Archive for the ‘offshore drilling’ Category

This week National Journal reports that former Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. and Trent Lott, R-Miss “are working together on a blueprint for energy legislation” through their role as co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Strategic Energy Initiative, and plan to release it in January. NJ notes that “their effort could gain traction: Both are held in high regard by their former colleagues, and the BPC is a serious player in the energy debate.

What NJ fails to mention is that both Dorgan and Lott are also lobbyists getting rich taking special interest money from a who’s who of major energy corporations, which raises the question: will their energy blueprint serve as yet another veiled, sophisticated sell for their high priced energy corporate clients? When does their respected “high regard” begin and their shilling for their corporate clients end?

Lott’s Breaux Lott Leadership Group represents ExxonMobilEntergy, GE, energy trader Goldman Sachs, National Propane Gas Association, Plains Exploration and Shell Oil. In addition, the Breaux Lott group is a subsidiary of lobbying giant Patton Boggs, so you should also include PBs list of energy clients: ATP Oil & Gas, the Mining Awareness Resource Group, Oil States International and the oil giant TOTAL.

Dorgan co-chairs Government Relations for Arent Fox, where his corporate energy clients include oil companies Denbury Resources & Noble Energy.

I’m sure there will be some good recommendations in the Lott-Dorgan energy report. And I’m sure there’ll be policies that will be controversial. At the end of the day, we just don’t know what made it into the blueprint because of policy merits or the special interest paycheck.

Tyson Slocum is Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @tysonslocum

BP Citizens Arrest

Rob Weissman at BP Citizen's Arrest Rally

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

The BP disaster taught us many things: namely, that giant corporations cannot be trusted to behave responsibly absent strong public oversight, and that if 11 workers die on your watch, or unprecedented ecological damage from your negligence occurs from your operations – that none of it matters: You can continue to operate, business as usual, securing more government contracts and enjoying record profits the same as before.

It reminded the American people about some essential truths relating to corporate behavior, the need for regulatory controls over corporations and the need for effective sanctions.

Congress and the Obama administration have refused to learn the lessons from the BP disaster. Exhaustive investigations showed that existing regulations are inadequate to prevent another offshore catastrophe. Yet deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has resumed, leaving workers and an already fragile ecosystem vulnerable. (See our tally of how many recommendations from the oil spill task force have been implemented, available at In fact, the bipartisan commission investigating the disaster just gave this Congress a “D” grade for failing to respond.

Regulations to enhance well design requirements and upgrade the emergency safety device that failed to contain the Macondo well blowout are still pending. But even before the ink dries on new regulations to address the safety failures that initiated the worst environmental and industrial disaster in U.S. history, some policymakers are working to weaken regulatory oversight of the drilling industry. In fact, several bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this year have contained provisions to weaken the lease review process.

New leases for more than 20 million acres of federal waters belie the fact that the industry has yet to prove that it can effectively contain the next well blowout.  In fact, new containment systems developed by the industry may not be able to be deployed under the intensive pressure of deepwater wells.

To protect our citizens and our environment, we need strong regulatory controls to curb corporate wrongdoing. Not only are we lacking strong drilling regulations, but we are handing out new leases to BP. We need tough penalties to punish corporate wrongdoers. The corporation that dumped 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico had net profits of $24 billion one year later.

Tell Congress to Pass Oil Spill Legislation



"Tyson Slocum" "Public Citizen" "Energy Director"

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

As the rising cost of gas becomes a prominent talking point in the 2012 presidential race, it is important to remember that it is impossible for the U.S. to produce our way to lower gas prices.

The days of cheap gasoline are over – and no amount of offshore drilling is going to change that.

Recently, demand for U.S. gasoline has plummeted. It’s down 5.4 percent – or nearly half a million barrels a day – from a year ago, marking the 24th week in a row that year-on-year demand is lower. At the same time, retail gasoline prices are up nearly 12 percent from a year ago – and continue to rise. Something isn’t right here.

Because oil companies and financial traders (think Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) make money by speculating on oil trades, the cost of gas continues to rise along with their profits. This practice was addressed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but since some of those rules haven’t yet taken effect, it’s business as usual for Big Oil and Wall Street alike.

Motorists are doing their part; we all continue to use less gasoline and conserve. Yet how has Big Oil responded to Main Street’s conservation efforts? It has shuttered refineries and begun exporting record amounts of refined petroleum. For the first time in 62 years, America is now a net petroleum exporter. (We still import half of our crude oil needs, but anemic domestic demand combined with high domestic oil production has resulted in an oversupplied domestic market, providing incentive to refiners to export.) The result is a dysfunctional market that has Wall Street and Big Oil cashing in while conservation-minded Americans pay the price.

There are two solutions. Short-term, we need to crack down on the speculators. Long-term, we need to aggressively invest in giving American families access to alternatives to expensive gas by investing in the electrification of the transportation sector and increasing deployment of mass transit. Until then, it’s more pain at the pump while execs cash in.



Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

"Tyson Slocum" "Public Citizen" "Energy Director"

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program

The Obama administration’s announcement today to expand offshore oil drilling is a terrible idea: It won’t lower oil or gas prices, and it puts taxpayers on the hook for accidents.

The last time the president made such an announcement, the BP disaster occurred two weeks later. We all saw how that ended. Obama should not be laying the groundwork for history to repeat itself.

Current law caps accidental spill liability at $75 million, far below what actual spill damages would likely be. This translates into a huge subsidy for the industry and puts the American people on the hook.

Congress has yet to pass reforms in the wake of that disaster – including raising oil companies’ spill liability from the current $75 million cap.

Opening new areas to drilling while failing to hold oil companies accountable for fleecing taxpayers on existing drilling leases is unfair. Obama should know better than to hold Big Oil’s support above Main Street’s interests.



It is inexcusable for the Obama administration to grant BP millions of dollars in leases to conduct exploratory drilling in the Gulf of Mexico without any substantial new safeguards in place. Has the administration already forgotten the devastation caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster?

The news that BP will be invited back into the Gulf comes on the very day that the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council said in a report that more needs to be done to prevent another Gulf drilling catastrophe.

And it is unforgivable that Michael Bromwich, the former head of the main offshore energy regulator, in October discounted the worst environmental disaster our country has ever seen as just “one incident,” saying that it did not justify “the administrative death penalty.”

Just one incident? Dismissing the BP disaster as “just one incident” is like calling Hurricane Katrina a little rainstorm.

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