Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Economic Power: Avoid Arizona and Boycott BP

May 17, 2010

Joel S. Hirschhorn

Money is power.  Each of us has it to varying degrees.  Our challenge is to use our spending to advance worthy goals.  Right now we see economic power being used against the state of Arizona because of the awful legislation recently passed that makes it all too easy for police there to seek proof of citizenship from virtually anyone they choose.  Many groups and government entities have already cancelled conferences and other activities in Arizona, sending state and business leaders into a frizzy.  They deserve to suffer as do the vast majority of Arizona citizens that supported the legislation.  Every American that professes love and respect for the Constitution should avoid spending their tourism and other kinds of spending in Arizona.

Economic boycotts can be very powerful and change the world for the better.  Sadly, too few Americans use their personal spending power to advance worthy goals.  An immediate opportunity is for people to stop buying BP gasoline.  After all, it is clear that BP acted irresponsibly and likely criminally in using offshore oil drilling technology that posed enormous risks to public and worker safety as well as our natural environment in the Gulf of Mexico and possibly far beyond.

Make BP suffer where it hurts, where it can truly harm them.  Send a clear signal that we will get revenge as consumers with an environmental conscience.  An immediate boycott of BP could do much to make the company compensate the incredible number of people that will suffer very much because of the humongous oil spill that should have been prevented.  We cannot depend on BP acting responsibly; nor can we count on the government or the courts for delivering timely justice.

So simple.  While you may not have opportunities to stop spending in Arizona you are more likely to stop spending at BP outlets.  If you can influence decisions by others to stop spending in these two ways, then do it with strength and passion.

There is a Boycott BP page on Facebook.  Show your support.  Over at the Public Citizen website you can sign a petition: “Take the Beyond BP Pledge! Drive a car? Like the occasional fountain drink? Send a clear message to BP by boycotting its gas and retail store products. Don’t spend a cent of your hard-earned money to feed the bottom line of a corporation that has a sordid history of negligence, willfully violates environmental regulations, and is spewing thousands and thousands of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.  I pledge to boycott BP for at least three months.”  Public Citizen has also created a Facebook group “1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP.”

“Boycott BP into bankruptcy” – said Cindy Sheehan.  Amen.

A short while back John Antczak on Huffington Post complained that there is “no apparent sign of a consumer backlash at the pump like the boycott triggered by the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago.”  He also noted that “owners interviewed by The Associated Press across the country say it’s been business as usual since the April 20 explosion on a rig off Louisiana began unleashing 200,000 gallons of crude a day.”  However, this too must be noted: It took 40 days for outrage to coalesce into a one-day national boycott of Exxon stations.

Note that n the West, BP sells gas under the long-established Arco brand.

According to BP’s website, there are more than 10,000 BP-branded gas stations in the U.S. and 1,500 under the Arco name.  BP says it sells more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline in the U.S. every year, second only to Shell.

Americans seem to find far too easy to justify buying at BP or Arco because of convenience or low price.  But everyone should see this choice as a moral one.  If you continue to pump money into the BP coffers you are acting immorally, stupidly and anti-environmentally.  Either you have a conscience or not.  Make the marketplace work to punish those that deserve to be punished.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn at delusionaldemocracy.com.]

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Less Toxic Dispersants Lose Out in BP Oil Spill Cleanup

May 16, 2010

BP PLC continues to stockpile and deploy oil-dispersing chemicals manufactured by a company with which it shares close ties, even though other U.S. EPA-approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic and, in some cases, nearly twice as effective.

After the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and a deepwater well began gushing crude in the Gulf of Mexico three weeks ago, BP quickly marshaled a third of the world’s available supply of dispersants, chemicals that break surface oil slicks into microscopic droplets that can sink into the sea.

But the benefits of keeping some oil out of beaches and wetlands carry uncertain costs. Scientists warn that the dispersed oil, as well as the dispersants themselves, might cause long-term harm to marine life.

So far, BP has told federal agencies that it has applied more than 400,000 gallons of a dispersant sold under the trade name Corexit and manufactured by Nalco Co., a company that was once part of Exxon Mobil Corp. and whose current leadership includes executives at both BP and Exxon. And another 805,000 gallons of Corexit are on order, the company said, with the possibility that hundreds of thousands of more gallons may be needed if the well continues spewing oil for weeks or months.

But according to EPA data, Corexit ranks far above dispersants made by competitors in toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in handling southern Louisiana crude.

Of 18 dispersants whose use EPA has approved, 12 were found to be more effective on southern Louisiana crude than Corexit, EPA data show. Two of the 12 were found to be 100 percent effective on Gulf of Mexico crude, while the two Corexit products rated 56 percent and 63 percent effective, respectively. The toxicity of the 12 was shown to be either comparable to the Corexit line or, in some cases, 10 or 20 times less, according to EPA.

EPA has not taken a stance on whether one dispersant should be used over another, leaving that up to BP. All the company is required to do is to choose an EPA-approved chemical, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters yesterday during a conference call aimed at addressing questions about dispersants being used in efforts to contain the Gulf spill.

“Our regular responsibilities say, if it’s on the list and they want to use it, then they are preauthorized to do so,” Jackson said.

One explanation for BP’s reliance on Nalco’s Corexit, which its competitors say dominates the niche market for dispersants because of its industry ties, was its availability in large quantities at the time of the Gulf spill.

“Obviously, logistics and stockpiles and the ability for the responsible party to pull the materials together,” Jackson said. “I’m sure that has a lot to do with the ones that they choose.”

Nonetheless, experts question BP’s sustained commitment to Corexit, given apparently superior alternatives.

“Why wouldn’t you go for the lesser toxic formulation?” said Carys Mitchelmore, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science. Mitchelmore testified on Capitol Hill this week about dispersants and co-authored a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report on the chemicals.

BP spokesman Jon Pack defended the use of Corexit, which he said was decided in consultation with EPA. He called Corexit “pretty effective” and said the product had been “rigorously tested.”

“I’m not sure about the others,” Pack said. “This has been used by a number of major companies as an effective, low-toxicity dispersant.”

BP is not considering or testing other dispersants because the company’s attention is focused on plugging the leak and otherwise containing the spill, Pack said.

“That has to be our primary focus right now,” he said.

Nalco spokesman Charlie Pajor said the decision on what to use was out of his company’s hands. He also declined to comment on EPA comparison tests, saying only that lab conditions cannot necessarily replicate those in the field. “The decision about what’s used is made by others — not by us,” he said.

Nalco’s connections

Critics say Nalco, a joint partnership with Exxon Chemical that was spun off in the 1990s, boasts oil-industry insiders on its board of directors and among its executives, including an 11-year board member at BP and a top Exxon executive who spent 43 years with the oil giant.

“It’s a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically,” said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife.

The older of the two Corexit products that BP has used in the Gulf spill, Corexit 9527, was also sprayed in 1989 on the 11-million-gallon slick created by the Exxon Valdez grounding in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Cleanup workers suffered health problems afterward, including blood in their urine and assorted kidney and liver disorders. Some health problems were blamed on the chemical 2-butoxyethanol, an ingredient discontinued in the latest version of Corexit, Corexit 9500, whose production Nalco officials say has been ramped up in response to the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Among Corexit’s competitors, a product called Dispersit far outpaced Corexit 9500, EPA test results show, rating nearly twice as effective and between half and a third as toxic, based on two tests performed on fish and shrimp.

Bruce Gebhardt, president of the company that manufactures Dispersit, U.S. Polychemical Corp., said BP asked for samples of his company’s product two weeks ago. Later, he said, BP officials told him that EPA had wanted to ensure they had “crossed all their T’s and dotted all their I’s” before moving forward.

Gebhardt says he could make 60,000 gallons a day of Dispersit to meet the needs of spill-containment efforts. Dispersit was formulated to outperform Corexit and got EPA approval 10 years ago, he said, but the dispersant has failed to grab market share from its larger rival.

“When we came out with a safer product, we thought people would jump on board,” he said. “That’s not the case. We were never able to move anyone of any size off the Corexit product.”

He added, “We’re just up against a giant.”

Copyright 2010 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

For more news on energy and the environment, visit www.greenwire.com.
Greenwire is published by Environment & Energy Publishing. Read More »

By PAUL QUINLAN of Greenwire

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No Historical Tradition of Unfettered Access to Foods of All Kinds

May 15, 2010

Feds tell court they can decide what you eat – ‘Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish’

: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=153133

Attorneys for the federal government have argued in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Iowa that individuals have no “fundamental right” to obtain what food they choose.

The brief was filed April 26 in support of a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on the interstate sale of raw milk.

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds,” states the document signed by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose, assistant Martha Fagg and Roger Gural, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish,” the government has argued.

WND has reported several times on fed crackdowns on producers of raw milk for friends and neighbors, including the recent case when agents arrived to inspect a private property belonging to Dan Allgyer in Pennsylvania at 5 a.m.

The incident was followed by a report a few days later that documented a proposal pending in Congress that critics say would do for the nation’s food supply what the new health-care reform law has done for health-care resources.

“S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the U.S.,” critiqued Steve Green on the Food Freedom blog. “It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.”

The plan is sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who explains the legislation “is a critical step toward equipping the FDA with the authorities and funding it needs to regulate what is now a global marketplace for food, drugs, devices and cosmetics.”

Now it’s statism on our plate! Mark Levin’s manifesto – ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ – provides the antidote to its growing stranglehold

His website explains, “The legislation requires foreign and domestic food facilities to have safety plans in place to prevent food hazards before they occur, increases the frequency of inspections. Additionally, it provides strong, flexible enforcement tools, including mandatory recall. Most importantly, this bill generates the resources to support FDA food-safety activities.”

The proposal cleared the U.S. House last year but has been languishing in the Senate because of a full calendar of projects. It creates a long list of new requirements for food-producing entities to meet the demands of the secretary of agriculture. It is expected to be the subject of discussion in coming days.

The Iowa case alleges the federal restrictions on raw milk are a violation of the U.S. Constitution, according to a report at Natural News.

The federal attorneys want the case dismissed.

“The interest claimed by plaintiffs could be framed more narrowly as a right to ‘provide themselves and their families with the foods of their own choice,'” the government document states. But the attorneys say that right doesn’t exist.

“The FDA essentially believes that nobody has the right to choose what to eat or drink,” said the Natural News site, which explains it covers topics that allow individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity and consumer choices.

“You are only ‘allowed’ to eat or drink what the FDA gives you permission to. There is no inherent right or God-given right to consume any foods from nature without the FDA’s consent.”

The Natural News report continued, “The state, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you wish to consume. And the state may do this for completely unscientific reasons – even just political reasons – all at their whim.”

The report cited an increasing level of frustration on the part of the federal government because of tactics including buying “cow shares” in which a consumer drinks milk from a cow he partly owns, or “buying clubs.”

“This arrangement drives the FDA absolutely batty because it bypasses their authority and allows free people to engage in the free sales of raw dairy products produced on small family farms,” Natural News said.

The report blames the aggressive campaign against raw milk on large commercial dairy interests, “because it threatens the commercial milk business.”

The reason cannot be safety, the report said, since a report from the Weston A. Price Foundation revealed that from 1980 to 2005 there were 10 times more illnesses from pasteurized milk than from raw milk.

The federal government attorneys say the FDA’s goal is to prevent disease, and that’s why the “ban on the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk” was adopted.

The attorneys conceded that states ordinarily are expected to regulate intrastate activity but noted, “it is within HHS’s authority … to institute an intrastate ban as well.”

Natural News reported the ban could be seen as violating the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which leaves to states all powers not specifically designated in the Constitution for the federal body.

In fact, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, lawmakers there have adopted a bill, with the governor’s support, that would allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers.

The move puts Wisconsin in position to be the 20th state to allow direct sales of raw milk. Another handful of states allow retail sales.

HTTP://OpeningMind.Blogspot.com

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