Patt Morrison for April 29, 2011

Mercer 17299
In the first quarter of 2011 Exxon Mobil earned nearly $11 billion, a 69% increase over its performance for the same period last year; Royal Dutch Shell turned a profit of $6.3 billion; BP, even with all of the ongoing costs connected to the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, made $7.1 billion. The profit reports are particularly galling as Americans are shelling out close-to-record prices for gasoline, approaching $4.50/gallon here in Southern California, but there’s something else amiss. Despite increasing demand, gasoline refiners are producing less gasoline and diesel fuel in the U.S. than usual for this time of year, and they’re exporting more of their product to foreign countries. There are several market forces at work, from uncertainty in the politics of the Middle East to interruptions in oil production from Libya to the North Sea, and oil speculators have been steadily driving up the price of oil on the international market. But with these profit reports one can’t help but feel a little gouged by high fuel prices. Is this profiteering or the naturally opaque forces of the oil markets?
Mercer 17532
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations and unions can donate unlimited sums of money to political campaigns, both parties are clamoring to out raise the other. But one lawmaker wants to make sure we know where all that money is coming from. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to achieve that aim. Van Hollen says disclosure "is essential to our democracy" and without it "special interest groups [will] bankroll campaign initiatives." At the same time, President Obama is contemplating issuing an executive order that would would require federal contractors to disclosure political donations. Some conservatives complain that requiring disclosure could hamper political fund raising for the 2012 election and create a political backlash against donors whose goals differ from that of the current administration. Most estimates put the amount of money being raised for the 2012 election in the billions. Do we need to know where all this money is coming from?
Mercer 17527
Saturday is the annual “Great Los Angeles River CleanUp,” when Angelenos take the majestic concrete banks of the L.A. River to clean up what are sure to be copious amounts of trash. There was once ambitious talk of completely remaking the L.A. River, which has always looked much more like a soulless flood control channel than an actual river—concrete was going to be ripped out in place of natural habitat like real dirt, trees and native plants; parks and trails would line the rehabilitated river to be used as public gather places and peaceful spots to watch the river amble by. Almost none of this has taken place, and with only one stretch of river made natural—the Tujunga wash greenway project in the San Fernando Valley—the new era of slashed budgets and spending makes major river rehab projects look unrealistic. We talk about the L.A. River CleanUp and the prospects for Los Angeles ever having a real river running through it.
Mercer 17528
Beach season is almost here, but with budget cuts and record rainfall, what do you need to know before you head out to the coast? Patt checks in with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors for details on their beach service cuts set to go into effect this Sunday and we hear from a water expert about what the record rainfall could have washed into an ocean near you. Call with your questions about where to find the best fun in the sun this summer.
Mercer 17533
You can hear the wedding-bells echoing; even from across that vast pond we sometimes call the Atlantic Ocean. Prince William and Kate Middleton have finally gotten hitched! The long awaited spectacle, driven forward by tenacious media, wedding-enthusiasts and curious onlookers alike, has finally come to fruition. In the wake of the massive ceremony we are left to catch our breath… but only so we can extrapolate on the recent wedding developments! Patt Morrison turns to herself once again for our closing coverage of the royal wedding.
Find an archived Episode: