The week that was 4 - 11 June | The Jackal

11 Jun 2011

The week that was 4 - 11 June

Yesterday, Australian climate scientists revealed details of offensive emails they are routinely receiving. This has raised concerns that the vitriolic campaign could deter the next generation of scientists and researchers. The revelations were made amidst an increasing campaign of disinformation and a number of murders of activists at the behest of the oil and gas industry.

The offensive emails typically contain obscenities, insults and sexual slurs, with some including threats such as ''the quicker that cunts like you and your kind die, the better." The Australian Academy of Science condemned the attacks yesterday, saying researchers had a right to do their work free from abuse, acts of intimidation and threats of violence. 

''We call on leaders across the community to make the same defence of intellectual freedom,'' said the academy's president, Professor Suzanne Cory.

University of Melbourne scientist David Karoly, said he had been receiving abusive emails for more than two years, but the barrage intensified earlier this year. He referred one threatening email, which said ''Die you lying bastard'' to police in January and they identified the culprit.

On Friday (Thursday in America) thousands of dead fish, crabs and other sea creatures washed up on Gulfport beach along the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico Coast. There's been no official explanation for the unprecedented fatalities.

“We’ve found so many Dead Sea turtles, dolphins, crabs, sting-rays, opossums, armadillos, and fish everywhere lately, the water is clearly not safe," said one Gulf of Mexico inhabitant.

While five environmental activists were still incarcerated in a Greenland jail for scaling the Cairn owned 53,000-ton oil drilling rig Leiv Eiriksson on the 30th May, Greenpeace have undertaken yet another daring environmental raid in their quest to halt dangerous oil drilling in the pristine Arctic.

The activists demanded a copy of Cairns spill plan to clean up any potential "accidents" that might occur. Despite repeated requests by Greenpeace and over 15,000 others, the rig’s operators Cairn Energy, have so far refused to publish the document. 

“It’s pretty obvious why Cairn won’t tell the world how it would clean up a BP-style oil spill here in the Arctic, and that’s because it simply can’t be done,” said Greenpeace last Saturday.

Just before being arrested, Greenpeace oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe radioed the nearby Greenpeace ship Esperanza from the oil rig he and 17 activists had boarded:

“We have met with the drill manager and requested a copy of the oil spill plan, which we assume he has on board, yet once again we have been refused even sight of it. What is Cairn Energy trying to hide?

We have phoned, written, faxed, emailed and now even paid a visit to the rig to get a plan that should be in the public domain and should be subject to independent verification and public scrutiny," he said.

Experts say the freezing temperatures and remote location mean a deepwater blow-out in the Arctic would be an irreversible disaster. The real risk to the pristine area would presumably be contained within the oil spill plan, and the real risk of investing in such a reckless venture would be plain to see if it were to be released.

On Friday the Dutch court granted an injunction against Greenpeace sought by Cairn Energy. This ruling means Greenpeace will now be liable for substantial fines if they take any further action that stops Cairn drilling for oil in the Arctic. Fines could be as high as 50,000 (NZ$87,740) if Greenpeace go within 500 meters of either of Cairn’s rigs. However, this is far less than the 2 million Cairn asked for and it’s capped at 1 million Euros in total.

So far a total of 20 Greenpeace environmentalists have been arrested in recent activism to try and protect the Earth's irreplaceable oceans from further disaster. Scientific research into the Gulf of Mexico shows that the oil spill is continuing to negatively impact the environment and residents over a year after the event. Keep updated by Greenpeace here.

Santa Barbara County Supervisors took a better look into Oil and Gas drilling regulations this week. Opponents to the dangerous enterprises had raised concerns over the extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing. While the process may not be a household term yet, there was plenty of heated debate about the matter.

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing cited concerns about groundwater quality while supporters say fracking can reach energy reserves that are inaccessible by other methods. Some of the chemicals used in the process are toxic but several companies consider the mixtures to be confidential trade secrets in the highly competitive industry.

The California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has statutory authority to regulate fracking in America, but like New Zealand it doesn’t require reporting to track the different methods or the fluids injected into the ground. The practice is also largely exempt from the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act, except when diesel fuel is used as the fracking agent.

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said he’s “not one to be caught up in the hysteria,” but added that the topic was a concern for him. The movie Gasland was brought up multiple times during the meeting, and Carbajal said such portrayals of fracking paint an unsavoury picture.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said she brought the item before the board because she had received letters of concern from constituents, primarily addressing water quality.

Against the backdrop of new warnings about the rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, the top United Nations climate change official called on governments to make progress in the fight against global warming.

Christiana Figueres reminded delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, of the commitments made at last year’s climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, which concluded with a package of decisions to help countries advance towards a low-emissions future.

Dubbed the “Cancún Agreements,” the decisions included formalizing climate change mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to protect the world’s forests.

“Governments lit a beacon in Cancún towards a low-emission world which is resilient to climate change. They committed themselves to a maximum global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, with further consideration of a 1.5-degree maximum,” she said.

Ms. Figueres is the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

She highlighted global climate action, which governments need to capitalize on, including new policies that promote low-carbon growth and an increase in low-carbon investment by the private sector, as well as greater use of clean technology.

“The clean and renewable energy revolution has already begun, the challenge is to complete it in time. Now more than ever, it is critical that all efforts are mobilized towards living up to this commitment,” she told the opening session of the two-week conference.

Last week, the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimated that 2010 emissions from global energy generation returned to record highs, representing an unexpectedly sharp rebound from the effects of the financial crisis. In addition, the United States Government’s Hawaii-based Mauna Loa laboratory, which is a key scientific monitor for global climate change reported last week that carbon dioxide concentrations peaked yet again in May of this year.

More than 3,000 participants from 183 countries are attending the Bonn talks in preparation for the UN climate conference to be held in Durban, South Africa, starting on 28 November.

Anadarko Petroleum is planning to undertake deep-sea drilling for oil and gas off New Zealand's Canterbury coast before Christmas. This has been greeted with open arms by National who continue to give huge tax incentives to the industry.

Anadarko will spend NZ$36.5 million on a deep-water test drilling programme in the Canterbury Basin 65km off the coast from Dunedin, but is yet to make a final decision on the drill date.

The National Government currently receives a return of only 5% for oil and 1% for gas from mineral extraction in New Zealand.

Anadarko has senior executives in New Zealand who spoke at the ENEX oil industry conference as the latest part of a stakeholder engagement programme which has already encompassed key government and iwi contacts. The conference had extensive security, was not open to the public and was met with a small but enthusiastic group of protestors.
United States government lawyers filed papers in federal court on Tuesday asserting that Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is liable for damages from the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster.

However Anardarko is also suing BP over US$272 million in Gulf clean-up costs relating to the disaster, claiming "BP is guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct" in the way it operated the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The company intended to spend as much as US$50 million mobilising either a "dynamically positioned" or "semi-submersible" rig to drill one or two exploration wells over the course of a single summer drilling season, when weather conditions are best for the activity, and said last year it was committed to the first US$30 million of expenditure on an exploration well.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill from outer space.
Drilling in the Canterbury Basin's Carrack-Caravel block, which Anadarko farmed into with permit-holder Origin Energy, will occur in depths between 1100 metres and 1500 metres. All three of the exploration permit areas involving Anadarko are beyond the 12 mile nautical limit, where New Zealand's sovereign territory ends, and are in the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone, over which the country can exercise mineral and fishing rights.

The National Government announced plans last week to step up environmental regulation in the EEZ, under the newly created Environmental Protection Authority. New Zealand currently has no effective response capability in the event of a large scale oil spill.