BP Oil Spill Worse Than Thought; Obama's Environmental Record

Newsweek on the Deepwater Horizon spill, The New Republic on celebrating Earth Day, The Washington Post on Obama's environmental record, Bloomberg Businessweek on foreign investment in U.S. oil shales, and New Geography on California's would-be fracking boom.

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Newsweek on the Deepwater Horizon spill The extent to which the 2010 explosion and collapse of Deepwater Horizon has affected the Gulf of Mexico and land abutting it has been obscured, writes Mark Hertsgaard, who reports on an ongoing trial against British Petroleum in Louisiana. "BP was warned in advance about the safety risks of attempting to cover up its leaking oil. Nevertheless, BP proceeded. Furthermore, BP appears to have withheld these safety warnings, as well as protective measures, both from the thousands of workers hired for the cleanup and from the millions of Gulf Coast residents who stood to be affected. ... The most astonishing thing about BP’s cover-up? It was carried out in plain sight, right in front of the world’s uncomprehending news media (including, I regret to say, this reporter)."

The New Republic on celebrating Earth Day "Why has the contemporary environmental movement been unable to inspire millions of Americans to pressure Congress to take effective steps to stall or roll back climate change?" asks Michael Kazin, lamenting the fate of Earth Day, the annual event originally conceived to demand environmental reform. "The most salient reason for the waning of the greens may be rather simple: American voters do not view climate change, unlike issues on which environmentalists won in the past, as an immediate threat to either their health or their wealth. ... The sad truth is that it may take a horrific disaster—perhaps a cyclone-caused flood which kills tens of thousands of coast-dwellers somewhere in the world—to spark the kind of outrage and action once provided by smog days and plumes of radioactive discharge."

The Washington Post on Obama's environmental record After compiling a multi-part list explaining where the Obama administration has action on environmental issues, Juliet Eilperin notes that "as a second-term president, Obama is under intense pressure to deliver to the environmental constituency that helped him win reelection last fall." Eilperin draws attention to the ongoing debate over the Keystone XL pipeline: "Critics argue it will speed development of a carbon-intense form of oil that will exacerbate climate change, and could still spill on ecologically-sensitive habitat. Obama is likely to weigh in personally on the decision, which has been the subject of intense political debate for more than two years."

Bloomberg Businessweek on foreign invesment in U.S. oil shales "Chinese companies have invested $5.5 billion in U.S. tight oil and shale gas through joint-venture deals, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration," notes Christina Larson. But that's nothing compared to the total number of foreign investments: "It’s not just Chinese firms that are seeking to profit from America’s energy boom. Roughly 20 percent of the $133.7 billion invested in U.S. tight oil and shale gas from 2008 to 2012 came from abroad. To date, from Asia, Japanese companies have invested $5.3 billion; Indian companies $3.55 billion; and Korean companies $1.55 billion. From Europe, U.K. companies have invested $3.95 billion; French companies $4.55 billion; and Norwegian companies $3.38 billion."

New Geography on California's would-be fracking boom California's opportunity to permit hydraulic fracturing would be a boon to the state's finances, says Joel Kotkin, who focuses on the leadership of California Governor Jerry Brown. "The recent announcement that Jerry Brown is studying 'fracking' in California ... suggests that our governor may be waking up to the long-term reality facing our state. It demonstrates that ... Brown likely knows full well that the state's current course, to use the most overused term, is simply not politically and economically sustainable.  ... Unlike many of his progressive idolaters and legislative allies, Brown may well be intelligent enough to look past the rhetoric of the environmental movement and consider its often unexpected ill-effects."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.