Climate Capsule: Big Oil Wants to Skimp on Safety

This is my first edition of the NWF Climate Capsule! It will be an exciting privilege to bring you up to the minute news and views on climate and energy straight from the National Wildlife Federation.

Thanks for reading and always feel free to share comments and feedback!

This week’s stories: 

  1. Highlight of the Week:Big Oil Wants to Bypass Safety Regulators, Again
  2. Quote: NWF’s Jeremy Symons on Big Oil diversionary tactics
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Navy Study Recommends Action on Climate
  4. Op-ed of the Week: Blame Canada for Gas Price Hikes
  5. Dirty Air Act Update
  6. Landowners Tired of Dirty Energy Giant Bullies
  7. Report Preview: Air Pollution Harms Local Wildlife
  8. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Big Oil Wants to Bypass Safety Regulators, Again

Ten months after the worst oil disaster in American history, Big Oil is hoping to cash in on violence in Libya and convince the government to shut down safety regulators. 

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil companies have increased the price for oil drilled in America by $12 per barrel in the two weeks following the outbreak of violence in Libya. That’s a bigger increase than the $10 jump in prices for Saudi oil. 

“Oil companies just want to drill deeper into our wallets,” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president for Conservation and Education at National Wildlife Federation. “The last time prices were this high, Big Oil made hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. They are now back for more.” 

“Big Oil also wants to cash in on the $350 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures they have made in the past two years. The Big Oil allies in Congress who are leading the charge against safety regulations are the same members of Congress who have repeatedly blocked clean energy legislation that would offer real solutions to America’s oil addiction.”

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Jeremy Symons

“Beware of oil companies offering bumper-sticker solutions to our energy problems. Rushing to drill by bypassing safety regulations won’t save American families a penny at the pump, but it will cost us plenty when the next oil spill disaster strikes.” 

– Jeremy Symons, senior vice president for Conservation and Education at National Wildlife Federation. 

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Economic Story of the Week

Navy Study Recommends Action on Climate

U.S. Navy Self Defense Ships via Former Navy Gallery on Flickr

A recent report commissioned by the United States Navy concluded that the American naval forces – the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – will face significant challenges in the coming decades as a result of climate change. 

The study, conducted by the National Research Council, accepts the scientific community consensus that the climate is changing and finds it imperative that preparations begin to secure Arctic shipping lanes, protect coastal populations and naval bases from rising sea levels, and plan for more humanitarian aid missions. 

According to Antonio J. Busalacchi, climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, and one of the report’s primary authors, “It’s clear that the potential for environmental disasters is on the rise due to the changing nature of the hydrologic cycle and sea level. Naval forces must be prepared to provide more aid and disaster relief in the decades ahead.” 

The report elaborates on prior work of the Pentagon, State Department, intelligence community and independent research groups that have declared climate change a “threat multiplier”, adding unpredictable hazards to national security and global physical and political stability. 

More on this story: NY Times, Climate Science Watch 

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Op-Ed of the Week

If gas prices go up further, blame Canada

(Star Tribune)

…Foreign oil interests are planning a deliberate manipulation of the U.S. oil market that would raise gas prices for Midwest farmers and consumers even higher. Who’s behind the plan? Not OPEC. It’s Canada. The Canadian oil industry…wants to build a pipeline to move crude oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. farmers, who spent $12.4 billion on fuel in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could see expenses rise to $15 billion or higher in 2012 or 2013 if the pipeline goes through. American consumers will pay the price of this highway robbery. Food prices will rise because they reflect farm operating costs. …millions of Americans will spend 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel as tribute to our “friendly” neighbors to the north. Environmentalists have long opposed [the pipeline] because tar sands production is “dirty” due to the high carbon emissions and the ecological damage caused by extracting and processing the oil. (More…

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Dirty Air Act Update

Earlier this month U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) introduced legislation undercutting the ability of the U.S. EPA to protect public health from the impacts of climate change brought on by harmful carbon pollution. 

“This proposal is a huge step backward for people, wildlife and our economy,” said Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director of the National Wildlife Federation. “It is an attack on clean air and would undermine our ability as a nation to protect public health, not to mention our ability to compete in the clean energy economy. 

“The American people want Congress to put forward solutions that create jobs, protect public health and position our nation as a global leader in the clean energy economy. Congress should reject the premise that our kids need to breathe polluted air and drink toxic water in order for our economy to prosper.” 

H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, more familiarly known as the Dirty Air Act, is undergoing a mark-up this week in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Stay tuned for the results. 

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Landowners Tired of Dirty Energy Giant Bullies

Last week, landowners who are concerned they are being forced to place a dangerous pipeline under their land came to Washington, DC to visit with their representatives in Congress and officials in the Obama administration. 

TransCanada is trying to run dirty fuel into the U.S. along a 2,000 mile pipeline almost certain to leak. The fuel’s life cycle carbon emissions are three times that of conventional oil and gas, and it is also expensive. According to TransCanada’s own study, it would actually drive up energy prices in the Midwest. 

Texas Landowner Eleanor Fairchild

Widespread media reports say the company has attempted to strong arm residents into putting a risky pipeline on their property. David Daniel, a Texas landowner whose property would be split in half by the pipeline spoke about the trespass and abuse he’s experienced. “For me the integrity, not only of TransCanada, from all the lies and misdirection I have experienced, but the integrity of the pipeline is in question. The way it’s constructed, the lack of transparency and emergency response plan is very concerning. If they have nothing to hide they should be doing things very differently.” 

And Texas landowner Eleanor Fairchild said, “I’m concerned about all the pollutants that could get in our water supply. I’d like to at least make it safer.” 

Watch video testimonials of Daniel and Fairchild here. To learn more or report abusive or questionable acts visit If you’re not a landowner near the pipeline, you can still speak out by taking action here

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NWF Report Preview: Air Pollution Harms Local Wildlife

A new report to be released on Wednesday from National Wildlife Federation finds that a number of wildlife species important to hunters and anglers are harmed by toxic air pollution and climate change. The report comes in the same week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the long-awaited Mercury, Arsenic & Dioxin Reduction Rule to limit toxic emissions from power plants. Mercury is one of the most common and toxic power plant emissions and causes a variety of health disorders for fish, mammals, birds, and other species. 

Local press events and telephone press conferences are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday across the country. 

Contact: Tony Iallonardo,,       202-797-6612     

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Happening this Week

Tuesday, March 15th

Vote: Markup of H.R. 910 – Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, 3:00PM, RHOB 2123. 

Hearing: Report to the President from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 10:00AM, Dirksen 406. 

Thursday, March 17th

Hearing: “Clean Air Act and Jobs,” Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy, 10:00AM, Dirksen 406.

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For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.