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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pres ignores environmental appeal, panders to Big Oil, chooses sub-prime banker for Interior

“It is clear nominee has a passion for national parks but … will she value our wildlands and wildlife in the face of endless pressure by industry to drill…─ Center for Biological Diversity
Re-reporting, editing by 
Carolyn Bennett

BP Oil Spill 
In “Big Oil’s in Good Hands with Obama’s New Interior Secretary,” Stephen Lendman first recalls the anti-environmental stewardship of the previous secretary.

BP Oil Spill 
Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Supported BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation
Ignored environmental risks
BP Oil Spill 
Approved BP’s exploration plan with no environmental analysis
Permitted Gulf of Mexico disaster
Granted ‘categorical exemptions,’ after BP’s rig exploded, to expand offshore drilling
Surpassed the previous government’s anti-environmental policies

Shared anti-environmental culpability (with the current government) in having backed dangerous nuclear expansion and remained beholden to oil and gas interests, continued an official  drill-drill-drill policy, paid lip service without progressive action on  environmental concerns

Lendman said Kenneth Lee Salazar came into the office with a history of anti-environmentalism. As junior senator from Colorado, he opposed fuel efficiency, supported unrestricted oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He voted against Gulf of Mexico drilling protections and fought them as Interior Secretary. On resigning from Interior, he leaves “a deplorable environmental record,” Lendman said.

And he seemed in lockstep with his president, as indicated in comments by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit, quoted by Lendman:

So far under [President Barack] Obama, industry has been winning the race as it obtains more and more land for oil and gas.

Over the past four years, the industry has leased more than 6 million acres, compared with only 2.6 million acres permanently protected.

In the Obama era, land conservation has received little or no consideration.

n appeal from a broad spectrum of groups concerned with the environment and related issues was sent to the U.S. President last month urging him to nominate a qualified person to head the Department of the Interior.
“The selection of the next Interior Secretary … is an important moment to place renewed emphasis and urgency on some of the most critical issues of our age, including climate change, the protection of endangered species and preservation of water and wild lands,” the letter said. The opening of the position following the resignation of Secretary Salazar offers “an opportunity to continue a great American tradition of expanding parks and wildlife protection,” the letter said.

“Congressman Grijalva is the right person to oversee tribal relations in a way that is respectful and beneficial both to our Native American communities and the country as a whole.”

Signed by a broad coalition of 260 conservation, Hispanic, recreation, animal welfare, religious, labor, youth, business and women’s groups, the letter urged President Obama to nominate Rep. Raúl Grijalva, currently the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and a leading Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

As ranking member and former chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands,” the letter said, “Congressman Grijalva has been a tireless and effective leader on conservation and land management issues faced by the Department of the Interior. Congressman Grijalva has unparalleled expertise with Native Americans and Indian tribes, a strong understanding of border issues, a well‐established and pragmatic conservation ethic, and valuable experience with a wide variety of funding challenges.…
North Bengal

“We strongly believe Congressman Grijalva exemplifies the modern and forward thinking vision of the Department of the Interior.”

he President effectively ignored the recommendation and nominated a sports equipment seller and a shady-business-practices banker for the position of U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Lendman reported in “Big Oil’s in Good Hands with Obama’s New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell” that in the years 1996 to 2000, Jewell had been “president of the Washington Mutual (WaMu) commercial banking group,” a concern that, before it collapsed, had been “the nation’s largest mortgage lender and “rife with fraud.” An investigation by the U.S. Senate, he said, “had discovered gross deception: loan officers receiving bonuses for speedy subprime mortgage closures, overcharging, and levying stiff prepayment penalties.”

Sally Jewell
Salazar’s successor
 Incoming Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

In his February 8 article at Global Research, Stephen Lendman assessed the chances of getting new, progressive leadership at Interior and said Sally Jewell “was not chosen to be a friend of the earth. Responsible stewardship,” he said, “is excluded from her mandate.

She’ll be low key and soft spoken.
She’ll conceal official policy.
She is Big Oil’s woman in Washington
Whatever Big Oil wants it gets.

he Keystone XL Pipeline System construction to carry “one of the world’s dirtiest fuels (tar sands oil) … to double America’s dirty tar sands oil supply and increase environmental toxicity exponentially”; on a route, likely “to devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources, jeopardize public health” ─ Sally Jewell, he said, will give the full backing of the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Keystone Pipeline System is a pipeline system to transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen (‘dilbit’) from the Athabasca oil sands region in northeastern Alberta, Canada, to multiple destinations in the United States, which include refineries in Illinois, the Cushing oil distribution hub in Oklahoma, and proposed connections to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas. [Wikipedia note]

“She will oversee oil and gas production and give free rein to industry,” Lendman said. “No matter the stakes, Big Oil wants it, so do Republicans, many Democrats, and President Obama; and Jewell will support it as part of her mandate at Interior. She won’t disappoint.”

Issues warning
Destinies linked
Friends of life concerned, guarded, strangely hopeful

Following the president’s public lauding of his sports equipment/shady banking candidate for Interior, the Center for Biological Diversity last Wednesday responded, dejectedly, it seemed, as they too had urged the appointment of Congressman Grijalva to the post. Executive Secretary, Kierán Suckling said, “America’s public lands and endangered species are in dire need of visionary leadership. We hope Sally Jewell brings the same determination and transparency to running the Department of the Interior as she did to REI.”

[Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), President and CEO Sally Jewell sells outdoor gear and sporting goods through dozens of U.S. retail outlets, sales approaching $2 billion annually (Lendman reports)].

“The next Interior secretary will face monumental tasks in protecting species, preserving public lands, safeguarding clean air and water and preserving a healthy climate for future generations,” the Center for Biological Diversity’s Executive Secretary said.

t’s vital that our oceans, forests, deserts and rivers are protected and preserved and not turned over to big businesses looking to make a profit from our publicly owned resources. 

We hope that Sally Jewell shows brave leadership in finally addressing the climate crisis, reversing the tide of species extinctions and protecting wild lands that are vital to wildlife and people alike.

Sally Jewell
“It is clear the secretary of the Interior nominee has a passion for national parks. But the challenge is whether she will value our wildlands and wildlife in the face of endless pressure by industry to drill for fossil fuels in areas within Interior’s jurisdiction

If she can stand strong against bad ideas such as Arctic oil drilling and fracking (hydraulic fracturing) on public lands, then she will likely be a success.

“Nature needs a true champion at this point in history.”

t the website for Center for Biological Diversity, its mission is rooted in the belief “that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants.

Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction.

We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

We want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.

Sources and notes

“Big Oil’s in Good Hands with Obama’s New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell” (by Stephen Lendman), Global Research, February 8, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/big-oils-in-good-hands-with-obamas-new-interior-secretary-sally-jewell/5322305

Author and broadcaster Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. His latest book is Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

His blog site: sjlendman.blogspot.com, his broadcasts at the Progressive Radio News Hour, the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time, Saturdays and Sundays at noon. Discussions archived, http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour. See also http://www.dailycensored.com/big-oils-in-good-hands-with-sally-jewell/

Statement released February 6, 2013, by the Center for Biological Diversity on the nomination of Sally Jewell for Interior Secretary ─ Executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity Kierán Suckling:

“Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Nomination of Sally Jewell for Interior Secretary,” February 6, 2013, http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/jewell-02-06-2013.html

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


Letter December 10, 2012, to President Barack Obama
Re: Secretary of the Interior, http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/pdfs/obama_interior_2012_grijalva.pdf
Also at Friends of the Earth, http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2013-01-massive-coalition-calls-on-president-obama-to-nomina

“Massive coalition calls on President Obama to nominate Rep. Raúl Grijalva as interior secretary,” posted January 16, 2013 (Adam Russell)

Signers of the letter to President Obama recommending Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona for Secretary of Interior included: Latinos Go Green, Latina Lista, Ciudadanos Del Karso, Vegabajenos Impulsando Ambiental Sustentable, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Women Food and Agriculture Network, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, American Forests, Labor Network for Sustainability, Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, Christians Caring for Creation, Public Citizen, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Food and Water Watch, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Committee on Idaho's High Desert, Southwest Montana Wildlands Association, Washington Wild, Wild Utah Project, Wildlife Alliance of Maine, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, South Florida Wildlands Association, Tennessee Environmental Council, the Wisconsin Resource Protection Council, the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Desert Protective Council, Friends of Animals, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Green Delaware, Kentucky Heartwood, Kids vs. Global Warming, United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, Rocky Mountain Wild, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Tucson Audubon, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West North Carolina Alliance, Wild Idaho Rising and WildWest Institute.


Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid.

Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydro-fracturing (commonly known as fracing, fraccing or fracking) is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction. This type of fracturing creates fractures from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations.

Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples—and can create conduits along which gas and petroleum from source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks.  

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing point to potential effects on the environment: contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flow back and related health effects. For these reasons hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny internationally, with some countries suspending or banning it.

Proponents of hydraulic fracturing point to the economic benefits from vast amounts of formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons the process can extract. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing

Keystone XL (Wikipedia note continued)

The Keystone Pipeline System consists of the operational ‘Keystone Pipeline and ‘Keystone-Cushing Extension’, and two proposed pipeline expansion segments, referred to as Keystone XL Pipeline and the Gulf Coast Project. After the Keystone XL pipeline segments are completed, American crude oil would enter the XL pipelines at Baker, Montana and Cushing, Oklahoma.

The Keystone XL has faced lawsuits from oil refineries and criticism from environmentalists and some members of the United States Congress.

In January 2012, President Obama rejected the application amid protests about the pipeline’s impact on Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region.

On March 22 Obama endorsed the building of its southern half that begins in Cushing, Oklahoma.

On March 22, the President said in Cushing: ‘Today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.’  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline


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