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BP oil spill: with escrow plan, Obama races to claim BP's money

14 06 10 - 12:57 By Mark Sappenfield


The Obama administration's management of the BP oil spill cleanup now appears to be a race for money.

Reports Sunday indicate that President Obama will direct BP to set up an escrow account from which damage claims by individuals and businesses along the Gulf Coast will be paid. If BP refuses, Mr. Obama is prepared to argue that he has the legal authority to force BP's hand, the reports suggest.

The move comes as BP considers whether to pay dividends to its shareholders. Members of Congress including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have demanded that BP refrain from paying dividends to shareholders at a time when BP has enormous and open-ended financial obligations in the Gulf. In Britain, however, the dividend payments are a large reason why BP's stock is seen as being so desirable. To delay dividend payments at a time when BP stock has already lost some 40 percent of its value would cast the company into even greater uncertainty.

Taking control

Obama, however, has few options available to him if he wants to take greater control of the BP oil spill fallout. The federal government has been largely a spectator of the sea floor, where BP bots and oil-industry engineers are better equipped to deal with the leak.

Meanwhile, along the Gulf Coast, the slick has become so large and fragmented that it has often confounded the federal government's efforts to deploy BP and its armada of oil-fighting contractors more quickly and efficiently.

That leaves the administration seeking at least to hold BP to its word that it will pay all legitimate claims. The escrow account appears to be an insurance policy.

The account would be managed by a third party in order to avoid claims that the government was taking advantage BP or BP was being negligent in its payments.

Pitching the plan to BP

Obama will reportedly discuss the idea with the chairman of the BP board, Carl-Henric Svanberg, when they meet Wednesday. Obama will be in the Gulf Monday and Tuesday and will give his first prime time address to the nation about the oil spill Tuesday night.

The proposed escrow account comes two days after the administration issued another ultimatum to BP. In a letter to BP, Coast Guard Rear Adm. James Watson gave BP until Sunday night to come up with an improved plan for collecting leaking oil at the well.

BP's current plan involves bringing in two pairs of ships that together can collect 2.1 million gallons of oil a day, but they will not arrive at the scene until mid-July. BP is now collecting about 650,000 gallons a day, though an indeterminate and seemingly large volume of oil is still escaping.

Whether or not BP responds, the letter, the escrow account, and the prime time address suggest that the federal government is tightening the screws on BP. Used tags: , , , , ,
one comment

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Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

Thursday 27 January 2011 at 11:05 am Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

By Pete Spotts


Washington - A long-term retreat in snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere is weakening the ability of these seasonal cloaks of white to reflect sunlight back into space and cool global climate, according to a study published this week.

Indeed, over the past 30 years, the cooling effect from this so-called cryosphere – essentially areas covered by snow and ice at least part of the year – appears to have weakened at more than twice the pace projected by global climate models, the research team conducting the work estimates.

The study, which appeared online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, represents a first cut at trying to calculate from direct measurements the impact of climate change on the Northern Hemisphere's cryosphere. The study was conducted by a team of federal and university scientists who examined data gathered between 1979 and 2008. more

EPA presents plan on greenhouse gases

Wednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:38 pm By Mark Clayton


Washington - Setting the stage for a New Year battle royal between Congress and the White House over greenhouse gas emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency Thursday laid out a timetable for the nation's largest carbon emitters – power plants and refineries – to begin curbing those pollutants.

Republicans have said all year that they plan to pull out all the stops to keep the EPA from phasing in greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations beginning in 2011, saying they would damage the energy industry, raise prices, and cost jobs.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he opposes the regulations on greenhouse gases and indicated he would lead efforts to revoke EPA regulations in the next Congress. The new regulations, he says, will likely lead to the shut down of coal-fired power plants.

"To protect jobs and fortify our energy security, we should be working to bring more power online, not shutting plants down," Mr. Upton said in a statement. "We are woefully unprepared to meet our nation's growing energy demands, yet this administration's 'none of the above' energy policy will do nothing but cost jobs, make energy more expensive, and increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy."

Environmentalists lauded the EPA's move. more

Supreme Court takes global warming case that targets power companies

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:21 am By Warren Richey,


Washington - The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a major environmental lawsuit that seeks to force six electric power companies to cap and reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

The lawsuit - filed in 2004 by eight states, the City of New York, and three land trusts - targets what it claims are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and among the largest in the world.

It seeks a judicial order declaring that the fossil-fueled power plants are a "public nuisance." It also seeks a judicial order capping the plants' greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the plants to adopt a schedule of reduced emissions in future years. more

Outside Cancun climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:09 am By Ezra Fieser,


Bayahibe, Dominican Republic - This summer's extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States.

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

If diplomats attending the two-week global climate change talks that opened Monday in Cancun, Mexico, want more evidence of the negative and potentially devastating affects of warming temperatures, they need look no further than the blue sea outside their hotels. Researchers say that throughout the Caribbean coral reefs are "bleaching," a condition that occurs when they are under extreme stress due to warmer-than-normal sea temperatures. more

China denies any rare earth mineral export embargo

Tuesday 26 October 2010 at 10:56 pm By Peter Ford


Beijing - China sought Wednesday to reassure the world it had not and would not use its choke hold on supplies of critical rare earths for political purposes, and pledged to maintain its exports.

"China will continue to supply rare earths to the world," the Commerce Ministry said in a faxed statement, denying earlier reports in the official China Daily newspaper that the government planned to cut exports next year by 30 percent.

While insisting that politics is not being played with the class of minerals, the government nevertheless is cutting exports. more

China's climate change talks: What's changed since Copenhagen?

Tuesday 26 October 2010 at 10:37 pm By Jonathan Adams


Taipei, Taiwan - United Nations climate officials say they hope to get talks for a new global deal on carbon cuts back on track after last year's climate talk debacle in Copenhagen. This week's climate change conference hosted by China in Tianjin could give them just that opportunity.

But with mistrust still high and feelings raw, few expect any big breakthroughs in Tianjin, or at higher-level talks beginning in late November in Cancun, Mexico. Instead, participants are focusing on smaller side deals that are more realistic, observers say, indicating that though a comprehensive deal might not get finalized here the real success of the conference will be in smoothing relations with small steps. more

Solar panels on the White House? Not on Obama's watch

Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 9:15 pm By Mark Clayton,


President Obama is the biggest booster of renewable energy since President Jimmy Carter. But on Friday he declined - or White House officials declined for him - to follow Mr. Carter's footstep and put solar power on his home rooftop.

Author and environmentalist Bill McKibben and a band of college students tried Friday to put the president on the spot over his green credentials. Bopping down the highway from Maine with a 31-year-old solar panel strapped to their van, the merry band tried to return the panel to its former home: the White House roof. more

Becoming friends of the Earth

Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 9:05 pm By Jason Francis

Friends of the Earth, founded in 1969, is a non-profit organization based in Washington DC. It is part of Friends of the Earth International, a network of 77 national groups and more than 5,000 local activist groups working together to create a more healthy and just world. With over 2 million members and supporters worldwide, their campaigns include focusing on clean energy as a solution to global warming; protecting people from potentially harmful technologies; promoting low-pollution transportation; and generating support for a financial transactions tax to fund anti-poverty and climate change programs in the developing world. more

University of Georgia report reveals 80 percent of oil from BP spill remains in Gulf

Tuesday 24 August 2010 at 03:36 am University of Georgia report reveals 80 percent of oil from BP spill remains in Gulf


Atlanta - The University of Georgia says their latest study suggests up to 80 percent of the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil rig collapse is still present and remains a threat to the ecosystem.

The report was announced Monday, the same day the fall shrimping season began in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report, authored by five prominent marine scientists, strongly contradicts media reports that suggest that only 25 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill remains. more

Energy Dept. awards $5.9 million for three Ohio energy research projects

Wednesday 14 July 2010 at 10:27 am By Cameron Glover

Washington - The U.S. Department of Energy granted $5.9 million to three Ohio businesses for their efforts in researching and creating "transformational changes" in new energy technology.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said during a conference call Monday the Advanced Materials Group in Hudson, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus are among 43 national projects to receive funding.

He announced the grants as part of a $92 million fund supported by DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy. more
 

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