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Five Years After The BP Oil Spill, Gulf Coast Residents Say “BP Hasn’t Made Things Right”

Julie Dermansky

If you ask Dean Blanchard, the largest shrimp buyer and wholesaler in the region surrounding Grand Isle, Louisiana, things “went from paradise to hell” in the five years following the BP oil disaster.

But BP's advertisements insist the company is making things right. A BP report on the State of the Gulf five years after the spill claims there is no lasting damage to the ecosystem. 

This is What Happened When Oil Giants Exxon and Mobil Joined Forces

Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with the merger between two oil giants, Exxon and Mobil.

A global superpower was created on 30th November 1998, with the $81bn merger between Exxon and Mobil.

The deal was quick on the heels of rival BP’s merger with Amoco, but the ExxonMobil deal outshone that of BP Amoco by billions of dollars.

The Moment When Global Leaders Signed The Kyoto Protocol, And How Industry Responded

Our DeSmog UK epic history series recalls the moment when leaders from around the globe agreed to limit emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Exxon boss, Lee Raymond's attempt to warn the developing world against signing the Kyoto Protocol – which would threaten his business – appeared to be unsuccessful.

At 4am on the 11th December 1997, the leaders of more than 150 countries meeting in Kyoto, Japan agreed – after two years of negotiations – to binding reductions on carbon emissions.

This Is The Man Exxon Chose To Lead Its Effort Against Climate Science

This DeSmog UK epic history post portrays Lee Raymond, the Texan captain who steered the Exxon ship against the rising tide of climate science.

In 1997, BP’s British boss, John Brown, stunned the world by endorsing the science of climate change and calling for government regulation to reduce carbon emissions. Exxon’s Lee Raymond (pictured), however, was an entirely different beast: brash, bullish and brutal.

This real life J.R. Ewing came from working class stock all the way from the Great Plains and fought his way to the top of the oil giant Exxon.

This is What Happened When Former BP Boss Lord Browne Called for Action on Climate Change

Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post looks at what happened when former BP boss Lord John Browne called for government regulation to reduce carbon emissions.

John Browne was chief executive of British Petroleum and one of the most fêted and celebrated business leaders of his generation.

The son of a British Army officer and a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor, Browne joined the company as an apprentice in 1966 before a genuinely meteoric rise through the management, reaching the apex in 1995.

United Steelworkers Oil Refinery Strike Spreads

Workers at Shell and Motiva refineries in Norco, Louisiana, about 30 miles west of New Orleans, have joined the growing national United Steelworkers Union (USW) strike. In total, 15 facilities are now striking, making this the largest refinery strike since 1980.

On the second night of the strike in Norco, a giant flare at the Shell refinery illuminated the workers on the picket line, serving as a reminder of the dangers that come with working at refineries.

“There are a lot of hazards out here,” Bryan Shelton, a media liaison for the union, said. “If you have that much hydrocarbon in one area, you have a chance for a lot of things to go wrong, so if you have someone working too many hours that is a dangerous thing.”

You'll Never Guess Who Attended Britain's First Major Climate Denial Conference

DeSmog UK’s epic history series looks back at the conference that marked the first major event where climate sceptic views were promoted in England.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Britain's first major climate denial conference. You'll never guess who attended – and who paid for it.

In October 1995, John Blundell – the newly appointed director of free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) – opened his second major conference Environmental Risk: Perception and Reality at the four-star Stakis St Ermin's Hotel on Caxon Street in London.

The advertised speakers included Blundell’s old friend Fred Smith, the founder of the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), who had flown over from the United States along with the coal-funded sceptic scientist Dr Patrick Michaels.

You Don't Want to Miss DeSmog UK's Most Important Stories From January

It has only been one month into the New Year and already so much has happened. We’ve scored some amazing achievements in the fight to clear the PR pollution clouding climate science.

So as we head into February – and incidentally the sixth month anniversary of DeSmog UK – we share here with you our January highlights and say thank you for your keen interest and loyal readership.

By far the most incredible moment has been climate denier Matt Ridley’s response in The Times to our #mattkingcoal investigation.

Tate Visitors Could Donate 1p Each to Make Gallery BP Free

Art lovers visiting Tate would have to donate less than 1p to allow the galleries to drop oil company BP as a sponsor, according to figures released today following a Freedom of Information request. 

Sponsorship figures released today show that BP donations increased from just £150,000 in 1991 to only £330,000 in 2006 - less than 0.5 percent of Tate’s overall operational budget during that time.

The donations, which continue today, mean BP has its flower petal logo hanging around the gallery and, according to campaigners at Platform, provides them with a 'social licence to operate' by making them appear socially conscious and respectable.

The sponsorship figures were released after the Information Tribunal ruled in December that Tate galleries must disclose the controversial sum of money BP paid as a sponsor between 1990 and 2006.

The landmark ruling was the result of a three-year long Freedom of Information appeals process by London-based campaign group Platform, information charity Request Initiative and law firms Leigh Day and Monckton chambers.

Embarrassingly Small

Brendan Montague, Request Initiative co-founder and DeSmog UK editor, said: “Tate Britain and Tate Modern had a combined visitor-ship of more than 2.6m people during 2013. We estimate that if every 20th visitor donated just £0.01, enough money would be raised to make Tate BP-free.”

EPA Offers New Standards For Oil Spill Dispersant Use; Still Won’t Ban Toxic Agents

After years of ignoring the dangers of the oil dispersant Corexit, the Environmental Protection Agency has finally decided to enact stricter standards for how dispersants are used during offshore oil spills… Sort of.

According to Truth-Out reporter Dahr Jamail, the EPA has proposed a slew of new standards that would better govern the use of dispersants for future spills. But, as Jamail points out, American doctors and scientists are concerned that the agency is not doing enough to protect the public and the environment from the dangers of the dispersants:

Robert Mathis, an M.D. and doctor of environmental medicine in Santa Barbara, California, described how several of the chemical ingredients of the dispersants that are regularly used on oil spills remain unknown because they are “trade secrets,” but that even the known chemicals in the dispersant cocktails are extremely dangerous to humans; they contain an “emulsifier that allows chemicals deeper penetration into tissues and cells.”

“Dispersants disrupt both bacterial and human cell membranes,” Mathis explained. “Damage disrupts cell functions, leading to cell failure, and may cause cancers and death. All living things are damaged, including groundwater.”

The new guidelines proposed by the agency would give the public broader access to the rules that govern the use of dispersants, the available dispersants for the type of spill, and the risks of using each particular dispersant, sometimes including a list of ingredients.

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