Monday, October 27, 2014


Original Story:

The giant oil company BP doesn't do small-scale.

Not only is it responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill -- "unprecedented" in its "volume, depth, and spatial scale," in the words of the National Research Council -- but the firm has mounted what certainly looks like an unprecedented PR campaign to minimize the damage, along with a years-long effort to dodge the financial consequences of its spill.

This week, Politico provided the company with another valuable platform for its PR -- a two-page online spread titled "No, BP Didn't Ruin the Gulf." The piece was written by one Geoff Morrell, who turns out to be the oil company's spokesman, as you'll discover if you read down to the bottom of the screen.

As we honor the life and career of the just-departed former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, we should mark this groundbreaking advance in Washington journalism: a corporate advertisement presented as "opinion." It's not evident that BP paid for its placement in Politico, but whether it forked over nothing, a little or a lot, it scored well: as we write, Morrell's piece is demurely sharing space on Politico Magazine's home page with reported articles on Ebola policy, the Supreme Court's influence on election rules, and the fall of Atlantic City. A Corpus Christi Energy Lawyer is experienced in legal issues that arise from energy disputes.

But it's not Politico's credibility that's at issue here; it's BP's. Let's examine whether the oil company has any.

Morrell begins by posing an overarching question: "What impact did the spill actually have on the Gulf Coast environment?"

The answer, if you study the findings of experts, is that the spill has had massive impacts. These include immediate effects on sea fowl, marine mammals, and coral; and long-term effects on dolphins, sea turtles, fish and wildlife populations, and the gulf food web. Moreover, many effects are still imponderable at this time, because no one has studied an oil spill of this magnitude in a unique ecosystem such as the gulf. Assessing the damage may take decades, covering generations of animals. A Charleston Environmental Lawyer has experience representing clients in all areas of general environmental law.

BP sidesteps that point. Morrell mentions several predictions that were made in the immediate aftermath of the spill, and that were manifestly conjectural -- "tar balls...all the way to Europe," "a permanent end" to the gulf seafood industry, tourism revenues depressed for years.

"None of those things happened," Morrell states, as if that proves that there were no major effects. The only effects he acknowledges are short-term--11 workers killed, birds, fish and wildlife killed. "And with a camera trained 24/7 on the wellhead," he writes, "a sense of alarm was understandable while the well was flowing." (Yes, durn that camera -- if only the spill unfolded without witnesses, things would have been so much better.) A Boston Business Lawyer is experienced in providing legal advice to business clients on a variety of legal matters.

As for longer-term effects, Morrell attributes many of the reports to "advocacy groups (that) cherry-pick evidence and promote studies that paint an incomplete and inaccurate picture." He then proceeds to cherry-pick ostensibly exaggerated impacts: "For example, these groups claim the spill harmed the Gulf’s oyster population," he writes. "What they don’t say is that government sampling in 2010, 2011 and 2012 did not document a single visibly oiled oyster bed.

Here's what Morrell didn't say: The gulf oyster harvest is today near a historical low. Because oysters take three years to reach maturity, according to the Gulf Seafood Institute, gulf harvesters fear that they're seeing the oil spill impacts right now. According to historical cycles, oyster landings "currently should be trending upwards; but they’re not." Is this a consequence of the Deepwater Horizon spill? The most anyone can say is that the jury is still out. But it's certainly way too early to declare the impact "fiction," as BP would prefer.

In short, the questions about the impact of the oil spill haven't yet been answered. Not even close. BP has an obvious corporate interest in treating the spill as yesterday's news. It's not. BP has been adjudicated the legally responsible party for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It's a litigant facing billions of dollars in claims and penalties. It doesn't have an "opinion" worth reading, only a legal interest to promote. When a news organization such as Politico helps it promote its own interest, neither partner looks good.


Original Story:

The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District declared a water supply emergency Wednesday amid record-low levels.

The agency, which supplies retailers that serve several San Gabriel Valley cities, said levels will continue to drop if this winter doesn’t provide above-average rainfall and if the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California doesn’t provide significant water to replenish groundwater.

The resolution adopting a water supply emergency was approved by the board of directors and called for a number of conservation actions. An Austin Energy Lawyer is experienced in resolving disputes involving improper use of land and breach of contract issues.

It also demands that the Metropolitan Water District deliver water requested by the San Gabriel agency for groundwater replenishment at the same cost as the other member agencies that pay “full service” water rates.

“Today’s action by the board is necessary to continue the reliable and safe operation of the basin’s water supply,” said Anthony Fellow, board president of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. “Groundwater levels continue to hit record lows and weather forecasts predict continued drought-like conditions.” A Tulsa Energy Lawyer represents clients in energy cases.

The three years of below-average rain and limited availability of imported water needed for groundwater replenishment have left the main San Gabriel Basin at a record-low level, the district said.

Groundwater levels could drop an additional 20 feet or more without water deliveries and if this winter is as dry as last year’s.

The Metropolitan Water District “will play a critical role in stretching its already thin water supplies to help San Gabriel Valley communities make it through this drought,” Fellow said.