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May 5, 2016

Co-founder of Greenpeace tells Radio NZ the organisation is encouraging trophy hunting

Co-founder of Greenpeace tells Radio NZ the organisation is encouraging trophy hunting

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation, Captain Paul Watson, made a statement on Radio New Zealand this morning, claiming that the organisation has completely betrayed everything it once stood for.

Inuit guides are being encouraged to chaperon wealthy trophy hunters that pay tens of thousands of dollars to shoot polar bears. Greenpeace is saying that it is a good thing in that it is enabling the Inuit to keep their jobs. Watson is accusing Greenpeace of using this as a front to gain favour with the Inuit in return for their support in their campaigns against oil companies.

Despite the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and European Union’s campaigns to ban the trophy hunting of Polar Bears, their efforts are being disrupted by Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, in this latest development. Canadian authorities, scientists and others have claimed that the hunt is sustainable.

Environment Canada reports that out of a 16, 000 bodied population of polar bears, the death toll from the elite shooters will be approximately 300 per year. This translates to roughly 2% of the population. They have asserted that issues with climate change and limited food resources are much more of a concern to polar bears.

Watson stated to Radio New Zealand that Greenpeace was not set up to be concerned with jobs and human issues, but to advocate for the protection of the environment, animals and diversity.



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January 19, 2013

US Navy ship damages Tubbataha Reef National Park

US Navy ship damages Tubbataha Reef National Park

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

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USS Guardian.
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The USS Guardian, a United States Navy vessel used for destroying mines, ran aground in the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef National Park in the Sulu Sea on Thursday, according to the US Navy.

The US Navy said the incident occurred at 2:25 a.m. local time about 130 km east-southeast of the province of Palawan in the Philippines and about 98 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa, the capital of the province. There were no reports of injuries nor signs of fuel leakage. The ship has a crew of 80 and had previously completed a port call at Subic Bay earlier in the week.

The US Navy also said they were investigating the incident. They also said in a statement, “The crew is currently working to determine the best method of safely extracting the ship”. An Avenger class mine countermeasures ship, the ship was on its way to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It is assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet and based in Sasebo, Nagasaki in Japan.

The US Embassy in Manila stated, “The Government of the Philippines was promptly informed of the incident and offered to assist the U.S. Navy, and we greatly appreciate their offers of assistance […] The safety of the Guardian’s crew and preventing harm to the environment are the U.S. Navy’s top priorities”. An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Palawan told reporters they have deployed a force offering to assist the Guardian.

Under sections 19 and 26 of the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act of 2009, Republic Act 10067, the US Navy can be charged with unauthorized entry and could pay 12,000PHP for each square meter of reef destroyed.

A similar incident occurred in 2005 when the Rainbow Warrior ran aground in the same vicinity. Greenpeace, an environmental advocacy group and owners of the Rainbow Warrior, were fined 384,000PHP (US$6,857) for damaging a reef area of 32 by 3 meters (105 by 10 feet).

Tubbataha Reef has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and covers 97,030 hectares. A diverse variety of coral reef and marine life currently take refuge within the park including sharks and turtles. The reef is also known as a popular recreational diving site.



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August 13, 2011

Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary

Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

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Fukushima I nuclear plant after the accident.
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Anti-nuclear protest in April, following the accidents at Fukushima-Daiichi.
Image: Steve Herman.

Devastation in Haramachi-ku, Minamisōma, following the Fukushima accident.
Image: Jun Teramoto.

US Navy sailors clearing debris from a harbor in Oshima.
Image: Eva-Marie Ramsaran.

As Japan last weekend marked the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, concern continues to mount about new revelations of elevated radiation readings following the March 11 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Evidence of unsafe levels of radiation within the food supply chain continues to emerge, with Japanese media reporting on Wednesday that a Greenpeace study has found radioactivity exceeding government-mandated levels in four out of eight fish samples taken from the Fukushima Prefecture.

The news comes as media reports of recent weeks have highlighted spikes in radiation readings at the crippled plant. On August 3, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported potentially deadly levels of radiation in the damaged reactors, including one reading of 10 sieverts per hour. Such levels are enough to kill a person “within a few weeks”, according to the World Nuclear Association, and are 250 times the readings recorded immediately after the disaster.

The radiation findings have further called into question the response of government and industry to the crisis, with renewed allegations of incompetence and dishonesty being levelled against Japanese authorities over the transparency of information released in the months following the disaster. TEPCO only conceded that “partial meltdowns” had occurred in up to three of the Fukushima site’s reactors last month.

In testimony to Japanese parliament in late July, Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Centre at the University of Tokyo, condemned the government’s response to the catastrophe. His criticism centered on inadequate radiation measurement methods and the failure to properly protect communities potentially affected by radioactivity from the stricken plant, citing the example of school bus routes passing through areas, such as Iitate-Mura, with unsafe levels of radiation.

Kodama says the “uranium equivalent” of the radiation from Fukushima amounts to “20 Hiroshima bombs”, while the natural decrease in radioactivity caused by the disaster is far slower than that caused by an atomic bomb: one-tenth against one-thousandth of original levels after a year.

“We should recognize from the start that just like Chernobyl, Fukushima I Nuclear Plant has released radioactive materials equivalent in the amount to tens of nuclear bombs,” he said during his parliamentary testimony. “The resulting contamination is far worse than the contamination by a nuclear bomb.”

Further criticism was levelled against authorities this week when The New York Times revealed that shortly after the initial disaster Tokyo bureaucrats had failed to warn evacuees in the Tsushima district that wind patterns were blowing radiation spewing from the Fukushima site towards them.

Despite the recent revelations, the ongoing fallout from the catastrophe has largely slipped from the mainstream international news agenda. Australian online publication Crikey! last week denounced the poor airing of contamination and accountability issues in the Japanese press, claiming it has been left to bloggers and social media to accurately portray the still-unfolding crisis.

It is in this context that unofficial citizen groups have begun conducting their own measurements of radiation levels at various sites around Japan. Yesterday, Al-Jazeera reported on one such group, called Safecast, whose US and Japanese investigators have discovered disturbing readings not identified by official government agencies. For instance, on August 7 the group uncovered ground readings of 20,000 counts per minute 28 kilometres from the stricken plant, well outside the government’s 20-kilometre mandatory evacuation zone.

“Getting into this has showed us there is a lack of data everywhere,” says Sean Bonner, the group’s director.

The Al-Jazeera report also quotes Jyunichi Tokuyama, a specialist with the Iwate Prefecture Agricultural and Fisheries Department, who said he was shocked to find radioactive hotspots up to 300 kilometres from Fukushima.

“The biggest cause of this contamination is the rice straw being fed to the cows, which was highly radioactive,” Tokuyama told Al Jazeera, reflecting fears about the effects of the disaster in terms of contaminated food supplies.

In the wake of the ongoing crisis, the Japanese government has pledged to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power, reflecting widespread public concern.



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October 21, 2010

Scientist demands end to US \’addiction to oil\’

Scientist demands end to US ‘addiction to oil’

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deepwater Horizon disaster
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Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

A scientist for the National Wildlife Federation, Doug Inkley, has criticised what he described as America’s “addiction to oil”. Inkley stated it is ultimately responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year.

Doug Inkley, a senior scientist working for the National Wildlife Federation, said that [the United States of] America’s “addiction to oil” was responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster six months ago.
Image: Flcelloguy.

Inkley commented on the incident, six months after the explosion which killed eleven rig workers and resulted in over 170 million gallons of crude oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico causing damage to marine wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.

Inkley is a senior scientist working for the National Wildlife Federation. He stated, “Looking back at what we knew six months after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska illustrates the danger of too quickly drawing conclusions about the full impacts of the Gulf oil disaster.”

“Six months after the Exxon Valdez disaster,” he continued, “the herring stocks in Prince William Sound seemed like they’d pull through. It wasn’t until the fourth year after the disaster that herring stocks collapsed due to a delayed population effect of the oil, devastating the people and wildlife that depended on them. Today, more than two decades later, this once-vital fish still hasn’t recovered.”

Cquote1.svg The aftershocks of the Gulf oil disaster will continue to cast a long shadow of uncertainty on the Gulf ecosystem and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it for years to come Cquote2.svg

—Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation scientist

His remarks echo those issued by another environmental organisation in July. Greenpeace demanded that BP, who the United States Congress has blamed for the disaster, take a “new direction” and end an “obsession with high risk, environmentally reckless sources of oil.”

A spokesperson for Greenpeace said, “[t]he moment has come for BP to move beyond oil. Under Tony Hayward the company went backwards, squeezing the last drops of oil from places like the Gulf of Mexico, the tar sands of Canada and even the fragile Arctic wilderness […] The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now.” Statistics show that the United States is by far the largest consumer of oil, using 20,680,000 barrels every day. Its closest rival, China, consumes only 7,578,000 barrels per day.

Inkley said incidents in the past showed there can be far-reaching effects. “The Exxon Valdez disaster was not simply one ecosystem earthquake – the aftershocks have continued to this day,” he said, citing the 1989 disaster which occurred when an oil tanker ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska.

“What tremors are still to come in the Gulf? The aftershocks of the Gulf oil disaster will continue to cast a long shadow of uncertainty on the Gulf ecosystem and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it for years to come,” pointed out Inkley. Adding, “[a]s I look back on my days in Louisiana’s wetlands wading through thick black oil in prime pelican habitat, I continue to wonder: How long must we wait for lawmakers to act to prevent future disasters? How many more lives, livelihoods and animals must be claimed by our addiction to oil?”



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September 20, 2010

Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say

Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say

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Deepwater Horizon disaster
Other stories about the Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 24 April 2011: U.S. Coast Guard investigation finds ‘poor safety culture’ contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 16 April 2011: Experts raise serious questions over safety of U.S. oil industry and warn another spill may be ‘unavoidable’
  • 30 March 2011: BP lose laptop containing sensitive claimant data
  • 21 October 2010: Scientist demands end to US ‘addiction to oil’
  • 20 September 2010: Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say
NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

Monday, September 20, 2010

A worker cleans up oily waste on the coast of an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of workers are cleaning up oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead that reached the shore a month after the ultra-deepwater oil rig exploded, killing 11 people.

The Deepwater Horizon is dead. Almost five months after an explosion rocked an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana and caused a natural disaster on a scale not seen before, BP yesterday announced that that the well has been completely shut off. Thad W. Allen, the former Coast Guard admiral who is heading up the response to the oil spill on behalf of the U.S. government said in a statement that the well now “poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico.” He also released a U.S. goverment department’s confirmation of the news. “The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has confirmed that the cementing operation on the Macondo well was successful, that the well has been permanently sealed with cement plugs, and that pressure tests verify the integrity of the plugs,” it read. BP released a statement, describing the sealing of the well as “a significant technological accomplishment and another important milestone in our continued efforts to restore the Gulf Coast.”

Early on Sunday morning, those aboard Development Driller III drill rig, which aided in the shutting down of the well, successfully conducted a pressure test, and concluded that cement pumped through a relief well into the Macondo well was going to hold. The tests concluded that the cement finally put an end to an environmental disaster that has affected BP, the wildlife on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the hundreds of people who make their living by fishing in the area. Forrest Travirca, who lives in Louisiana, said he was very angry with the response by BP and the authorities. “All the brown spots and patches you’ll see on this beach for the next nine miles is oil, too… And if you dig down a few inches or a few feet, you’ll see oil, too. And if you walk into that marsh back there, you’ll find oil,” he said. “So don’t tell me we dodged any bullets. Or that it wasn’t so bad. ‘Cause I’ve been out there every day since May dealing with all that oil we dodged. It just makes my blood boil.”

Admiral Allen admitted that the disaster was far from over. “Although the well is now dead, we remain committed to continue aggressive efforts to clean up any additional oil we may see going forward,” he said, adding that the response, lead by his team and BP “has been driven by the best science and engineering available. We insisted that BP develop robust redundancy measures to ensure that each step was part of a deliberate plan, driven by science, minimizing risk to ensure we did not inflict additional harm in our efforts to kill the well. I commend the response personnel, both from the government and private sectors, for seeing this vital procedure through to the end.”

The spill began in April, when Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing eleven people, after the blowout preventer failed. Oil began to leak into the Gulf, soon developing into the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. 4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, causing damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Extensive measures were used to prevent the oil from reaching the coastline of Louisiana, including skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.

BP released their internal review into the spill last week, but it was rebuffed by the head of Greenpeace’s energy campaign, Jim Footner, who said that it was “highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP.” However, he said, “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.” The report concludes by stating that decisions made by “multiple companies and work teams” contributed to the accident which it says arose from “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.” In their statement, BP said that they “will continue sharing what we have learned in an effort to prevent a tragedy like this from ever being repeated. We also believe that the industry will gain important insights on how to be better prepared to respond to any future incidents.”



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September 10, 2010

BP report into Gulf of Mexico disaster lays blame on other contractors

BP report into Gulf of Mexico disaster lays blame on other contractors

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Deepwater Horizon disaster
Other stories about the Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 24 April 2011: U.S. Coast Guard investigation finds ‘poor safety culture’ contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • 16 April 2011: Experts raise serious questions over safety of U.S. oil industry and warn another spill may be ‘unavoidable’
  • 30 March 2011: BP lose laptop containing sensitive claimant data
  • 21 October 2010: Scientist demands end to US ‘addiction to oil’
  • 20 September 2010: Deepwater Horizon oil well finally dead, authorities say
NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

Oil  spreading north-east from the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico

In their report on the disaster, BP shifts a large proportion of the blame to other contractors, including Transocean and Halliburton. The report was likely written with the company’s legal liability for the disaster in a prominent position. The executive summary is four and a half pages long—and the first page is made up entirely of legal disclaimers—if BP was found to be negligent in their operations of the rig, they could be fined a good deal more.

BP released their report into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year on Wednesday, and shifted much of the blame for the explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, onto Transocean, the company managing the rig. The report concludes by stating that decisions made by “multiple companies and work teams” contributed to the accident which it says arose from “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.” The report, the product of a four-month investigation conducted by BP’s Head of Safety Operations, Mark Bly, criticizes the oil rig’s fire prevention systems, the crew of the rig for failing to realize and act upon evidence that oil was leaking from the surface of the ocean, and describes how BP and Transocean “incorrectly accepted” negative pressure test results. The document goes on to note that the blow-out preventer failed to operate, likely because critical components were not operational.

Bob Dudley, who will become chief executive of BP, described the accident as “tragic”. He said, “we have said from the beginning that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was a shared responsibility among many entities. This report makes that conclusion even clearer, presenting a detailed analysis of the facts and recommendations for improvement both for BP and the other parties involved. We have accepted all the recommendations and are examining how best to implement them across our drilling operations worldwide.” The report included 25 recommendations, according to a press release, “designed to prevent a recurrence of such an accident.” The oil company has previously blamed Transocean and Halliburton, the well contractor, for the disaster and BP executives feel they have been unfairly blamed by US politicians for the disaster, and the report continues this view.

Tony Hayward, who was fired from the position of BP’s chief executive following multiple public relations issues, squarley places the blame for the disaster on Halliburton. “To put it simply, there was a bad cement job,” he said in a statement, also claiming that BP should not be the only company to take the blame for the explosion. “It would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident,” he argues. The report blames the type of cement used by Halliburton, designed to prevent harmful hydrocarbons from reaching the seabed, as well as criticizing the crew of Deepwater Horizon, for failing to realize for forty minutes that oil had started to leak from the well, and once it was realized, the crew “vented” the hydrocarbons “directly onto the rig”.

Describing how the explosion, which killed eleven rig personnel, occurred, the report states that “the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system probably transferred a gas-rich mixture into the engine rooms,” where the hydrocarbons ignited and a fireball engulfed the rig. But, the report states, the blowout preventer, the ultimate failsafe on the Deepwater Horizon failed, likely due to the fire on the rig. An automated system was not operational because the batteries powering it, located in a control pod, had gone flat, and another control pod contained a faulty solenoid valve.

The report was likely, however, written with the company’s legal liability for the disaster in a prominent position, since they are facing hundreds of lawsuits and criminal charges as a result of the spill. The executive summary is four and a half pages long and the first page is made up entirely of legal disclaimers saying if BP was found to be negligent in their operations of the rig, they could be fined a good deal more.

Questions have also been raised as to why BP has chosen to release their report before authorities examine the blowout preventer. The energy editor of The Guardian, Terry Macalister, wrote that the “catalougue of errors – both human and mechanical” in the report “demolish” the oil industry’s “much quoted mantra” of safety first. “It may come first in the board room but it does not down at the wellhead where the real dangers are faced,” he wrote. “It is worth remembering that BP, its rig operator Transocean and the main well contractor Halliburton are the blue chip companies in the wider oil and gas sector. If the shoddy work practices highlighted here are what the best-in-class do, then what is happening in the lower reaches of this industry?”

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Transocean described the report as a “self-serving” attempt to “conceal the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo incident: BP’s fatally flawed well design. In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk – in some cases, severely.” In a statement, the company listed five issues they felt had contributed to the disaster that were no fault but BP’s. “Transocean’s investigation is ongoing, and will be concluded when all of the evidence is in, including the critical information the company has requested of BP but has yet to receive.” Members of Congress, who are also carrying out a review into the disaster, also dismissed the report. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts democrat who has been investigating the spill in Congress, said that he felt the report was simply a lengthy defense of the oil company’s handling of the spill. “BP is happy to slice up blame, as long as they get the smallest piece,” he said.

Bly acknowledged during a press conference in Washington that the report did not detail the charges raised against the company in Congress and that BP permitted a culture of recklessness to flourish. He did, however, reject suggestions that cost-cutting had put lives at risk and the rig was a disaster waiting to happen. “What we see instead is, where there were errors made they were based on poor decision-making process or using wrong information,” he said. The Guardian reported that “the report is narrowly focused on the final days before the explosion rather than on earlier decisions about well design and safety procedures. It is also closely focused on the rig itself. No BP officials have been sacked for their role in the explosion, and Bly said there was no indication of any blame beyond the well-site managers.”

The Associated Press reported that Bly “said at a briefing in Washington that the internal report was a reconstruction of what happened on the rig based on the company’s data and interviews with mostly BP employees and was not meant to focus on assigning blame. The six-person investigating panel only had access to a few workers from other companies, and samples of the actual cement used in the well were not released.” The report continued, “Steve Yerrid, special counsel on the oil spill for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, said the report clearly shows the company is attempting to spread blame for the well disaster, foreshadowing what will be a likely legal effort to force Halliburton and Transocean, and perhaps others, to share costs such as paying claims and government penalties.”

Heavily oiled Brown Pelicans wait to be cleaned of crude oil in Louisiana. Jim Footner of Greenpeace said that “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk … The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.”

Head of Greenpeace’s energy campaign Jim Footner said that it was “highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP.” However, he said, “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.” Alfred R Sunsen, whose oyster company operating in the Gulf of Mexico is facing the prospect of going out of business after 134 years, reacted angrily the the report. “The report does not address the people, businesses, animals, or natural resources that have been impacted by the disaster and will be dealing with the consequences of their inadequate and slow response to the disaster,” he said. The New York Times said that the report is “unlikely to carry much weight in influencing the Department of Justice, which is considering criminal and civil charges related to the spill,” and described it as “a public relations exercise” and a “probable legal strategy as it prepares to defend itself against possible federal charges, penalties and hundreds of pending lawsuits.”

Wayne Pennington, head of the geological engineering department at Michigan Technical University, also alleged that BP was wrong to blame other parties involved with the disaster. “The blowout and subsequent explosion and spillage appear to the result of an overall attitude that encouraged unwarranted optimism in the quality of each component of the job, allowing the omission of standard testing procedures, and the misinterpretation of other tests in the most-favorable light.” He continued: “Instead, skepticism should reign on any drilling job, and testing and evaluation at each stage of the drilling and completion would then be routine; instead of questioning the need for such things as the cement bond log, the companies involved should insist on checking and double-checking quality at each step of the process. This was clearly not done, repeatedly, in the case of the Macondo well, and disaster resulted.”

4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, causing damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Extensive measures were used to prevent the oil from reaching the coastline of Louisiana, including skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.

Dudley went on to say that BP “deeply regret” the disaster. “We have sought throughout to step up to our responsibilities. We are determined to learn the lessons for the future and we will be undertaking a broad-scale review to further improve the safety of our operations. We will invest whatever it takes to achieve that. It will be incumbent on everyone at BP to embrace and implement the changes necessary to ensure that a tragedy like this can never happen again.”



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April 1, 2010

Obama lessens US ban on offshore drilling

Obama lessens US ban on offshore drilling

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

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US President Barack Obama has announced that he will ease the country’s ban on offshore oil drilling, which has been in place since the 1980s.

According to the plan, offshore drilling would now be allowed in parts of the Atlantic, from Delaware down to 125 miles beyond the shoreline of Florida, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The move, however, does have some restrictions; drilling further northeast or along the West Coast is still prohibited. Contracts in Bristol Bay, Alaska were also suggested, but were scrapped due to environmental concerns.

The president remarked that he decided the move was needed to lessen the country’s need for additional energy, adding that he had studied the issue for over a year. “This is not a decision that I’ve made lightly,” he said.

“We’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources,” Obama continued, speaking at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. “My administration will consider potential new areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Drilling alone can’t come close to meeting our long-term energy needs, and for the sake of our planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now. I know that we can come together to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation that’s going to foster new energy — new industries, create millions of new jobs, protect our planet, and help us become more energy independent.”

Obama said that the plan was partially intended to garner support from Republicans in Congress for a climate-change bill to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which has been languishing for months due to lack of support from Republicans.

Some environmental groups, however, condemned Obama’s move. Phil Radford, who is with the Greenpeace group, said that “[e]xpanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change.” Greenpeace also said that lifting the ban fuelled the US’ “addiction to oil”.

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Republican leader for the House of Representatives John Boehner, meanwhile, said he agreed with lifting the ban in the Atlantic, but remarked that it “makes no sense” not to have lifted it in other areas as well. “Opening up areas off the Virginia coast to offshore production is a positive step, but keeping much of the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking ‘Where are the jobs?'”, he said.

“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but a small one that leaves enormous amounts of American energy off limits,” said the Senate Minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell.

According to the US Minerals Management Service, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Atlantic south and east of the continent could contain up to 5.8 billion barrels of oil and 40.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. The West Coast, meanwhile, which remains off limits for drilling, contains 10.5 billion barrels of oil with 18 trillion cubic feet of gas.



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December 8, 2009

Copenhagen climate conference opens

Copenhagen climate conference opens – Wikinews, the free news source

Copenhagen climate conference opens

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

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Logo for COP15, the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) has opened on Monday with calls for urgent action to curb climate change and global warming. The largest climate conference in history at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark is running for two-weeks from December 7 until December 18. Around 15,000 delegates including representatives from the private sector, environmental organizations, research institutions and government officials, as well as 110 heads of state and government from 192 countries, will attend.

Cquote1.svg A deal is within our reach. Cquote2.svg

—- Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

The COP15 Cultural Opening Ceremony played a four-minute long film called Please help the world by the Danish director Mikkel Blaabjerg Poulsen to highlight the danger of rising temperatures. The film depicts a young girl’s screaming nightmare about an eco-apocalypse with global warming, desert wastelands and terrifying floods. As the girl wakes from the nightmare she and other children implores us to ‘Please help the world’. Poulsen said, “We have made a film which speaks to the heart rather than to the brain”. There was also music from a trumpeter, a harpist and the Danish National Girls Choir.

The UN climate change conference, the climax of two years of contentious negotiations, opened in an atmosphere of hope. There was an upbeat mood for a deal to be reached within the next two weeks. At a press briefing, Connie Hedegaard, the president of the conference, said that “the deadline is working”, but “within the time we have, we must solve the task”. Lars Lokke Rasmussen stressed, however, that the talks will have to overcome the deep distrust between rich and poor nations on how to share the burden of curbing emissions. There has been a series of promises by rich and emerging economies to curb their greenhouse gases, but there are major issues yet to be resolved. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that a legally binding treaty on climate change will be reached in 2010.

Cquote1.svg Please help the world, please help save the World. Cquote2.svg

—Children from Please help the world.

The European Union has adopted a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels but the union will raise its commitments to 30% if other major players undertake “comparable commitments”. News that the United States Environmental Protection Agency ruled that greenhouse gases endanger human health may allow reductions of U.S greenhouse gas emissions. Quoting an unnamed diplomatic source, the Financial Times Deutschland has said the EU is to provide “1-3 billion euro” in aid to developing countries over the next three years so they can fight the effects of climate change and allow climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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The conference was accused of environmental hypocrisy for its substantial carbon footprint, including its extensive use of private jets and limousines. To reduce the conference’s environmental and climate impact, the Danish government will not give gifts to participants. The money will be spent on climate scholarships called COP15 Climate Scholarships, allowing 10-12 candidates to carry out 2-year climate related master’s programmes at Danish universities. Thousands of people are outside the conference building including groups such as Climate Justice Action, Friends of the Earth, Camp for Climate Action, 350.org and Greenpeace calling for urgent action. The environmental group Friends of the Earth condemned what it called “undemocratic practices adopted by the Danish presidency of convening small and exclusive groups of countries before the Copenhagen meeting”. A draft negotiating text has been publicly released, but it is rumored that there is an “alternate” treaty document being developed by some large countries in the negotiations, including conference organizers.

According to the Bali Road Map, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) and the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP5) must agree to a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012. Heads of states and governments of 110 countries have announced that they will come to Copenhagen before the 18th of December in an attempt to seal a political global climate deal. If a deal is reached, the UN will aim at transforming it into a legally binding text to replace the Kyoto Protocol, as its regulations of emissions expire in 2012.



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December 6, 2009

Tens of thousands protest in London before Copenhagen climate change summit

Tens of thousands protest in London before Copenhagen climate change summit

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through London earlier today, calling for a deal to be made at this week’s Copenhagen Climate Conference in Denmark. Similar such marches were held in Belfast, Dublin, and Glasgow.

According to the London Metropolitan Police, twenty thousand people attended the march. Organisers, however, claimed that about forty thousand people were present at the demonstrations. The march began at Grosvenor Square and continued all the way to the Parliament building on the Thames river.

The march contained members of groups such as Oxfam, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the World Wildlife Fund. Protestors were asked to dress in blue, supposedly to symbolise a “wave” of people around the Parliament building.

The chief executive of Oxfam, Barbara Stocking, said in a statement that “the UK government must fight for a comprehensive, fair and binding deal at Copenhagen — that is our demand today and we expect it to be fulfilled.

“They must return home with a strong, effective climate deal both for our own sakes in the U.K. and for the millions of poor people already suffering from the effects of climate change around the world.”



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July 30, 2009

Vestas protesters sacked with immediate effect

Vestas protesters sacked with immediate effect

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Vestas worker stays in touch with the outside world via his mobile telephone.

Eleven of the 25 workers at the Vestas factory in Newport, Isle of Wight, England who have been carrying out a sit-in since Monday July 20 have been sacked with immediate effect.

According to one of the protesters known as “Mike”, the occupiers were given their dismissal notices concealed under slices of their evening meal of pizza. The company said that the protesters have had ample opportunity to air their point of view, and had no choice but to sack eleven of the twenty five workers that they had positively identified; and that given that the fact that the action constituted a “fundamental breach” of trust, that the eleven would not be entitled to redundancy packages. A press release from the company said that Vestas “saw no other choice than to dismiss the 11 employees, who the company has positively identified as the employees currently participating in the occupation of the factory.”

The protesters remained upbeat, vowing to continue their occupation and have called upon the UK government to save the 625 jobs and to nationalise the Danish owned factory. Occupier Ian Terry told the BBC that if the occupiers are forced out, they plan to leave the building “peacefully”.

Vestas management were dealt a setback today in ending the occupation as Newport County Court ruled that the papers accusing the occupiers of aggravate trespass and requiring they surrender the office they occupy by July 29 were improperly served. The case has been adjourned until Tuesday August 4. In court, Judge Graham White said he was “distinctly uncomfortable” with what he perceived as Vestas’ effort to “get around the rules” in retaking the factory from the occupiers.

Legal representation for the Vestas workers had been offered by Bob Crow, secretary of the RMT trade union. Crow has pledged the “full solidarity” of the RMT and seven other unions with the workers occupying the plant.

Vestas management has also been providing the occupiers with hot meals in an apparent response to Crow’s announcement, made on July 24, that the RMT was planning on airlifting food into the factory by helicopter. Crow is meeting today with Ed Miliband, the Environment Minister.

Earlier in the week, Miliband pledged £6 million in funding to an expansion of Vestas’ Isle of Wight research and development centre, which currently employs 110 workers and could, said the Minister, be expanded to employ 40 more.

Vestas workers spend time outside on a factory balcony

Rallies continued throughout the week in support of the Vestas occupiers. Since the occupation began, the Vestas workers have received declarations of support and solidarity from a wide swathe of the British left, including but not limited to: political parties Green Party, Respect, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Alliance for Workers Liberty, and the Communist Party of Britain; the TUCG group, which brings together the BFAWU, FBU, NAPO, NUJ, PCS, POA, RMT, and URTU; and environmental groups Greenpeace, the Campaign against Climate Change, Climate Camp, and Workers’ Climate Action, who claims credit for initiating the campaign to occupy the factory. Attendees of the Big Green Gathering, a large annual environmentalist rally which was due to take place starting today but was suddenly canceled on Sunday, are being encouraged to go to the Isle of Wight and take part in support rallies for Vestas instead.

Speaking to Wikinews about the “red-green” coalition supporting the occupation, a spokesman for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty said: “We think this struggle is important on at least three grounds — it is central to the struggle for jobs, it is central to the struggle for the environment, and it is central to the struggle for rebuilding the labour movement.”

Photographs shared with Wikinews by the occupiers show the occupiers, mostly young men, talking, carrying out everyday tasks, and keeping in touch with the outside world via mobile phones. The use of mobile telephones in the Vestas occupation has given the press remarkable access to the occupiers and provided an effective platform for relaying their demands and feelings to the media. In contrast, Vestas’s designated media contact for the United Kingdom is on vacation. Attempts to reach Vestas Newport factory manager Patrick Weir, whom a Vestas representative at the company’s Danish headquarters stated was handling press inquiries regarding the occupation, received no reply.

Vestas plans to close the factory on July 31, citing the difficulties of obtaining planning permission for wind farms in the United Kingdom. All blades manufactured at Vestas’ Newport plant are sent to the United States. 1900 employees of the company in Northern Europe face job losses, 625 of them in Vestas’s plants in the south of England.



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