clay contains the metals Aluminum, Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese. Drilling mud in use today is water based, which is easier on the environment, but Bentonite is still used as the base component. Relating to the proposed drilling offshore of Florida, even minor silt deposition will kill any living reef.

You mentioned release of toxic drilling mud into the ocean. Can this be avoided or is it just “standard operating procedure”?

Yes, most of it can be avoided and today recycling drilling mud is a common practice. In countries that have environmental regulations (Australia, USA, and others) mud recycling systems are used. The same mud is filtered and re-injected into the well. I do not know what practices are used for handling drilling mud in offshore Nigeria, Indonesia, or China.

The trash dumping from rigs has probably stopped. I have no recent information. I know that the Florida Surfrider chapters have made great gains working with the commercial cruise lines to limit dumping trash and raw sewage in offshore waters during 3-day casino cruises around offshore Florida.

You’ve lived and worked in both Texas and Florida. Describe the differences in the beaches and the offshore marine environment.

The beaches in Texas are beautiful, made up of a mixture of fine quartz and coral. Texas is known as the “Third Coast” for surfers in the United States. There is good surf when the conditions are right. One only need pick up the Winter ‘09 issue of The Surfer’s Journal for proof. There is a lot of trash that has washed up on the beach because the prevailing winds are southeast. The most disturbing thing is the oil and tar balls that wash up all over the beach from the oil rigs. When you step on them, your feet get coated with black tar. Many Texas beach houses have bottles of vegetable oil or kerosene with rags by the ocean porch to clean one’s feet before entering the house.

The west and east coast beaches in Florida are also amazing. The beach is mostly coral sand, and the water is clear. Cocoa Beach, near where I live, has a lot of trash but it’s mostly thrown there by beach visitors. Some blows in from the Atlantic since the prevailing winds are east. The beaches on the gulf side are tropical and lovely. There is still a lot of trash tossed by beach goers near big cities like Tampa. However, I would describe Florida’s gulf coast beaches outside of urban areas as pristine. The offshore marine environment is in good condition and is a major attraction for sports fishing.

Are the differences natural or can some of them be attributed to offshore oil and gas operations?

Some of the differences are natural. Because of the prevailing southeasterly winds, Texas can’t help but end up with half of the Gulf of Mexico’s trash blowing onto the beaches.

The tar balls in Texas are from the oil and gas operations. Spillages and accidents do occur on the rigs; underwater oil pipelines sometimes beak; and tankers flush their bilges offshore.

Tar and oil is absent on the gulf coast beaches in Florida, except the western panhandle, which is close to the Louisiana offshore drilling areas.

Would you say that Florida’s gulf coast beaches and offshore reefs would be impacted or at risk if offshore drilling is allowed within a few miles of the coast?

Yes, Florida’s beaches would definitely be at risk from major oil spills and contamination from hurricane-wrecked oil rigs and broken underwater oil pipelines. Even if there is no drilling mud leakage or trash tossed off the rigs, there would still be accidents caused by humans and equipment failure that would result in oil spills. The oil pumped from the Gulf of Mexico is heavy crude oil, the kind of oil spill that will float on top of the water until it washes up on some beach.

Hurricanes would cause widespread oil rig damage and breaking of underwater oil pipelines. Offshore drilling proponents claim that there were no spills caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I urge people to read the federal government’s own report (15MB pdf) on what happened when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit land near Louisiana. Focus on Chapter 7, which outlines damage to the petroleum infrastructure, and Chapter 6, which lists the 124 resulting oil spills. At least skim through the report and look at the pictures of the damage and complex network of underwater oil pipelines. In addition, here is a link to a newspaper article on post-Katrina oil spills.

Would there also likely be impacts to marine resources and recreational fishing?

Yes, very likely. It is an understatement to say that salt water fishing is popular in Florida’s gulf coast waters. As I have said, the Gulf of Mexico off Florida is pristine. This could all be polluted with one good hurricane breaking pipelines and dumping rig chemicals into the marine environment. Once an area has been polluted, it takes years to recover. Once a reef has been destroyed, it may never come back. Offshore drilling is as much a threat to the gulf’s ecosystem as over-fishing.

Proponents of offshore oil drilling cite several potential benefits, including increased state revenues, lower gas prices, and greater energy independence. At the same time, they say that “modern technology” makes drilling safe and the beaches are not at risk. What are your reactions to those claims?

It would take 10 years for petroleum development efforts to produce more gasoline. Companies have to explore, drill, and create the complex infrastructure for offshore Florida before we would see this oil reach the gas stations. Instead, I believe that conservation through better car engine technology is the best first step, with augmentative energy technology being the best second step. The world will be dependant on oil and gas for years to come until solar, wind, and other forms of energy generation are perfected and widely used.

I believe that “modern technology” has made offshore drilling much safer and cleaner. But as a network engineer, I have seen first hand that humans make mistakes, and that state of the art equipment fails. We have clear evidence (Katrina) that one hurricane could cause lasting damage to Florida’s ecosystem from crude oil spillage. The increased state revenues from oil and gas development would be offset by the loss of Florida’s tourism income and the costs of damage repair.

Lastly, when crude oil is being pumped through underwater pipelines, then there is the need for large storage tanks on land to hold this oil. I am pretty sure most Floridians would not want one of these huge storage facilities in their backyard. Once the heavy crude oil is stored onshore, what happens next? A refinery? A deep water port facility to load the crude oil onto tankers for transport to existing refineries? Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor are the only two deep water ports on the gulf coast of Florida. The storage and transfer of crude oil in either of these bays would turn them into a tar pit when (not if) accidents occur.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

If offshore drilling is allowed in Florida, regulations can later be changed to allow drilling near shore. I hear some people and politicians in Florida screaming “Drill Baby, Drill” and they do not understand the consequences. All they see is the money and “short term” benefits. Proposed offshore drilling in Florida represents greed, not need. The leap of gas prices to $4/gallon along I-95 after hurricane Ike hit Texas, and the post Katrina increases were due to refinery shutdowns, NOT the supply of available oil. Those two price hikes really got the public’s attention. But offshore oil drilling is not the answer.

As I mentioned, the short term focus should be on conservation, efficiency improvements and “augmentative energy”. In the longer term, “alternative energy” can completely wean us off of oil.


Offshore drilling
(note that the source is Australian Institute of Petroleum, so they tend to discount environmental risks, which is interesting in light of the recent Timor Sea oil spill)

Drilling mud

Drilling mud dispersal (scroll down)

Hurricane damage: (focus on chapter 7, especially 7.3 which is underwater pipeline damage)

More hurricane damage refs

Coral Reef Conservation

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

T-Ridge, Oil for Parks and Drilling Debate Nationwide


Secret Agreement on T-Ridge Revealed
Detailed discussion of “secret” PXP/EDC deal

Oil Drilling Controversy

Oil for Parks
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget ties California State Parks fate to oil drilling


Oil Drilling Debate Has Begun Again
U.S., Shell, oil industry officials tell panel it's time to drill in Gulf.


Oregon Lawmakers Consider Prohibiting Offshore Drilling (Oceana)


Shell one step closer to drilling in Beaufort, Chukchi seas

Oil persists in environment more than 20 years after spill

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flaming oil rig award goes to Governor Schwarzenegger

The first "flaming oil rig" award of 2010 goes to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his oil-for-parks budget scheme that proposes to fund California State Parks via a new lease for offshore drilling in Santa Barbara.

What makes this proposal so offensive is that it holds our state parks for ransom (more on that here), the presumption of approval at the State Lands Commission (despite being denied last year) and willingness to end run the State Land Commission in the event it gets denied there (the first two attempts failed).

Read the Surfrider Foundation's opposition to the Gov's oil-for-parks budget scheme here.

Read the strong reaction from others in the media here.

Here's a rundown of the previous attempts to ram this proposal through:

Thursday, May 21, 2009:

Subverting State Lands Commission is Not The Answer

Friday, May 29, 2009:

Governor’s Oil Actions Threaten California Coastline

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Budget Conference Committee Doesn’t Consider Governor’s Scheme to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gov. Schwarzenegger Flip-Flops on Offshore Drilling in California

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sam Blaskeslee makes end run at State Land's Commission denial of PXP. OPPOSE AB 1536

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AB 1536 FAIL

Stay tuned...

Oil for Parks dominates the news...

There were many articles over the weekend on Schwarzenegger’s plan to fund state parks through revenues generated through a twice-rejected plan to drill new oil wells in the ocean off Santa Barbara. Here are some reactions:

"Blackmail might be a better term for it," said Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who chairs the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. "He's saying I'll fund the parks if you'll open up the coast to new oil drilling."

"Why anyone would think this would ever get approved is kind of a mystery," said Elizabeth Goldstein, Executive Director of the California State Parks Foundation, who is championing an $18 vehicle registration fee to fund state parks and give motorists free admission.

"The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) rejects the Governor’s proposal to eliminate core public funding for California’s 278 state parks and replace it with uncertain funding from an oil drilling project that has not been approved for California, as announced in his proposed 2010-11 State Budget today," a statement from the organization read. "He has resurrected the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling proposal and has attempted to give this controversial and uncertain financial proposal environmental credentials by directing its proceeds to the state park system."

“Californians should reject this false choice between offshore oil drilling and state parks,” said Graham Chisholm, executive director of Audubon California. “The Governor is hoping that our love for state parks will compel us to take his bitter medicine and support new offshore oil drilling. The park measure will secure the future of our state parks without jeopardizing California’s coast.”

"Our coast is one of our most important economic assets and renewing offshore oil drilling puts at great risk our tourist and fishing industries," said Dan Jacobson with Environment California.

"The hypocrisy of the Governor cannot be overstated," said Susan Jordan who directs the California Coastal Protection Network. " He would rather reverse forty years of bi-partisan California state policy against offshore oil drilling to push through a pet project over 100 statewide groups have joined to oppose rather than require oil companies extracting oil from our state's sea beds pay a severance tax -- their fair share to taxpayers for doing business in California. We are the only oil producing state in America that does not tax extraction of gas and oil on lands owned by the state. This would bring in more than 1.5 billion dollars annually to the state's General Fund," she emphasized.

Governor seeks to use oil money to save parks

Schwarzenegger: Fund State Parks via Offshore Oil Money

Arnold Tries Again on T-Ridge

California State Parks Get Drilled by Governor’s Proposed Budget

Enviros blast Arnold’s oil-for-parks plan

Schwarzenegger's Budget Threatens the Coast of California with Offshore Oil Drilling (Environment California)

Want state parks? Let us drill offshore

Governor’s budget proposal only proves need for State Parks Initiative

Friday, January 8, 2010

EPA Issues Draft Permit for Exploratory Wells Off Alaska

Oil lobby scaling back its presence in Tally (FL)
“Environmentalists who oppose the proposal, which last year could have led to drilling as close as three-miles offshore, hailed Florida Energy Associates’ downsizing as a sign that supporters were losing their will to continue an increasingly uphill battle.”
Also see

Governor wants you to choose between offshore oil drilling and state parks (Audubon of CA)
That’s what he’s asking for on Page 31 of his just-announced proposed budget. Here’s the relevant text:
"Fund State Parks from Tranquillon Ridge Oil Revenues — A reduction of $140 million in General Fund and replacement with revenue generated from the Tranquillon Ridge oil lease. It is estimated that the Tranquillon Ridge oil lease will generate $1.8 billion in advanced royalties over the next 14 years. This revenue will be used to fund state parks. The Governor’s Budget assumes that the State Lands Commission will approve the Tranquillon Ridge proposal. If not approved by the Commission, legislation will be necessary."

A much better solution that provides for stable State Parks funding and increases access to State Parks for all Californians without the "devil's bargain" of new offshore oil drilling is the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, a proposed statewide initiative slated for the November 2010.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Salazar, Nava Stand Up to Big Oil

In separate actions yesterday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and California Assemblymember Pedro Nava put out clear signals that neither the federal government nor the State of California are willing to roll over and give the oil companies whatever they ask for, which has too often been at the expense of both our environment and our economy.

Salazar's reforms, which affect drilling on public lands and offshore, mean the Bureau of Land Management no longer will simply accept oil and gas industry nominations when the agency is compiling a list of parcels to be offered at auction. New policies will mean BLM officials will conduct on-the-ground analyses of parcels for potential resource conflicts before they are listed for leasing. This will allow more organizations and individuals with wildlife, cultural-resource and environmental concerns to provide information that could counter industry interests. Predictably, oil companies howled. Secretary Salazar responded: "Under the previous administration, the oil and gas companies were essentially kings of the world, with Interior their handmaiden. Those from the industry who are crying out are simply crying because we are being thoughtful and supporting development in the right way and the right places."

In California, Assemblymember Nava introduced the Oil Industry Fair Share Act, which will establish an oil severance tax of 10% on the gross value of each barrel of crude oil pumped by companies in California. This tax will provide more than $1.5 billion in revenue to the General Fund annually. “California oil companies are getting a free ride. Right now, California is the only major oil producing state that does not charge a severance tax on oil extraction. It is time for California to catch up with Alaska, Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas. We need to collect the people’s share of this revenue source by forcing Big Oil to pay its fair share,” said Nava.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Promises of jobs, revenues from offshore drilling just don't add up (FL)

A day at the beach (FL)
Perhaps the only way to stop this headlong rush to drill is if enough Floridians stand up and say "no way!" Toward that end, a coalition of environmental, local government and business groups are organizing what amounts to a mass day at the beach this coming Feb. 13. The idea behind the "Hands across the sand" campaign is to try to line Florida beaches with drilling opponents. At 1:30 p.m., participants will "hold hands creating human lines in the sand protesting oil drilling in Florida's waters," according to organizers. "This is a simple, nonpartisan way for Floridians to join hands in an effort to protect our state's most important asset — our waterways and beaches," says Dave Rauschkolb, a Seaside business owner who came up with the idea. "Our goal is to convince legislators and Gov. Charlie Crist to drop the folly of offshore oil drilling." Would legislators take notice if tens of thousands of Floridians joined hands on Feb. 13 to protect Florida's beaches? We hope so, right now they only seem to be taking notice of Big Oil's money and influence.

McDonnell: no delay in offshore exploration (VA)
Also see

Those elusive oil royalties: It's far too early to get pumped up about the dubious rewards of offshore drilling (VA)

Moratorium on drilling in Oregon waters expires today (Jan 2)