Bush and Big Oil threaten polar bears and walruses in Alaska

This is a video about polar bears and their cubs.

Reuters reports:

Alaska Bears, Walruses Harmed by Oil Work, Lawsuit Claims

February 15, 2007 — By Yereth Rosen, Reuters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A lawsuit filed by a pair of environmental groups claims the federal government has failed to properly protect polar bears and walruses from oil development as it expands on Alaska‘s North Slope.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through regulations that allow oilfield work that disturbs bears and walruses, is violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, said the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

10 thoughts on “Bush and Big Oil threaten polar bears and walruses in Alaska

  1. Republicans charged with being Republicans

    Posted by: “Jack” miscStonecutter@earthlink.net bongo_fury2004
    Fri May 4, 2007 8:37 pm (PST)

    Current, ex-lawmakers arrested in Alaska oil case

    By Yereth Rosen

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – An Alaska lawmaker and two of his former colleagues were arrested on Friday for allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes from VECO Corp., a private oil services company, to pass a new oil-tax system, officials said.

    The three, Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla, former state House Speaker Rep. Pete Kott of Eagle River and former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, were among six legislators whose offices were raided and searched by the
    FBI last August and September.

    Those lawmakers included former Senate President Ben Stevens, the son of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

    Kohring, Kott and Weyhrauch, all Republicans, are charged with conspiring with the oil-field-services company in exchange for supporting a pro-industry version of a controversial bill that changed Alaska’s oil production tax into a levy on the profits a company made in Alaska.

    “These two indictments allege that the defendants sold their offices in Alaska’s State House to an influential energy company in exchange for cash payments, loans, jobs for relatives and the promise of future employment,” Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher said in a news release.

    The FBI’s spokesman in Alaska, Eric Gonzalez, said the investigation was ongoing, but would not comment on whether more arrests were coming.

    The indictments were issued on Tuesday and Thursday by federal grand jurors in Anchorage.

    The indictment includes portions of recorded conversations, which included profanities at times and a passage in which Kott asks the company for a job overseeing a Barbados prison that the company manages.

    The company’s name was not disclosed in the indictment, but VECO separately said it was the company involved. Its offices were searched at the same time the lawmakers’ offices were inspected.

    At one point, according to the indictment, VECO Chief Executive Bill Allen told Kott: “I own your ass.”

    Allen and Rick Smith, VECO’s vice president of community and government affairs, are involved in the Justice Department allegations, Amy Menard, an attorney representing the company, said in the statement.

    “It is our understanding that none of the corporation’s subsidiary companies or their key executives has been involved,” Menard said.

    VECO was in support of a new tax system that supporters said would encourage oil-field investment and would bring Alaska in line with other oil-producing areas in the world. Opponents said the change to a profit-based tax would give oil companies opportunities to use creative accounting to cheat the state.

    The oil-tax change was pushed by former Gov. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, and the three major North Slope producers, ConocoPhillips, BP Plc and Exxon Mobil.

    The former governor and the producers wanted to roll the new oil tax into a contract for a massive natural gas pipeline, freezing tax rates for decades.

    Ultimately, the legislature approved the change to a profits-based tax system, but at a higher rate than supported by Murkowski and the oil companies. Lawmakers rejected the gas pipeline deal negotiated by the former governor and the three major North Slope producers.

    One current lawmaker and longtime critic of VECO’s and the oil industry’s influence on Alaska politics said the criminal case should change the political climate.

    “Certainly VECO was the biggest donating entity in the state for over a decade,” said state Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat. “Hopefully, the FBI investigation will reduce their influence in Alaska politics.”


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