reporter whose new report in Rolling Stone is headlined "Six Years After BP Gulf Oil Spill, Residents Demand 'No New Drilling.'" Her story in Newsweek is called "Paris Was Just a Way Station in the Climate Change Fight." She also has a feature article in the latest issue of Ms. Magazine called "Women Take On Climate Change." Juhasz is the author of three books, most recently, Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill.
This is viewer supported news
Image Credit: Friends of the Earth Europe
the world marks Earth Day, more than 60 heads of state meet at the
United Nations headquarters to sign the Paris climate agreement aimed at
slowing climate change. Many countries still need to formally approve
the agreement, which will only enter into force when it is ratified by
55 nations that account for 55 percent of man-made greenhouse gas
emissions. Experts say the cuts promised in the deal are insufficient to
avert dangerous global warming. This comes as Gulf Coast communities
marked the sixth anniversary of the BP oil spill by demanding no new
drilling. For more, we speak to reporter Antonia Juhasz. Her new report
in Rolling Stone is "Six Years After BP Gulf Oil Spill, Residents Demand
'No New Drilling.'" Her most recent book is "Black Tide: The
Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill."
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
As we move on right now, today is Earth Day. Climate is on the world’s
agenda as more than 60 heads of state will meet at the United Nations
headquarters to sign the Paris agreement aimed at slowing climate
change. Many countries still need to formally approve the agreement,
which will only enter into force when it’s ratified by 55 nations that
account for 55 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This comes
as the first three months of 2016 broke temperature records, and 2015
was the warmest year on record. Experts say the cuts promised in the
deal are insufficient to avert dangerous global warming. On Thursday,
demonstrators gathered in Paris to highlight the oil industry’s role in
AURELIE: [translated] So,
we are gathering outside the Meridian this morning because it is the
International Oil Summit, a yearly summit which gathers major oil
industries and some organizations such as OPEC,
as Paris’s climate agreement will be ratified tomorrow in New York. And
we wanted to underline the fact that there is a huge contradiction
there, since the climate agreement plans to limit global warming to 1.5
degrees, which was the commitment of all countries. But if the oil
industry continues that way, we are going to overpass 3 degrees, which
is the climate imbalance threshold. And that is when the situation will
become difficult to deal with.
Here in the United States, Gulf Coast communities marked the sixth
anniversary of the BP oil spill by demanding no new drilling. Last
month, they held protests outside the Superdome in New Orleans, which
hosted an auction by the Interior Department for 45 million acres in the
offshore Gulf of Mexico for new oil and gas drilling.
For more, we’re joined here in Denver by reporter Antonia Juhasz. Her new report in Rolling Stone headlined "6 Years After BP Gulf Oil Spill, Residents Demand 'No New Drilling.'" And she has a piece in Newsweek; its headline, "Paris was Just a Way Station in the Climate Change Fight." You can read her feature article in Ms. Magazine about women taking on climate change. And her most recent book, Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill.
It’s great to have you back with us, Antonia, here in Denver, Colorado, today.
ANTONIA JUHASZ: Thanks for having me.
Well, these three things are converging. It’s Earth Day. You’ve got the
Paris climate agreement going to be signed at the U.N. today. It’s the
sixth anniversary of the BP oil spill. Put it all together for us.
OK. I think the most important thing for the six-year anniversary of
the oil spill is that, you know, at this point, government, industry,
the public have learned the lessons of this disaster. Unfortunately,
those first two categories—government and industry—aren’t implementing
any of those lessons. So, President Obama is expanding offshore oil
drilling dramatically in the Gulf of Mexico, a proposal to expand it in
the Arctic, continuing production, where I live, in California and the
Pacific, and hoping to continue to expand drilling in the Gulf of
Mexico, as well. And that is in this—in face of the Interior Department
trying to put in place new regulations to make offshore drilling safer,
including 500 pages’ worth of new regulations released just last week.
But every expert I’ve spoken to, including the U.S. Chemical Safety
Board, has said these regulations just do not go far enough, and the
lessons have not been implemented. The likelihood of another
Macondo-like blowout is still very, very real.
The good news is, of those groups, the groups that have learned the
lessons, increasingly so, is the public. So, you know, in my six years
of covering this disaster, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like
that protest at the Superdome, just the numbers of people from the Gulf
Coast, from all across the Gulf Coast, coming out to say, "You know
what? We just don’t want any more of this." The costs are too high—the
environmental costs, but also the economic costs, with the collapse in
the oil industry and that roller coaster ride of being dependent on this
resource, and, of course, the climate costs. And what we’re seeing in
the Gulf Coast is reflected all across the country and all across the
world, where polls are showing really dramatic changes in public
opinion, not just globally, but also in the United States, with almost
75 percent of Americans now preferring to pursue alternative energy
instead of oil and gas development. And that includes, for the first
time, a majority of Republicans proposing alternative energy to oil and
gas, which means that, for example, the Republican candidates for
president are not reflecting the views of the Republican population, but
instead what we’re seeing is a population that is saying—embracing the
idea of "keep it in the ground."
What’s happening at the United Nations today? Some 60 heads of state
will be there to sign the Paris agreement. Its significance?
Yeah, so, this was—196 countries agreed in Paris in December that we’re
going to make a global commitment to reduce carbon emissions and aim to
keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That
commitment is important. There was money behind it. There was some
legally binding portions to it.
But the key point missing is this point that I said the public is
getting, which isn’t—which governments are not getting and is not in the
agreement, which is the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. So the
United Nations itself has said, at a minimum, three-fourths of existing
fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to avert the worst of climate
catastrophe. The Paris agreement, nowhere in it do the words "oil,"
"natural gas," "coal," "fossil fuels" appear. It’s all about stopping
emissions, not stopping production. And that allows, for example, the
government of Saudi Arabia to have a plan, within the climate agreement,
which is that they’re going to increase domestic production of oil and
gas, export it out of the country, and use that money to fund
alternative energy development at home. That’s just backwards.
AMY GOODMAN: Interesting that President Obama was in Saudi Arabia this week, this Earth Day week.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously, you know, our relations with the
Saudis encompass a lot of things. Oil is certainly one of them. And
there is a lot of debate right now about trying to get, for example,
Saudi Arabia to choose to reduce that production to help address the
price of oil, at the same time as agreeing, in the Paris climate
agreement, to allow them to produce more oil and gas to save the
AMY GOODMAN: We’ve just got 30 seconds. On this 46th anniversary of Earth Day, what are you celebrating, Antonia Juhasz?
I’m celebrating this movement, the Keep It in the Ground movement. All
across the United States this week, there have been protests trying to
halt new leasing of oil and gas development, including, you know, as I
said, in the Gulf of Mexico, and, really, this global movement that is
getting much, much, much larger to keep it in the ground and see those
answers, even in response to a non-appropriately responsive government
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Antonia Juhasz, for being with us. Her new report in Rolling Stone headlined "6 Years After BP Gulf Oil Spill, Residents Demand 'No New Drilling.'" Her piece in Newsweek, "Paris was Just a Way Station in the Climate Change Fight." We’ll link to all her pieces, including her one in Ms. Magazine about women in the climate change battle.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Boulder is
debating whether to become a sister city to Nablus in the
Israeli-occupied West Bank. We’ll host a debate. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: "7" by Prince. It’s hard to say "the late, great Prince," but Prince has died at the age of 57.