Let's make Big Oil pay in advance!

When Big Oil is forced to pay for their disasters, the environment has a much better chance to recover. Twenty-seven square miles of wetlands along the Texas coastline have been preserved using funds from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation recently purchased the 17,000 acre Powderhorn Ranch using about $38 million dollars from BP's fines and other conservation group funding.

That purchase will protect the salt marshes, oak forests, and pristine wetlands of Texas's coastline, and it will provide a buffer for storm surge and sea level rise that pose a threat to that state. The Wildlife Foundation had been trying to purchase the land for over three decades, but was unable to raise the funding until BP was forced to pay.

This is exactly why it's so important to prevent corporations from privatizing gains and socializing losses. So many of the natural disasters caused by the fossil fuel industry have been left to taxpayers to clean up, and it was only the massive scale of the BP spill that prompted large fines and settlements.

When we divert tax dollars to clean up a corporation's mess, we make that funding unavailable for other important functions. By forcing Big Oil to pay for their disasters, we are able to clean and protect our environment without depriving our government of the tax dollars needed to operate. And, we raise the cost of business for the fossil fuel industry, and force them to do more to prevent another disaster.

Texas's newest wildlife preserve is proof that fining oil companies can be a success, but we shouldn't wait until the next disaster to make Big Oil pay up. Let's make them pay in advance for the destruction they cause by instituting a tax on carbon. To find out more, check out our new video “Carbon” at GreenWorldRising.org.


The Markle's picture
The Markle 8 years 39 weeks ago

New to your blog. I love your work Thom. WARNING you might not know, but on THOM HARTMANN Streaming Live Radio Broadcast on YOUR OWN WEBSITE advertisements are being shown during your break that are paid for by the Republican Party. The last ad they posted talked down about Ann Kirkpatrick and said how she is bad for supporting Obamacare. Fortunately your audience will be able to see beyond this, but it is irritating to have blatant Republican advertising on Progressive education radio. One place to find solace from the psych bending of Republican junk. At least they are losing money advertising HERE. I am in Illinois.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 8 years 39 weeks ago

This is a perfect case for a consumer unions to exist. The entire fossil fuel industry is based on consumption. The need to move people, products and services, virtually all rely on fossil fuels one way or another. Oil above all of the fossil fuels is most reliant on consumption because it exist in thousands of different products, along with being the primary source of private transportation and commercial transport of products and services. All products shipped by sea are moved by oil based fuel. The entire war effort in the Middle East is a direct result of the strategic oil reserves, regardless of all the souring political rhetoric. The preservation of oil consumption by the government and private interest, that control the political will of government institutions, cost the world an uncountable amount of money, resources, environment and lives each year. Even the corrupt practice of speculation is based on future consumption of goods and services.

Currently there is no organizations or institutions that the citizens of the US and or any other country can turn to or use to combat the strangle hold large corporation have on our governments. If a nationalized or international Consumer Union (CU) existed. There could be strategic boycotts and civil action as a two prong approach. The boycott against the private enterprise and the civil action against the government. You would have to have a massive CU in order for this to be effective, but time and work could provide the membership. Especially, since the idea of collective controlled consumption is both a practical and beneficial to society. We must reduce consumption in order to survive and help fight against climate change.

Let me return boycotting the oil company. First, if you want substantial change you must be willing to sacrifice something to gain something. The oil industry like every other industry in the economy is based in consumption. An organized well planned strategic boycott against the oil industry would take some imagination and serious cooperation. You’d have to have members drive strictly for essential use only. A public education campaign to get non-member to participate in solidarity. Coordinate with other socially conscious organization to join the boycott. Use public transportation, car pool, ride bikes, walk, anything that can be thought of to reduce oil consumption. People can be very resourceful and imaginative, especially in an organization like a CU, where member participation is expect and encouraged.

The civil action against government collusion with the oil companies could also be addressed by the CU. The approach would be different in some ways. The CU could help coordinate public protest, legal action and civil disobedience, if it comes to that kind of protesting. Environmental groups would be a natural ally to this kind of protesting. This could lead to making demands to the government to invest in clean forms of energy, mass public transit and environmentally responsible regulation with real teeth. The organization doesn’t have to be strictly about controlling consumption as a tactic but I have reasons for basing the principles of consumerism at the CU core.

There is a lot of time and money spent on controlling the minds of men/women. Ad Agencies, PR firms, think tanks and other institution that are dedicated in influencing public opinion. There are industries that do nothing but compile and sell consumer spending trend information to companies. Every time you answer a survey about a product, you are helping to create a demographic that is used to market a product, to manufacture a sense of want, for a product that you most likely don’t need. The entire economic system is based on the pseudo-science of getting the most out of the consumers while giving the least amount in return. This is why I advocate for Consumer Unions and the education of members is vital to breaking the vicious cycle of the manufacture of want.

After BP disaster in the Gulf, the company started running ads, stating how much they were sorry and how concerned they were for all the damage they did to the fishing industry and the way of life down along Gulf. The truth is BP along with Halliburton fought against having to pay any kind of restitution, so how sincere do you think those commercials really were? The did have to pay a huge price but their profits far exceeded the penalty, which, leaves the company ready and willing to commit more disasters because if their making billions using the same unsafe practices with profits virtually unaffected they are going to continue exploit the corrupt system. The CU could combat this injustices. The CU could advocate that a country’s resources should belong to its citizens. The citizen would easily go for a gradual switch for fossil fuels to green energy for self-preservation alone. But the fossil fuel industries CEOs are mandated, like all industry, to put investor profit above any moral guiding principles, regardless of the effects they might have on environment, humanity or the very existence of life on this planet.

I do not see a mass movement that existed like there was in the 1930’s. The fear of communism and socialism created the ground work for the New Deal. The labor movement that come out of the struggles of the great depression have been beaten almost to submission. The civil rights movements of the 50 and 60 helped to civilize the US, but all these mass movements have been crippled over time because of one under lying commonality. They did not fundamentally change the system. And it is reflected in our current political climate. Voter protection laws are starting to be challenged all around the country, anti-immigration sentiment is everywhere -a parallel to the Wilson era the RED SCARE, unlimited military and security state budgets, fascist police tactics with military arms and training are being used against the citizenry, all economic safeguards have been reduced, limited or completely eliminated, the working class and the poor have been marginalized to the point of no political influence, corporation have been granted extraordinary citizen status, working rights have been completely dismantled, unions are on the brink of extinction. All of these things are happing because the system is still fundamentally corrupt. Regulations, Laws and policies are just targets for the ruling class to take aim and systematically dismantle within the prevision of the system.

I’ve gotten off course but the fundamental strategies of the CU would be the strategy of corporation. Undermine markets to achieve optimal benefit. When I say optimal benefit, I just mean a fair, reasoned and justifiable system that provides for as many people as possible but still exist as a market. The oil companies have had their hand on the throats of American politics and public policy since the first discoveries of oil in the west. The fossil fuel industry shouldn’t even exist. That is a product that should be completely controlled by the people and Consumer Unions could be a vehicle for such a vision to become reality.

Gator Girl 8 years 39 weeks ago

That sounds like a good idea to me because they never end up paying what they are supposed to and people hurt. If they were required to put the money out up front maybe things will change for the oil companies so they cannot keep that money and make big bucks off of it while putting the people off until they are forced to eke out a bit more. ALL of it up front without delay

Willie W's picture
Willie W 8 years 39 weeks ago

Good idea. A security deposit. Nothing new.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 39 weeks ago

Right, nothing new. Permits for environmental impacts have been a requirement everywhere in the U.S. for 30 years. Any entity proposing work or development on a site which will have an impact on wetlands or impact on an endangered habitat has to obtain and pay for a permit with an environmental agency which in these times is under either county, state, and/or federal jurisdiction.

Along with the permit fee, a Plan for Mitigation of impacts has to be accepted by the governing agency, and a contract signed between the permitee and the enforcement agency.

In my county are open permits from 1985 which have not replaced more than 1 million mangrove species as agreed to in their permit requirement. Anyone can find out who in their area has jurisdiction, and then may go to that office where permits and mitigation plans and enforcements are a matter of public record. You may find that many smaller companies than BP have been getting away with unmitigated environmental destruction for the last 30 years. It all adds up.

So as I have written here many, many times, the problem is NO ENFORCEMENT of environmental law which is on the books. The BP Spill may have been prevented had the PROPER PERMITS AND INSPECTIONS been completed before company executives moved ahead on their own.

As for the mitigation that has been described above, residential developers in South Florida have had to do not much less to build a community than BP has had to do for ravaging what is really an unkown amount of acreage of federally protected wetlands in four states.

In short, the problem is DEPARTMENTAL CORRUPTION within managing agencies. This is not to say that there are not some run-by-the-book agencies which are trying to do a good job.

But the entire BP debacle stinks of payoffs, before and after the disaster and that should be our concern. I am tired of seeing people I know who know better and who started out young as environmental biologists, now looking puffy, sitting around at their departmental desk eating cake and looking the other way. Why should they be getting a government check and private perks besides?

IdRatherBeDancing 8 years 39 weeks ago

This comment is an objection to your program today, 9-3-14, regarding the dentist Joon Kim that you had on your program.

I cannot believe you would have someone on your show supporting the use of fluoridation in public drinking water. This is not a debate, or an opinion. It is a fact that fluoride is toxic to the human body. It is not a nutrient, element, or vitamin. It is poison. You just set back years of trying to educate the public about the lies from the American Dental Assoc, FDA, and USPHS. Thousands of people listen to your show every day. You have a responsibility to ensure your speakers are knowledgable. You might as well have broadcasted that smoking does not cause lung cancer, or that its okay to breathe the fumes from leaded gas, or that the Koch brothers are charitable people who care about poor people. You owe your listeners an apology, and an explanation that Fluorine compounds are deadly poisons to mammalian tissues; they disrupt cell biology, and carry aluminum to cells in the brain to produce Alzheimer-like changes.

You just supported big aluminum businesses and pharmaceutical companies. You just invalidated the work of F.A.N. Congratualtions. Did you even entertain the idea of becoming educated about it first?

Refer to :


Dr. Hardy Limback, University of Toronto

Prof. Paul Connett of New Zeland

Dr Frederick B. Exner, radiologist, world authority on Fluoride

"The Fluoride Deception" by Christopher Bryson

The late dr John Colquhoun, former Chief dental officer of Auckland New Zealand was a fluoride-promoter turned critic said, "How many cavities would have to be saved to justify the death of a child with osteosarcoma?"

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 38 weeks ago

IdRatherBeDancing is correct.

The aluminum industry had no way of disposing of fluoride as a waste by-product so city commissions were encouraged to add it to drinking water. That would be ALCOA and its mining cronies.

It is known that over-exposure to fluoride causes cancer in 1/10,000. FDA scientist whistleblowers were fired for releasing this info years ago.

We are over fluorinated- our water, toothpaste, dental products, and in food.

1/10,000 means we all may know someone who has developed cancer from fluoride exposure. Ask where tumors come from, not just how to get rid of them.

thevoice 8 years 38 weeks ago

Energy independence is easy if we demand it

$3,700,000,000,000 is what the war has cost so far. A 270 watt solar panel costs around $300. So 3.7 trillion divided by $300 equals 12 billion. So, for 3.7 trillion we could have purchased 12 billion solar panels. There are about 350 million people in America so 12 billion solar panels divided by 350 million people equals 35 solar panels per person in America. So we could have purchased 35 solar panels for every person in America for the price of war in the last 12 years. We could easily drive our cars and power our homes with 35 solar panels each.

geonomist's picture
geonomist 8 years 38 weeks ago

Good point that (1) fines are not enough. But not just oil companies but anybody who alters nature for profit should first pay (2) an Ecology Security Deposit (like how we pay deposits before leasing an apartment) and buy (3) Restoration Insurance (like how we buy car insurance before driving on public roads). Further, polluters should buy (4) permits to emit byproducts that can cause harm, just like a promoter must buy a permit to stage a loud concert. These four charges alone would make oil extraction, indeed most industry, not profitable, according to the UN.

Yet most fundamentally, the most powerful charge that society could oblige land users to pay are Land Dues or land taxes. The amount would be the annual rental value of the location. Because market-rate rents tally much more than fines, deposits, premiums, or permits, the Land Dues (or taxes) that collect the rents would have much more impact. The main change is that resource extractors would abandon marginal site, sparing much nature, and concentrate on prime sites, getting more from less.

While recovering the socially-generated values of sites and resources, government could quit levying counterproductive taxes on our earnings, purchases, and buildings. While society has a valid claim to the worth of Earth — something everyone has a right to and its value is something society as a whole generates — it’s hard to craft a moral argument for those taxes that punish our efforts.

Along reforming taking, government could reform spending, and quit paying corporate welfare while instead disbursing a dividend to the citizenry.

To top it all off, we could go back to the days before government limited the liability of businessmen for free or a pittance and instead requrie them to negotiate contracts with suppliers, investors, workers, etc. Then we solve not just our environmental problems and our economic ones at the same time. Called geonomics, it has worked wherever tried. More at Progress.org.

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