Posts tagged "Oil"

AMEN, Jimmy Carter! KXL is a bad idea. 

h/t: Keith Brekhus at PoliticusUSA

thepoliticalfreakshow:

On March 24, 1989, a tired third mate ran the tanker Exxon Valdez into a reef near Alaska’s Prince William Sound. About 10.5 million gallons of crude oil flooded the waterway in what was then the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Although the salmon have returned and most of the spill is gone, stubborn pockets of oil linger at the site even after 25 years and billions of dollars spent on cleanup. The incident spurred tighter international and U.S. regulations and the construction of sturdier, better-staffed ships. While the safety record of oil tankers has vastly improved, it’s difficult to prevent outlier events such as the 2010 BP (BP) spill. Where oil goes, spills follow.



Map shows spills over 1,000 gallons of petroleum products in U.S. waters, 1973 to 2012. Graphic by Bloomberg Businessweek. Data: Energy Information Administration, U.S. Coast Guard Marine Casualty and Pollution Database, International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation

Fox News host Mike Huckabee denied responsibility for shady email pitches sent to subscribers to his email list, telling Media Matters that he is “simply a conduit to send messages” and “can’t always vouch for the veracity” of the promoted products.

Huckabee is part of the conservative movement’s attempts to cash in on their followers by renting out their email lists to suspect sources. Fox News contributor Scott Brown was recently forced to disown a quack doctor after he sent a sponsored email touting the doctor’s dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures. Huckabee also sent emails promoting the doctor.

During a press conference held at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington, Media Matters asked Huckabee about shady sponsored emails he’s sent with his name on it, such as the Alzheimer’s disease emails. 

Huckabee shrugged off responsibility for the emails, saying “You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. We are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can’t always vouch for the veracity.”

Huckabee’s sketchy sponsored emails extend beyond questionable medical cures. He recently sent a sponsored email touting the stock recommendation of a financial analyst who was fired from Fox News for ethical violations.

Huckabee sent an email on February 14 from “Fox News alumnus” Tobin Smith and “our paid sponsor, Champlain Media” about “important information” regarding the stock of Gray Fox Petroleum (GFOX).Huckabee’s message added that the sponsorship does “not necessarily reflect my views.” A Smith-penned message implored readers to “Buy shares of GFOX now while you can still get them at around $1.00 and you could… TURN $10,000 INTO $282,000 in the next 6 months!”

Tobin Smith is so disreputable that he was fired from Fox News — no small feat — for receiving compensation to promote a company stock, a violation of network policy. Smith engages in “sponsored research,” in which companies hire analysts like Smith to act as pitchmen. MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffee noted that people like Smith take “money to help small stocks find a market using fluff-and-shine hyperbolic chatter” and target “novice investors who fail to do due diligence.”

Small print in the Huckabee email states that the email is part of a “paid advertising” campaign “by Tobin Smith” and “Cenad Ltd. has paid $155,040.88 for the dissemination of this info to enhance public awareness for GFOX.” It also adds that Smith “has received twenty thousand dollars for this and related marketing materials.” It is not clear how much Huckabee received for the email dissemination, though a MikeHuckabee.com card states that his list has 700,000 subscribers and charges $27.50 per thousand emails, with a “300,000 NAME MINIMUM ORDER $1,000.00 MINIMUM PAYMENT.”

While it is too early to know how GFOX will perform, Huckabee fans should be cautious about taking the advice. In addition to the investing dangers of sponsored research, a Media Matters review last year found that Smith regularly pitched lofty stock price targets which weren’t met. For instance, Smith recommended in January 2013 that readers buy the stock of Boldface Group “at less than 50-cents, and you could … Turn $10,000 into $50,000 in the next 6-12 months!” It’s now trading at one cent.

Fox News helps grow Huckabee’s email list, as the former Republican governor regularly promotes MikeHuckabee.com on his weekly program. When visitors reach the page, they’re immediately asked to sign-up for his list. In other words, Huckabee is growing his email list through Fox News, and then selling access to that list so hucksters like Tobin Smith can target his Fox fans.

As Salon’s Alex Pareene noted, “the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks.” 

H/T: Eric Hanaoki and Joe Strupp at MMFA

thepoliticalfreakshow:

WASHINGTON — The State Department released a report on Friday that could pave the way toward President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.

In his second term, Mr. Obama has sought to make his fight against climate change a cornerstone of his legacy. In a major speech on the environment last summer, Mr. Obama said that he would approve the pipeline only if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution. He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be “absolutely critical” to his decision.

The conclusions of the report appear to indicate that the project has passed Mr. Obama’s climate criteria, an outcome expected to outrage environmentalists, who have rallied, protested, marched and been arrested in demonstrations around the country against the pipeline.

The project, which has been under review by the State Department since 2008, has become a political lightning rod for both the left and the right. Environmentalists rallying for action on climate change have seized on the pipeline plan as a potent symbol of fossil fuel projects that contribute to global warming.

Republicans and the oil industry point to the Keystone project as a symbol of energy independence and job creation, and have repeatedly attacked Mr. Obama for failing to approve a project that could create thousands of jobs.

The report released on Friday, however, is far from the final decision on the project. The State Department must next determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest. That involves taking into account both the environmental and economic impact of the project, as well as its impact on the relationship between the United States and Canada, the nation’s largest trading partner and largest source of foreign oil.

Although Secretary of State John Kerry must weigh in with a recommendation to the president on whether to approve the pipeline, it is the president who must make the ultimate decision. Nonetheless, the assignment creates a difficult situation for Mr. Kerry, who has a long record of trying to tackle climate change and hopes to make the issue a signature of his tenure at the State Department.

Mr. Kerry has repeatedly been asked about his views on the pipeline but has never publicly commented on it. He has no deadline to make the determination. A State Department official said he was preparing to “dive in” to the 11-volume environmental impact statement as a first step.

Eight other agencies with jurisdiction over elements of the project — the Departments of Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency — will also weigh in.

The State Department is also expected to soon release the results of an inspector general investigation into the preparation of a draft environmental impact report, after it was discovered that some consultants with the contractor that wrote the analysis had previously done work for TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline. If investigators determine a conflict of interest in the preparation of that draft, the State Department may have to conduct a fresh environmental review.

Environmentalists criticized the new review, particularly in light of the investigation.

“In what could be perceived as eagerness to please the oil industry and Canadian government, the State Department is issuing this report amidst an ongoing investigation into conflicts of interest, and lying, by its contractor,” said Erich Pica, the president of Friends of the Earth. “By letting the oil industry influence this process, Secretary Kerry is undermining his long-established reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change.”

Oil lobbyists applauded the review, saying they saw it as a signal that Mr. Obama would approve the pipeline.

“After five years and five environmental reviews,” said Cindy Shields, the senior manager of refining and oil sands programs at the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry, “time and time again the Department of State analysis has shown that the pipeline is safe for the environment.” Now that the review process has moved on to a determination of whether the project is in the national interest, incorporating factors like energy security and foreign relations, “when you look at the rest of those factors, those would be why we will see an approval of this project,” Ms. Shields said.

There are political and strategic advantages to approving the pipeline: It would strengthen relations with Canada and provide a conduit for oil from a friendly neighbor. If the pipeline is approved this year, it could also give a boost to the re-election campaigns of two vulnerable Democratic senators from oil-rich states — Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska — while silencing critics who for years have pressed the president over the pipeline.

Environmentalists say that if Mr. Obama were to approve the pipeline, it would destroy his efforts to make progress on climate change. Tom Steyer, a billionaire from California and a major donor to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns, has started an advocacy group, Next Generation, that has spent heavily campaigning against the pipeline.

Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation, said: “This is a large source of carbon that’s going to be unleashed. We’re headed in a terribly wrong direction with this project, and I don’t see how that large increase in carbon is going to be offset.”

Although the pipeline is a potent political symbol, its true impact on both the environment and the economy would be more limited than either its supporters or its opponents suggest.

The new State Department report concludes that the process of extracting and burning tar sands oil creates about 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional oil, but that the heavily polluting oil will be brought to market with or without the pipeline.

“It’s unlikely for one pipeline to change the overall development of the oil sands,” a State Department official said.

Because of global demand, the oil will most likely get to market whether or not the pipeline is built. Already, energy companies are moving tar sands oil out of Canada by rail.

“At the end of the day, there’s a consensus among most energy experts that the oil will get shipped to market no matter what,” said Robert McNally, an energy consultant who was a senior energy and economic adviser to President George W. Bush. “It’s less important than I think it was perceived to be a year ago, both politically and on oil markets.”

The new State Department analysis took into account the growing global demand for oil and the rapidly growing practice of moving oil by rail in areas where pipelines have not been built. “Given the anticipated outlook of oil prices and the cost of development, no single project will likely affect the rate of extraction,” the State Department official said.

But moving oil by rail has its own hazards. As the practice has increased in recent years, so have incidents of explosions of rail cars carrying oil.

Supporters of the pipeline say that it would create jobs, though the number may be limited. A study by the Cornell Global Labor Institute concluded that the pipeline would create about 3,900 construction jobs over two years.

Privately, people close to Mr. Obama say that although he is committed to building a climate legacy, he does not see the pipeline as a central part of that effort. Instead, the president is moving forward with a set of E.P.A. regulations on coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Those regulations do not have the potent political symbolism of the pipeline, but, if effective, they could have a far greater impact on the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, by freezing construction of new coal plants and closing hundreds of existing plants.

In the administration, many people close to the president have long said they believe that he will try to have it both ways on climate — moving ahead with sweeping E.P.A. rules while approving the pipeline.

But environmentalists are preparing to influence the next stages of the decision-making process, which some say could drag into next year.

“This is the most scrutinized pipeline in the nation’s history,” said Brigham A. McCown, a former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“The fact that it’s lasted as long as it has means one of two things,” he said. “They’ve either done a very good, thorough job, or they’ve slowed it down due to political pressure.”

Mexico’s Congress has approved a bill to end a 75-year state oil monopoly by allowing foreign and domestic investors to enter the market.

The vote was passed 353-134, allowing private companies to explore and drill for oil and gas, which was not previously permitted. The bill still needs to be approved by 17 of Mexico’s 31 states, which is believed to be highly probable.

State-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, gained ownership of all natural resources when Mexico’s government took over operations from foreign oil companies in 1938. At the time, the move was viewed by many as a symbol of nationalism.

The bill carries key importance for the US, as Mexico is in the top five exporters of crude oil to America.

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) and the conservative National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional) were behind the proposal.

Many fiercely opposed the bill, with some leftist members of Congress trying to stop negotiations by blocking access to the chamber of the House of Deputies with chairs and tables, AP reported. A member of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática), Antonio García Conejo, undressed during his speech to emphasize that the bill is a “plunder of the nation.”

“We must defend our oil,” Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a three-time presidential candidate and son of the president who nationalized the oil industry, said in a television advertisement. The state oil company, he added, belongs“to all Mexicans, and we must not allow it to go private.”

H/T: RT.com

shortformblog:

bylinebeat:

‘Major Spill’ After Exxon Pipe Ruptures in U.S.

An Exxon Mobil crude oil pipeline ruptured near the town of Mayflower in the US state of Arkansas, spilling thousands of barrels of oil, the company said.

Exxon shut the 50-centimetre Pegasus pipeline, which carries crude oil from Patoka, Illinois, to the Gulf Coast, after the leak was discovered on Friday afternoon.

Exxon, which was hit with a $1.7m fine by regulators this week over a 2011 spill in the Yellowstone River, said a few thousand barrels of oil had been observed. [more]

Related: Read more on the Keystone Pipeline decision and the two tar sands spills that occurred this week.

Photo Credit: (Reuters)

The spill is estimated to be at least 10,000 barrels in size. Pretty crazy stuff.

I greet you from the land of the giant white trucks. I sit here, typing away, barricaded behind the door of the last available hotel room—the smell of smoke oozing from every fiber of polyester bedspread and carpet of this non-smoking room—in Vernal, Utah. Outside on the crowded streets hundreds of Rams and Rangers and Silverados prowl, most displaying Texas and Wyoming and Oklahoma plates.

The drivers of the trucks are here for the same reason I am: the boom in drilling for oil and natural gas. The vast, dry lands south of Vernal hold about half of the state’s active rigs and present a veritable smorgasbord of opportunities for energy extraction: shale aplenty, fracking for both oil and natural gas, and even the state’s very own poised-to-open tar sands. Uintah County has been Utah’s main oil producer for more than 70 years. As far back as 1918, National Geographic extolled the area’s potential: “Campers and hunters in building fires against pieces of the rock had been surprised to find that they ignited, that they contain oil.” In other words, what is happening here is no nouveau drilling dalliance, no young sweetheart in first flush, freshly wooed, like the Bakken Field in North Dakota, but an on-again, off-again affair that has been going on for decades.

It is that affair that interests me, with all the salacious details of how Big Oil sidles up to a town, flirts with it, and wins it over. Not to mention what happens if—or, more accurately, when—the wooer decides to ditch the wooed.

In Vernal, population 9,000, evidence of earlier wooing abounds. A quick ride around town reveals Big Oil’s equivalent of a dozen roses or a box of candy. There are shiny new schools and municipal buildings and ballparks. The Western Park Convention Center, covering 32 acres, is one of the largest buildings of its kind in the West. Not every town hosts a golf tournament called Petroleum Days or throws a music festival—like last summer’s weekend-long Country Explosion—cosponsored by a maker of centrifuges and mud/gas separators. Then there’s the Uintah Basin Applied Technology College, a beautiful sandstone building with the streamlined look of a brand-new upscale airport.

On that first day back in July, I drove from the rec center to Main Street, rejoining the white truck parade past classic strip malls and an abundance of hotels. (The Holiday Inn, many locals would tell me, was rented out for a year in advance by Halliburton—before it was even completed.) At the chamber of commerce, when I mentioned concerns about the environmental consequences of the boom, a young woman named Misty smiled at me from behind the counter and said: “It’s an oil field town and everyone makes money from the oil field. Treehuggers should go somewhere else.” From there I climbed back in my car and was drawn like a magnet to a big sign that said: I ❤ Drilling! It pointed toward a small shop called Covers & Camothat made custom seat covers and was bedecked with stickers and filled with souvenirs, all professing love for the pursuit of gas and oil. Inside, wearing a big straw hat and a T-shirt sporting the same words that adorned the sign outside, was George Burnett, the affable, slightly manic owner. I was surprised to learn that his business really had nothing to do with drilling.

George had opened his first shop, Mr. Trim Seat Covers, back in Provo, Utah, 25 years before. But then the economy started to crater and no one could afford a truck, let alone covers for the seats of a truck. A friend told him about Vernal, where the latest oil and gas boom would mean not just plenty of trucks but truck owners with money to spend. Business was slow at first, but then George found his gimmick: I ❤ Drilling! He put up his signs, made his T-shirts, and suddenly was the talk of the town, all the drivers honking their horns as they passed his shop. Only a few gave him what he called “the single-finger salute.”

George pointed to his pride and joy: an old black-and-white photo he’d had blown up and made into a poster. It showed three women in hard hats and one-piece bathing suits riding on a truck bed that featured an undeniably phallic 10-foot-tall wooden oil derrick with black papier-maché oil gushing out of its top. The photo was of the 1953 Oil Progress Parade down Main Street, an event that George had exactly recreated the previous summer, right down to the derrick, the one-pieces, and the vintage truck. At the top of the list of funders was Halliburton.


In the Brew Haus

For all Vernal’s riches, there is some fear that boom is becoming bust, with oil prices falling and natural gas abundant. If so, it won’t be the first time. Since its initial boom, in 1948, Vernal has been riding these waves up and down, the boom of the early 1980s crashing hard and then rising again only to crash in the early 2000s. During these dark times, no matter how hard the town ❤ed oil, oil didn’t ❤ them back. If a lesson was to be learned, it would seem to be one of caution, but as soon as oil returned, the town threw itself back into the industry’s big arms. That was the George W. Bush boom, which included a last-minute gift of almost 3,000 more permits. This turned into the Obama boom, which continues to this moment. But for all the bunting and cheers, some people are wary. Did oil really ❤ them? They had been burned before.

From George’s Covers & Camo to the Dinosaur Brew Haus is less than a 50-yard walk, and I learned there that not everyone in Vernal is as gung ho about oil as George Burnett. The place was bustling as I jockeyed my way through the crowd. My working method as a writer over the past few years has boiled down to the first line of a joke: A man walks into a bar. I’ve found drinking with the locals to be a good way to take a town’s temperature, and, sure enough, before I’d had two sips of beer, I was listening to a tall, bearded man describe the joys of fracking.

"Nobody graduates from high school in Vernal anymore," said Jeff Hommel, one of the guides. "They think they don’t need to since they can make $70,000 to $80,000 out in the oil fields."

Looking at my napkins from the night, I find one name scribbled several times: Herm Hoops. I was told that he was an old-time river rat who, unlike most, was frank about what oil had done to the town. “He spoke out at the last town meeting,” one napkin says. And after that, barely legible: “People wanted to kill him.”

One Man’s Town

I wasn’t able to track down Herm Hoops on that first trip to Vernal, which is one of the reasons I’ve come back. Returning, my first stop was the Dinosaur Brew Haus, where I met a man named Rich, who works out on the oil fields. He contained in one person the odd mix of oil and water I’d noticed on my last visit. An ATV instructor, kayaker, scuba diver, and former ski patrol emergency medical technician, he’d moved west seven years before from upstate New York in search of adventure and opportunity in the booming oil fields, just as earlier adventurous easterners had been drawn westward to search for gold, beaver, silver, uranium, you name it. Rich now spent his days driving from drill site to drill site, where his perfectly metaphorical job was to separate oil from water in the condensate tanks next to the wellheads.

"Some days I don’t see a single person," he said. "It’s dangerous. When the weather’s bad that red dirt turns to snot. We had five water tankers roll over last year. But it’s by far the best money I ever made in my life."

In his late 40s, Rich is older than the standard caricature of the oil field worker. He likes Vernal, lives near the rec center, but prefers to get his exercise by exploring the surrounding canyons, lakes, and arches by foot, ATV, and dirt bike. When I told him I had never been on an ATV, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride the next morning, and I, to my own surprise, said yes.

Which is how I ended up trying to tame a wild ATV. Rich said that the shifting and driving were simple, and I’m sure they were to him. But I managed to fall off after only about 100 yards, accelerating when I meant to brake, and then the willful machine decided to run over my leg. It was not, as I first suspected, broken, and I made it a good half hour before falling off again, diving for safety as the ATV turned over.

If you ask current residents what exactly Big Oil has given them, the answer is usually jobs. And it’s true: jobs have been gained, hundreds of them, and Uintah County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.9 percent. But most of these jobs are for transient outsiders. Jobs in services, oil and gas mining, and government have all increased dramatically in the past 10 years, but only mining and government pay better than the national average; service wages lag far behind.

For Rich, however, it was a good deal all around. He considered himself a nature lover—”being out in it” was one reason he gave for loving the job. The larger repercussions of what he was doing didn’t concern him. He was simply there to do a job, cash in, get out. What was the big deal?

Herm Hoops, when I finally got to see him later that afternoon, had an answer to that question. After saying good-bye to Rich, I drove out east of Vernal, past a life-size pink dinosaur, to Herm’s house. A big man with a thick beard and an easy manner, he greeted me in his driveway wearing just shorts and a T-shirt despite the afternoon chill.

Part of the big deal, Herm explained, is that by doing his job, Rich makes it hard for others, like Herm, a river rafter, to do theirs.

And then there were the busts. Herm remembers the last one. Storage lockers of people’s possessions being auctioned off. Houses foreclosed. He is not against drilling, he told me, but what is lacking is perspective and long-term thinking. The problem is exemplified by the archetypal Vernal high school student who drops out, lured by the chance to make money working in the oil fields, and buys a house, a big truck, some ATVs.


"What happens if that job goes away?" Herm asked. "He is left with no education, many debts." In fact, at the public meeting where Herm questioned the oil orthodoxy, a boy just like that stood up and said, "If we don’t keep drilling, how will I pay for everything?"


Herm wasn’t trying to drive oil out of town. He was merely suggesting that Vernal proceed with some restraint and consider investing in the future. For that he was greeted with fury, even death threats.


Over the past 40 years Herm had seen Big Oil bring its gifts, and its gifts were shiny. But he had also seen oil and chemicals foaming and floating down the Green River. He had seen rising crime, prostitution, spousal abuse, and a culture defined by the twentysomething males who come to work the oil fields. (Utah has a higher incidence of rape than the national average, and Vernal has a much higher rate than the state as a whole.) Air quality has dramatically worsened; last winter’s ozone levels in the county rivaled those of Los Angeles.

H/T: Mother Jones

ecowatchorg:

As Obama Signals Surrender to TransCanada, It’s Time to Focus on Keystone XL’s Southern Leg

I ask in the name of loving justice: why isn’t blocking the actual construction of Keystone XL’s southern leg being met with the same level of outrage by everyone as blocking the potential construction of the pipeline’s northern leg?

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)

breakingnews:

The State Department released a draft environmental impact assessment of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline Friday, suggesting the project would have little impact on climate change, the Washington Post reported.
Canada’s oil sands will be developed even if President Obama denies a permit to the pipeline connecting the region to Gulf Coast refineries, the analysis said. Such a move would also not alter U.S. oil consumption, the report added.
More on the 2,000-page report from the Post here.

In 2012, like most years, U.S. gasoline prices fluctuated according to global market conditions, seasonal changes in demand and several other factors. Fox News fluctuated too, finding bad — often contradictory — news in the ups and downs alike. No matter which way gas prices went, the network always found a way to forecast doom for the economy and pin it on Obama. But experts agree that no president can control gas prices.

Early in the year, Fox News launched a relentless campaign to pin unseasonably high gasoline prices on President Obama. The network had tried this before, but this time the coverage reached a fever pitch. During the first two months of 2012, Fox News blamed gas prices on Obama more than three times as often as all other major news outlets combined, even distorting charts to serve their agenda. To do this, Fox often claimed that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline or expanded domestic drilling could lower gas prices, while ignoring that Obama has significantly raised fuel economy standards — a measure that would help consumers reduce their dependence on oil and vulnerability to price spikes.

The network gloated that prices at the pump could be an “opportunity to disrupt” good economic news for Obama, or maybe even “enough to derail his return to the office.” To support that goal, Fox News regularly hosted Eric Bolling, a former minor league baseball player and major Wall Street oil and energy futures trader. While Fox News presented him as an expert, actual experts, even those who support increasing access to oil, have called his claims “absolute and utter rubbish,” “idiotic,” “nonsense,” and “not correct.”

In May, as gas prices began to fall, one Fox News legal analyst took to “hoping gasoline’s going to stay close to five dollars in November.” Apparently worried that low prices could be a boon for Obama’s reelection campaign, anchors on Fox News and Fox Business suddenly began warning that “CHEAP GAS ISN’T GOOD.” 

These anchors tried to explain that low gas prices could be “just a sign of a weakening economy,” or as Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer put it “a sign of a looming global economic crisis.”  The networks’ sudden concern came after months of ignoring broader economic factors in its gasoline price reporting.

With gasoline prices predictably rising in summer and election season kicking into high gear, Fox News once again portrayed high gas prices as a problem, and suggested that Mitt Romney’s energy plan could be the solution. In August, Neil Cavuto twice hosted former Shell Oil executive John Hofmeister to announce that he would vote for Romney and claim that gasoline prices were high because of a lack of domestic production under Obama. Cavuto failed to note that Hofmeister is currently a director at several oil and gas companies (and that his entire premise was baloney).

Throughout 2012, Fox News pushed the talking point that gasoline prices had nearly doubled since Obama took office — failing to mention that when he was inaugurated in January 2009, the U.S. was in the middle of a recession and low demand had depressed the price of oil and gasoline. During the second presidential debate, President Obama explained this point, to no avail: Fox News figures claimed Obama’s comments were “totally bogus" despite all evidence to the contrary.

FNC and FBN cannot be trusted to tell the unbiased truth if it bit them on the ass.

Post: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/12/29/2012-a-year-of-gas-price-fibs-on-fox/191943

1) “I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school.” As part of his budget, Paul Ryan proposed cutting Pell Grants for nearly 1 million college students. In fact, Romney’s white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” suggests that he “would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding.” It says: “A Romney Administration will refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”

2) “I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.” The Washington Post’s in-house fact checker tore Mitt Romney’s claim that he will create 12 MILLION jobs to shreds. The Post wrote that the “‘new math’” in Romney’s plan “doesn’t add up.” In awarding the claim four Pinocchios — the most untrue possible rating, the Post expressed incredulity at the fact Romney would personally stand behind such a flawed, baseless claim.

4) “Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.” There are slightly fewer permits in 2009 and 2010, from between 8,000-9,000 permits to over 5,000, and they have not been cut by half. The oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill, where it hasn’t begun exploring or developing. Two-thirds of “acreage leased by [oil] industry lies idle” on public lands, according to the Department of the Interior.

6) “And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.” 1,500 coal jobs have been created under Obama.

9) “The proof of whether a [energy] strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.” Gas prices are certainly high, but oil is a global commodity, and the president has virtually no control over them. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, Romney’s proposal to increase domestic oil production would not have much impact on volatility.

10) “And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.

11) “But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.” This would actually help very few Americans. Nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income. To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it.

12) “A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.” Romney is pointing to this study from the American Enterprise Institute. It actually found that rather than raise taxes to pay down the debt, the Obama administration’s policies — those contained directly in his budget — would reduce the share of taxes that go toward servicing the debt by $1,289.89 per taxpayer in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

13) “Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.

14) “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.” Romney did not ask women groups for candidates. Instead, prior to his election, a “bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government.” They “put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions” and presented it to Romney after he was elected. A UMass-Boston study found that “the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006.”

15) “I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.” Romney has been uncomfortably silent on the issue of pay equity. He has refused to say whether he’d support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would allow women to sue for equal pay, and named four of the justices who voted to roll back equal pay in that Supreme Court decision as his models for any of his appointments to the federal bench.

16) “I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.” But back in March, Romney expressed strong support for the so-called Blunt amendment, which that would allow employers to deny contraception coverage to women. Romney also wants to defund Planned Parenthood, where 76 percent of the patients seek low-cost birth control options. Defunding the organization would make it much harder for those women to get contraceptives.

17) “So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And — and I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened.” This is false. As Buisnessweek explain: “Romney is misstating his position. He opposed any use of taxpayer dollars to bail out the automakers, advice that President George W. Bush and Obama ignored. GM and Chrysler went through managed bankruptcies after Bush, at the end of his presidency, and later Obama provided federal funds.” “Without federal funds, GM and Chyrsler would not have survived. As former Bush aide Tony Fratto explained, “It wasn’t just that there wasn’t credit available; a lot of private equity had cash, they just weren’t giving it away.”

18) “He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year.” Premiums have increased, though at a lower rate than before. And while the Affordable Care Act’s most important cost contentment strategies have yet to be implemented, the law is already lowering costs. 16 million seniors have received preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving at least $3.9 billion on prescription drugs. Millions of young adults now have insurance coverage and are staying on their parent’s health care plan, insurers have refunded consumers, and states have successfully rejected dramatic premium increases.

19) “He keeps saying, ‘Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.’ That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country.” Job creation is net positive since Obama took office in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. Economists estimate that up to 3 million jobs were created by the stimulus alone.

23) “It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people.”Obama called the Libya incident an act of “terror” the very next day. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” he said. “Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

24) “Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.” The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, told CNN, “President Obama is doing … more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].”

25) “The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.” Obama never embarked on an “apology tour.”

26) “We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.” Automatic weapons are legal in this country.

28) “What I will do as president is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again.”Romney’s plan to move the country to a territorial tax system would let corporations do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the U.S. This would no doubt encourage American companies to invest abroad, potentially costing the country up to 800,000 jobs.

30) “And there’s no question but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.” Under the law, only companies with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine — that’s just 2.6 percent of businesses. If anything, expanding health care coverage to more Americans will actually create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

31) “He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy.” [T]he possibility of Medicare going bankrupt is — and historically has been — greatly exaggerated. In fact, if no changes are made, Medicare would still be able to meet 88 percent of its obligations in 2085. Social Security is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter. There is also an easy way to ensure the program’s long-term solvency without large changes or cuts to benefits.

Mitt Romney was lying off his rocker last night. He CANNOT be trusted to lead a kids’ hockey team, let alone this nation (and the world).

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress

Hugo Chávez promises to increase production and reduce dependence on US market by doubling crude exports to Asia

While giant rallies in Caracas may be drawing the world’s attention ahead of tomorrow’s Venezuelan presidential election, the global significance of the vote can be found hundreds of miles to the east in the oil-soaked Orinoco Belt.

According to studies, Venezuela has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become number one in the world for proven oil reserves, largely thanks to the heavy crude found in this vast alluvial plain.

Whether this multi-trillion dollar asset is controlled by Hugo Chávez or the opposition challenger, Henrique Capriles, will influence which countries and companies are given the priority to exploit them and how much drivers around the world pay at the pump. According to a report this year by BP, Venezuela has reserves of 296.5bn barrels, about 10% more than Saudi Arabia and 18% of the global total. At the country’s current levels of production, this would last about 100 years.

If Chávez wins – as most polls suggest – he has promised to ramp up production and reduce his country’s dependence on the US market by doubling crude exports to Asia. To further this goal, Venezuela plans to build a pipeline through Colombia to the Pacific which would reduce costs and transport times to China and other Asian markets.

Capriles, who has mounted a strong challenge, says he would fire the oil minister, Rafael Ramírez, and rethink how crude is extracted and used. Until now Russian and Chinese companies have struck the biggest deals for future exploitation.

“We have to revise every deal. I think they are agreements that are not functioning,” he said. During the campaign, he has also said he would halt subsidised oil shipments to Cuba, Belarus, Nicaragua and Syria. Critics say he is a stalking horse for US interests.

Both Chávez and Capriles are calling for more investment so that Venezuela can increase not only output but also the quality of oil through the use of upgrading technology. But the volatile mix of politics and oil has made it difficult to secure partners.

In recent years Venezuelan oil production has fallen due to poor maintenance, low investment and the loss of key workers. Plans to open new fields have been repeatedly delayed. The state-owned oil company PDVSA says the holdups are over. Last week its joint venture with Russia’s Rosneft and Lukoil pumped its first barrel. Another operation, with a Vietnamese firm, has also reportedly begun. Projects with Chevron of the US, Spain’s Repsol and others are due to start early next year.

Oil helps to explain why Chávez is vilified in the US. In 2000, a year after taking power, he made his first mark on global affairs with a tour of the Middle East to lobby key Opec members – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – to drive oil prices higher. Since then, the cost of Brent crude has risen from less than $20 a barrel to more than $100.

Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were among the leaders who joined Chávez to drive up prices. Molina believes it is no coincidence that they were deposed and killed: “There’s a plan in place to control the global oil market. Anyone who tries to erode the monopoly ends up in conflict with the [US] empire.”

In the past, Molina said foreign oil firms were paying only 3% royalties to the government, but Chávez pushed this up to 16%. He also helped to raise the value of the output from the Orinoco Belt by relabelling it as valuable heavy crude instead of cheap bitumin or tar, as it had previously been priced.

Some accuse the US and multinationals of trying to influence the presidential campaign. “Transnationals want control of the oil here. They want the submission of Latin America to supply the market needs of the US,” said Nicmer Evans, a political science professor at the Central University of Venezuela.

But the outside influence cuts both ways. Since 2007, the government has received $42.5bn in loans from the China Development Bank, with the biggest tranche coming in the year ahead of an election in which Chávez has increased public spending, the minimum wage and pensions. This is repaid largely through shipments of 430,000 barrels of crude a day to China in repayment.

Russian president Vladimir Putin showed his support with the gift of a puppy to Chávez this month.

h/t: The Raw Story