Remember the Gulf

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disasters, natural and unnatural, environment

It’s a gorgeous Memorial Day here in Westchester County, New York. I’m sure lots of people are heading for the shores of New Jersey and Long Island today. Owners of seasonal businesses must be very happy.

I don’t know what the weather is like along the Gulf Coast today, but I suspect the moods are darker. “Top kill” failed after all. The oil could keep gushing for months. This is the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It’s affecting fisheries, tourism, shipping, and wildlife.

Whether the spill is the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, as some are saying, is questionable; I think the young folks have forgotten the Dust Bowl. But it’s really, really bad nonetheless.

I read somewhere that the oil spill isn’t expected to affect the U.S. economy, but I think whoever said that must be a fool. How can it not?

This was in a news article from yesterday (emphasis added):

“This scares everybody: the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far,” BP’s chief operating officer Doug ­Suttles said yesterday.

“Many of the things we’re ­trying have been done on the surface before, but have never been tried at 5,000ft.”

However, back when BP was applying for a permit to drill in the gulf, the company declared it could handle a spill ten times larger than the one it can’t handle now.

In other words, the permit application was written by the company’s marketing department, not the engineering department. I’d bet money there were engineers at BP who realized there were contingencies they weren’t prepared for, and they were told to shut up about it if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Well, as Bill Kristol brilliantly said, offshore drilling is perfectly safe “except where there is a disaster like this.” No, really, he said that.

For the record, Kristol is also wrong when he said the Exxon Valdez spill was worse.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  May 31, 2010 @11:43 am

    When Kristol is right about something, anything at all, alert us, because that’ll be news. Has there ever, ever been someone who has been wrong, demonstrably, on EVERY SINGLE issue for so long? I mean, even a blind pig finds a truffle every once in a while.
    The only reason Kristol keeps his job, is because he pisses off the Liberals. There can be no other reason – unless he has pictures of FOX and other news execs in compromising positions with wild animals in an orgy, and aferwards eating a fine supper of ‘Slow-roasted Boy, Stuffed with Chestnuts’ accompanied by a fine Chianti and some fava beans.

    I guess when you make enough money, a few more bucks for per pound for seafood doesn’t make much of a difference. But anyone who thinks this won’t affect the economy should be forced to work in the Gulf fish, shrimp, or oyster businesses for the rest of eternity, eating only what they can catch.
    I’m sick of the conservatives in this country. And I’m sick of the country because it can’t rid itself of the cancer that is modern conservativism. Maybe this November will surprise me. I just don’t think so.

  2. maha  •  May 31, 2010 @12:22 pm

    When Kristol is right about something, anything at all, alert us, because that’ll be news.

    Kristol often is right, except for when he talks or writes.

  3. erinyes  •  May 31, 2010 @12:23 pm

    Maha, when I was 19, I got married and headed to Los Angles with my new bride to attend commercial diving school. Most of my classmates were just back from VietNam and on the GI bill. The major employers at the time were companies providing diving services to the “oil patch” off Louisiana and Texas.
    Most of the guys I knew went to Morgan City, LA, and were hired. I went down and interviewed, but decided to stay in California; a most excellent decision.

    Around 50% of my classmates went into “saturation diving”, and worked in depths up to 1000 feet. I understand the French Company “Comex” has conducted experimental dives in the open ocean to around 2,000 ft, and a “chamber “dive to nearly 2,800 ft.The long term effects of deep saturation diving is , obviously, unknown.
    My point being, deep ocean work is almost like work in orbit or on the moon, limited human exposure, and reliance on robotics.
    Actually, based on the number of years of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, and the small number of substantial spills, the record is pretty good…and the industry employs a lot of people.
    The main problem I see is in the deep water , plus if we don’t move on green tech and getting away from oil, there is a major trap ahead.
    I heard a curious comment regarding finding water on Mars; the scientist said finding water on Mars is significant because that will allow us to make hydrogen for fuel. Right now, we’re drilling in 5,000 ft of water to get oil, when all we need is water for fuel?

  4. c u n d gulag  •  May 31, 2010 @12:23 pm

    Good point.
    “Correct.” When Keistol is…

  5. erinyes  •  May 31, 2010 @12:33 pm

    I should have listened to Kristol before I commented. He has a skewed perception of reality, you’d think FOX would have dumped him after his Iraq War predictions.

  6. maha  •  May 31, 2010 @1:30 pm

    you’d think FOX would have dumped him after his Iraq War predictions.

    If that’s the criterion for dumping, Fox would have had to dump itself.

  7. wmd  •  May 31, 2010 @1:39 pm

    At this point it isn’t the worst spill in the Gulf – that distinction goes to the Ixtoc spill from June 1979 to March 1980. It is the worst spill close to the US Gulf Coast, and by August it could be the worst spill in the Gulf.

  8. uncledad  •  May 31, 2010 @1:43 pm

    “I think the young folks have forgotten the Dust Bowl”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t the dust bowl caused by the worst draught ever? When I think of ecological disaster I think of man made fuckups; Three Mile Island, the love canal, Exxon Valdez, Northwest Indiana, etc. If this gusher keeps going until August (which may mean November, so far everything BP has projected hasn’t worked and wasn’t attempted until twice as much time had passed as was estimated) it will certainly be worse than anything that comes to mind except maybe Chernobyl?

  9. erinyes  •  May 31, 2010 @1:44 pm

    WMD, any info on the effect on sea life from the Ixtoc spill?

  10. erinyes  •  May 31, 2010 @1:54 pm
  11. erinyes  •  May 31, 2010 @1:57 pm

    “worst draught ever”
    I nominate old milwaukee’s finest for that honor!

  12. uncledad  •  May 31, 2010 @2:07 pm

    “worst draught ever”

    That’s that Gary Indiana public school learnin I got, some stupid spell check don’t catch!

  13. joanr16  •  May 31, 2010 @2:41 pm

    uncledad, in addition to the drought, short-sighted farming methods contributed substantially to the soil erosion. It was a combination of factors, but as I understand it, the Dust Bowl would have been a much smaller disaster if human error hadn’t been involved.

  14. maha  •  May 31, 2010 @2:44 pm

    “worst draught ever”

    Pabst or Schlitz?

  15. maha  •  May 31, 2010 @2:50 pm

    About the Dust Bowl — it was a combination of really bad drought plus over-plowing the soil, which had destroyed much of the native grasses that used to keep the soil in place and trap moisture. The Dust Bowl really was a man-made catastrophe.

  16. uncledad  •  May 31, 2010 @4:37 pm

    “The Dust Bowl really was a man-made catastrophe”

    Yeah but a few good soakers and some land management ain’t gonna fix this cesspool BP has created in the gulf. Think of it 20,000 barrels of oil a day. All I know is that it makes me sick to think of all the wildlife getting caught up in this disaster. I can’t watch the TeeVee when they show the birds, fish, turtles, etc. I couldn’t really give a rat’s ass about the “fisherman” they can find another living for awhile but the wildlife are screwed no way around it.

    On a lighter note the Israeli army attacked a humanitarian aid flotilla and killed nine unarmed humanitarians. How dare they try to supply Gaza with food, water and medicine without giving Israel it’s “taste”?

  17. maha  •  May 31, 2010 @8:57 pm

    The Dust Bowl went on for ten years in some places, causing a huge disruption in many peoples’ lives. 2.5 million people migrated out of the plains states because of the Dust Bowl, many of whom had lost their farms and homes. People died of dust pneumonia and malnutrition. So I still think it qualifies as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. I hope the current oil spill doesn’t come anywhere near that.

  18. uncledad  •  May 31, 2010 @9:40 pm

    “So I still think it qualifies as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history”

    Maybe so, but I don’t see it. I hope your right but this thing is completely different. Ma-Nature hasn’t had a thing to do with this (though an oil filled cat-4 hurricane could be interesting), and we don’t seem to have any real answers. The dust bowl at least offered some escape, north, south, east, west, people and livestock sought greener pastures, those birds and sea life in the gulf have nowhere to go. This is an act of war against nature. The dust bowl seemed to be nature waging war on us.

  19. The Oracle  •  Jun 1, 2010 @12:53 am

    Nationalize Deepwater Horizon. (Not all of BP, or Transocean, or Halliburton, but just this particularly well. Call it a “surgical strike”).

    Any proceeds from Deepwater Horizon, whether spilled oil captured or oil extracted from the reservoir DH is tapping, should primarily go to Gulf Coast residents, workers and business owners, who are getting hammered by this man-made disaster, and no other oil company can tap into this 22,000-foot-deep oil reservoir, trying to do an end-run.

    Affected states and the federal government can receive a percentage of the DH oil proceeds, but only to cover state and federal expenses in dealing with this catastrophe, like wetlands restoration, etc.

    BP has already pocketed $275 million in insurance coverage. They should not be allowed to profit anymore from a disaster that they caused. Not a single red, blood-soaked, oil-soaked dime.

    The model for this can be based on what Alaskans have in place already, with a few modifications, that is, the nationalization of a single oil well. Alaskans receive oil royalty checks each year from the Alaskan government, in which they, the citizens, benefit from all the oil activity in Alaska. We need a similar set-up for Gulf Coast residents and states affected by BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, with no questions asked, no bureaucratic roadblocks put in place, all one has to do is prove that one is a resident, worker or business owner along the coast of any of the affected states.

    To repeat, any resident along the coast of any Gulf Coast state (or any other) affected by this BP DH disaster, who can prove that they were a resident on April 20th, is eligible.

    And control of (and the profits from) Deepwater Horizon will only revert back to BP once the clean-up is complete, the wetlands are restored to pre-April 20th conditions, the wildlife have recovered and Gulf Coast fishermen, shrimpers, whoever, can make for themselves what they were making before April 20th…but only then…no matter how long it takes.

    Maybe nationalizing Deepwater Horizon will knock the smile off of the faces of BP executives.

  20. erinyes  •  Jun 1, 2010 @5:12 am

    “Pabst or Schlitz?”
    WhOA!, Dredging up nightmares from the past.

    “Nationalize Deepwater Horizon”. Interesting idea, that’ll get the righties undies all in a twist ,”Socialism!!”.

  21. Dave S  •  Jun 1, 2010 @7:10 am

    If we were to nationalize BP or at least this one well, we’d be able to more easily bring in oil company talent that BP is likely unwilling to bring in. For example, I’d like to know what the Pemex guys have to offer. Except for the depth and the flow volume, this incident is quite similar to theirs. They got theirs capped and cleaned up without the world coming to an end. Experience we could use right now, I think.

  22. Pat  •  Jun 1, 2010 @10:26 am

    There’s a new idea to, as Sarah Palin yammers, “plug that damn hole”, albeit with BP executives. Maybe some Sarah Palin too. She’s plugged a lot of minds so that thoughts do not flow so why not oil?

    Great clip of Phillippe Cousteau interview with Bill Maher… I like the part about how the failure of oil companies to pay for the damage (not just spills) they cause is picked up by we the taxpayers which makes it…er, uh, to quote Sarah Palin again…SOCIALISM!

    They also refer to BP PR Dept. claims as bulls**t. Hmmmm…maybe they could use some of that bulls**t to plug that damn hole.

  23. Pat  •  Jun 1, 2010 @10:37 am

    Maybe nationalizing Deepwater Horizon will knock the smile off of the faces of BP executives.

    Obambi? This Congress? Pffffffttt… That would take us all threatening to run them all out of town on a rail or to tar and feather them even though they deserve much worse.

  24. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 1, 2010 @11:03 am

    Pat,
    I volunteered for the Obama campaign, and I still support him, but I voted for, “Yes, we can,” not, “Look, we’re trying.”
    Nationalize the damded US portion, put all resources into plugging the hole. Any profits go to the people of LA, kind of like Alaska, that socialist state, with those directly affected getting the most money.
    And for God’s sake, or the planet’s, start a Manhattan Project on energy. Among the most amazing things the US did in the 20th Century were the atomic bomb, and the moon landings. Both, wholly, government programs. Oh, and SS, Medicare, and Medicaid, also, too.

  25. joe in oklahoma  •  Jun 1, 2010 @12:01 pm

    when you let the energy industry set it’s own rules (deregulate), you get the Gusher in the Gulf,
    when you let the financial services industry set it’s own rules, you get the economic mess we are in at the moment,
    when you let the health insurance industry set it’s own rules, you get the most expensive and least inclusive healthcare in the world.

  26. erinyes  •  Jun 1, 2010 @5:28 pm

    Here’s an interesting tid bit; NASA scientists were THRILLED to find traces of water on the moon. “We could someday use the water to make hydrogen for fuel”
    Meanwhile, back at mission control, a friggen semisubmersible oil platform in 5,000 ft of WATER explodes while drilling for OIL.
    OH, the IRONY!



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