An Occasional Ramble by the Sea
May 23, 2005
By David Helvarg
The Oil & Gas Industry’s Slick Maneuvers
The Good News – A blatant attempt to undermine the quarter century moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling along much of the US coastline (by exempting natural gas) was defeated in the House May 19 by a healthy 262 to 157 vote. Seeing the writing on the seawall the Senate then stripped their energy bill of similar language. Among the kudos, at least one should go to like long-time anti-oil activist Richard Charter of the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Coalition who worked the e-mails furiously from his office lair overlooking the magnificent Pacific in Sonoma, California.
Still, if they can’t win in a straight up or down vote on the Hill the Fossil Fuel Posse has other strategies to keep us hooked on their climate altering substances.
Funny thing about Liquid Natural Gas, even cooled to 260 degrees below zero it still generates a lot of heat. The week of May 16 also saw over 200 citizens near Astoria Oregon protest plans for an LNG facility at a public hearing. At the same time Suffolk County New York lawmakers voted to oppose an LNG terminal planned for Long Island Sound. In Massachusetts the Attorney General said he’d appeal federal approval for a new terminal in Fall River. In California Governor Schwarzeneggar declared his opposition to a federal bill giving citing authority to the feds, and even in energy friendly Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, responding to the demands of fishermen and environmentalists, said she’ll oppose any offshore LNG facility that uses seawater to rewarm its gas. “No Fish for Fuel” is the slogan of the Gulf’s Gumbo Coalition that fears the process will freeze and kill sea life.
Following President Bush’s lead the new Energy Bill being promoted in Congress still calls for aggressive expansion of imports of liquefied natural gas and for shifting authority for locating the terminals from the states to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC you’ll recall is the agency that sat quietly on its hands during the California Enron… I mean Energy crisis of 2001.
Blue Frontier Campaign plans to become much more active in raising the national profile around LNG and helping folks coordinate the many local efforts to keep local control over this highly flammable and complex fossil fuel.
Blue Vision Mid-Atlantic Feedback
Jean Logan of Blue Frontier has compiled some initial feedback from the April 8 Blue Vision Mid-Atlantic Conference held at the Baltimore Aquarium. To date 18 of 48 attendees completed and returned their surveys. Of these 18 one-third had also attended the Blue Vision Conference in July 2004.
Fourteen said the Mid-Atlantic conference gave them the information they needed. None said it did not.
Twelve said that it gave them the training and advice they needed. None said it did not.
Sixteen said they wanted to stay connected with other attendees. None said they did not.
Twelve said they would participate in a Hill Day (to educate their elected representatives). Three would not, and one couldn’t because she doesn’t live in the U.S.
Seventeen said they would try to influence their congressional representatives in their home district. The 18th person doesn’t live in the U.S.
Here’s a list of the federal issues that were most important to them. (In no particular order)
-Marine Protected Areas
-Environmental spending linked to transportation/infrastructure projects
-nonpoint source pollution
-Oil/Gas/LNG exploration and drilling
-Offshore wind energy
-Magnusen Fisheries Act reauthorization
-Protection of benthic habitat
-Toxics in the marine environment
-Science in decision-making
Seaweed Rebel gets second chance to win San Diego election
If you >>CLICK HERE<< you’ll see the article I wrote in the new Sierra magazine on San Diego clean water activist and city council member Donna Frye. She got the most votes in last November’s mayoral election but a Judge ruled that 5,500 of those votes didn’t count where people wrote in her name but didn’t fill in a bubble for the optical scanner voting machines. The election was thus thrown to the old Mayor. But on April 25, in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis, he resigned. Now Donna is running again in a special election slated for July 26. If you’re interested in learning more about her campaign check out her website www.donnafryeformayor.com
Japan’s Seaweed Activists
According to the Times of London Japanese scientists envision 100 vast nets of quick growing seaweed, each 6 by 6 miles floating off northeast Japan. These will absorb huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and then be harvested for biomass energy.
A pilot project underway indicates the idea is viable. First the seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide. Then, when harvested and blasted with superheated steam, it discharges hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The hydrogen can then be used as a carbon free clean energy source. The project has a range of supporters including the Ministry of Economy, trade and Industry, Tokyo University of Marine Science, the Mitsubishi Research Institute and several large companies including Mitsubishi, Toshiba and NEC.
“The biggest challenges at the moment,” according to one of the scientists, “are financial.” Boy, that sure has a familiar ring.
An Evening for the Ocean
If you’re in or near DC Join Blue Frontier Campaign, Island Press, Defying Ocean’s End, the Marine Conservation Biology Institute and Conservation International for an International Ocean Day Press Conference & Celebration
Wednesday June 8 at the National Press Club.
529 15th St. NW Wash. DC
It’s also a kickoff for three Island Press books including Blue Frontier’s “The Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide 2005-2006.” Although our book won’t be off the presses yet (damn), I’ll be honored to be on a panel with several other author/editors including Sylvia Earle and Elliot Norse.
Since it’s also the second Wed. of the month we’ll be folding our regular ‘Seaweed Happy Hour’ into this event (with free beer and wine). There’s only room for about 200, so RSVP early (by June 3) to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-232-7933.
Blue Notes needs more readers
If you enjoy these occasional rambles by the sea tell your friends, colleagues and fellow fish-huggers about them and I’ll keep churning them out. Have them sign up or sign them up yourself for free on our website at www.bluefront.org