Come to the Muckraker’s Ball!

5 12 2008

muckrakers-ball

If you’re not busy on Saturday night, or even if you are, make plans to attend the 2008 Muckraker’s Ball & Award Ceremony!  No, alas, I had nothing to do with putting together this fabulous event, even though I’d love to take credit, and the name does seem fitting….

Each year Cook Inlet Keeper, an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Cook Inlet watershed and the life within it, chooses one deserving Alaskan who has spoken truth to power, and works to hold the government and corporations accountable for their actions.  Isn’t that a nice concept?   To this individual Cook Inlet Keeper bestows the honorary title  of “Muckraker of the Year.”  This year, the recipient is the amazing and incomparable Dr. Ricki Ott, “whose groundbreaking work has played a vital role shining a necessary light on the politicians, bureaucrats, and Exxon Corporation executives who have labored to cover up and ignore the devastation of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.”

Believe it or not, we are approaching the 20th anniversary of that event whose after effects are still being felt by residents of the Sound, fisherman, wildlife, and all who hold to that area as a symbol of wildness and beauty.

Dr. Ott will be signing copies of her new book, “Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.”

And who is up to emceeing this festive and auspicious event?  None other than Air American radio personality and Alaska blogger, Shannyn Moore!   It will no doubt be loads of fun, and promotes the good work of one of my most favorite organizations.

And to share a small bit of the spirit of Prince William Sound, the site of the Exxon disaster, I’ve added some pictures to the Flickr stream that you’ll find at the bottom of the sidebar.  Enjoy.

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Exxon Laughing Their Way to the Bank – Again.

28 06 2008

It always bothered me that the unchecked burning of fossil fuels would some day have  a beneficial effect for oil companies beyond the obvious.  Let me explain.  Oil is burned -> atmosphere is warmed -> ice melts -> shipping lanes in the Arctic open -> ice-free shortcuts and easier transportation for oil companies. 

The thing that adds insult to injury about this whole arrangement is the fact that part of the reason we’ve been slow to act in terms of cutting fossil fuel use, bankrolling alternative energy, and joining the rest of the world in their concern about global warming‘climate change’ is that we keep hearing about how the science is ‘divided’.  Because, after all, there are many scientists who don’t think there’s a problem, and even if there is, it’s certainly nothing WE’ve done….right?  They throw out all kinds of statistics about how there are some places actually getting colder, and weather in the Middle Ages, and this is all part of a natural cycle, bla bla bla. 

“Close your eyes”, they whisper…”It’s OK.  It’s not your fault.  Just keep doing what you’re doing.  You deserve a Hummer.  There, there…don’t let those nasty environmentalists scare you.  Close your eyes…”

Well, of course, these ‘climate experts’ who tell us to ignore our senses and what’s going on in Alaska, and choose the more pleasant scenario…the one that relieves us from culpability, are not just idiots.  They are bankrolled, and they are bankrolled by…you guessed it –  Exxon Mobil.  

Well now we hear some startling new information.  The North Pole may be ice-free this year.  Not by 2030 or 2040 as studies last year indicated.  This year.  What does this mean for corporate oil giants like Exxon?  Ice-free shipping for their tankers over the pole sooner than they dreamed, newly exposed areas for potential drilling, and more corporate allies to help them prop up their little groups of scientists who have sold their souls and their planet for some cold hard cash.

Exxon Mobil is going to be laughing all the way to the bank.  Oh, that’s right…they already are from that whole Supreme Court ruling thing the other day…  Well, as soon as they RETURN from the bank, they’ll laugh themselves right back again.  I hope they don’t get sore from all this laughing and running to the bank.

And any bumps in the road like those pain-in-the-ass polar bears, and Alaska natives will be taken care of by the State of Alaska’s capitulation.  They’ve got Gov. Sarah Palin, the congressional delegation, and half the legislature tucked snug in their corporate pocket.  Will all this change when we flip some of those long held seats and fill them with new more progressive successors?  We can hope so, but we shouldn’t take it for granted.  Oil has permeated more than just the beaches of Prince William Sound in this state, and it’s going to take politicians who are willing to risk (gulp) losing for speaking the truth.  Any takers?

And one final note.  This week the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.  Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy just to know they care?





Screwed.

25 06 2008

Well, the extremely predictable ruling came down from the U.S. Supreme Court today. In a 5-3 vote the court decided to hack and slash the original $5 billion, which had already been hacked and slashed to $2.5 billion in punitive damages owed to Prince William Sound fishermen and Alaska Natives affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to $507.5 million.

First, condolences to the 32,677 plaintiffs, their families, and all those affected by the spill who have been waiting and watching for almost 20 years, while lawyers get fat sucking on the marrow of the oil soaked bones littering the beaches of Prince William Sound. This was hard to take for ALL Alaskans, but for the plaintiffs, and all those who love the Sound, it was twisting the knife.

Second, to all those people who have bought into the idea that the oil companies have been good to Alaska by donating to charities, sponsoring sporting events, and plastering their logos on anything that doesn’t move (and some things that do), listen closely. They. Don’t. Care. Exxon has been fighting this since the moment the $5 billion was awarded to plaintiffs in 1994. Think that’s a lot of money? It’s not. Exxon’s recorded profits last year were $40.6 Billion. That’s PROFIT. Doesn’t make $507.5 million sound particularly punitive, does it? If the health, well-being and welfare of the Alaska people mattered to Exxon Mobil, these people would have been paid 13 years ago. So when you see the oil companies doing something that looks ‘nice’, remember it’s a cost of doing business to shut us up.

Third, any Alaskans who are outraged by this announcement today and are still planning to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential race – wake up. Who were the only supreme court justices voting with the Alaska people and against the interest of corporations? The progressives. Who were the ones that voted against the interest of Alaska? Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, & crew – those conservative judges that John McCain wants more of when he appoints the next 2 or 3 members of the court. Presidents are gone in four to eight years; Supreme Court justices last a lifetime. A court like this is what we get when so many Americans and Alaskans swallow the red Kool Aid, and don’t think about the political ramifications of their votes to their own interest when the chips are down. So, in November, think. Please.

By the time all is said and done a huge portion of the $507.5 million has evaporated with the shrinking value of the dollar since 1989, another huge portion went to the lawyers, 8000 of the plaintiffs are dead, and the Sound has still not recovered, and won’t in our lifetime. They got about 10% of the oil, they think. Sometimes in life, you get a cheap lesson…this wasn’t one of those times.

Don’t forget this when they tell you Pebble Mine won’t destroy the Bristol Bay fishery. Don’t forget this every time we negotiate with the oil companies about anything. Don’t forget this every time you see a warm fuzzy TV commercial, or see oil company logos every time you turn around. Don’t forget that anyone in our state to develop finite natural resources is here for the money. Period. And don’t forget this when you vote in November.





Pebble Mine Goes Big Time. Finally.

19 05 2008

 

There’s a great post about Pebble Mine on Daily Kos.  At this writing the poll question, “Have you ever heard of Pebble Mine?” fell out as follows:

Yes 29% (including me)

No 71%

Hopefully posts like this will help change those numbers.  Great maps, graphics and links. Check it out and email it to friends out of state who make up that 71%.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/5/19/151454/874/221/513382





Polar Bears Out of the Box and On the List.

15 05 2008

It’s quite astounding, really. Even the Bush administration appointees who are the rank & file in the War on Science had to admit this one. They raised the white flag, laid down their weapons and couldn’t bring themselves to deny it. I’m referring to yesterday’s resolution to list the polar bear as a ‘threatened species’ under the Endangered Species Act. I confess, cynic that I have become, that I didn’t expect this one.

Here’s the quote from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that really blew me away. “The right decision, as tough as it was, was to list the bear.” Yeah…(hand on Kempthorne’s shoulder)…doing the right thing can be tough. Especially when you’re not used to it. Now granted, he went on to basically say that yes, we’ve listed the species as threatened, but we’re not actually going to do anything about global warming. But he did say, flat out, there’s “no disputing the science”. Wow.

But Alaska’s congressional delegation – all three of them – despite the fact that the science is even overwhelming enough to convince the Department of the Interior, have decided that they know just a little bit more about science than…..the scientists. They know just a little bit more than the government agency that told the actual truth and made “the right decision, as tough as it was”.

Ted Stevens pulled his head out of the sand long enough to bestow these words of wisdom, “They’re gonna say this is global warming. It has nothing to do with global warming. This is a concept called climate change. It’s a concept of a process that’s been going on for years… This species is not endangered.” I’m so glad we’ve begun to explore the ‘concept of the process’ of climate change in Washington that will lead to the extinction of Ted Steven’s job.

Lisa Murkowski is afraid. Of what? “I am afraid that this decision opens a Pandora’s Box that the Administration will now be unable to close,” she said. Pandora’s Box? Isn’t that the box that contained all the evils of mankind? Anger, greed, slander, lies, vanity… I think this administration opened that box a long time ago, Lisa. But fortunately, as we all remember, the last little treasure we got from Pandora’s Box was hope. So maybe Dirk Kempthorne’s admission, ineffectual as it may turn out to be, is a reminder of that last ingredient.