Obama Administration Ignored Warnings From NOAA That It Was Underestimating Risks of Spills

Officials at NOAA told the Obama Administration that it was underestimating the rate and risk of spills before the President announced his controversial decision to open up coastal areas to drilling in March. Analysts also noted that there were serious problems in responding to spills.

For environmentalists, the dismissal of such concern reminds them of the Bush Administration, which tended to ignore advice that didn’t fit its political agenda. While the Bush Administration ignored data on weapons of mass destruction, the Obama Administration appears to have dismissed data on environmental mass destruction.

The White House is clearly not happy with the leaked warnings and NOAA officials have come out to stress that they were heeded on other warnings. Experts at the Congressional Research Service and other organizations are cited as warning that “[r]ecent annual data indicate that the overall decline of annual spill events may have stopped’ and that ‘[t]he threat of oil spills raises the question of whether U.S. officials have the necessary resources at hand to respond to a major spill. There is some concern that the favorable U.S. spill record has resulted in a loss of experienced personnel, capable of responding quickly and effectively to a major oil spill.”

For the story, click here.

Kudos: Elaine M.

88 thoughts on “Obama Administration Ignored Warnings From NOAA That It Was Underestimating Risks of Spills

  1. I know this is WAY off topic–but it does relate to lobbying–another bad thing that has become “institutionalized” and perpetuated in our federal government from administration to administration.

    **********
    Bill To Ban Members Of Congress From Becoming Lobbyists Wins Cosponsor In Senate
    by Arthur Delaney (Huffington Post, 5/4/2010)

    Excerpt:
    A long-shot proposal to ban former members of Congress from K Street for life won a cosponsor on Monday in Montana Democrat Sen. Jon Tester.

    “From an ethics standpoint it’s the right thing to do,” said Tester in an interview with HuffPost. “From a transparency standpoint it’s the right thing to do.”

    The bill, authored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.), would prohibit any member of the House or Senate from taking a job with a lobbying firm after retiring. It would force staffers to wait six years before becoming lobbyists, and it would force lobbyists to wait six years before they can become staffers — a phenomenon that gets little attention despite its prevalence. And the bill would ban campaign contributions from lobbyists, who contribute tens of thousands of dollars over meals and hundreds of thousands in mysteriously legal “bundles.”

    “There has been a revolving door between staff members that go to work for senators, go back out in the private sector, come back, go to work for senators, and there’s been a ton of senators who’ve gone to the lobbying arena,” Tester said. “My guess is they’re probably making pretty good coin doing it.”

    This bill, Tester said, “helps clean up a perception of Washington that it’s an insider’s game and it’s just a group that keeps switching from job to job.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/04/bill-to-ban-members-of-co_n_561269.html

    **********
    There’s probably a zero percent chance of this bill passing.

  2. Elaine,

    It may be way off topic, but it’s exactly the type of reform that could actually help clean up Congress. Maybe a miracle will happen and it will actually pass.

    Nal,

    The Bush Administration systematically gutted the regulatory agencies in this country for 8 years. Do you honestly think that the Obama Administration could have fixed it all in a little over a year while trying to avoid another depression and getting health insurance reform passed? (As well as the many other things that they’ve been doing.) I believe that President Obama has been appointing good people, but given the average wait for confirmation of appointments in the senate and the fact that changing large bureaucracies is a slow, difficult process any reasonable person would come to the conclusion that no, they haven’t had enough time to clean up this cesspool.

  3. Ken Salazar was confirmed as the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on Jan. 20, 2009, in a unanimous vote by the Senate. No delay in confirmation in this case.

    I think one year and three months should be enough time.

  4. WASHINGTON (AP) – To hear Obama administration officials tell it, they’ve been fully engaged on the Gulf Coast oil spill since Day One, bringing every resource to bear and able to ensure without question that taxpayers will be protected.

    Not quite.

    Take President Barack Obama’s repeated claims that BP will be responsible for all the costs associated with the devastating spill that began after an oil rig operated by the company exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and later sinking.

    “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill,” Obama said while touring the area Sunday.

    While it’s true that the federal Oil Pollution Act, enacted in 1990 in response to the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, makes BP responsible for cleanup costs, the law caps the company’s liability for economic damages—such as lost wages, shortened fishing seasons or lagging tourism—at $75 million, a pittance compared to potential losses.

    Administration officials insist BP will be held responsible anyway, noting that if the company is found negligent or criminally liable, the cap disappears. Claims also can potentially be made under other state or federal laws, officials said.

    Yet the liability cap is problematic enough that a trio of Democratic senators introduced legislation Monday raising it to $10 billion, and the administration quickly announced its support. Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Bill Nelson of Florida voiced concerns that unless the cap is raised, BP would avoid paying for the mess and leave small businesses, local government and fishermen with the bill.

    “They’re not going to want to pay any more than what the law says they have to,” Nelson said.

    Then there’s the administration’s rhetoric about anticipating the magnitude of the crisis and bringing all resources to bear on Day One.

    “We had (Defense Department) resources there from Day One. This was a situation that was treated as a possible catastrophic failure from, from Day One,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    That sense of urgency was not so apparent when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was questioned about the incident April 23, three days after it occurred. At the time he seemed to dismiss its severity and indicated it wouldn’t affect Obama’s plans to open up new areas of the coast to offshore drilling.

    “I don’t honestly think it opens up a whole new series of questions, because, you know, in all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last,” Gibbs said.

    A week later, Obama was announcing plans for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to review whether new technologies were needed to safeguard against oil spills from deep-water drilling rigs. The president said no new offshore oil drilling leases would be issued without any such safeguards.

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9FFVCOO0&show_article=1

  5. How many more times?

    – corporations contribute to political campaign
    – politician agrees to look the other way on regulating their industry
    – environmental disaster happens because of lack of regulation
    – politician gives grand speeches about responsibility, response, etc.
    – corporations conduct intense PR campaign
    – corporations gradually eat away at any kind of proposed future restraints on their power

    Repeat.

  6. The oil giant behind the spill is now apologizing after trying to get local fishermen to waive legal rights in exchange for $5,000, reports The Daily Beast’s Rick Outzen from the Gulf Coast.

    Plus, click here to read the best local blog posts and tweets from the Gulf region, see photos of animals threatened by the spill, and find out how you can get involved in the clean up.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-05-04/bps-payoff-backfire/?om_rid=MMAuZ5&om_mid=_BL4A7jB8H23r$L&

  7. During the 2008 election cycle, individuals and political action committees associated with BP — a Center for Responsive Politics’ “heavy hitter” — contributed half a million dollars to federal candidates. About 40 percent of these donations went to Democrats. The top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself, who collected $71,000.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/01

  8. Nal said:

    Ken Salazar was confirmed as the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on Jan. 20, 2009, in a unanimous vote by the Senate. No delay in confirmation in this case.

    I think one year and three months should be enough time.

    Enough time to repair the damage cause by 8 years which turned interior into the agency where officials snorted coke off of hookers hired by the oil industry? I don’t think that is a realistic assessment. Overcoming institutional memory and completely reversing the prevailing culture (remember, you can’t just fire every single person in the interior department and start over) is not something that can be done in a year and three months. Believe me, I know – I’m a Detroit Lions fan. I’m sure that the Interior department is better than it was (it would be hard not to be) and you might be able to make an argument that it isn’t changing fast enough (though you would have to do some research before I would buy that argument), but to say that the department should be fixed by now is disingenuous at best. The Obama administration is responsible for its reaction to the oil spill (I’d say that they were a little slow out of the gate, but once the explosion happened even the most prompt and efficient response possible could have only slightly mitigated this disaster. Like the financial meltdown and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion this is another piece of the Bush Administration’s legacy of deregulation and I’m much more interested in what the Obama Administration and Congress are going to do to make sure that these type of things can never happen again rather than trying to place blame.

  9. Like the financial meltdown

    Nearly two years after the Wall Street meltdown drove the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse, and forced the U.S. government to prop up major financial institutions with hundreds of billions of dollars, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now claims that the Bush Administration prohibited its own top officials who were handling the emerging crisis from briefing Congress until a complete financial collapse was only hours away.

    http://www.thefoxnation.com/nancy-pelosi/2010/05/03/truther-pelosi-says-bush-knew-market-would-crash-kept-it-secret

  10. What Speaker Pelosi failed to mention was that President Bush warned the Democratic Congress 17 times in 2008 alone about the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties.

    Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, as the President’s repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems.

  11. FYI:

    BP Oil Slick The Result Of Republican DOJ And Regulatory Policy
    By: bmaz Monday May 3, 2010 7:23 pm Tweet32 Share55

    The economic and environmental damage resulting from the exploding fireball compromise of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform may be unprecedented, with the potential to emit the equivalent of up to four Exxon Valdez breakups per week with no good plan to stop it. There will be plenty of finger pointing among BP, Transocean and Halliburton, while it appears the bought and paid for corporatist Congress put the screws to the individual citizens and small businesses by drastically limiting their potential for economic recovery; all in the course of insuring big oil producers like BP have effectively no damage liability for such losses.

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/05/03/bp-oil-slick-the-result-of-republican-doj-and-regulatory-policy/

  12. If I recall correctly, I think Federally they will be limited to 75 million. However, if they have been found not to have acted in a reasonable manner, then the cap can be lifted. This is why they are trying to finger Haliburton and Transocean.

  13. JOHN KING, CNN: Let me ask you lastly. When something like this has people look back at political relationships. Of the top 20 recipients from the oil and gas industry ever in the Congress, you rank number 14th. In the 2008 campaign you were the number one Congressional candidate in terms of receipts from BP after only President Obama, then candidate for president Senator Obama, and Senator McCain. There are some who say if you’re going to be the watchdog you should give that money back.

    SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU, (D-LOUISIANA): I’m not trying to be a watchdog for BP. I’m trying to be a good senator for this country and for Louisiana and to bring a balance to our energy policy, which is protecting our coast, fighting for energy security and a clean environment. I want to say again, John, this is important. We’ve drilled 1,000 deep-water wells in the gulf successfully. 1,000 except for this one. So the fact that do you it 999 right and then 1 wrong doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and run in hysteria. What you do is find out what went wrong —

    KING: Even if an ecosystem is destroyed for ten years?

    LANDRIEU: It may not be destroyed for ten years. We’ll see what happens. I know there will be environmental challenges but we believe we have the technology to clean it up to compensate for people. Look, if New Jersey wants to give up their oil, if Florida wants to give up their oil, fine. But they’re going to have a crash in their economy. We’ve got to transition to cleaner fuels, but we need to have the oil industry safe. Transition, use natural gas as a transition and then transition to wind and solar. Even the secretary of energy, who briefed us today in a speech, said it may take 50 years. It’s 50 years, not 5 years or 3 years, not 10. It’s 50 for this transition. Revenue sharing which I’ve been saying the leading advocate of saving our wetlands and saving our coast, this is a perfect example of why I think I’ve been right and the senators along the gulf coast to say we do receive 100 percent of the risk. Let us share a portion of those revenues to preserve our wetlands, to invest in technology and hold the industry accountable.

  14. We wouldn’t have to drill in a dangerous place like the ocean if the leftists would let us use our land resources. Apparently, we are the Saudi Arabia of shale oil.

  15. tOOTIE:

    Big field in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado area. A few trillion barrels.

    http://dailyreckoning.com/oil-shale-reserves/

    This article says 1.5 trillion, I have seen estimates of up to 3 trillion barrels. Price of oil is at about 80/barrel depending on the date. Nov of this year has it at 87/barrel.

    Cost of production of barrel in tar sands/shales according to the article would be $30/barrel. Worst case it costs you $25/barrel that leaves minimum 55/barrel as profit. National debt times about 4. No wonder Obama doesnt give a shit about the debt.

    Unfortunately government owns 70% of the land. But it was set aside in the first part of the 20th century for Navel reserves.

  16. Or government could render oil practically obsolete by backing CO2 free hydrogen production technologies at companies like Hydrogen Solar or Areva, Tootles.

    Hydrocarbons suck. They pollute when consumed and they pollute when extracted and mishandled. Economically, oil is the product of the enemies of democracy. Let’s reduce market demand for oil until the Saudis and the heads of Exxon, BP, etc. are forced to drink that Texas Tea to get rid of their overstock.

  17. Byron–

    “But it was set aside in the first part of the 20th century for Navel reserves.”

    Are you sure it was set aside for “Navel” reserves? Is that the location where the government stores excess bellybuttons?

    ;)

  18. Byron:

    The Navy needs sandy interior lands? LOL I think the government is pulling my leg.

    I’m joking, I understand what you mean. We could pay off our debt to China with that stuff. But I wouldn’t want to do it because democrats cannot be trusted to stop spending money. Then we would still be in debt, still trampling the Constitution, and left without resources.

    I’m for getting at that stuff AND changing over to clean means of running our cars and powering our homes.

    Most people are, I think.

  19. I am all for nuclear power and fuel cells. I like the idea of running my car by filling it up with watter.

    someone said that oil is too valuable to burn it up.

    If the environmentalists had not stopped nukes we would have most of our energy provided by atoms by this point.

  20. Yeah, damn environmentalists… trying to save the earth and all that… damn rabble…

    If there’s a culprit for the failed US energy policy, it is certainly not those who are trying to avert the extinction of the human race by way of making the planet uninhabitable.

  21. FFN,

    A good part of opposition to drilling in Colorado comes from tourism interests. For some reason people don’t like going to other states that used to be pretty.

  22. France gets about 70% of it’s power from nukes. I dont see French wine and cheese glowing.

    anyway it is not the extinction of the human race that they care about.

  23. Not at the top of my game today, that also should have been addressed to Tootie and Byron.

    On the plus side, Left Hand’s new year round beer, 400 Pound Monkey, is fantastic.

  24. http://www.cfcl.com.au/

    website for ceramic fuel cell technology, this is a good idea.

    Gyges:

    I go to Colorado to look at oil rigs :) and there is nothing better than fishing next to one in the Gulf. Well maybe not for awhile.

    why didn’t they call it 800 pound monkey? Is it only half as debilitating?

  25. Byron,

    But do you go to Colorado for vacation to look at oil rigs? The name is because one of the brewers likes to joke “Any Monkey and throw 400 pounds of hops in their wart.”

  26. Gyges,

    Well, I suppose economic interests are not the most principled ones for saving the planet, but I’m sure environmentalists will not balk at their help on this issue.

    Byron,

    I wonder what you believe the ulterior motives of environmentalists are?

  27. FFN:

    Personally I would say that some are in it for power and for money. Al Gore comes readily to mind.

    But the funny thing is that green would naturally occur as our technologies develop. The irony is that you cannot force technology and you cannot manipulate markets. When you manipulate markets you end up with stagnation, see the old Soviet Union, and you stop or impede innovation.

    But hey good luck with what you guys are trying to do. You think it is Buck Rodgers in the 25th century, but it will end up more like Gork the cave man, 25,000 years BCE.

  28. The guys on the Manhattan Project would belie your assertion that technology cannot be forced, Byron. So would the guys who work at L/M Skunkworks and NASA.

    As to the rest of what you say about markets, that’s apologist nonsense once again defending the unregulated market. It also shows you are incapable of attributing any other motive than profit to an endeavor or person’s character, probably in a fit of projection. Plus smearing the opponent with one’s own sins – and that is what a corporatist accusing environmentalists of profit motives is – is just a Rove play. Oh yeah. Everyone who wants to help restore the environment has a profit motive. It has nothing to do with wanting their kids and grandkids to have safe air, water and food or an interest in salvaging a rapidly decreasing biodiversity which benefits us all. It’s all about the money. Uh. Huh.

    You may think environmentalism is a step “back towards the caveman” but better that than the wasteland Mad Max dystopian future unchecked industrialism promises.

  29. Buddha:

    a life or death struggle is a tad bit different. Anyway that could not have been sustained.

    Al Gore has a motive, everyone has some motive. His is probably power not money.

    Nothing wrong with profit, it has given us the standard of living we currently enjoy.

    So you think that people like me don’t like clean air and water or want our grandchildren to be healthy? Yes we do like those things, we just think a free market is the way to do it. The Soviet Union was an environmental nightmare. And yes we had some problems in the past that needed to be addressed.

    To think that some environmentalists don’t have a profit motive flies in the face of fact and reason.

    Mad Max is our future unless we embrace free markets and get rid of statism. How much different do you think Mad Max is from a cave man? Not very much.

  30. Byron said:

    Nothing wrong with profit, it has given us the standard of living we currently enjoy.

    President Obama said:

    We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned.

    I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.

    But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.

    Unquote

    How much money is “enough”?

    At what point, exactly, did Bill Gates make ‘enough money’ on his road to earning billions, much of which is devoted to medicine and charity?

    The President and his wife made $5.5 million last year. Is that enough money?

    How about Al Gore, who is said to have earned up to $150 million promoting the ‘global warming’ scam (or is it called ‘climate change’ now, I forget?). A man who, at last count, had at least four luxury homes scattered throughout the world including his latest acquisition, an Italian-style mansion with ocean views and nine bathrooms, in Montecita, California. Is that enough money?

    What should we make of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google? Little more than ten years ago, they were college students struggling in their dorm room to create a new way to search the web.

    A decade later, Page and Brin were worth a combined $36 billion as the founders of Google.

  31. Byron,

    Thanks for again proving all you can see is money. You are rapidly devolving from apologist to fascist. What you seek is clearly corporatism. You think statism brought about that Mad Max future? Try “wars for oil” on for size. It’s made pretty clear in the montage sequences. And the difference between a natural environment (say like cavemen lived in) and one polluted with industrial toxins? That distinction is self-evident. What you may want for your children is irrelevant if you make a toxic Earth a self-fulfilling prophecy in your economic myopia. You simply insist on reducing everything to a dollar value and the world you’ll leave them will be spent.

  32. Bdaman:

    enough money is what the government tells you is enough. It always works like that with statists, they love the power of control. You control the purse strings you control the people. A free and prosperous people don’t need government, but a people barely able to make a living and provide for their family does.

    What a scam, I take your money and then I give it back to you and make you kiss my ass and thank me for helping you out of a jam that I caused. Fing brilliant.

    And the best part is you love me because I am helping you. Pretty sick if you ask me.

  33. Buddha:

    a science fiction story is just that – fiction.

    The time, the place doesnt matter. The level of sophistication doesnt matter. What are the commonalities between Mad Max and a Cave man? How do they interact with others? What is the common thread?

    Force.

    And that is what statism, Fascism, Communism all have in common. And socialism to a lesser extent.

    But then statism covers all of those.

  34. And apparently corporations are free from the vice of violence as well as greed in your distorted money driven worldview?

    Matewan. Fascist Italy, Spain and Germany ring a bell? No harm done there! History says you’re full of shit in attributing any kind of purity of motive to corporations and corporatism.

    You want lawless corporatism, Buyron. You chafe at the notion any law that keeps you from “your” money. And that’s the mark of a fascist: Greed uber alles.

  35. Byron,

    As long as you want to subsidize corporations by protecting them from paying the costs of their pollution, you’re against the free market in my book.

  36. Buddha and Byron,

    Atlas Shrugged was just a science fiction story — and just fiction.

    Doubt it?

    When it came out, it was reviewed in Astounding Science Fiction — twice.

  37. Trade $$$$$ for the right to pollute. Cap and Trade = Scam. Global Warming/Climate Change = Scam

    More snow this weekend from the Rockies to Minnesota to Buffalo NY. Just remember the more CO2 you put in the atmosphere the hotter it will get.

    Here’s some of the latest headlines

    Snow in “sunny” Spain – Coldest May since records began – 6 May 10
    Snow In Southern France – 5 May 10
    Again? Yet another Alberta snowstorm! – 5 May 10
    “Very rare” snow in 18 municipalities in Mexico – 2 May 10
    Back to Ice Age?- Coldest in Korea in 100 years – 28 Apr 10
    8 – 10 inches of snow for North Dakota – 6 May 10
    Snowing in WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, ND – 5 May 10

    Arctic ice sets 30 records in April – One for each day
    2 May 10 – According to satellite data, the Arctic was more ice-bound
    each day of April than on any other corresponding day since its sensors
    began tracking the extent of Arctic Ice. This supports a growing number
    of reports that Earth could be in for a period of global cooling.

  38. Bdaman,

    Pay $$$$ for the right to pollute = free market. Pollute for free = corporate welfare.

  39. Slarti:

    “As long as you want to subsidize corporations by protecting them from paying the costs of their pollution, you’re against the free market in my book.”

    where have I said that? I am all for corporations paying to clean up something they polluted.

    Please show me where I have not said that all along.

  40. Byron,

    You have been clearly and consistently against charging corporations for the right to pollute. Getting them to pay for their messes afterward (especially through the legal system) is next to impossible in all but the most egregious cases and I don’t consider it a viable process. For a system to be workable (and respect the free market) it must assign a cost to the day-to-day pollution produced, not just the high-profile accidents.

  41. May 5, 2010 – Chicago – What is it with Illinois Democrats and failing banks? Recently, the bank owned by the family of Illinois State Treasurer Alex Giannoulias failed. Broadway Bank was shut down by the feds and was absorbed by MB Financial on April 23. Giannoulias is running for U.S. Senate against Republican Mark Kirk.

    This week, we get word of another pending failure of a Chicago area bank – this one favored and coddled by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (photo).

    On May 4, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that “Federal banking regulators have begun the process of accepting bids for ShoreBank Corp. in the event the community lender can’t raise the $200 million it needs to avoid failing.” (The failed Broadway Bank needed something like $90 million to avoid failing.) Crain’s also reported that “Under an amended regulatory order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Illinois Division of Banking, ShoreBank has until May 21 to raise the needed equity. But regulators have been known to seize banks before their capital-raising deadlines.”

    This story is about much, much more than just ShoreBank. It’s about corruption, the $10 Trillion cap-and-trade scam, the continuing attempt by Schakowsky and the Democrats to seize control of America’s energy policies, and more. It’s about the Joyce Foundation, which is a major shareholder of ShoreBank and also a major player in the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). CCX trades in “greenhouse gases.” Franklin Raines, George Soros, Al Gore, Goldman Sachs, Barack Obama and others are big players in this story.

    ALOT MORE HERE

    http://rogersparkbench.blogspot.com/2010/05/failing-shorebank-cap-and-trade-and-jan.html

  42. Obama Administration will probably ignore the American Cancer Society as well, Why? because A cover letter urges President Obama “most strongly to use the power of his office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.” but the American Cancer Society says government experts are overstating their case.

    Here’s the Story

    U.S. Panel Criticized as Overstating Cancer Risks: the President’s Cancer Panel report on cancer risks from chemicals and other hazards in the environment has drawn criticism from the American Cancer Society, which says government experts are overstating their case. The government’s 240-page report, published online Thursday says the proportion of cancer cases caused by environmental exposures has been “grossly underestimated.” It warns of “grievous harm” from chemicals and other hazards, and cites “a growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer.”

    Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist from the cancer society, said in an online statement that the report was “unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer,” and had presented an unproven theory — that environmentally caused cases are grossly underestimated — as if it were a fact.

    The cancer society estimates that about 6 percent of all cancers in the United States — 34,000 cases a year — are related to environmental causes (4 percent from occupational exposures, 2 percent from the community or other settings).

    Suggesting that the risk is much higher, when there is no proof, may divert attention from things that are much bigger causes of cancer, like smoking, Dr. Thun said in an interview.

    “If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” he said, adding that poor nutrition, obesity and lack of exercise are also greater contributors to cancer risk than pollution.

    But Dr. Thun said the cancer society shared the panel’s concerns about people’s exposure to so many chemicals, the lack of information about chemicals, the vulnerability of children and the radiation risks from medical imaging tests.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/health/research/07cancer.html

  43. Slarti:

    if pollute for free is corporate welfare, which by definition is government subsidization of corporations then to pollute for free is a form of government involvement in business and as such is rightly called fascism or socialism.

    Which I am totally against.

    The funny part of all this is that my way would cause much more pain to corporations than your way. I would actually require them to compete with no government assistance of any kind and the courts would be the referee in the case of a wrong or deleterious action on the part of a corporation. There would be companies going out of business right a left or getting stronger because of the need to actually compete.

    You all want to coddle them I want to engage in survival of the fittest. Competition it’s what’s good for society.

  44. Obama Administration will probably ignore this too.

    Thursday, May 06, 2010
    Testimony of The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley Before Congress May 6, 2010

    The Select Committee, in its letter inviting testimony for the present hearing, cites various scientific bodies as having concluded that
    1. The global climate has warmed;
    2. Human activities account for most of the warming since the mid-20th century;
    3. Climate change is already causing a broad range of impacts in the United States;
    4. The impacts of climate change are expected to grow in the coming decades.

    The first statement requires heavy qualification and, since the second is wrong, the third and fourth are without foundation and must fall. The Select Committee has requested answers to the following questions:

    1. What are the observed changes to the climate system?
    Carbon dioxide concentration: In the Neoproterozoic Era, ~750 million years ago, dolomitic rocks, containing ~40% CO2 bonded not only with calcium ions but also with magnesium, were precipitated from the oceans worldwide by a reaction that could not have occurred unless the atmospheric concentration of CO2 had been ~300,000 parts per million by volume. Yet in that era equatorial glaciers came and went twice at sea level.

    Today, the concentration is ~773 times less, at ~388 ppmv: yet there are no equatorial glaciers at sea level. If the warming effect of CO2 were anything like as great as the vested-interest groups now seek to maintain, then, even after allowing for greater surface albedo and 5% less solar radiation, those glaciers could not possibly have existed (personal communication from Professor Ian Plimer, confirmed by on-site inspection of dolomitic and tillite deposits at Arkaroola Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia).

    In the Cambrian Era, ~550 million years ago, limestones, containing some 44% CO2 bonded with calcium ions, were precipitated from the oceans. At that time, atmospheric CO2 concentration was ~7000 ppmv, or ~18 times today’s (IPCC, 2001): yet it was at that time that the calcite corals first achieved algal symbiosis. In the Jurassic era, ~175 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 concentration was ~6000 ppmv, or ~15 times today’s (IPCC, 2001): yet it was then that the delicate aragonite corals came into being.

    Therefore, today’s CO2 concentration, though perhaps the highest in 20 million years, is by no means exceptional or damaging. Indeed, it has been argued that trees and plants have been part-starved of CO2 throughout that period (Senate testimony of Professor Will Happer, Princeton University, 2009). It is also known that a doubling of today’s CO2 concentration, projected to occur later this century (IPCC, 2007), would increase the yield of some staple crops by up to 40% (lecture by Dr. Leighton Steward, Parliament Chamber, Copenhagen, December 2009).

    Global mean surface temperature: Throughout most of the past 550 million years, global temperatures were ~7 K (13 F) warmer than the present. In each of the past four interglacial warm periods over the past 650,000 years, temperatures were warmer than the present by several degrees (A.A. Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006).

    In the current or Holocene warm period, which began 11,400 years ago at the abrupt termination of the Younger Dryas cooling event, some 7500 years were warmer than the present (Cuffey & Clow, 1997), and, in particular, the medieval, Roman, Minoan, and Holocene Climate Optima were warmer than the present (Cuffey & Clow, 1997). The “global warming” that ceased late in 2001 (since when there has been a global cooling trend for eight full years) had begun in 1695, towards the end of the Maunder Minimum, a period of 70 years from 1645-1715 when the Sun was less active than at any time in the past 11,400 years (Hathaway, 2004). Solar activity increased with a rapidity unprecedented in the Holocene, reaching a Grand Solar Maximum during a period of 70 years from 1925-1995 when the Sun was very nearly as active as it had been at any time in the past 11,400 years (Hathaway, 2004; Usoskin, 2003; Solanki, 2005).

    The first instrumental record of global temperatures was kept in Central England from 1659. From 1695-1735, a period of 40 years preceding the onset of the Industrial Revolution in 1750, temperatures in central England, which are a respectable proxy for global temperatures, rose by 2.2 K (4 F). Yet global temperatures have risen by only 0.65 K (1.2 F) since 1950, and 0.7 K (1.3 F) in the whole of the 20th century. Throughout the 21st century, global temperatures have followed a declining trend.

    Accordingly, neither global mean surface temperature nor its rates of change in recent decades have been exceptional, unusual, inexplicable, or unprecedented.

    Ocean “acidification”: It has been suggested that the oceans have “acidified” – or, more correctly, become less alkaline – by 0.1 acid-base units in recent decades. However, the fact of a movement towards neutrality in ocean chemistry, if such a movement has occurred, tells us nothing of the cause, which cannot be attributed to increases in CO2 concentration. There is 70 times as much CO2 dissolved in the oceans as there is in the atmosphere, and some 30% of any CO2 we add to the atmosphere will eventually dissolve into the oceans. Accordingly, a doubling of CO2 concentration, expected later this century, would raise the oceanic partial pressure of CO2 by 30% of one-seventieth of what is already there. And that is an increase of 0.4% at most. Even
    this minuscule and chemically-irrelevant perturbation is probably overstated, since any “global warming” that resulted from the doubling of CO2 concentration would warm the oceans and cause them to outgas CO2, reducing the oceanic partial pressure.

    Seawater is a highly buffered solution – it can take up a huge amount of dissolved inorganic carbon without significant effect on pH. There is not the slightest possibility that the oceans could approach the neutral pH of pure water (pH 7.0), even if all the fossil fuel reserves in the world were burned. A change in pH of 0.2 units this century, from its present 8.2 to 8.0, even if it were possible, would leave the sea containing no more than 10% of the “acidic” positively-charged hydrogen ions that occur in pure water. If ocean “acidification” is happening, then CO2 is not and will not be the culprit.

    2. What evidence provides attribution of these changes to human activities?

    In the global instrumental record, which commenced in 1850, the three supradecadal periods of most rapid warming were 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1975-2001. Warming rates in all three periods were identical at ~0.16 K (0.3 F) per decade. During the first two of these three periods, observations were insufficient to establish the causes of the warming: however, the principal cause cannot have been atmospheric CO2 enrichment, because, on any view, mankind’s emissions of CO2 had not increased enough to cause any measurable warming on a global scale during those short periods.

    In fact, the third period of rapid global warming, 1975-2001, was the only period of warming since 1950. From 1950-1975, and again from 2001-2010, global temperatures fell slightly (HadCRUTv3, cited in IPCC, 2007). What, then, caused the third period of warming? Most of that third and most recent
    period of rapid warming fell within the satellite era, and the satellites confirmed measurements from ground stations showing a considerable, and naturally-occurring, global brightening from 1983-2001 (Pinker et al., 2005).

    Allowing for the fact that Dr. Pinker’s result depended in part on the datasets of outgoing radiative flux from the ERBE satellite that had not been corrected at that time for orbital decay, it is possible to infer a net increase in surface radiative flux amounting to 0.106 Wm2year over the period, compared with the 0.16 W m-2 year-1 found by Dr. Pinker. Elementary radiative-transfer calculations demonstrate that a natural surface global brightening amounting to ~1.9 W m-2 over the 18-year period of study would be expected – using the IPCC’s own methodology – to have caused a transient warming of 1K (1.8 F). To put this naturally-occurring global brightening into perspective, the IPCC’s estimated total of all the anthropogenic influences on climate combined in the 256 years 1750-2005 is only 1.6 W m-2. Taking into account a further projected warming, using IPCC methods, of ~0.5 K (0.9F) from CO2 and other anthropogenic sources, projected warming of 1.5 K (2.7 F) should have occurred.

    However, only a quarter of this projected warming was observed, suggesting the possibility that the IPCC may have overestimated the warming effect of greenhouse gases fourfold. This result is in line with similar result obtained by other methods: for instance, Lindzen & Choi (2009, 2010 submitted) find that the warming rate to be expected as a result of anthropogenic activities is one-quarter to one-fifth of the IPCC’s central estimate. There is no consensus on how much warming a given increase in CO2 will cause.

    3. Assuming ad argumentum that the IPCC’s projections of future warming are correct, what policy measures should be taken?
    Warming at the very much reduced rate that measured (as opposed to merely modeled) results suggest would be 0.7-0.8 K (1.3-1.4 F) at CO2 doubling. That would be harmless and beneficial – a doubling of CO2 concentration would increase yields of some staple crops by 40%. Therefore, one need not anticipate any significant adverse impact from CO2-induced “global warming”. “Global warming” is a non-problem, and the correct policy response to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.

    However, ad argumentum, let us assume that the IPCC is correct in finding that a warming of 3.26 plus/minus 0.69 K (5.9 plus/minus 1.2 F: IPCC, 2007, ch.10, box 10.2) might occur at CO2 doubling. We generalize this central prediction, deriving a simple equation to tell us how much warming the IPCC would predict for any given change in CO2 concentration – ΔTS ≈ (8.5 ± 1.8) ln(C/Co) F.

    Thus, the change in surface temperature in Fahrenheit degrees, as predicted by the IPCC, would be 6.7 to 10.3 (with a central estimate of 8.5) times the logarithm of the proportionate increase in CO2 concentration. We check the equation by using it to work out the warming the IPCC would predict at CO2 doubling: 8.5 ln 2 ≈ 5.9 F. Using this equation, we can determine just how much “global warming” would be forestalled if the entire world were to shut down its economies and emit no carbon dioxide at all for an entire year. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 388 parts per million by volume. Our emissions of 30 bn tons of CO2 a year are causing this concentration to rise at 2 ppmv/year, and this ratio of 15 bn tons of emissions to each additional ppmv of CO2 concentration has remained constant for 30 years.

    Then the “global warming” that we might forestall if we shut down the entire global carbon economy for a full year would be 8.5 ln[(388+2)/388] = 0.044 F. At that rate, almost a quarter of a century of global zero-carbon activity would be needed in order to forestall just one Fahrenheit degree of “global warming”. Two conclusions ineluctably follow. First, it would be orders of magnitude more cost effective to adapt to any “global warming” that might occur than to try to prevent it from occurring by trying to tax or regulate emissions of carbon dioxide in any way.

    Secondly, there is no hurry. Even after 23 years doing nothing to address the imagined problem, and even if the IPCC has not exaggerated CO2’s warming effect fourfold, the world will be just 1 F warmer than it is today. If the IPCC has exaggerated fourfold, the world can do nothing for almost a century before global temperature rises by 1 F. There are many urgent priorities that need the attention of Congress, and it is not for me as an invited guest in your country to say what they are. Yet I can say this much: on any view, “global warming” is not one of them.

  45. Slarti:

    how can you respect a free market and tax companies? You cannot, the 2 are contradictory.

    I am never going to agree with you and Buddha and you are never going to agree with me.

    Political and economic freedom are corollaries to not have one is to not have the other. When I am not free to purchase what I want without coercion then I am not free.

    The power of the state to tax a company impacts me as an individual not the company. And government has too many favors to dispense for that to ever be fair.

    These concepts are quite simple, elementary really. You all say I have a blind spot, I say you have a blind spot. You haven’t/cant prove I am wrong. All I need to do is look out the window to prove you wrong, it is going on now and has been since 1913. Capitalism and socialism are incompatible, the problems you see are because of socialism. Look at Soviet Russia, shit look at Greece. Massive failures of socialism.

    And that is where we are headed.

  46. Byron,

    I neither want to coddle or punish corporations, I merely want to attach the proper cost to their actions so they can modify their behavior appropriately (you know – the free market). Your putative measures would be totally ineffective in lowering daily pollution and not all that effective in increasing safety in practice (unless you can give me an implementation plan that would actually work). Your ideas are so well thought out and reasoned in general, I don’t understand what is causing the blind spot you have here. If you can come up with a better policy (something that can actually be implemented) than my idea to tax pollution, I’d love to hear it – but so far you haven’t done that (you’ve just said ‘sue them when they screw up’ – which is neither efficient nor effective, in my opinion).

  47. Byron,

    Fine, don’t call it a pollution tax – call it a fee to purchase the right to pollute. Either corporations have the right to dump their garbage in your back yard or they should have to pay to purchase it. Which is it?

  48. Last month Al Sharpton claimed, “Americans overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected Barack Obama.”
    On Sunday the Democratic Leader stuck to his socialist theme. Sharpton told a congregation in Connecticut, “The dream was to make everything equal in everybody’s house”

    So, can we call them socialists now?

  49. Bdaman,

    Not unless we can attribute everything said by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Bachman to every conservative.

  50. Byron,

    Spoken like a true materialist. That’s not a complement. One must only respect property rights so far as they don’t infringe upon the human and civil rights of OTHERS. Your selfishness in dogma is really showing today. Or perhaps you’d like to explain to all the out of work fishermen how BP’s property rights or those of the shareholders trump their rights? You can’t see past your own wallet. Which is sad. Property rights uber alles? Even for the false person of corporate legal personality? Really.

    All your talk about respecting civil rights and human rights is rendered moot by your worship of property is the prime right. You might as well open a temple to Mammon in your front yard. Or better yet, a wallow.

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” – George Orwell. Never has your avatar been more appropriate since you’ve chosen to express ideals fit only for pigs.

  51. Never has your avatar been more appropriate since you’ve chosen to express ideals fit only for pigs.

    Damn dat boy I tell you is good. Jus has a way wit words.

    ROFLMAO you Capitalist Pig oink oink :)

  52. Buddha:

    I think you need to re-evaluate what I meant in response to Slarti. Namely a company doesnt have a right to pollute my backyard because I own the property.

    BP doesnt have a right to screw up the fishing rights of shrimp fisherman. The shrimp fisherman have been harmed by BP’s accident and in my opinion have a right to sue.

  53. Byron,

    The logical extension of the principle that no one has the right to dump trash in your back yard is that no one has the right to dump pollutants into the air, the water or the land. I’m all for property rights if you’re willing to take it all the way and when it comes down to it, the government is the only one that can act to defend our common right to the air, soil and water. Any system that doesn’t recognize that there is a cost to pollution that is not being paid by those doing the polluting is not a free market system.

    Buddha,

    Once again – total agreement on the fundamentals, different perspective.

  54. Buddha:

    “All your talk about respecting civil rights and human rights is rendered moot by your worship of property is the prime right. You might as well open a temple to Mammon in your front yard. Or better yet, a wallow.”
    ========================================================

    There are at least 3 people who agree with me:

    “The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.

    Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.”

    “Man’s Rights,” The Virtue of Selfishness Ayn Rand

    “Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men”

    John Locke 2nd Treatise on Government

    “The right to procure property and to use it for one’s own enjoyment is essential to the freedom of every person, and our other rights would mean little without these rights of property ownership. [It is also for these reasons that the government’s power to tax property is placed in those representatives most frequently and directly responsible to the people, since it is the people themselves who must pay those taxes out of their holdings of property.]”

    Thomas Jefferson

  55. Byron,

    Pollution of the air, soil and water is detrimental to the health and welfare of all the people and we have no recourse to the courts – there is no particularized injury (this is something that the birthers have trouble grasping and why all of their cases are dismissed for lack of standing). If any of the lawyers on this site could elaborate on this issue (or correct me if I’m wrong) I’d appreciate it.

  56. Slarti:

    I have been thinking about your contention.

    If I live down wind of a plant that has some toxic chemical gas as a waste product and it blows across my land and makes me sick and I can prove it makes me sick, haven’t I been injured? Especially if the sickness leaves me unable to make a living or it deprives me of my life. It has violated my individual right to life and as such I should be able to sue that particular company for any injuries they may have caused.

    But the company also has a right to exist (see John Locke 2nd Treatise on Government), which I don’t think you are denying, as it is the product of individual effort. But it also doesn’t have the right to infringe on my rights, just as I cannot infringe on your rights without some form of legal penalty.

    The problem with what you propose, at least in my opinion, is that when you tax a company for polluting the money does not necessarily go to the individual harmed by the actions of the company. The individual harmed by the company is the one that has a claim on redress, not society. If I live in Montana and you live in North Carolina you are not harmed. Why do you have a claim of injury against that particular company?

    And if the company can be punished by taxes and then also be sued how is that fair? Especially if they don’t cause any harm, they are then taxed on the possibility of harm.

    Maybe I am looking at this in the wrong way, I don’t think I am (obviously), but don’t individual rights trump civil rights or human rights? Which is what taxation would be addressing.

    It all, at least in my mind, boils down to the right of the individual to his own life to be free and to lead it the way he chooses. It is not about rich or poor or black or white or gay or straight, it is about the simple yearning of the human mind to be free. To deny that is to deny man his proper nature-a rational, reasoning being. I don’t want man or God telling me what to do, I can take care of myself and I respect other people enough to believe they have that capacity as well.

    Here are some thoughts on human rights:

    There is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the “right” to “redistribute” the wealth produced by others is claiming the “right” to treat human beings as chattel.

    “The Monument Builders,” The Virtue of Selfishness,

  57. I’ll say this real slow.

    Rand. You might as well quote PNAC or a rabid animal to me if that’s your “proof”. There is a reason most adults abandon both Rand and Salinger to their teenage years. One is a model of selfishness and the other a handbook for sociopaths. Most teens grow out of that. Well. Many. Some. The words of Rand as anything other than a bad example lack any substantial credibility as an operating philosophy.

    Locke. Personal property as a concept. Who’d have thunk it! Duh. Have I ever said we don’t need the concept of personal property? No. But thanks for the definition even if it’s logical application here is a non-sequitur.

    Jefferson. A corporations property rights are as big a fiction as their personalty. You keep equating personal rights to corporate “rights” when you defend corporations and corporatist behavior. Jefferson was talking about real actual natural humans, not legal constructs or the mechanisms to hide behind them. Do you not understand the words “false analogy”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_analogy

    Every time you quote Jefferson in defense of corporate “rights”, he spins in his grave. WHHhhhhrrrrr!!!!!

    Slarti,

    You are correct that standing requires a particularized damage in this instance. One cannot sue Company X over general environmental degradation, but if Company X’s actions rise to the level where a specific damage occurs to an individual or a populace then someone or some class (if certified for class action) damaged will have sufficient standing to bring suit.

  58. Now we’re getting somewhere.

    The problem is particularized injury and particularized cause. Smog in LA can be shown to be the cause of a certain number of deaths per year and certainly degrades the quality of life for millions yet it is not caused by a single source. In fact, the ‘carrying capacity’ of the planet is negatively effected by the cumulative pollution of worldwide industry as it overall quality of life. This is a global problem that has no individual solution – i.e. while cap and trade is a (small) step in the right direction (although not without its flaws), nothing you’ve suggested can possibly work. I believe that the logical extension of property rights to properties that are ‘owned’ by humanity as a whole makes the conclusions I’ve presented inescapable and that denial of this is tantamount to a massive corporate subsidy at the expense of our posterity. I’m not willing to rob your grandkid’s quality of life to give corporations more money because of the fear they will pass along the cost to me – that’s how the free market is supposed to work – you get what you pay for. Why you want companies to get something for nothing is beyond me. I don’t believe that companies have a ‘right’ to pollute any more than I have a right to vandalize your property.

  59. Buddha:

    I know quite a few adults who like Rand, they are for the most part quite decent individuals. If I understand the philosophy of PNAC correctly – projection of American values by force around the world, I am pretty sure she would be against that organization as well.

    But thank you for the suggestion, I will take it under advisement :) By the way I dont agree with everything she has to say but then I doubt you disagree with everything she has to say.

    As far as Jefferson and corporations go, I would be interested in more of what he had to say about them. I only can find the one quote. And so you will excuse me if I don’t put my faith in one snippet of his voluminous writings nor do I ever see the comment in context with what is going on historically. I would be in your debt if you would provide me with some additional thoughts of his on corporations.

    I might also remind you that Jefferson was a supporter of the French Revolution, at least initially and came to regret his support once he had determined the actual nature of that bloody abomination against the rights of man. Although brilliant, apparently not exempt from making a mistake once in awhile.

    Jefferson was always thinking and making changes to how he viewed things although he did have, at least in my mind, an overarching philosophy on which he based his opinions.

  60. Byron,

    I would note that neither Jefferson nor Locke nor Rand were aware of the global impact of industrial pollution when they wrote.

  61. Slarti:

    First off I dont think companies have a “right” to pollute because that is soiling my den and I have a right to a clean den.

    I am a little unclear on how this would be a corporate subsidy and why they would be getting something for nothing. I am also unclear on how government is going to use the tax money to clean my den once it has been soiled.

  62. Slarti:

    I am trying to figure this out, you have to start from some premise and move along testing the pros and cons. I may come out of this agreeing with you or at least having a better understanding of why I am currently thinking like I am or why you are thinking the way you are.

    I agree that pollution is a negative.

  63. Byron said:

    “I am a little unclear on how this would be a corporate subsidy and why they would be getting something for nothing. I am also unclear on how government is going to use the tax money to clean my den once it has been soiled.”

    Companies current ‘soil our den’ by dumping toxic waste into the air, water and soil. They do this because it is cheaper (generally free) than disposing of it safely (or as safely as possible). i.e. they make more money at the cost of the public health and the public’s quality of life. This is a gigantic subsidy to industry.

    Byron said:

    Slarti:

    I am trying to figure this out, you have to start from some premise and move along testing the pros and cons. I may come out of this agreeing with you or at least having a better understanding of why I am currently thinking like I am or why you are thinking the way you are.

    I agree that pollution is a negative.

    That’s a good idea – I’ve got to take care of some things right now, but I will think about this and write a post explaining my argument from the beginning – at the very least we should be able to determine where we disagree. We’ll start with the postulate that pollution is a negative and go from there…

  64. Byron,

    One quick note to answer your question – pollution tax money could go into something like superfund and be used for environmental cleanup projects.

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