Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Feb. 9 called for a "pause" in relations with Spain, in a speech that explicitly invoked the legacy of colonialism going back to the Conquest. But the speech was clearly aimed principally at Spanish oil company Repsol, which had been favored during the presidential term of Felipe Calderón. Specifically, López Obrador questioned the granting of gas contracts in the Burgos Basin, in Mexico's northeast. He charged that Repsol operated the fields less productively than the state company Pemex had. "In the end, less gas was extracted than Pemex extracted" before the contracts, he charged.
A judge on the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Jan. 27 invalidated an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, finding that the Biden administration failed to properly account for the auction's environmental impact. In 2017, the Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program issued a five-year plan which proposed 10 region-wide lease sales. One of those was Lease Sale 257, for 80.8 million acres of Gulf waters, the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in United States history.
In Episode 105 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality. Amid the relentless COVID-19 denialism, even mainstream voices are calling for a return to "normalcy" (sic)—which is not even a word. The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020's pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. President Biden just released oil from the Strategic Reserves to control soaring prices. Simultaneously, the administration is moving ahead with the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history. While during the 2020 lockdown. the usually smog-obscured Himalayas became visible from northern India for first time in decades, Delhi is now choked with emergency levels of toxic smog. While during the 2020 lockdown, the total US death rate actually dropped because people were staying off the roads, US traffic deaths are now soaring. New York's new Mayor Eric Adams wants to stake the city's economic future to the cryptocurrency industry, even as China is cracking down on Bitcoin "mining" (sic) because of its "extremely harmful" carbon footprint. And even amid all the empty hand-wringing about climate change, airlines are flying thousands of empty "ghost flights" in order to keep their slots at congested airports. The much-vaunted "return to normalcy" must be urgently resisted. As Bruce Cockburn observed long ago, the trouble with normal is it always gets worse. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The government of Greenland announced July 23 that it will suspend all oil exploration, saying the territory "wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis... The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect we have much more to gain." While no oil has been found yet, the US Geological Survey estimates there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels below the territory's lands and waters. Many had hoped potential reserves could allow Greenland to achieve independence, compensating for the annual subsidy of 3.4 billion kroner ($540 million) the territory receives from Denmark.
In Episode 62 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg grimly notes that, even with 400,000 Americans dead to COVID-19, the worst potentialities of the Trump presidency were not realized. Trump never (quite) established a dictatorship, and we didn't (quite) go over the edge into civil war. The critical task now for the country's progressive forces is to push for a maximal and thoroughgoing detrumpification—akin to the denazification of Germany after World War II. We may truly hope that the Capitol insurrection will prove to have been the last gasp of Trumpism. However, it may have been his Beerhall Putsch—and, as last time, there could be a second act. The more thoroughly Trumpism is reversed, the more likely it will be defeated and broken politically—especially given its glorification of "winning" and denigration of "weakness." The risk of sparking a backlash is not to be dismissed, but the greater risk is that of appeasement. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Native American activist Winona LaDuke and a small group of opponents of the planned Line 3 oil pipeline project braved frigid winds Dec. 15 to demonstrate outside the Enbridge Energy office in Park Rapids, Minn. LaDuke and her self-proclaimed "water protectors" carried signs reading "Mother Earth Revolution," "We are here for the future," and "Protect climate, water, treaties." The planned pipeline would bring more shale oil from northern Canada to US markets. Local Ojibwe bands in Minnesota have brought legal challenge against the pipeline, asserting that the potential for oil spills from the line poses a risk to their treaty-guaranteed hunting, fishing and gathering rights.
Well, this is all too telling. Venezuelan prosecutors finally announced charges against opposition leader Juan Guaidó for "high treason"—but not for colluding with foreign powers to overthrow the government. No, Guaidó is to face charges for his apparent intent to renounce Venezuela's claim to a disputed stretch of territory that has been controlled by neighboring Guyana since the end of colonial rule. Fiscal General Tarek William Saab told AFP that Guaidó is under investigation for negotiating to renounce "the historical claim our country has on the territory of Esequibo."
In what the New York Times somewhat hyperbolically calls a "clash," US Border Patrol vessels have over the past two weeks stopped at least 10 Canadian fishing boats near Machias Seal Island between Maine and New Brunswick. Canada has responded by beefing up its Coast Guard patrols in what is being termed a "disputed gray zone" between the two countries' territories. "There is no illegal immigration going on there," a bewildered Canadian fisherman told the Times. "It seems silly." Most observers see it as related to the current bitter trade dispute between Washington and Ottawa. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says the US Border Patrol has stopped over 20 Canadian vessels so far this year in "contested waters" in the Bay of Fundy, and "has no intention of stopping." The so-called Grey Zone consists of some 700 square kilometers of lucrative lobster waters where the Bay of Fundy meets the Gulf of Maine, although few actually live in it. Machias Seal Island is a migratory bird sanctuary maintained by the government of Canada, but is otherwise uninhabited.