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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Archive for June, 2010

Gulf Coast Benefit Concerts on July 1, Coast to Coast

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

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In the spirit of Independence Day, nationwide concerts will be hosted by music venues on July 1st, 2010 to benefit those directly impacted by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill.

The organizers have created an ambitious goal: Gather music venues around the country to donate ticket sales on July 1st and create an online giving platform that encourages donations to the relief efforts. The fundraising goal is set to $500,000, which will be directed to the (nonprofit) Gulf Restoration Network, which provides assistance to the people, wildlife and wetlands affected as well as advocacy work throughout the Gulf Coast.

The organizers of the event include: Nic Adler, owner of The Roxy on the Sunset Strip; Megan Jacobs of The Roxy, Casey Phillips, talent buyer for venues including Tipitina’s in New Orleans and Viper Room & The Mint in Los Angeles, and Sloane Berrent, founder of Answer With Action and creator of The Causemopolitan.

Revenues from ticket sales will be donated to help the fishermen and their families along the Gulf Coast cope with this disaster in addition to wildlife and wetlands restoration for the Gulf Coast. Over 25 venues have been confirmed and more are being added every day. Artists performing include national as well as local acts across the US.

“We know through music and the generosity of people that we can help make a difference in the Gulf Coast,” says Nic Adler. “We hope this inspires others to make a donation, attend an event and get involved.”

The wetlands and wildlife are in desperate need of our attention now and can’t wait for BP to take care of those in need. Many of our fellow Americans in the foreseeable future will have no livelihood, are preparing to leave their homes and are now lining up for food handouts. With hurricane season on the horizon, there is reason for great concern and it’s crucial the affected communities be prepared for the worst.

Details on how to make a donation or find an event to attend in your area can be found on this site. Both the online giving platform and an online auction is going to coincide with the benefit concerts.

View the press release on Pitch Engine.

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FDR, Treehugger-in-Chief, Inspires Hopes for Coastal Conservation Corps

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

This past weekend we went to the 7th annual Roosevelt Reading Festival at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, that featured 21 authors of such works as FDR’s Alphabet Soup: New Deal America 1932–1939 (Tonya Bolden), Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill: How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal Era (Stephen R. Ortiz), and The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America (Raymond Arsenault), topped off with a keynote address by the eminent historian Alan Brinkley, author of a new biography, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“I Propose to Create a Civilian Conservation Corps.”

The author we most wanted to see—introduced by FDR’s grandson David M. Roosevelt (see below)—was Neil M. Maher, author of Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement (Oxford, 2008). Maher, an environmental historian at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, explained that Franklin Roosevelt’s conservationist credentials were strong even before he was governor of New York (1929–1932) and president of the United States; fittingly, while governor he was also president of the Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York.

As a young man Roosevelt became concerned about erosion on his family’s Hudson River estate, Springwood, and became “a tree-planting fiend” to prevent further soil loss and degradation and to restore his family’s farm to its former abundance. Roosevelt was stunned to learn that in the 1840s his ancestors had grown prizewinning corn; in the years since, the formerly rich topsoil had washed away. In the 1920s FDR launched an aggressive soil restoration program, directing the planting of about 20,000 to 50,000 trees per year on his estate. So committed was Roosevelt to trees’ restorative powers that once in the ’20s when he went to vote, he listed his occupation as “tree farmer.”

Only weeks after taking office, Franklin Roosevelt said in his “Relief of Unemployment” message to Congress on March 21, 1933:

It is essential to our recovery program that measures immediately be enacted at unemployment relief. . . . The first step is the enrollment of workers now by the federal government for such public employment as can be quickly started. . . . I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work, not interfering with normal employment, and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control, and similar projects . . .

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“Happy Days Are Here Again”

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Uplifted by the happy oyster video (below), we’re off to Hyde Park, New York, on Saturday 6/19 (taking a train, naturally!) for the seventh annual Roosevelt Reading Festival at the FDR Presidential Library—free and open to the public. The keynote address will be given by Alan Brinkley, New Deal scholar and Columbia University professor, and author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Oxford University Press, 2009). Along with Brinkley, one of the main attractions for us will be Neil M. Maher, author of Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the Environmental Movement (Oxford, 2008). We hope to meet with Dr. Maher and geek out on the CCC—one of the most popular New Deal programs, that FDR designed himself and signed into law in March 1933, his first month in office.

Authors will read from and discuss their books on the New Deal’s “alphabet soup” of agencies, FDR and Churchill, the G. I. Bill, Marian Anderson’s great Lincoln Memorial concert (arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt), a new biography of FDR’s political adviser Louis Howe, the quest for civil rights in the Roosevelt era and the flight of refugee Jews from the Nazi Germany, and much more.

Participating in the Reading Festival will be FDR’s grandson David B. Roosevelt. The program notes that “Mr. Roosevelt authored a concept paper (based upon the Civilian Conservation Corps) for the Clinton Administration which eventually became the National Civilian Community Corps department of AmeriCorps. As a consequence David B. Roosevelt was appointed to serve on the national board for the National Civilian Community Corps.”

Click here for the Reading Festival’s full agenda and author list.

Click here to read about Nick Taylor’s American-Made, a fine history of the WPA.

Click here or the photo above to hear Ben Selvin and the Crooners play “Happy Days Are Here Again” (1930).



“The Oysters Never Had It So Good.”

Friday, June 18th, 2010

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For anyone who might be concerned about the effects of BP oil on Louisiana seafood and needs reassurance that “oil will be well,” you just need to sit back, relax, and watch this 1960 newsreel of “progress at work” titled Lifeline to an Oyster, “presented as a public information service by the American Petroleum Institute.” (Note that “the trouble” is said to have started when the oystermen “claimed” that the oysters were being killed off by oil production. No complaints = no trouble?)

“The trouble started down in Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico when the Louisiana oyster fishermen claimed that oil production was killing off the local oyster population. The oil companies didn’t agree, but they agreed to look into the matter. . . .

“In the research laboratory, every type of condition is created for the ‘oyster patients.’ A blanket of crude oil is poured directly on the water. Water is jetted through oil for six months. Oil-drilling mud was emptied into the water. . . .

“Every possibility was explored. After years of study and progress, the results were in: The test oysters showed no ill effects from oil, even under conditions which far exceeded those ever present in oil production. As a matter of fact, the test oysters were so happy they brought forth new generations to share their luck. They never had it so good.”

Well then, if this wasn’t killing the oysters, what was?

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Tony Hayward, Stonewaller-in-Chief

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I am here today because I have a responsibility to the American people to do my best to explain what BP has done, is doing, and will do in the future to respond to this terrible incident. . . .

—BP CEO Tony Hayward, opening statement to House Energy and Commerce Committee

Throughout a day of testimony (mostly evasive, deadpan, occasionally apologetic) before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, BP’s Tony Hayward, lawyered-up and possibly sedated, claimed repeatedly that he did not know about the Deepwater Horizon well—did not even know it existed until after it blew—or about any decisions regarding it.

“I had no prior knowledge of the drilling of this well, none whatsoever,” he said to congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX). “With respect, sir, we drill hundreds of wells a year around the world.” Burgess shot back, “That’s what’s scaring me now.”

Click here for the New York Times’s live blogging from the day of Q&A.



From the Oval Office, Promises for Gulf Coast Restoration, MMS Rehab

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

We’ll look at the energy aspects of President Obama’s Tuesday Oval Office address “in the coming days” (as he might say). Meanwhile, we want to focus on two of the most promising elements of the president’s remarks (text here). First, about three minutes in, he pledged to appoint former Mississippi governor and now navy secretary Ray Mabus (a Democrat) to develop a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. [emphasis added]

I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.

The president recognizes that the land and the people of the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the ravages of Katrina and Rita (among other hurricanes) and that the oil industry has wrought damages in the delicate Louisiana marshlands over many decades. We are pleased to hear that a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan will be forthcoming—Obama himself outlined a recovery plan for New Orleans when he was running for president, though not in as fine a detail as John Edwards’s plan—but we want serious follow-up, close monitoring by the White House. To whom does Secretary Mabus report? When is the plan due? Obama says that the plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other Gulf residents.” We’d like to see conservationists closer to the front of that advisory panel, up there with “tribes, fishermen.”

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Fake President Rachel Maddow’s Oval-Office-in-Her-Own-Head Address

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Getting Real with a Fake President

Superb, every word of it, except maybe the part at the very end about the White Sox and the Red Sox.

Click here for the full text, and click the photo above or here for the video. Read it and share it. Watch it and weep for joy. Serious energy policy and disaster response could be built on this—much more serious than what has taken place in the past two months.

I’m here to announce three major developments in the response to the BP Oil Disaster that continues, right now, to ravage the beloved Gulf Coast of the United States of America.

. . . the first development in this disaster that I am announcing tonight: Never again, will any company, anyone, be allowed to drill in a location where they are incapable of dealing with the potential consequences of that drilling. . . . That will never happen again, as long as I am Fake President.

. . . tonight, as Fake President, I’m announcing a new federal command specifically for containment and cleanup of oil that has already entered the Gulf of Mexico, with a priority on protecting shoreline that can still be saved; shoreline that is vulnerable to oil that has not yet been hit. I have asked the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to assist me in the diplomatic side of this—in soliciting, greenlighting and expediting all international offers of help from experts in booming and skimming from all over the world. We will bring in the best experts and the best equipment from anywhere on Earth, to dramatically increase our efforts to get the oil out of the water, and off of the coast.

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Notes for Tonight’s Oval Office Script

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Very briefly, what we’re hoping to hear in the president’s address is a strong commitment to progressive energy legislation—the best of the Kerry-Lieberman and Waxman-Markey bills currently in Congress. (Here are some good, sensible specifics proposed by the Center for American Progress: “Obama’s Oil Reform Opportunity.”) We want to see the president’s hand firm and resolute in compelling BP’s compliance in stopping the volcano of oil and forcing much stronger efforts by BP in stopping the oil from spreading into the Louisiana wetlands. The half-assed band-aid booms they’ve laid out are not enough and are too sparsely monitored—and we also don’t want these “toxic tampons” dumped in Louisiana landfills as BP has been doing at Port Fourchon—at least 250 tons’ worth. We also want greater transparency by BP with information and an end to blocking reporters and photographers from doing their work.

But we don’t just want to hear about BP and its Deepwater Horizon gusher, because the current crisis could have happened to other oil companies, too, or at other BP rigs now drilling elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico (such as BP’s ominously named Atlantis rig, a well 7,000 below the surface and 150 miles from the coast of Louisiana—too close). We also want the president to tell us what he is going to do about cracking heads at the troubled Minerals Management Service division of the Interior Department that has allowed Big Oil to regulate itself—with evident results. Tim Dickinson’s stunning report in the June 24 issue of Rolling Stone (“The Spill, the Scandal and the President”) shows that MMS is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent and needs to be flushed out like the Augean stables. It may well be that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar should be banished to the same distant pasture where we’d like to see Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner grazing in exile.

We’ll be back with more soon after the president’s address. Note, though, that Obama will be addressing the nation from the Oval Office for the first time in his presidency, a sign of the gravity of the situation. This is the office from which John F. Kennedy apprised the nation of a buildup of Soviet missiles in Cuba in October 1962, and other presidents have set the stage for declarations of war.

Will we hear President Obama declare the equivalent of a manned mission to the moon, as even Joe Scarborough has said he needs to do? (“This president can say . . . by the end of a decade, America will break its dependence on foreign oil.”) Good idea, though we’re not holding our breath. But we are going to be pressing Obama and Congress for full-blown energy reform. As we said about ten days ago (“Welcome Back, Mr. President”), “Mr. President, a major, massive, fully committed national shift toward alternative energy must begin now. . . . Push for Energy Reform on the scale of the Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, the TVA, or the Apollo mission—or all of these combined.”