Tag Archives: oil spill

A friend returns

One of my favorite new bloggers has been a bit too busy to entertain me recently, but he’s back today with a wicked good post about BP. Check it out.

Money for money

BP has their fingers crossed yet again, and a few million residents of the Gulf Coast weep as their way of life disappears. Just another day in the greatest country ever governed by an almost entirely owned Congress.

From today’s New York Times‘ (that paper so thoroughly quoted by Glenn Beck) lead editorial:

“No industry enjoys the array of tax breaks and subsidies that the oil and gas industry does . . . Industry has spent $340 million on lobbying over the last two years to block [initiates to limit the tax breaks]”

So. Let’s see how that goes.

I drive by a big box store with a fully lit parking light six hours after the store has closed and am comforted by the knowledge that those lights can burn on as long as our soldiers keep fighting those wars. Like in Afghanistan, where today is the 277th day of the ninth year of the war.

Nothing short of higher energy prices will change how we behave in this country. Our disgraceful wasteful ways go on. We should be so very ashamed.

Sincerity is getting tired

There’s a stunning amount of misinformation surrounding the oil spill, the responses, the dangers, the facts on the ground, the consequences . . . because, as usual and with the exception of PBS and the BBC, almost no actual reporting can be found on TV broadcast or cable channels, which is where most people get their news.

CNN has been talking to a very angry head of a Louisiana parish for almost two months and almost every day.  His way of life and that of his constituents is threatened and he is justifiably frightened and angry. But however authentic this guy is,  he is not the story.

Even tonight there is CNN as usual, speculating about whether the Jones Act is preventing the use of foreign skimmer vessels in the Gulf.  While Wolfe and Anderson grimly discuss this with people who have no idea and no data but do have opinions, McClatchy – one of the last remaining genuine journalistic enterprises we have – did the reporting.

There are dozens of stories at their site, including the one to which I just linked. From that story:

“It’s a little shocking to me that a president that has such a multinational orientation as this president didn’t immediately see the benefits of waiving the Jones Act and allowing all of these resources to come in,” former House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, said in remarks to Newsmax.com, a conservative website.

Armey and the other Republican critics are wrong. Maritime law experts, government officials and independent researchers say that the claim is false. The Jones Act isn’t an impediment at all, they say, and it hasn’t blocked anything.

“Totally not true,” said Mark Ruge, counsel to the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a coalition of U.S. shipbuilders, operators and labor unions. “It is simply an urban myth that the Jones Act is the problem.”

Kinda love that daring definitive language – you know, where they say things like “is” and “isn’t”. Bold stuff.

And they’re not even The-Most-Trusted-Name-In-News.

(But still, it’s too bad they couldn’t get Donna Brasile or Ann Coulter to chime in. I guess they’re not really ready for the big time.)


Dear Brian

I know you’re the journamalism pro, Mr. Williams, but please allow me to offer this small suggestion. Stop dipping paper towels in the water in New Orleans. Especially please stop doing it from a small dingy so we think you got out there by yourself. I swear, oars are next.

So . . .  enough with the paper towels, okay?

And we expected them to control an oil well?

Story on the news tonight about a Louisiana charter captain who committed suicide yesterday – entirely spill related according to friends and family. There are always these bonus tragedies when bigger tragedies occur. Nothing new about that, sadly.

But just now I saw one of BP’s feel-good TV commercials. Guess who was in it?

Right on top it, BP is.

Disappointment, part the second

A few days ago I wrote that I thought Obama was getting bad advice. After tonight’s speech – more evidence of that – I have to take it further and allow that he’s the one taking that advice. Tonight’s speech was so insufficient. So lacking. And wow, so short. Has a president ever before addressed the nation for only sixteen minutes?

I think the folks at MSNBC – every hair in place – were ready to do some serious and lengthy analysis. But they’d pretty much said all they had to say and shut it down after their own 16 minutes.

I’m almost afraid of the reaction. Or worse, the lack.

It may be bigger than both of us

The deep water well currently gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico is a  hole in the planet (borrowing the concept from a commenter at James Howard Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation). While we’re dithering about beaches and BP and Obama’s inability to weep and rend his clothes, we have an actual hole in the planet.

(By the way, a FOX anchor accused Obama of  wearing ‘fancy clothes’ [white shirt and slacks, no jacket] while walking on a Gulf Beach. True. )

And we’ve got a hole in the planet. And so far we can’t plug it.  Sayin’.

Reagan – again

Yup. Recently read Gary Willis’ Bomb Power. (I didn’t finish it – by the middle I was skimming but not because it isn’t a superb and important book, which it is – but because it was overdue at the library and not renewable.)

But to the Reagan reference – this is a difficult time for my country and a big part of our current crises can be traced to regulatory failures. And as even children know, the dismantling and neutering of the regulatory apparatus began aggressively in Reagan’s administration. Clinton stopped the bleeding, but he didn’t do much to strengthen its bite – then George W. picked up where Reagan left off but with more enthusiasm. Wherever his administration was stymied by existing legislation, they got around that by installing lobbyists and industry insiders into the agencies they were charged to regulate. So they didn’t. And that was that and here we are.

BP gas stateion - small type says: You are responsible for any spills.

Willis notes the successes of Carter’s enforcement of existing legislation and then the addition of the 1978 Energy Act, created in response to the ‘oil shocks’ a few years earlier.

“Not surprisingly, it all worked. Between 1975 and 1985, American passenger vehicle mileage went from around 13.5 mpg to 27.5 mpg  – which helped to creat a global oil glut from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, which not only weakened OPEC, but also helped to unravel the Soviet Union, then the world’s second-largest producer . . . Then Reagan declare government to be the problem, ignoring the very recent and succesful ‘solution’ . . . He began by systematically dismantling his predecessor’s energy program. He removed the subsidies for wind and solar. So technology pioneered by American companies and financed by American taxpayers was sold to foreign firms. He relaxed pollution and mileage standards. Reagan stocked the agencies with people who did not believe in what they did. They were there to gut what they were supposed to be promoting.

Reagan’s generally sympathetic biographer Lou Cannon said of this: “Overall, Reagan left a ruinous regulatory legacy.”

Thanks guys. We in western Florida, where the Wall Street crisis cut the value of our homes by 40% and who are now dreading the loss of our beachs AND our tourist fueled economy thank you.

Oil and war and water

Just found a few new sites I like a lot, one of which (via GrumpyLion) provided this picture. He’s also got a link to a slide show at boston.com that will break your heart. If you can bear any  more heartbreak.

Hermit crabs dying on the sand

The other day Chris Matthews asked ‘how do you repay us for the loss of an ocean?’

I guess this is what we’re fighting to have more of – there needs to be a very important reason why we are still in Afghanistan on the 247th day of the ninth year of the War.

Here we go again

I think Obama is getting terrible advice.  He’s apparently scheduled a meeting with Hayward, the CEO of BP. Why in the world should a Head of State sit down with a disgraced CEO?? It’s as if George Bush invited Ken Lay in to chat. And worse, I just heard that the meeting will be in the Oval Office.

Mr. President, if you must meet with this guy fer god’s sake, do NOT invite him into the Oval Office. Meet the guy in a conference room down the hall or something. I don’t want to see Hayward sitting on the couches.

(This thing looks to be a PR move and if so, it’s 10 days too late. And not the first time that Obama has bowed to media pressure to do the wrong thing.)

Calling Jimmy Olsen

A terrific column by Eric Alterman today. This jumped out:

“According to MMS spokesman Nicholas Pardi, there’s not a single reporter in the country who covers its activities full time.”

The Minerals Management Service, the agency whose regulatory failures led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, has not attracted any interest from our ‘free’ press in the last decade or more. They have however, been ‘freely’ swarming around the latest bimbo eruption, wherever it may be. By the thousands.

Lucky us.


From xkcd

More good stuff here.

Oil stay away

A solid article this morning in The New York Times about those underwater oil plumes; those of us on the Gulf find the wonk endlessly fascinating.

I'm counting on you, okay?

Meanwhile, my local volunteer machine appears to be in place.  The State and the County have put a procedure in place to alert and activate an army of volunteers if and when oil becomes a problem on our shore, which it very well might when the hurricanes come . Groups at the local level are registered and can go into action quickly. In my own community, we already have a task force in place to coordinate volunteers.  Unlike LA, AL, and MS,  we have time. I understand the State’s goal is to have people at every single foot of our shoreline. I also understand that any costs incurred by county, state or local orgs will be reimbursed by BP through the state. Hope they don’t run out of money.

More than one clean up called for

Krugman three days ago:

Something Rotten At Interior

Something is very wrong at the Interior Department.

Actually, that’s not news. No part of the government was as thoroughly corrupted during the Bush years; Interior became a case of government of the extractive industries, by the extractive industries, and very much for the extractive industries. And it was going to take time to clean up the mess.

But has the cleanup even started? Every day there’s another news story with Ken Salazar firmly declaring that he’s losing patience with BP, and that if the company doesn’t get with it … he’ll make another firm declaration tomorrow. Meanwhile, we get assurances that no more drilling is being allowed pending review, followed by stories that, well, actually it is; we get stories about MMS officials partying with cakes inscribed “Drill, baby, drill.”

What this says to me is that officials at Interior are acting as if nothing has changed. Maybe that’s because Salazar is just a weak leader, and they’ve concluded that they have nothing to fear from him. Or maybe the fears of environmentalists about Salazar’s motives were correct, and he’s saying one thing to the public but another thing to his subordinates, assuring them that he’s not serious about all that change stuff.

Either way, he isn’t doing his job — and the Obama administration is steadily leaking credibility. And the buck for that stops you know where.

Obama has appointed quite a few good people  but I remember being saddened when his offer to Bruce Babbitt to take over Interior went nowhere. Babbitt was a serious and sterling choice. But it didn’t happen. Interior was /is a department screaming for real change.

By the way, another place needing real change is Afghanistan. It’s probably not going to happen while we’re there or after we leave. And still,  it is the 232nd day of the ninth year of the war there.

Oil and war – one equals the other and we seem to crave both.

Trying to plug that sucker with press releases

An interesting post from a diarist over at Kos, which I don’t visit much any more. Not because it isn’t superb – it is! Because there’s so much gold over there these days, that it’s too much to absorb. If I try, I get lost and life stops calling. Kos has become the biggest friggin’ depository of smart informed commentary and reporting on the web. We just can’t have that!

This diarist, Fishgrease, spent 30 years in the oil extraction business. He takes us to ‘boom school’. 

“Generally, boom is long and bright bright orange or yellow. It is not bright bright orange or yellow so you can see it, dear fledgling boomer, but so Governors, Senators, Presidents and The Media can see it . . . “

“Boom is not meant to contain or catch oil. Boom is meant to divert oil. Boom must always be at an angle to the prevailing wind-wave action or surface current. Boom, at this angle, must always be layered in a fucking overlapped sort-of way with another string of boom. Boom must always divert oil to a catch basin or other container*, from where it can be REMOVED FROM THE FUCKING AREA.” (* I have never heard this mentioned. If it’s true, they are truly wasting time.)

And he knows. And, sadly, he then says this (he really likes to say ‘fuck’):

“Now the Coast Guard? They know booming. They know what fucking proper fucking booming looks like. Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen should be fired. Today. Now. This minute. Before he can give another press conference echoing what BP said not five minutes before him. Then he should be fucking court-martialed and fucking sent to prison before BP can give him a goddamned fucking job. He’s a shameless piece of shit. And so is President Obama if he can’t see that. People who know me and how I’ve supported our President through thick and thin, know how hard it was for me to write that. I’m literally on the verge of tears, right this second. But I won’t erase it. There it is.”

I agree that the Obama administration should be presenting a more coherent face on this. And I evaluate everything with the knowledge that no President in my lifetime has faced such a mess coming into office. I’m sure fixing Minerals and Mining didn’t make it to the top of the list; so many agencies needed cleaning up at the staff level. And so many top jobs weren’t filled in a timely fashion because some friggin’ Republican Senator or other had a hold on the nomination.

Let’s not forget – ever – that two oil executives occupied the White House for eight years. They declawed the regulatory agencies and put in people from the extraction industries. When the investigations gain some steam, it’s going to be ugly. But I’m sure Dick Cheney will still come on my teevee to blast Obama for something.

Bet ole Cheney is too busy perfecting his sour scowl to notice it’s the 230th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

(When you think about the cost of oil, remember to count the cost of war.)

Fingers in the dike

This is just tragic. People will work their hearts out to stop the disaster – until their hearts break. And two people trying to skim water from a slick the size of Maryland breaks my heart. Is there no end to what we will do to ourselves? Will we ever accept that we need to change our ways?

On The News Hour right now, Judy Woodruff is interviewing  Bob Duddly of BP who is in charge of North American operations (if I heard the intro right). He seems very chastened and is not posturing – when Woodruff asks for conjecture or projections, he is pretty clear he just doesn’t know. But he did make one definitive statement right now – he said he felt very certain that they would have the well capped by August.  She then asked him if other states are in danger. He hesitated for a few seconds, and then he just said “we hope not.”

What I’m hearing from this guy is August if we’re lucky. Even if this week’s procedure works, that doesn’t end it – the well must still be capped.

Duddly said that this is without question the very worst they’ve ever had to deal with.

His demeanor frightened me. And nobody has asked about hurricanes in the Gulf – and there will be hurricanes.

Just screw ’em

Not all oil spills are equal. Commenter greenjay brings out attention to what happens when oil companies – Shell in particular – do the dirty in the Third World. What they do is they just move on. (Wonder how much Shell is paying in taxes these days?)

A damning reality from the Niger Delta:

Millions of locals have little choice but to eat contaminated fish and farm on heavily polluted land as a result of oil saturation. Life expectancy in the region has dropped to 43 years.

Of course that’s none of our concern. We have to keep fighting wars so we can drive down to WalMart for bottled water. And those wars we have to keep fighting? If we weren’t all over the Middle East to protect that dear oil, there probably would have been no 9-11 and we would never have gone to Afghanistan, where it is the 223rd day of the ninth year of the War there.

This is what we worry about

If the loop current brings the oil east and south to the Florida Straits, the damage would be tragic. The Everglades drain there and it’s also  where our precious and already-threatened coral is. Coral reefs all over the world are threatened, and the ones here have been ‘bleaching out’, i.e., losing their brilliant colors, a sign of poor health.

The graphic above shows the overall projected path. But that doesn’t leave the beaches of southwest Florida off the hook. If that stuff moves east, we are in great danger – perhaps not from the majority of the oil, but some of it. And any oil is very bad thing for estuaries and wetlands.

Add the possibility of churning water and circular currents if there’s a hurricane – very worrisome. Damn them.

UPDATE: I got the graphic here.  From the story:

“She is particularly concerned about corals because they are “under siege from multiple sources, including human sewage, metal pollution, and of course they are dealing with issues from global climate change including warming and ocean acidification.”  See for instance, “Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.”

“We could be getting to the point that puts coral over the edge,” in terms of its long-term survival, she warned.”

CNN can’t do this?

From Al Jazeera English, a clear explanation of what happened.  Simple explanations are apparently beyond the pay grade of our cable news channels.

Bite me

It’s way down in this very good story from TampaBay.com, but it seems America’s premier rocket scientist, Mr. Bouncy-Bouncy, has continued to opine on the oil leak in the Gulf.

Pundit Rush Limbaugh, who has a home on Florida’s Palm Beach, suggested that the explosion could have resulted from Earth Day eco-sabotage by one of the rig workers*. Limbaugh also said a cleanup was unnecessary.

“The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there,” Limbaugh said. “It’s natural. It’s as natural as the ocean water is.”

It’s okay though, cuz he probably doesn’t have any listeners in Alabama or Mississippi or Louisiana anyway.

* Which one of the eleven dead ones is Rush thinking of I wonder?

As for myself, I’m glad

That I decided to build a swimming pool this year. Very glad.

Oil and water. And fire.

I noted in a post on Earth Day that forty years ago, before today’s environmental laws were enacted, we actually had a few lakes on fire in this country – something that hasn’t happened since.

In an unusual twist on that, the Coast Guard is about to set controlled fires in the Gulf of Mexico to try to burn up the oil spill which is now threatening very sensitive lands and fisheries in Louisiana.  At this point, the slick is within 20 miles of land.

I’ve never heard of this before. It’s fascinating. Listening to a discussion on PBS right now and it’s a very very delicate matter and the entire program, of which the burn is only a part, could take many many months.

UPDATE:  Just heard the slick is now three miles from land. Everyone – from the Coast Guard to the Army to BP and the other oil companies is getting involved to try to contain this – it’s far worse than originally reported, up to 5000 barrels a day now – not gallons, barrels! The wind direction is still keeping it from being a threat to Florida, but that could change.