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Author Topic: Fossil Fuels: Degraded Democracy and Profit Over Planet Pollution  (Read 23816 times)

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Patrick Parenteau:  Supreme Court plays politics with the Clean Power Plan 

Feb. 11, 2016

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Patrick Parenteau, who is a professor of law and senior counsel at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School.


In a move that stunned even the most seasoned court watchers, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan which seeks to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. The unsigned order, without any explanation, puts a hold on the rule pending the outcome of proceedings currently underway in the D.C. Circuit, which had earlier denied a stay. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor voted against the stay.

This action is unprecedented in a number of ways.

The majority made none of the findings typically required to obtain a stay.

There is no analysis of the merits of any of petitioner’s claims.

There is no showing that the rule threatens any immediate harm to petitioners, especially given the long lead times EPA has built into the process.

There is no showing that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in favor of the petitioners, especially given the fact that most states are well into the process of developing implementation plans and those that do not want to submit a plan don’t have to.

There is no showing that the stay is in the public interest, especially given the warnings from the scientific community that time is fast running out to avoid catastrophic consequences of climate disruption.

Never before has the court interjected itself in a case with such high stakes that hasn’t even been fully briefed and argued before the lower court.


Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Second Review of EPA’s Fracking Study Urges Revisions to Major Statements in Executive Summary
Wenonah Hauter | February 16, 2016 3:46 pm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) independent Scientific Advisory Board Members of the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel released today a second review of the U.S. EPA’s draft assessment saying that that they still have “concerns” regarding the clarity and adequacy of support for several findings presented in the EPA’s draft Assessment Report of the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies in the U.S.

Ray Kemble of Dimock, Pennsylvania, holds a jug of discolored water from his well, contaminated by nearby fracking operations while standing outside of the U.S. EPA building in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Food & Water Watch

Ray Kemble of Dimock, Pennsylvania, holds a jug of discolored water from his well, contaminated by nearby fracking operations while standing outside of the U.S. EPA building in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Food & Water Watch

This second draft report is still very critical of the EPA’s top line claim of no “widespread, systemic impacts” on drinking water from fracking and urges the agency to revise the major statements of findings in the executive summary and elsewhere in the draft Assessment report to be more precise, and to clearly link these statements to evidence.

In its own words, the EPA SAB “is concerned that these major findings as presented within the executive summary are ambiguous and appear inconsistent with the observations, data, and levels of uncertainty presented and discussed in the body of the draft Assessment Report.”

We are confident that this tension between President Obama’s EPA and the EPA’s own independent advisory board of scientists is a direct consequence of political considerations trumping scientific evidence on fracking, which demonstrates many instances and avenues of water contamination and many areas of problems and harms.

It is encouraging to see the EPA’s Science Advisory Board once again highlighting concern with what was clearly a mis-titled and misleading draft report from the Obama Administration on fracking and drinking water. Now it’s time for action. It’s time for the administration to go back, clearly articulate the hazards its own studies have identified, and honestly address the inherent dangers of fracking we know to exist.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Agelbert NOTE: Below please find a typical slap on the wrist for polluters in the USA. They literally DO get away with murder.   

Two firms fined for 2014 Colorado vapor exposure death

Staff Writers  February 18, 2016   

Two oil field services firms    have been fined a combined $14,800 for violations tied to the 2014 death of an oil field worker.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado-based DJ Basin Transport will pay a $5,000 fine and Texas-based Gibson Energy LLC will pay a $14,800 fine after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited both firms for failing to provide a safe working environment.

The citations were related to an incident of fatal exposure to toxic vapors that killed 57 year old John McNulty in 2014.

According to a forensic pathology report seen by the Denver Post, McNulty was working on catwalk between tanks at an oil site in Weld County, Colorado when he become unresponsive for “unknown reason.”

Federal health officials determined that McNulty likely died after he inhaled toxic vapors as he was measuring storage tanks.

OSHA cited both firms for failing to develop and use gauging and sampling procedures that did not expose employees to an oxygen deficient atmosphere or to hydrocarbon gases and vapors, the Denver Post added.

Neither firm has commented on the matter.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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The Profit Over Planet PIGGERY continues. Instead of investing in platforms for wind turbines, they keep making platforms for oil and gas extraction. They just don't get it.    :(

The new Marathon Oil Alba platform has been installed after being transported form Heerema’s Dutch fabrication yard to Equatorial Guinea.

Marathon Oil President and CEO, Lee Tillman   . said: “we reached a major milestone in Equatorial Guinea with the successful installation of the jacket and topsides for the Alba field compression project,”

The new platform is part of the Houston based oil company’s ongoing expansion     into the international sectors.


The climate is going to hell in a CO2 climate change hand basket.

But all the biosphere math challenged Oil Bastards from TEXAS  can say is:

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Text of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s speech to the Vermont Pension Investment Committee
Feb. 24, 2016, 10:11 am by VTD Editor

Editor’s note: This is the full text of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s presentation to the Vermont Pension Investment Committee on Feb. 23. Numbered footnotes appear at the bottom.

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to talk with VPIC about the urgent need for Vermont to divest from coal and ExxonMobil stocks.

I have called for Vermont to divest from ExxonMobil stocks. As Pulitzer-prize winning journalists have uncovered, ExxonMobil spent millions trying to persuade
 the American people not to support policies to fight climate change at the same
 time that their own internal research clearly indicated climate change was real.1

In the late 1990’s, as they designed their own offshore oil rigs to account for sea
 level rise, Mobil oil paid for advertisements telling the American people that
 climate science was uncertain and that the U.S. should not join other nations in a
 global climate agreement.2 Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, the great grand-daughter
 of ExxonMobil’s founder, donated her shares this year so that the proceeds could
 be used to support nonprofit work to fight global warming.3 After 15 years of
 failed shareholder engagement and meetings between the Rockefeller family and
 ExxonMobil to encourage diversification, she declared that “I lost faith in
 ExxonMobil’s future value.”4

Let’s be clear – If the Rockefellers cannot convince ExxonMobil to change,
 Vermont will not succeed in effecting change through shareholder engagement.

Rockefeller Goodwin wonders “[h]ow different things might be if Exxon and
 others had begun to pivot away from fossil fuels 34 years ago.” Instead, as “the
 enormity of the effects of its lies becomes more evident, ExxonMobil is positioned
 to supplant Big Tobacco as global Public Enemy No. 1.”5

She goes on to say what should be evident to all of us by now, “[t]his is not good for a company’s bottom line.”6

In testimony before the House and Senate Government Operations Committees
 last week, Vermont Law School Professor and former Public Service Board Chair
 Michael Dworkin discussed how ExxonMobil has significantly underperformed the
 S&P 500 over the last five years.7

Earlier this month several investment advisors indicated they were downgrading ExxonMobil to a sell or an underperform rating.8 Raymond James senior energy analyst Pavel Molchanov said even as the oil sector hopes for a recovery of value, “Exxon is probably the last oil stock you want.”9

For these reasons, we must divest from ExxonMobil and ensure we never
 buy another penny again

Divest from Coal

As you know, I have also called for Vermont to follow California’s lead and divest
 from corporations that derive 50 percent or more of their revenue from coal
 mining used to generate electricity, and put in a screen to ensure we never buy
 such assets again.10 Based on conversations my staff have had with the
 Treasurer’s Office, it is my understanding that out of the roughly $4 billion
 Vermont manages in pension funds, we have approximately $600 worth of stocks
 that fit this definition.

In the VPIC invitation letter to me you suggest that when it comes to divesting,
“[m]uch of the public discourse has been more about persuasion than a real
 assessment of the costs and benefits.” So for today, let’s put aside the fact that as
 a matter of moral responsibility, Vermont should not be invested in coal when our
 state is the tailpipe to the dirty energy choices made by states to our West. Let’s
 put aside the fact that coal is responsible for acid rain which has harmed our
 forests, and mercury pollution that puts poison into our fish such that pregnant
 women and children have to limit their consumption. Let’s put aside the fact that
 coal burning is a leading contributor to global warming that threatens the future
 of our planet. Let’s put aside the fact that Vermont is a leader in combatting
 climate change and together with California we can lead the country in making
 the right choices for our planet. Clearly those arguments have not persuaded this
 committee to-date to take action.

So today let’s discuss the facts about why I believe in addition to being bad moral,
 environmental, and health policy, it is straight forward bad economic policy for
 the State of Vermont to be invested in coal stocks:
 o Financial Institutions Agree, Coal is a Bad Investment – Recognizing that for
 the planet to have any chance to slow and reverse the trends of global
 warming, many large financial institutions are exiting the coal industry. In November of 2015, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley joined Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs in pledging to “stop or scale back support for coal projects,” according to Bloomberg Business.11 In a statement Morgan Stanley said “[w]e will continue to shift our lending and capital-raising efforts toward cleaner and renewable sources of energy and reduce the proportion of our energy financing to coal mining and coal-fired power generation.”12

Wells Fargo stated that it “will continue to limit and reduce our credit exposure to the coal mining industry.”13 A new report from Citigroup delivers the news that if we are serious about meeting the agreed to climate target of 2 degrees Celsius then fossil fuel companies have stranded assets that have to stay in the ground totaling approximately $100 trillion, with coal companies accounting for more than half of that potential loss in value.14 Not the type of industry I would want my money invested in, or Vermont’s money invested in.

o Coal Use and Mining is on the Decline – In the mid-2000’s coal represented 50 percent of our nation’s power supply, today it accounts for only 35 percent according to the Energy Information Administration.15 That trend is likely to continue, because no new coal plants are being built. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for the entirety of 2015, a total of one new coal plant came online, producing a mere 3 megawatts of capacity. Compare that to 50 new natural gas plants totaling nearly 6,000 megawatts, or 69 wind farms totaling nearly 8,000 megawatts, or 248 solar plants totaling over 2,100 megawatts.16 The market has spoken and it’s divesting itself of coal.

As we use less coal for electric generation, coal mining both in the U.S. and
 globally is stalling. Reports from China indicate that based on lower demand,
 it plans to close over 4,000 coal mines. 17 In another blow to the industry, President Obama recently took strong action to halt new coal mining leases on public lands.18 According to the New York Times, “[t]he move represents a significant setback for the coal industry, effectively freezing new coal production on federal lands and sending a signal to energy markets that could turn investors away from an already reeling industry.”19 Perhaps it is not surprising then that CNN reports that the Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index, which captures the value of large coal corporations, “has lost a stunning 95 percent of its value since July 2011.”20

o Coal Companies are Failing – As a result of the decline in coal mining, coal
 electric generation, and coal financing outlined above, coal mining companies are failing. The second-largest coal company, Arch Coal, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and “Arch cited weakening demand for coal in filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.”21 That follows bankruptcy filings by other major coal companies such as Walter Energy, Alpha Natural Resources, and Patriot Coal.22

Let me spend just a minute talking about Alpha Natural Resources. Alpha purchased Massey Energy before going bankrupt, and Massey, if you recall, was headed by Don Blankenship, a CEO who was found guilty this past December of willfully conspiring to violate safety standards.23 Massey is the company found to have covered up safety violations related to the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 coal miners in 2010.24 If you think this is an isolated incident, think again. An investigation by NPR in 2014 found 2,700 mine owners who collectively owe $70 million in outstanding fines for safety violations they have not paid, and who committed a total of 130,000
 violations and had nearly 4,000 worker injuries since their initial fines went unpaid.25 I want all of our friends in the Vermont labor community to remember that if we say no to divesting from coal, we are saying yes to the idea of investing your hard-earned dollars in mining companies that have not shown a high regard for the lives and welfare of their workers.

California saw the light. Their legislature passed a bill to divest from coal, Governor Jerry Brown signed it, and it had support from diverse stakeholders including the SEIU public employees union and the Insurance Commissioner.26 The Board of the California State Teachers Retirement System voted affirmatively to divest its holding from U.S. coal companies, and Investment Committee Chair Sharon Hendricks said of the decision “[w]e determined that given the financial state of the industry, the movement of the regulatory landscape and coal’s impact on the environment, its presence
 reflects a loss of value.”27

Vermont Has a Proud History of Using Divestment as a Positive Tool for Change

I know I don’t need to tell this committee that in each of the preceding three decades, Vermont has stepped up to use divestment, thoughtfully and cautiously, when other recourse for extraordinary societal challenges had been exhausted. We used divestment to get out of companies that did business with South Africa under Apartheid in the 1980’s, thanks to leadership from then-Senator Peter Welch and Governor Madeleine Kunin. Former Representative Don Hooper said that the year Nelson Mandela was released from jail he visited South Africa and asked business leaders there why Apartheid failed. The answer he got back was “Apartheid failed because all your little divestments in Madison, WI, Cambridge, MA, the state of Vermont…made South Africa an international pariah,” helping reduce capital and investment needed for economic growth.28

We used divestment, under the leadership of then-Treasurer Jim Douglas with
 support from the legislature, to get out of Big Tobacco in the 1990’s. We owned
 more than $21 million in tobacco stocks back in the late 1990’s, but somehow
 back then it was deemed prudent and within the fiduciary responsibility to get rid
 of all of them. Then-Treasurer Douglas confirmed with the Attorney General that
 divestiture does not violate the trustees’ fiduciary responsibility.29 According to
 Pensions and Investments which wrote about the divestment at the time, “[t]he
 Vermont funds have some of their tobacco investments in an index fund with
 Alliance Capital Management, but Alliance indicated it can create a tobacco-free
 index without a problem, Mr. Douglas said.”30 Today we hear the argument that
 we cannot possibly divest of $600 of coal stocks and get our fund managers to
 screen out coal, but back in the 1990’s Jim Douglas managed to divest of many
 millions in tobacco stocks and get fund managers to create a tobacco-free index
 screen without a problem.

We used divestment under the leadership of then-Treasurer Jeb Spaulding to get
 out of businesses operating in Sudan in 2007, after the tragic events in Darfur.
 Then-Treasurer Spaulding said: The Committee believed it would be prudent, from a fiduciary position, to refrain from owning securities in companies listed on the Sudan Divestment Task Force Highest Offenders list, because the value of our portfolio could suffer if we continue holding these securities while other investors take affirmative action to sell securities on the list. Personally, I hope that by joining with other institutional and individual investors, we can do our part to apply economic pressure on the Sudanese government and companies they do business with to get serious about ending the horrific atrocities still taking place in Darfur.31

I want to ask each of you here today, and I do not mean this to be rhetorical, please raise your hand if you believe Vermont should still own Big Tobacco

Please raise your hand if you think Vermont should not have divested from South Africa at a time when Nelson Mandela was languishing in prison?

Please raise your hand if you think Vermont should not have divested from Sudan while people were killed and starved to death?

Now please raise your hand, if you still think we should invest our money in the coal industry?

Divestment in Vermont has been a seldom-used, but necessary tool to confront major challenges and put us on the right side of history. I take issue with those who say it is a slippery slope. In our form of government, elected officials live on that slope – it’s called democracy. I take issue as well with those who view divestment as symbolic, or a meaningless gesture. If Vermont were going it alone, maybe it would be symbolic. But by divesting from coal and ExxonMobil we would be joining our $4 billion in assets with $3.4 trillion worldwide that has already committed to some type of fossil fuel divestment.32 That is not a meaningless amount of investment. That represents not just our friends in California, but also Europe’s largest insurance company, many religious and educational institutions, and many large municipal pension funds and national sovereign wealth funds around the world.

I know the argument to-date seems to be around the process for making this decision. However, it does not matter if the legislature passes a bill, or if VPIC decides to make the right decision. The process is not ultimately what this is about. It is about Vermont using our power as an investor to put pressure on coal companies economically, and to protect our pensioners from holding securities that have a bleak future. As the coal industry continues to suffer economically and harm our environment and our health, and as ExxonMobil continues to oppose changing its business model even at the urging of our own Treasurer, this committee can continue to delay and to study. Or this committee can take action. I believe the time has come to act on our values, and divest. 

1 Amy Lieberman and Susan Rust, LA Times “Big Oil braced for global warming while it fought regulations,” Dec. 31,
 2015, available at: http://graphics.latimes.com/oil-operations/
 3 Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, LA Times (published in Valley News), “Giving Up On ExxonMobil,” February 16, 2016,
 available at: http://www.vnews.com/opinion/21086384-95/column-giving-up-on-exxon-mobil?print=true
 11 Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg Business, “Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley Join Banks Edging Away from Coal,”
November 30, 2015, available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-30/wells-fargo-morganstanley-join-banks-edging-away-from-coal
 7 Michael Dworkin, Testimony before Vermont House and Senate Government Operations Committee, February
 19, 2016.
 8 Tom DeChristopher and Christine Wang, CNBC, “ExxonMobil Posts Earnings of 67 cents a share vs 63 cents
 estimate,” February 2, 2016, available at: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/02/exxon-mobil-reports-fourth-quarter-
 10 Chris Megerian, LA Times, “California Pension Funds to Drop Coal-Mining Companies,” October 8, 2015, available
 at: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-84561954/.
 12 Id.
 13 Id.
 14 Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy, “Citigroup Sees $100 Trillion of Stranded Assets if Paris Succeeds,” August 25,
 2015, available at: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/citigroup-sees-100-trillion-of-stranded-assets-if-parissucceeds-13431.
 15 Rory Carroll, Reuters, “California Insurance Commissioner Calls for Coal Divestment,” Jan 25, 2016, available at:
 16 FERC Office of Energy Projects, Energy Infrastructure Update, December 2015, available at:
17 Daniel Cohan, The Hill “Plummeting Coal Use and Peaking Stockpiles,” February 17, 2016, available at:
 18 Coral Davenport, NY Times, “In Climate move, Obama Halts New Coal Mining Leases on Public Lands,” Jan 14,
 2016, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/15/us/politics/in-climate-move-obama-to-halt-new-coalmining-leases-on-public-lands.html?_r=0
 19 Id.
 20 Matt Egan, CNN Money “Wall Street Cuts Lending to Coal,” December 1, 2015, available at:
 21 Timothy Cama, The Hill, “Major coal mining company files for bankruptcy,” January 11, 2016, available at:
 22 Id.
 23 Bourree Lam, The Atlantic, “A Guilty Verdict in Don Blankenship’s Trial,” December 3, 2015, available at:
 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/12/blankenship-trial-verdict/418641/; Clifford Krauss, NY
 Times, “Alpha Natural Resources, a Onetime Coal Giant, Files for Bankruptcy Protection,” August 3, 2015, available
 at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/business/energy-environment/alpha-natural-resources-a-onetime-coalgiant-files-for-bankruptcy-protecton.html?_r=0
 24 Id.
 25 Howard Berkes, NRP, “Fines Don’t Appear to Deter Mine Safety Violations,” November 16, 2014, available at:

 26 Rory Carroll, Reuters, “California Insurance Commissioner Calls for Coal Divestment,” January 25, 2016, available

 at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-insurance-coal-idUSKCN0V32SM; Press Release, 350.org
“”Unions Add Voice In Support of California Thermal Coal Divestment,” June 12, 2015;
 27 Press Release, California State Teachers Retirement System, February 3, 2016, available at:

 28 Don Hooper, Written Testimony, Vermont Senate Government Operations Committee, February 11, 2016.
 29 Vineeta Anand, Pensions and Investments, “Funds Feeling Heat From Tobacco Investments,” April 28, 1997,
 available at: http://www.pionline.com/article/19970428/PRINT/704280770/funds-feeling-heat-from-tobaccoinvestments
 30 Id.
 31 Treasurer Jeb Spaulding, news release, February 20, 2007, available at:

32 Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg, “Fossil Fuel Divestment Tops $3.4 Trillion Mark, Activists Say,” December 2, 2015,
 available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-02/fossil-fuel-divestment-tops-3-4-trillion-markactivists-say

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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The Party is OVER

Agelbert NOTE: Whereas I agree with Richard that the fossil fuel based energy "party" is definitely over, I believe his proposed method for transitioning to clean energy lacks teeth. He totally ignores the political power of entrenched dirty energy interests. They will NOT be convinced nicely on a "make profits from clean energy" argument, no matter how proven and admittedly valid it is, BECAUSE clean energy is mostly distributed energy which is difficult to game through price shocks and fabricated scarcity though convenient wars and war scares.   

THAT is "real world" that the propagandists for the fossil fuel industry ALWAYS remind us of when we show, point by point, that renewable energy is actually cheaper than dirty energy above and beyond environmental considerations.

What the fossil fuelers WILL NOT SAY until you carefully destroy their "we are your loyal energy supplying servants doing it all for your own human civilization good and you owe us for it"    is that the fossil fuel industry's POWER in the market place is POLITICAL POWER, not competitive energy source power from "supply and demand".

This edifice of degraded democracy requires centralized political corruption, as well as gamed energy pricing (i. e. control of the energy spigot). Without this control, their "business model" collapses in a tsunami of bankruptcies and the abandonment of all their "help" by their friends in government who they can no longer buy. The "real world" also involves BOPPING, not just buying. But the fossil fuel industry relies on purchased friends in government to do that when gamed laws and regulations don't suffice.

That "real world" was always a clever, but ruthless, scam to market an uncompetitive dirty energy resource.

That is why I do not believe the transition to clean energy will be as painful as Richard Heinberg believes. However, he is right that fossil fuels, even with their "subsidy" swag, are no longer affordable simply because, besides the added expense of obtaining them, we can no longer "afford" (as if we ever could) to ignore the damage that burning them visits on our biosphere in general and Homo SAPS in particular. The "business model" of the fossil fuel industry, by definition, REQUIRES the rejection of any responsibility for the deleterious effect their product has on the perpetuation of the human species.

IOW, the "real world" of the fossil fuelers is a type of cherry picking insanity. They really do believe that they can industrially **** where everybody but them eats in a finite biosphere where EVERY pollutant reduces the viability of the biosphere that their "real world" REQUIRES in order for them to survive.

Basically, the fossil fuel industry is composed of thugs. Those thugs can continue to be murderous thugs as long as they can funnel a lot of money into their pockets and into the pockets of the governments they corrupt.

All we have to do is NOT "return to the caves", as the propagandist assholes will claim, but reduce our footprint to the bare necessities and continue to use more clean energy and less dirty energy. Then the money for the thugs will dry up as it is starting to do now. To clarify how that works, please understand that the fossil fuel industry relies on volume sales. Profits from volume sales operate on the margins. All you need is a 5% to 10% annual INCREASE (i.e. decrease in demand for fossil fuels) in demand destruction from renewable energy for a decade or so to destroy the fossil fuel empire.

Then the crooks they can no longer buy in government will "get the renewable energy religion".  ;)    That is why the fossil fuelers like the Koch Brothers are always trying to pre-empt the growth of (E.g. Electric vehicles and wind turbines) products that run on and/or generate Renewable Energy. The fossil fuel industry is far more fragile than the MKing's of this world will have you believe. They are fighting to keep their swag and protection racket going. It worked for the last 50 years.   

But the annual DROP in volume sales is killing the fossil fuel industry    . THAT is the REAL real world of clean energy thermodynamic efficiency overcoming the corrupt fabrication the fossil fuel industry has saddled us with for about a century. Let's hope it's not too late.
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Agelbert NOTE: Is it the petroleum fumes in the air in Heinous Houston that makes the fossil fuelers there such greedy crooks? Only their hairdresser  (or mistress) knows.    

At any rate, now that the profit over planet  'pickins' are getting rather slim, the fossil fuelers have begun to fight among themselves in their time honored Predators 'R' US fashion.       


Court news: Ecuador workers sue Occident Petroleum in Houston for slice of settlement (read the complaint here)

Staff Writers February 29, 2016

A group of Ecuadorean workers is suing Occidental Petroleum for a slice of the nearly $1 billion asset seizure settlement the company won from Ecuador’s government earlier this year.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Occidental Petroleum and Occidental Exploration and Production in Houston last week, seeking class certification and damages of $265.4 million to be paid to over 300 workers.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas on Feburary 22 and has been assigned to Judge Lynn N. Hughes, according to court documents seen by PGN.

The lead plaintiff is represented by Michael David Sydow of the Houston-based Sydow Firm.

The plaintiffs claim that Occidental failed to redistribute 15 percent of its annual profits to its employees as mandated by Ecuadorian law.

The damages amount is tied to a $980 million settlement Occidental won in January after the Ecuadorean government seized an Occidental field in 2006 ( Courthouse News Service,).

According to Occidental’s website, the company no longer operates in Ecuador. 

Ecuador seized Block 15 from Occidental in 2006 claiming that the company sold the asset to China’s Andes Petroleum without government approval.

The World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes had initially awarded Occidental a $1.77 billion award in 2012 but cut the award by 40 percent in November 2015, Reuters said.

The World Bank said the award was cut to reflect Occidental’s sale of Block 15 to Andes Petroleum. 

Ecuadorean Attorney General Diego Garcia told Reuters in January that Ecuador will pay the $980 million settlement by April of this year, although it remains opposed to the committee’s decision.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Two former Houston supply firm execs plead guilty to international kick back scheme

Staff Writers March 2, 2016

Two former executives at a Houston-based supply firm pleaded guilty Friday to fraud charges for their role in a kick back scheme tied to oil projects in Latin America.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Franklin Marsan, 51, and Eduardo Betancourt, 48, both of Spring, Texas, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to the plea agreements, Marsan and Betancourt worked for a Texas-based supply company that paid third-party sales agents to promote and sell its products to customers outside the United States.

Marsan    and Betancourt    ran the company’s Latin American operations from offices located in Houston.

As part of their guilty pleas, Marsan and Betancourt admitted that, from at least 2008 until at least March 2011, they received kickbacks from commissions the third-party sales agents earned for sales in several Latin American countries.

Marsan and Betancourt admitted that they received kickbacks totaling at least $150,000, mostly in cash, and that they “actively concealed” the payments from the company.


Agelbert NOTE: Yes, of course I'm certain that these fellows were not aware of the fun and games said supply firm used in their dial-a-price marketing to certain places in Latin America... They were just "bad apples"... And, they certainly aren't "taking the fall" in order to prevent public disclosure of the SOP price massaging and kickback practices of U.S. based corporations when dealing with Latin America. My daddy worked for one after he retired from the U.S Army. He traveled all over south America selling the SAME industrial products for a fascinating array of DIFFERENT prices. That was in 1965. I imagine that's all been corrected by now, of course...   

Both men will be sentenced on July 1, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of the Southern District of Texas, who accepted also accepted their plea agreements last Friday.

As part of their plea agreements, Marsan and Betancourt agreed to pay restitution to their former employer.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Shell faces new Nigeria spill lawsuits in UK

Staff Writers March 3, 2016

A U.K court ruled on Wednesday that two groups of Nigerian villagers can pursue lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell for alleged damages caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta region.

According to the BBC, the Technology and Construction Court found that the claimants can pursue cases against Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and its parent company in the UK.

Shell has not commented on the ruling.

The two separate actions are being brought by the Bille and Ogale communities who are being represented by UK-based Leigh Day.

In a statement, Leigh Day said the clean up costs for both communities could “run into several hundred million pounds.”

“The claims from the thousands of individuals affected by this pollution, could run into tens of millions of pounds given the impact on these communities,” Leigh Day added.

Leigh Day confirmed on Wednesday that formal legal proceedings will now move forward against Royal Dutch Shell and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in the High Court in London.

Shell told CNBC that it believes that the cases should be heard in Nigeria. 

The Ogale community claims that Shell has not followed the recommendations of a 2011 report from the United Nations Environmental Program that found emergency measures should be undertaken to provide residents with clean water

The report found at least 10 Ogoni communities where drinking water “contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons,” with residents in the Nisisioken Ogale community drinking water from wells contaminated with benzene at levels “over 900 times above World Health Organization guidelines.”

The Bille community alleges that oil spilling out of the Nembe Creek 30” Trunkline since the replacement of the pipeline’s Bille section in 2010 has damaged 13,200 hectares of mangroves.

Shell refuted the allegations, telling CNBC that the company’s Nigerian subsidiary had “initiated action” to address the recommendations made in the United Nations report. 

“In mid-2015 SPDC JV, along with the government, UNEP and representatives of the Ogoni community, agreed to an 18-month roadmap to fast-track the environmental clean-up and remediation of Ogoniland which includes a governance framework,” Shell added.

No further hearing dates have been set for the two cases yet.

Shell has long contended with pipeline spills in the Niger Delta region that it has said were caused by sabotage or thieves breaking into the pipelines to steal oil. 

Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Mutiu Sunmonu said in August 2011 that the company has “always accepted responsibility for paying compensation when [spills] occur as a result of operational failure.” 

“Even when, as is true in the great majority of cases, spills are caused by illegal activity such as sabotage or theft, we are also committed to cleaning up spilt  oil and restoring the surrounding land,” Sunmonu added. 

Leigh Day also represented the Bodo community of Nigeria who reached an $83 million settlement with Shell in January 2015 for two 2008 pipeline spills. 


Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Aubrey McClendon’s Legacy Serves as Another Warning That the Age of Oil Barons Must End
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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One dead after Green Canyon platform accident in Gulf of Mexico

Nicolas Torres March 14, 2016

Platform A at Green Canyon Block 18. Image courtesy of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is investigating a platform accident in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that left one worker dead.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said an offshore worker was fatally injured on Friday while working on Platform A at the Green Canyon Block 18 in the Gulf of Mexico, 150 miles south of New Orleans.
Further details about the accident have not been disclosed yet.

There was no pollution
  or additional injuries reported.
The platform’s operator, Whistler Energy II, has suspended all drilling operations at the platform and operations will remain suspended until the BSEE grants approval to restart drilling.

However, because the rig has a separate production deck, production will be allowed to continue.   

The BSEE said its investigators are actively engaging with the operator and will investigate the incident.

As weather permits, BSEE inspectors and investigators will visit the location.

According to Whistler Energy, the GC 18 platform was originally set in 1987 and is rated at 30,000 barrels of oil per day.

The platform is a 30-slot, 25,000-ton structure located in 760 ft of water, 79 miles south of Port of Fourchon.


Agelbert NOTE: No pollution may have been connected to the accident, but the FLARING REQUIRED to get up to 30,000 barrels of oil per day 24/7 spews MASSIVE toxic gases pollution.

Ask a fossil fueler to explain to you what the WATER CURTAIN is and WHY they invented it. HINT: If they didn't have it, their would be a lot more sick and cancer stricken "salt of the earth" workers on those platforms than there are now from TOXIC, CARCINOGENIC flared gases (you know, those gases the fossil fuelers claim can be flared without endangering your health or that of the biosphere...).


"The Water Curtain® is the original Rig Cooling system designed to provide a protective "curtain," or barrier of water between high risk flaring systems and valuable personnel, equipment and facilities."   
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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The documentary he Koch Brothers Don't want you to see

The Kochs control one to two million acres of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, worth tens of billions of dollars. But climate scientists say up to 240 billion tons of carbon would be released into the atmosphere if the oil sands are developed.

Meanwhile, the Kochs’ are waging well-financed campaigns to deny climate change and using their wealth to get conservatives elected to office to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and further their corporate interests.


"The Koch Brothers fortune was made refining Canadian Oil." 

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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The Oilman Who Loved Dictators, or How Texaco Supported Fascism

Posted on Mar 21, 2016


No corporations have been more aggressive in forging their own foreign policies than the big oil companies. With operations spanning the world, they—and not the governments who weakly try to tax or regulate them—largely decide whom they do business with and how. In its quest for oil in the anarchic Niger Delta, according to journalist Steve Coll, ExxonMobil, for example, gave boats to the Nigerian navy, and recruited and supplied part of the country’s army, while local police sported the company’s red flying horse logo on their uniforms.

Jane Mayer’s new book, Dark Money, on how the brothers and oil magnates Charles and David Koch spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the Republican Party and America’s democratic politics, offers a vivid account of the way their father Fred launched the energy business they would inherit.  It was a classic case of not letting “attachments” stand in the way of gain.  Fred happily set up oil installations for Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin before the United States recognized the Soviet Union in 1933, and then helped Adolf Hitler build one of Nazi Germany’s largest oil refineries that would later supply fuel to its air force, the Luftwaffe.

His unsavory tale is now part of the historical record, thanks to Mayer.  That of another American oil tycoon of the 1930s, who quietly lent a helping hand to a different grim dictator, has, however, gone almost unnoticed.  In our world where the big oil outfits have become powerful forces and his company, Texaco, became part of the oil giant Chevron, it’s an instructive tale.  He helped determine the course of a war that would shape our world for decades to come.

Flying the Skull and Crossbones Atop an Empire of Oil

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Agelbert NOTE: Another example of "responsible behavior" by a proud, prudent, hard working corporation of the fossil Fuel Industry (i. e. the old Chapter 11 TRICK)...

Venoco files for bankruptcy a year after California spill

Nicolas Torres  March 23, 2016   

Colorado-based private upstream Venoco has become the latest firm to file for bankruptcy protection, citing continued financial strain stemming from a 2015 pipeline spill in California.

The company said Friday that it has reached an agreement with its senior lenders to reduce its debt load  and restructure its balance sheet.

Venoco cited low oil prices and the shutdown of Line 901 following a May 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara as “serious problems” for the firm.

According to a court filing seen by Bloomberg, the shutdown also halted production at the company’s South Elwood Field located about two miles off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said last month that preliminary findings indicate the spill was most likely caused by external pipeline corrosion.

The 48,000 barrel per day Line 901, operated by Plains All American, has been shutdown since the spill along with the nearby Line 903.

Venoco did not disclose the financial impact of the pipeline shutdowns.   

“It is unfortunate that a third party pipeline spill has impacted Venoco, but this process  will make it stronger and ensure its continued contributions to the Santa Barbara County community,” Venoco founder Tim Marquez.

Under the terms of the agreement, the company’s senior lenders have agreed to support a restructuring transaction that will eliminate about $1 billion of debt from Venoco’s balance sheet.

To facilitate the restructuring, Venoco filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on March 18.

The company expects to maintain all operations during the restructuring process.   

“While we continue to be in a strong cash position, the declining price of oil and the ongoing closure of Plains All American pipeline 901 continue to be serious problems. With this agreement, Venoco will be in a much stronger position to withstand these challenges and others that may follow,” Venoco CEO Mark DePuy  said.

The company said it has sufficient liquidity to continue its normal oil and gas activities and meet its ongoing financial and regulatory obligations.

Venoco expects existing liquidity and generated cash from ongoing operations will be used to support the company during the restructuring process once it receives approval from the Bankruptcy Court.

Marquez will remain executive chairman during the restructuring process and has been retained to “provide leadership and strategic counsel” to the firm after the restructuring is complete.


Would you like to learn a thing or two about how the oil industry operates in California?  Would you like to know why those anti-monopoly laws passed in 1911 (and ignored by Reagan in order to look the other way while 2,000 plus oil industry mergers took place in the 1980s) were called "anti-trust" and not called "anti-corporate monopoly" laws?

Please watch this video:

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Agelbert NOTE: As you know if you haven't been living under a rock for the past year, SHELL lost a lot of money DUE DIRECTLY to decisions by MANAGEMENT, not just due to the cratering crude oil prices. The appropriate response to MISMANAGEMENT (see fiduciary obligations often brought up by fossil fuelers as a "justification/obligation" for their profit over planet MO) for stockholders with controlling interest in the board of directors is to reduce compensation or demote or fire give the CEO a raise, obviously.

  Shell CEO wins bigger 2015 pay package 

Staff Writers  March 21, 2016   

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden saw his annual bonus climb about 6 percent in 2015 despite weak oil prices.

According to the Evening Standard, van Beurden’s bonus ticked up 6 percent to $3.83 million (£2.7 million) in 2015 from the previous year while his basic pay package climbed to $1.62 million.

In its annual report, Shell said that van Beurden’s basic salary grew 2.1 percent year-over-year while employee salaries climbed 3.7 percent from 2014 levels.

The annual report also noted that annual employee bonuses fell 17 percent from year ago levels.

Van Beurden earned a total pay package of about $26 million in 2014 when he was appointed CEO, but that package was impacted by tax benefits and other payments tied to his promotion.

The pay bump comes despite over a year of weak oil prices and Shell’s disappointing Arctic exploration campaign.

Last year, van Buerden guided Shell through its $70 billion merger with BG Group that was officially completed in February.

In an op-ed published by The Times when the deal closed, van Beurden said the merger is expected to “provide a strong injection to our operating cashflow” despite tough market condition.

Van Buerden’s 2015 pay package was dwarfed by the $20 million pay package BP CEO Bob Dudley took home last year.

According to Reuters, Dudley saw his pay jump by nearly 20 percent in 2015 despite BP falling to a $6.5 billion loss for the full year.

Shell’s fourth quarter 2015 current cost of supplies (CCS) earnings fell to $1.84 billion, a 56 percent drop compared to the same quarter last year, while full year 2015 CCS earnings fell 80 percent year-over-year to $3.84 billion.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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