Levees Not War
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Posts Tagged ‘BP’

Live-Blogging from Rising Tide 6

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

A conference on the future of New Orleans

Xavier University, New Orleans

Tune in to webcast here. Rising Tide 6 main web site here, and RT6 blog here. Photos here, here, and here.

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Usually we worry that Rising Tide might be disrupted by a hurricane—after all, it’s held each year on the anniversary of Katrina. Ironically, this year, while Hurricane Irene is lashing at the East Coast and New York City is evacating some 250,000 people from low-lying areas, the weather in New Orleans is warm (okay, hot), clear, calm. At the conference some of us are scratching our heads and asking of the millions who live along the East Coast, susceptible as it is to hurricanes, Why do they live there? 

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Dedra Johnson of The G-Bitch Spot Blog Wins 2011 Ashley Award 

Congratulations to Dedra Johnson of The G-Bitch Spot—a blog that doesn’t just have a great name, but shines with clear, independent thinking and sharp, sassy writing—in which “a mad black woman rants about New Orleans, insomnia, teaching, education, and ‘education,’ various -isms and anything involving a bitch, a spot or the letter g.”

4:30 Presentation of the Ashley Award 2011

Presented by Mark Moseley of The Lens and Your Right Hand Thief and Leigh Checkman of Liprap’s Lament.

The Ashley Morris award was established in 2008 to honor and remember the late Dr. Ashley Morris, one of the founding members of Rising Tide and still a guiding spirit. The award is given each year to someone who embodies Ashley’s fierce passionate defense of New Orleans, its people and culture. And the winner is . . . Dedra Johnson (see above).

3:05 Panel Discussion: New Orleans Food: Continuity and Change

Chris DeBarr, chef at Green Goddess, longtime N.O. blogger as “excitable chef”; Alex del Castillo, chef and owner of Taceaux Loceaux; Adolfo Garcia, chef and owner of RioMar, LaBoca, etc.; Rene Louapre, food columnist at Offbeat magazine; and Todd Price, freelance writer.

2:00 David Simon, featured speaker

Creator of HBO’s celebrated TV show Treme, set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and of HBO’s The Wire.

An argument against “standing.” Not clear at first what Simon means by “standing.” Sounds like a synonym for legitimacy, credentials.

Began as a reporter in Baltimore, covering police beat in a mainly African-American neighborhood. As a young reporter it struck me how few reporters would not want to ask questions to which they did not already know the answer. But I would ask anyone anything. Tells the story of a former Pulitzer Prize–winning Herald Tribune reporter who asks so many questions that an Esso executive complained to the editor why did you send this idiot to interview me? He didn’t know anything; I had to explain everything to him.

As I approached New Orleanians to make the show Treme with Eric Overmeyer, I decided to hire local people, and determined to be very deferential to the people in this city who had suffered through such a terrible trauma. There are no rules. Standing is the lamest way of judging quality, authenticity. I don’t believe standing matters.

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Come Surf the Rising Tide : Aug. 28 in New Orleans

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

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We’ll be in New Orleans for Rising Tide 5—and you’re invited too. First, on Friday afternoon, we’re embarking on a boat tour of Barataria Bay southwest of New Orleans—thanks to friendly connections at the Plaquemines parish government, Loyola University, and the EPA—to see the BP oil spill’s effects on the Louisiana wetlands. Photos, reporting, and possibly video footage to come soon.

Rising Tide Volunteer Community Service Friday Aug. 27

Volunteers are pitching in with a food drive to assist the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, packing food boxes from 9:00 a.m. until noon, on Friday, August 27, at Second Harvest’s Elmwood warehouse at 700 Edwards Avenue (map). If you can’t make it to this event, please consider contributing to Second Harvest to help hundreds of families who have seen their jobs and livelihoods evaporate since the BP oil spill. Each year, Second Harvest provides emergency food assistance to nearly 263,000 people, including approximately 82,000 children and 40,000 seniors across 23 south Louisiana parishes.

Rising Tide program for Saturday Aug. 28

The Howlin’ Wolf, 907 South Peters Street

Details about participants here.

8:30 | doors open

9:30 | Opening remarks

9:45 | Public Safety panel : Brian Denzer, Susan Hutson, Allen James, Peter Scharf, N.O. Police Chief Ronal Serpas, Jon Wool

11:00 | Keynote speaker: Mac McClelland, human rights reporter for Mother Jones

12:00 | Environmental panel : Steve Picou, Len Bahr, Robert Verchick

2:00 | Politics panel : Peter Athas, Jason Berry, Jeff Crouere, Clancy Dubos, Stephanie Grace, Jacques Morial

3:15 | “Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans?” Presentation by engineer Tim Ruppert

3:45 | Presentation of 2010 Ashley Morris Memorial Award

4:00 | “Down in the Treme” panel : Maitri Erwin, Lolis Eric Elie, Eric Overmyer, Becky Northcut, Dave Walker, Davis Rogan

Also happening in New Orleans

New Orleans area Katrina anniversary events (NOLA.com)

President Obama to speak at Xavier University Sunday, Aug. 29, to commemorate 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans C.A.R.E. Free Clinic | Tues. Aug. 31–Weds. Sept. 1 at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd. Volunteers needed and welcome! Register to volunteer: www.regonline.com/nolacare | Patients call 1-877-236-7617

Historic New Orleans Collection : Katrina + 5: Documenting Disaster | May 12–September 12  |  Williams Gallery, 533 Royal Street

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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.

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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.”

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BP Oil Flood Brought to You by U.S. Supreme Court?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

[cross-posted at Daily Kos]

Let’s play what-if: Would the BP Oil Flood have happened if the Rehnquist Supreme Court in its Bush v. Gore ruling had not stopped the state of Florida’s vote-counting? We think maybe not. We think it’s not too far a stretch to say that the BP Oil Flood is a direct consequence of the Supreme Court’s 5–4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, about which dissenting associate justice John Paul Stevens lamented:

“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear.”

Even though the Clinton administration was not noted for its environmental activism, we can be sure that if Al Gore had gone from vice president to president—which he nearly did, at least by a half million popular votes—he would have been a tougher regulator of the oil and energy industry than George W. Bush. The Bush administration in effect was the oil and energy industry, with either direct or close ties (including substantial investments) held by the president, vice president, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security adviser and later secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, energy secretary Spencer Abraham, EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, commerce secretary Donald Evans, and on and on. The Bush method of cabinet selection—a sharpened version of the usual Republican way—was to appoint as secretary a person who came from the industry that would be overseen by the department in question, or disagreed with the department’s reason for being. For example, energy secretary Spencer Abraham, when he was a senator from Michigan, in 1999 had cosponsored a bill (S.896) to abolish the Energy Department and transfer the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the Defense Department.

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Oil Flood in Hot Water

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

It’s not like we really needed this extra twist of fortune, but the hurricane season that began June 1 and runs through the end of November (or as long as nature wants) is forecast to be “one of the most turbulent ever.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 14 to 23 named storms this year, of which 8 to 14 will become hurricanes and, of those, 3 to 7 will grow into major hurricanes with winds of up to 111 m.p.h. or more. Yes, that is the same NOAA that has just begun to confirm that the “oil plumes” that scientists have been talking about for several weeks now, and whose existence BP continues to deny, do in fact exist.

(Click here for a NOAA “Hurricanes and the Oil Spill” fact sheet, and here for NASA Earth Observatory images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some of which are trippy. And click here to see “Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster” at IfItWasMyHome.com. Key in your zip code and check the spread.)

It’s hard to know what effect a storm would have on the oil that has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for 50 days now (since Earth Day, April 20). A hurricane could blow oil all over hundreds of miles of land and make yet another unprecedented mess. It could help disperse the oil that has already spilled. Winds only churn down to several hundred feet of water, scientists say, so it would not roil the waters a mile deep where the leak is gushing (or are there multiple leaks?). Oil on the water’s surface might sap the storm’s energy to some extent, according to some scientists, though NOAA experts seem to discount that likelihood. Kerry Emanuel, M.I.T. professor of atmospheric science and author of Divine Wind, says that by reducing evaporation, oil could be heating the waters in the Gulf of Mexico—precisely the conditions that intensify hurricanes—but he said it is difficult to determine because the oil sheen on the water surface distorts satellite measurements of water temperatures. Click here for an interview with Kerry Emanuel, recorded shortly after Hurricane Katrina, on how warm water intensifies hurricanes.

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