Archive for Gulf Oil Spill

Drill, Barry, Drill

Remember the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?

Me neither. But some say it was pretty bad.

Or not:

“There’s just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster, “said Marine Scientist and former LSU professor Ivor Van Heerden who also works as a BP spill-response contractor. “I have no interest in making BP look good — I think they lied about the size of the spill — but we’re not seeing catastrophic impacts. There’s a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it.”

In fact these observations came– not a year after the Deepwater Horizon blew-up — but a mere three months afterwards, making them all the more blasphemous at the time. By now they’ve been amply vindicated, making the Obama team’s “moratorium” and more recent stonewalling on Gulf of Mexico drilling permits all the more preposterous.

The reasons for this “disasters’” fizzling out are many and were apparent to non-hack scientists from the get-go. To wit:

“People don’t comprehend how so much oil could break down in such a short time period,” explains Dr. LuAnn White, a toxicologist with the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, who also serves as Director of the Center for Applied Environmental Health. “But we have natural oil seeps in the Gulf, and over 200 genera of microbes that break down oil already exist there.”

“It cannot be repeated often enough,” says Louisiana Marine Biologist Jerald Horst , Crude oil is a natural substance, its biodegradable. It’s a feast for microbes. And these consumed most of it from the BP spill.”

“Non-hack scientists.” I love that. We used to just call them scientists, but now we have to make the distinction.

I’d rather not waste the oil in a spill, but it turns out spilling it may be cleaner in the long run than burning it.

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Bust Out or Rape: You Decide

A few days ago, we referred to the exploitation of BP by the supposed victims of the oil spill as a “bust-out”.

We were being kind:

The oil spill that was once expected to bring economic ruin to the Gulf Coast appears to have delivered something entirely different: a gusher of money.

So many people cashed in that they earned nicknames: “spillionaires” or “BP rich.” Others hurt by the spill wound up getting comparatively little. Many people who got money deserved it. But in the end, BP’s attempt to make things right — spending more than $16 billion so far, mostly on damage claims and cleanup — created new divisions and even new wrongs.

Some of the inequities arose from the chaos that followed the April 20 spill. But in at least one corner of Louisiana, the dramatic differences can be traced in part to local powerbrokers.

To show how the money flowed, ProPublica interviewed people who worked on the spill and examined records for St. Bernard Parish, a coastal community about five miles southeast of downtown New Orleans.

Those documents show that companies with ties to parish insiders got lucrative contracts and then charged BP for every possible expense. The prime cleanup company submitted bills with little or no documentation. A subcontractor billed BP $15,400 per month to rent a generator that usually cost $1,500 a month. Another company charged BP more than a $1 million a month for land it had been renting for less than $1,700 a month. Assignments for individual fishermen also fell under the control of political leaders.

“This parish raped BP,” said Wayne Landry, chairman of the St. Bernard Parish Council, referring to the conduct of its political leadership. “At the end of the day, it really just frustrates me. I’m an elected official. I have guilt by association.”

I really ticked people off a few years ago when I coined the term “Katrina fatigue” to describe my annoyance with how some people picked themselves up and brushed themselves off after the tragedy and some just sat around blaming Bush. (To be fair, they were encouraged to do so by the Democrat-Media Complex.)

So, I’m used to being hated down in the bayou.

Which is a good thing, because (with all due respect to the great Bobby Jindal) the next time something bad happens to Louisiana, I hope they lose our number. We don’t want to hear from them.

You can vote in national elections, you can let your sons and daughters enlist in the army, God knows you can collect welfare—but I don’t want to spend another disaster dime on you. If you live in such a dangerous place, move.

As President Obama said to Speaker Boehner, “Nope. Zero. This is it.”

If you need more money, go to GM:

Flush with cash from cleanup and claims, many fishermen bought new boats and trucks. Sales at the nearest Chevrolet dealer rose 41 percent.

Get out of here.

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Bust Out

Remember The Sopranos episode of this name?

A “bust out” is a common tactic in the organized crime world, wherein a business’ assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy. Richie and Tony profit from busting out Davey Scatino’s sporting goods store in this episode.

As Scatino is slowly bled to bankruptcy and ruin, it’s one of the most horrifying and heartbreaking episodes in the series, and not because of any beating or shooting.

I don’t expect anyone’s heart will break for BP, but the scheme was the same:

In the year since the Gulf oil spill, officials along the coast have gone on a spending spree with BP money, dropping tens of millions of dollars on gadgets, vehicles and gear — much of which had little to do with the cleanup, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The oil giant opened its checkbook while the crisis was still unfolding last spring and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Gulf Coast communities with few strings attached.

In sleepy Ocean Springs, Miss., reserve police officers got Tasers. The sewer department in nearby Gulfport bought a $300,000 vacuum truck that never sucked up a drop of oil. Biloxi, Miss., bought a dozen SUVS. A parish president in Louisiana got herself a top-of-the-line iPad, her spokesman a $3,100 laptop. And a county in Florida spent $560,000 on rock concerts to promote its oil-free beaches.

In every case, communities said the new, more powerful equipment was needed to deal at least indirectly with the spill.

In many cases, though, the connection between the spill and the expenditures was remote, and lots of money wound up in cities and towns little touched by the goo that washed up on shore, the AP found in records requested from more than 150 communities and dozens of interviews.

Some officials also lavished campaign donors and others with lucrative contracts. A Florida county commissioner’s girlfriend, for instance, opened up a public relations firm a few weeks after the spill and soon landed more than $14,000 of the tiny county’s $236,000 cut of BP cash for a month’s work.

Some of the money BP doled out to states and municipalities hasn’t been spent yet, but the AP’s review accounts for more than $550 million of it. More than $400 million went toward clear needs like corralling the oil, propping up tourism and covering overtime.

Much of the remaining chunk consists of equally justifiable expenses, but it’s also riddled with millions of dollars’ worth of contracts and purchases with no clear connection to the spill, the AP found.

William Walker, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, said it’s clear now that communities bought more equipment than they wound up needing. But he doesn’t regret handing out BP’s money freely.

“At the time we were making these decisions, there were millions of gallons of oil going into the Gulf of Mexico with no clear idea when it would stop,” Walker said. “We didn’t wait. We tried to get (grant money) into circulation as quickly as possible. We didn’t have any extra time. We needed to move when we moved.”

You had Barack “Big Ears” Obama leaning on you and you had no choice: pay up or turn toes up.

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How’s That Transparency Thing Working Out?

Murkily:

An inspector general says the White House edited a report about the administration’s moratorium on offshore oil drilling to make it appear that scientists and experts supported the idea of a six-month ban on new drilling.

The Interior Department’s inspector general says the changes resulted “in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed.” But it hadn’t been.

Still, the report said the administration did not violate federal rules because it had offered a formal apology and already publicly clarified the nature of the expert review.

Obama is innocent of breaking the law because he apologized? Dick Nixon could have finished his term, if that had held for him, and we would have been spared Jimmy Carter.

Oh hey, sorry about rewriting a report to say what it didn’t say, thereby manipulating public opinion and further imperiling an already damaged local economy. My bad.

This on top of hearing just yesterday that the president’s own investigation found no instance, none, of BP cutting safety corners for profit.

More and more we’re learning that BP was the only honest player in this cluster[bleep].

Apology. Feh.

Substitute the word “apology” for “playoffs” and this is me:

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Where Does BP Go to Get it’s Reputation Back?

Alt. title: Kick Your Own Damn Ass

The presidential commission investigating the BP Gulf oil spill challenged claims in Congress that the oil company and others sacrificed safety to cut costs. In preliminary findings issued Monday, the first from an independent panel, investigators supported many of BP’s own conclusions about what led to the disaster.

The panel’s chief investigator, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., announced 13 principal findings, many of which seemed to track with investigations of the blowout, including BP’s. Bartlit said he agreed with “about 90 percent” of the company’s own conclusions.

Under commission procedures, Bartlit presented the findings to the seven-member panel. A report is due with Obama in mid-January.

One determination in particular challenges the narrative that has dominated the headlines and Democratic probes in Congress since the April 20 incident killed 11 and unleashed more than 200 million gallons of crude oil from the blown-out well: that BP made perilous choices to save money.

“We see no instance where a decision-making person or group of people sat there aware of safety risks, aware of costs and opted to give up safety for costs,” Bartlit said. “We do not say everything done was perfectly safe. We’re saying that people have said people traded safety for dollars. We studied the hell out of this. We welcome anybody who gives us something we missed.”

Bartlit said that despite the pressure of operating a $1.5-million-a-day rig, workers ultimately don’t want to risk their lives or the lives of others.

“Anytime you are talking about a million-and-a-half dollars a day money enters in,” he said. “All I am saying is human beings did not sit there and sell safety down the river for dollars on the rig that night.”

Can someone cable the president in India (they must have telegraphs over there by now) and let him know? I’m sure he’ll be so relieved to find out that, like the Cambridge Police Department, BP did not “act stupidly”.

Turn around, Mr. President. I believe you have six of the best coming.

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Drill, Barry, Drill

I might have tried to pass off this crap as scholarship in college, but my Freshman Comp teacher would have kicked my a**:

A federal judge in New Orleans rejected on Wednesday the U.S. government’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its original 6-month deepwater drilling moratorium…The drilling halt was subsequently amended, so the government sought to toss out the Hornbeck lawsuit, arguing it was no longer relevant.

But U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who earlier this summer blocked the first drilling halt, said in a 20-page ruling that the government’s amended moratorium offered “no substantial changes” from the first one.

Judge Feldman also noted that in crafting the second moratorium, Mr. Salazar appeared to have relied heavily on documents and data that he had at the time of the first moratorium order. “Nearly every statement in the July 12 decision memorandum is anticipated by documents in the May 28 record, or by documents that were otherwise available to the Secretary before May 28,” the judge said.

Professor Irwin Corey used to do a bit in his comedy routine. When asked why he wore tennis shoes he would say something like, “That’s a two-part question! ‘Why’ is a question that has plagued mankind since the beginning! From the moment primative man crawled from his cave, raised his gaze into the heavens and asked ‘why?’! Why the pyramids? Why the Colossus of Rhodes? Why are those giant heads on Easter Island? … To answer the second part of your question: ‘Do I wear tennis shoes?’ Yes!”

It sounds like the judge is not interested in why Ken Salazar wears tennis shoes.

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See Ya, Suckaz!

Last one to wade among the tar balls in the Gulf of Mexico is a rotten egg!

On her first trip to the Gulf Coast since the BP oil spill, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged Americans to consider vacationing on the region’s beaches that have not been directly impacted by oil.

“It is vacation time. Folks are looking for things to do with their kids, and this would be a great opportunity to do a few things — help this community, send a different message about the extent of the spill, and also think long term about how the rest of the country can help this economy and the folks down here,” Mrs. Obama said at the Panama City Welcome Center. …

Mrs. Obama said the word needs to get out to Americans that there are “beautiful beaches” along the Gulf Coast and it’s a great time for families to come down with their kids.

“There are still thousands of miles of beaches that have not been touched by the spill,” the first lady said. “And there are communities that thrive on tourism and on the economic power of beaches that have not been damaged.”

The Obama family will be taking a mini-vacation of their own this weekend, but instead of going to the Gulf Coast they are traveling to Maine’s Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.

Imagine their embarrassment when they realize that Maine’s Acadia National Park has nothing to do with the Acadia (Cajun) of Louisiana! I blame Bush.

But the Secret Service will have to act quickly when the President dips his Speedo bathing suit into the icy North Atlantic off Maine expecting the warm Gulf waters off Louisiana. The, uh, the presidential, er, member will disappear faster than a presidential promise.

If Mrs. Obama were really so worried about “folks down there”, she might ask her husband about that dumba** ban on drilling he imposed, ignoring the advice of experts he had consulted (while misrepresenting their views).

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What Does Cindy Think?

Believe me, I know how pointless it is to ask—but someone with absolute moral authority must have something to teach us:

Today, I got an email from James Carville who is from this area and who has been a kind of critic of the Obama administration over the whole “Oil-Cano” incident in the Gulf, and it has a picture of Sarah Palin with “Drill, baby, drill,” superimposed on it. This email is supposed to make us think that the fault of this cataclysm is totally confined to the Republican Party, and more specifically to the right-wing idiot faction of the RP.

What are we supposed to do with this information? Are we supposed to react to this email from the DCCC with horror and be profoundly grateful that McCain/Palin didn’t win? If the Republican ticket got into the White House, there might have been an enormous explosion from a drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that is spewing tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean, threatening life on this planet as we know it?

Oh, that did happen and the administration is Democratic.

We are supposed to forget that the Obama regime granted BP the license to drill where it was in February of 2009.

We are supposed to forget that the Secretary of the Interior, Ben Salazar is a great friend of the oil companies/offshore drilling.

We are supposed to forget that about three weeks before the spill, Obama and Salazar announced a comprehensive offshore drilling plan at Andrew’s Air Force Base with much patriotic hullaballoo.

We are supposed to forget that Obama received more money from BP than any other candidate in the 2008 race.

We are supposed to forget that the US does not have a comprehensive energy program that does not include the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) or the promotion of clean, sustainable and renewable sources of energy.

I probably let her go a paragraph too long—and it’s Ken Salazar, Cindy, not Ben—but I wanted to let her make her point.

Omoeba’s horse’s-assedness is consistent, even if his other positions are not.

And I haven’t seen this elsewhere, but it’s pretty outrageous [Correction: I did find it elsewhere, but Cindy's site is using it, too]:

People must know what the visual reference is, but if they don’t—Vietnam:

Like I say: outrageous.

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Oil and Vinegar

BP provides the oil—and President Omoeba provides the vinegar!


Next stop: flatline!

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 25% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-six percent (46%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21.

These results are based upon nightly telephone interviews and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. As a result, more than two-thirds of the interviews for today’s update were conducted after the president’s speech to the nation. Tomorrow’s update will be the first based entirely upon interviews conducted after the speech.

Overall, 41% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. That’s the lowest level of approval yet recorded for this president. Fifty-eight percent (58%) now disapprove.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Democrats approve of the president’s performance. Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans disapprove along with 72% of unaffiliated voters.

President Obama’s numbers have typically bounced following a national television event. Generally, they bounce up a little. Once, following a press conference, they went down. In all cases so far, the bounce has lasted a week or so and then faded.

Thirty-three percent (33%) say the president is doing a good or an excellent job handling the Gulf oil spill. Forty-six percent (46%) say he’s doing a poor job.

But his putting has improved immensely!

I’m just happy to see his numbers have continued to tank after his interruption of the prime time TV schedule. If I wanted top see a braying jackass, I’d watch Animal Planet.

Hey, Mr. President! How ’bout an Oval Office address to explain why your previous Oval Office address sucked so bad?

PS: 72% of unaffiliated voters—nearly three out of four—think he’s a dink. November can’t get here fast enough.

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Get Me Rewrite!

I’ve heard of rewriting history—but rewriting current events?

We first covered this story six days ago (pat-pat-pat), the WSJ seven.

And now they elaborate:

When President Obama last month announced his six-month deepwater moratorium, he pointed to an Interior Department report of new “safety” recommendations. That report prominently noted that the recommendations it contained—including the six-month drilling ban—had been “peer-reviewed” by “experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” It also boasted that Interior “consulted with a wide range” of other experts. The clear implication was that the nation’s drilling brain trust agreed a moratorium was necessary.

As these columns reported last week, the opposite is true. In a scathing document, eight of the “experts” the Administration listed in its report said their names had been “used” to “justify” a “political decision.” The draft they reviewed had not included a six-month drilling moratorium. The Administration added that provision only after it had secured sign-off. In their document, the eight forcefully rejected a moratorium, which they argued could prove more economically devastating than the oil spill itself and “counterproductive” to “safety.”

The Administration insisted this was much ado about nothing. An Interior spokesman claimed the experts clearly had been called to review the report on a “technical basis,” whereas the moratorium was a “comprehensive” question. Obama environment czar Carol Browner declared: “No one’s been deceived or misrepresented.” Really? We can only imagine the uproar if a group of climate scientists had claimed the Bush Administration misappropriated their views.

We decided to call some of these experts ourselves. Their information, and concerns, are revealing.

This is like the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen pulls the real Marshall McLuhan into an argument with an arrogant NYU professor to tell the egghead he hadn’t the slightest grasp of his ideas.

Benton Baugh, president of Radoil, said that in at least two separate hour-and-a-half phone calls among Interior and the experts, there was no discussion of a moratorium on existing drilling. “Because if anybody had [made that suggestion], we’d have said ‘that’s craziness.’”

Ken Arnold, an engineer and consultant, said the changes went beyond just the drilling moratorium. The Interior draft he looked at included timelines for each safety recommendation. The “bulk” of those recommendations, he explained, were all ones that could be done within 30 days. And most of the longer-term provisions would result in only “marginal increases in safety.”

Yet when the final report came out, the timelines he saw had been removed, no doubt because they argued against the necessity of a six-month moratorium. Mr. Arnold adds that the Administration’s decision to allow industry to continue drilling “gas injection wells”—which, he says, are no more risky than production wells—only shows the moratorium makes “no sense.”

“This was a political call; this was not a technical call,” says Mr. Arnold.

As for Ms. Browner’s claim that no one was “misrepresented,” Mr. Brett disputes that. Several reviewers said they had, in fact, received “apology” notes from the Interior Department acknowledging the misrepresentation. “We did not mean to imply that you also agreed with the decision to impose a moratorium on all new deepwater drilling,” read one.

In the part I omitted is a clear suggestion that the rewriting of the text was done by (or at the behest of) the White House.

Add the $20 billion protection racket, and it’s pretty clear: you can take the shakedown artist out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the shakedown artist. Never let a crisis go to waste.

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