Environment Forum

The Green Gauge: Chevron slides on oil spill news

ECUADOR-CHEVRON-TEXACO TRAIL

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico strikes close to home for Chevron as it faces a $27 billion lawsuit brought on by the indigenous people in the Amazon region of Ecuador for water pollution, and a fresh Chevron oil spill in Utah, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Company selections were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines June 5 to June 18 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

bot25 Chevron Corporation

The recent news surrounding the creation of a $20 billion escrow fund to pay for claims in the Gulf of Mexico has led to renewed attention in the past weeks to the $27 billion case against Chevron brought by indigenous people in the Amazon region of Ecuador.

The lawsuit which has stretched on for nearly 17 years seeks reparations for environmental- and health-related damages caused by the dumping of over 18 billion gallons of polluted water in Ecuador by Texaco between 1964 and 1990.  Last week two protesters were arrested during a House Energy Committee meeting after attempting to give a bottle of contaminated water from the Amazon region to Chevron’s Chairman John Watson.

Is Gulf spill the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history?

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is unquestionably the biggest spill in U.S. history, far surpassing the Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska in 1989.

 But is it the worst environmental disaster inflicted on America? 

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(PHOTO: An oil-coated Brown Pelican stands on Queen Bess in Bay Barataria near Grand Isle, Louisiana June 14, 2010. . REUTERS/Sean Gardner)

That is a question that some have been weighing in on. The New York Times last week posed the question to a number of environmental historians. It said several of them pointed to the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s as the mother of all U.S. environmental catastrophes.

Americans are ready for a climate bill

Sugar cane harvester

Rona Fried is the CEO of SustainableBusiness.com, a news, networking, and investment site for green business, including a green jobs service and a green investing newsletter. The following opinions expressed are her own.

We are in a dire situation. One that our president recognized in his oval office address on Tuesday night: America has postponed overcoming our oil addiction for decades. The first call to wean ourselves from oil came more than three decades ago by President Carter in the late 1970s. Had we done it then, the job would have been completed in 1985. It is beyond time to end our dependence on oil. And Americans are finally ready to do it.

Recent polls say Americans want the government to prioritize renewable energy. One conducted by Benenson Strategy Group found that 63% of voters support an energy bill that limits pollution and encourages companies to use and develop clean energy.

Giant offshore wind turbines invade UK beaches! Will local residents resist?

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By Kwok W. Wan

This time, it was a total surprise.  In a taxi on the road towards the beach, Gunfleet Sands appeared out of no-where and without warning.  Huge offshore wind turbines lined the English horizon.

My last encounter had been a far more distant affair, requiring a helicopter to see Robin Rigg in Cumbria, but Dong’s offshore wind farm was visible on the shore, visible from a car inland actually, and the giant machines pop up and startle you.

As we drove over the Frinton-on-Sea rail track earlier, the taxi driver pointed to the automatic electric barriers and said they replaced the hand-operated gates only last year, after the rail company overcame a three-year battle by residents who resisted the change.

The wrong odor for a rich ecosystem

Three oil-coated white ibis sit in marsh grass on a small island in Bay Barataria near Grand Isle, Louisiana June 13, 2010. Sean Gardner/REUTERS    It has an odd odor, oil mixed with dispersant. It’s reminiscent of the inside of an old mechanic shop or boat house, and out of place in the open water of Southern Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the state’s fragile marshland.

One one point during a tour of the bay to see damage from the BP Plc oil spill, Capt. Sal Gagliano stopped his boat in a spot where reddish brown specs of the oil and dispersant mixture accumulated on the surface. It is slightly gooey to the touch.

The pollutants are why he was ferrying conservationists and reporters around and not taking customers out to fertile fishing spots. In other years this would be his busy season.

Brazen disregard, from the wellhead to the tap

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– Erin Brockovich is an environmental investigator and activist and Ben Adlin writes social commentary and is a former Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. Any opinions expressed here are their own. —

As the wreckage of the now-infamous wellhead continues to spew oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico, evidence of environmental fallout comes streaming in.

Pictures of oil-soaked pelicans and dying dolphins emphasize our blight on land and sea.

from The Great Debate UK:

BP Gulf of Mexico crisis will transform the oil industry

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-Kees Willemse is professor of off-shore engineering, Delft University.  The opinions expressed are his own.-

The news that a huge metal cap has been successfully placed over several of the leaking oil vents at the Deepwater Horizon site marks a potential turning point in the Gulf of Mexico crisis.

It is already estimated that each day some 10-15,000 barrels of the oil that are spilling out into the ocean are being captured and diverted to ships on the sea surface.

from Tales from the Trail:

Lockbox may be making a political comeback

Republicans may be coming around to former Vice President Al Gore's way of thinking. Not on climate change, but on the "lockbox."

OIL-SPILL/During his failed 2000 presidential bid, Gore talked about setting aside Social Security tax surpluses and putting them in a kind of  "lockbox"  to keep them off limits for other government spending and tax cuts. NBC's "Saturday Night Live" comedy show made great fun of the Democrat's comment.

Now Senate Republicans have revived the idea.

Not for Social Security, but for the oil spill clean up fund. Democrats are proposing to increase the oil spill clean up fund tax to 41 cents a barrel from 8 cents a barrel. The increase is part of a bill being considered by the Senate to help the long-term unemployed, offer relief to cash-strapped states and extend some expired business tax breaks.

The Green Gauge: Rio Tinto takes a hit

AUSTRALIA

Global miner Rio Tinto enters the spotlight this week as one of its uranium mines in Australia leaks toxins into a river leading to the wetlands of the Kakadu National Park, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines May 22 to June 4 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

Company selections were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

Campaign ad equating global warming with weather gets “pants-on-fire” rating

MILKEN/By now, almost everybody — with the possible exception of Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina — realizes there’s a difference between climate and weather. Fiorina, running in the California primary and ultimately aiming to unseat Democrat Barbara Boxer, paid for and appeared in a campaign ad slamming the sitting senator for being “worried about the weather” when there are serious concerns like terrorism to deal with.

Take a look here:

A few problems with this ad earned it the not-so-coveted beyond-false “Pants on Fire” rating from Politifact, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalism website that checks on the truthfulness of political advertising. First off, Boxer didn’t say she was worried about the weather. She said that climate change was “one of the very important national security issues” — a position in line with the Pentagon and the CIA. The site also found that it’s not an either/or thing, that focusing on climate change doesn’t necessarily mean neglecting national security. They took a look at Boxer’s record and found she has supported at least six bills against terrorism.

“Fiorina casts climate change as something you need to pack an umbrella for, or that prompts you to curse at the TV weatherman — which strikes us as not only a trivialization of climate change but also a failure to distinguish between two well-established scientific specialties,” Politifact said. “She also ignores Boxer’s lengthy record supporting bills against terrorism. So we have to light up the meter (the site’s Truth-o-Meter): Pants on Fire!”

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