Wednesday, May 05, 2010

There's Only One Answer To Destructive Oily Politics-- And Democratic Congressional Candidates Are Speaking Up


While David Diapers Vitter runs around coastal Louisiana like one of Sue Lowden's chickens without a head, pleading with Lousianans who see their livelihoods going up in smoke because of his bought-and-paid-for ($766,535 in bribes) "Drill, Baby, Drill" posture to not turn him out of office, he's increasingly alone in his slavish pro-Big Oil stance. The Republican Governor of California, who has always been a Drill, Baby, Drill backer, has now backed away. "You turn on the television and see this enormous disaster, you say to yourself, 'Why would we want to take on that kind of risk?'" he said at a news conference near Sacramento. Vitter is still chanting "Drill, Baby, Drill" and I'm waiting to hear him agree, out loud, with Rush Limbaugh, that Obama caused the catastrophe... and on purpose.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, citing the damage caused to the environment by the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast, said Monday he is yanking from his state budget plan proposed new drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The governor had been a proponent of the Tranquillon Ridge project, which he'd said could generate $140 million for the upcoming budget year to help prevent cutbacks in state parks. Despite the governor's support, the project has stalled amid opposition from lawmakers and the state Lands Commission, which has jurisdiction over such oil leases.

Schwarzenegger said Monday he will not include the project in his revised budget plan, to be unveiled  May 14. He said the environmental risk is too great.

Schwarzenegger's announcement means there'll be no new drilling off California's coastline any time soon. Obama should do the same thing, and overturn the Dick Cheney oil policies that brought such lavish bribes into GOP coffers since 2000. Every environmental group in the country is demanding a moratorium and telling John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman to stick their "compromise" up their heavily-bribed asses.
As the environmental threat of the disaster grows by the day, green groups have become more explicit in demanding that any drilling provisions be removed from the bill. 

“Expanding exploration and drilling into previously protected and remote areas is unacceptable when it is clear that we are not capable of responding to oil spills in a timely manner,” several dozen groups wrote senators on Monday. 

“Provisions creating new incentives (such as state revenue sharing) or reduced safeguards for expanded offshore drilling are simply not acceptable.”

The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, National Audubon Society and others signed the letter.

Environmental advocates hope the oil crisis in the Gulf will lead lawmakers to provide stronger incentives for renewable energy and conservation programs to reduce the importance of fossil fuels and shift climate legislation that had been on a rightward track back to the left. 

Yesterday the two most progressive Democratic congressional challengers in California, Marcy Winograd and Bill Hedrick came out firmly against drilling off California's coast. Hedrick pointed out that his corrupt opponent has been clamoring for more drilling off Orange County's pristine beaches.
Said Calvert, author of the MORE Act that would allow drilling up to the beach “While (President Obama’s) plan opens up areas along the east coast and northern Alaska, it does not call for any exploration off the coast of California where ample oil and natural gas resources exist for development.”

Coastal Californians, indeed, I believe all Californians, value our state’s singular natural beauty. I will fight to preserve our coast and beaches, and I will NEVER support expansion of offshore drilling in California’s waters.

An ecological disaster of unprecedented scope is today striking the Gulf Coast. Oil from the explosion and blowout of the BP rig Deepwater Horizon will devastate the environmentally fragile region, perhaps for decades.

And oil company cheerleaders like Ken Calvert who have staked their careers on slogans such as “Drill, baby, drill,” are now seeing the consequences of their reckless policy and empty rhetoric. If Calvert has his way, California will be opened to the same type of drilling that is set to devastate the Gulf.

One explosion, blowout, or serious spill can cause decades of economic and environmental damage.  There is no such thing as a minor oil spill. It is shocking that our representative in Congress is the foremost proponent of a bill that would dangerously risk our future. 

When elected to Congress, I will support a real MORE Act-- more accountability for oil companies; more research dollars for alternative fuels, and more prosecution of environmental polluters like British Petroleum.

Marcy Winograd, fighting a tough battle against Blue Dog and shameless corporate shill Jane Harman, applauded President Obama's decision to put new off-shore oil leases on hold for now. She said, "May this be a wake-up call to Washington. The price of expanded coastal oil drilling comes at a terrible ecological price."

In an April 2nd statement responding to Obama’s decision to open new areas to drilling, Winograd said, “Our coast, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, is too precious to sacrifice for oil company profits and short-lived energy gains. We need a long-term vision for sustainability.”
Winograd authored the resolution that put the California Democratic Party on record opposing new off-shore and on-shore oil drilling off the California coast. Says Winograd, “The danger of off-shore oil drilling far outweighs the little oil that is harvested from these leases."

And it isn't just California Democrats putting their feet down on this. Natalie Mosher is running against one of the architects of the Republicans' "Drill, Baby, Drill" strategy. Thaddeus McCotter from a suburban district outside of Detroit. There is a very clear difference between Mosher's environmentally-friendly stand and McCotter's shilling for the Big Oil companies that have been so generous to his political career. "There are big differences in this race, but this is one that is crystal clear. Thaddeus McCotter may be able to look at himself in the mirror after choosing the side of Big Oil over the people-- but unfortunately for us, this time it has cost us more than dollars … it has cost us the heartbreak of damaging one of America’s natural treasures, our Gulf Coast & risking the livelihoods of those who depend on its beauty and bounty to earn a living."
The oil spill just off the coast of Louisiana is nothing short of a catastrophe and now threatens Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Entire industries are held hostage by an ever growing oil slick. Hard working Americans whose lives depend on the sea risk losing their jobs, and we all may see increased costs at the dinner table. While I trust that BP is working overtime to stop oil from gushing into our pristine waters of the Gulf, we cannot forget who favors expanding this type of drilling: Thaddeus McCotter.
In fact, McCotter even put his unflinching support of reckless offshore drilling into writing when he joined Newt Gingrich and other extremist Republicans in supporting the offshore drilling bill. And while I believe domestic drilling should be a part of our long-term energy strategy in America, reckless offshore drilling efforts need more precautions and oversight to prevent this from ever happening again. Just imagine the horror of a spill like this in our own Great Lakes.

If I were in Congress today, I would introduce legislation that put a moratorium on all new offshore drilling rigs until full planning and contingencies can be afforded to every rig off our coastlines. I’d also demand an immediate review of every offshore rig and their contingency plans in the event another spill occurs.

Late night comedians may think the BP catastrophe is worth joking about but most Florida politicians are freaking out as the oily slick gets closer and closer to that state's tourist and fishing industries, threatening to bankrupt an already tottering economy. Most-- but not all. Some hard-right corporate shills are sticking with Big Oil on this one.
The political rallying cry is no longer drill, baby, drill. It's spill, baby, spill.
Faster than oil slicks spreading on water, Florida's top politicians have spent the past few days jockeying for media attention, performing flyovers of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico and decrying the impact of the calamity on the Sunshine State.

Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, severed all ties to his previous statements extolling the virtues of oil drilling as a way to lower gas prices as long as it was done cleanly and safely. On Monday, he declared that any talk of drilling off Florida's coast should "cease and desist."

Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, running for governor, traveled to Mobile, Ala., on Sunday to meet with other attorneys general to discuss legal steps necessary to lay blame for the massive oil leak.

And Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, also running for governor, headed to Pensacola on Monday for a briefing on the oil spill by emergency operations officials and recommendations of ways the state can better respond.

"Those proposals need to be totally off the table forevermore," Sink said of new drilling plans.
She called on the federal government to push BP PLC to create an immediate cash fund for local governments and small businesses and urged businesses to prepare their records to submit damage claims... U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said she was disappointed she didn't get the entire Florida congressional delegation to sign a letter to President Barack Obama opposing oil drilling in the wake of the crisis.

In Tallahassee, Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Scott Maddox used the issue to take aim at his opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam.

"I think it's astounding that four days after the explosion, Adam Putnam was reaffirming his position in favor of offshore and near-shore oil drilling," Maddox said, asking all candidates for the Florida Cabinet to sign a pledge to oppose oil drilling off the coast.

Putnam, who had previously said he was "generally supportive of opening those areas'' to drilling, responded by saying he is "deeply concerned about the economic and ecological damage'' and accused Maddox of "complete ignorance of the issues in this race."

The two furthest right Florida politicians who give lip-service about being within the mainstream, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are both out there demanding more off-shore drilling. They're both certifiable crackpots. And the only member of Congress from a state starting with "F" who is still backing continued drilling off the state's fragile coastline is lunatic fringe John Mica. Everyone thought he voted for the "Drill, Baby, Drill" thing because of the lunatic fringe thing, but... it turns out his brother is a sleazy lobbyist for Big Oil. No conflict, he assures us.

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