"September 21 News: Top Interior Official Leaves to Defend BP; Gas Rig Fire to Burn for Days; Kochs Attack EPA Internships"
The former chief of staff to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has taken a job with one of the law firms representing BP in legal proceedings stemming from the massive Gulf oil spill last year.
Tom Strickland joined the Interior Department as Salazar’s chief of staff and an assistant secretary in 2009. He worked there at time when the department ushered in reforms and new ethical rules to reduce conflicts of interest between offshore oil drilling’s regulator and drilling companies after a series of scandals at offices in Colorado and along the Gulf Coast.
Federal law and an executive order from President Barack Obama bar Strickland temporarily from dealing with his former colleagues in government on any issue he worked on at the agency.
A rig drilling for natural gas in rural Oklahoma exploded late Monday night, prompting the evacuation of the sparsely populated area and causing a fire likely to burn for days.
No one was reported hurt or killed, but officials ordered the evacuation of the two homes within a mile of the fire, which is under control. The rig was near Watonga, about 70 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.
Blaine County Deputy Sheriff Gary Clyden said the danger of a wildfire in the drought-stricken area was low, but could increase if winds strengthen.
The well’s owner, Continental Resources Inc., which is based in Enid, Okla., said state and federal investigators were looking into the cause of the incident. The rig, which is owned by Petterson-UTI Energy Inc., must be removed before the fire can be put out, which could take several days, Continental said.
Alaska politicians will make a full-court press Wednesday for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R), via teleconference, will testify at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing about drilling in the area that environmentalists and their allies have long battled to keep off-limits.
In additional to Parnell, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) and Rep. Don Young (R) will testify.
The last serious attempt to open ANWR was in the middle of the last decade, when advocates fell just short in a pitched battle on Capitol Hill.
The congressional investigation into Solyndra has cast a shadow across the solar energy industry, but two new reports show continuing growth in the sector.
A report from the Solar Energy Industries Association finds that grid-connected photovoltaic installation in the U.S. grew 17 percent from the first to second quarter of 2011 and a whopping 69 percent from the second quarter of 2010.
Furthermore, prices continued to plummet as completed module prices dropped 12 percent in the second quarter.
And the initial findings of another report, from the nonprofit Solar Foundation, concludes that the solar industry added 6,735 U.S. jobs between August 2010 and August 2011.
General Motors said yesterday that it would develop electric cars in China through a joint venture with a Chinese automaker, and would transfer battery and other electric car technology to the venture.
GM, which is already the largest foreign maker of conventional vehicles in China, is keen to help define the emerging generation of green-energy automobiles here. And the state-controlled Chinese auto industry is just as eager for expertise from GM, an acknowledged global leader in electric car technology.
Yesterday’s announcement was being made as the Chinese government was putting heavy pressure on foreign automakers to transfer electric car technology to joint ventures in China. But GM took pains to say that its joint-venture agreement was not connected to its plans to begin importing its new US-made Chevrolet Volt electric car to China this year.
Mike Pompeo is a Congressman from Kansas who represents a vast swath of Koch brothers’ offices, executives, lawyers, yes-men and employees. Could that alone explain Pompeo’s latest gambit?
It’s relevant background as he offered a quixotic bill targeting one of Charles and David Koch’s favorite punching bags: the EPA. The brothers are among the largest polluters in the U.S. and have a long track record of donating to politicians and think tanks that fight safety precautions.
But the target is not the EPA’s position on enforcing emission standards, ozone protections or anything else that might stop the planet’s destruction or help us breathe healthier air. Those are battles the Kochs already won.
It’s the internship program, and in Pompeo’s telling: “The [Environmental Justice Eco-Ambassadors program] program favors students who share President Obama’s “radical” views on the environment.”