oil and gas

Against Transparency
October 09, 2009

I. In 2006, the Sunlight Foundation launched a campaign to get members of Congress to post their daily calendars on the Internet. "The Punch-Clock Campaign" collected pledges from ninety-two candidates for Congress, and one of them was elected. I remember when the project was described to me by one of its developers. She assumed that I would be struck by its brilliance. I was not. It seemed to me that there were too many legitimate reasons why someone might not want his or her "daily official work schedule" available to anyone with an Internet connection. Still, I didn’t challenge her.

No More Sex and Drugs in the Interior Department
September 18, 2009

On Wednesday, the Interior Department finally terminated a program few people had ever heard of: the royalty-in-kind (RIK) system, which allowed oil and gas companies to drill in public lands and pay the government in oil, rather than cash. Over the past decade, the program, run out of an office in suburban Denver, had allowed companies to underpay the government by $10 million.

Forest Fighters
April 24, 2009

Satipo, Amazon Basin, Peru--On the fourth floor of the National Museum in Lima, there's a photo exhibit of Peru's long "dirty war" against the leftist Shining Path guerrillas during the 1980s and '90s. A series of wall-sized photographs illustrate two decades of bombings, roundups, secret arrests, and massacres that left 70,000 dead. The exhibit has been criticized for both overstating and downplaying government atrocities, a sign that this era in Peru's history remains controversial.

Riding The Oil Seesaw
March 16, 2009

Last year, when oil prices shot up to $140 per barrel, it sparked a drilling frenzy across the United States—by the end of the summer, there were nearly 2,400 oil and natural-gas rigs in place nationwide, ready to pump to the last drop. But now, of course, the global economy's imploded, demand has collapsed, and oil and gas prices have fallen by two-thirds. All those rigs are sitting unused. Investments in drilling and exploration have fallen way back. In some places, it's not even worth it for companies to pump gas or oil from drills already used.

No Buyouts In The Gas Patch
August 14, 2008

We're pleased to bring on Rob Inglis as an occasional contributor to The Vine. Rob writes for High Country News, a nonprofit publication covering political and environmental issues in the American West.  You've probably heard the Democratic line about federal oil and gas leases: Before we issue any more of them, we need to makes sure that oil companies are using the ones they already have. But federal leases already contain a use-it-or-lose-it rule, as House Republicans frequently point out.

The End of the End of History
April 23, 2008

  I. In the early 1990s, optimism was understandable. The collapse of the communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. The great adversaries of the Cold War suddenly shared many common goals, including a desire for economic and political integration. Even after the political crackdown that began in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the disturbing signs of instability that appeared in Russia after 1993, most Americans and Europeans believed that China and Russia were on a path toward liberalism.