Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Uh, The Gulf Oil Spill is Some Serious Stuff

I was disturbed yesterday by the timing of the Alaska delegation's most recent plea to start drilling in ANWR. Although Sen. Murkowski was gracious enough to let out a press release early last week, regretting the loss of life in the oil rig fire, neither Don Young nor Mark Begich did that. Before we really know yet what happened down there, our delegation - once again - did the wrong thing.

They aren't the only people that don't get how serious this is getting to be, though. Craig Medred, having been dispatched to the Gulf by the
Alaska Dispatch, wrote an article centered around how clueless locals on the Louisiana seashore are to the shit storm that is about to engulf them:

The floating, island-size mess of crude from the geyser coming out of a BP wellhead below the sunken Deepwater Horizon with its 11 dead crew was no longer just a lurking, offshore threat. The much-anticipated disaster appeared at last to becoming real.

Oil spill, dudes! Let's rock and roll!

That this would seem cause for celebration, or anything even close to it, was almost sickening to someone who stood on the beaches of Prince William Sound when they were coated in the stinking, messy goo of the Exxon Valdez. Frankly, having been witness to that, I want to see BP win the war against the crude its accident left spouting a mile deep in the ocean off the Louisiana coast.

Medred gets more caustic, as he observes aspects of how people seem to be reacting to the possibility of a wave of death hitting their shores:

Well, BP has put a cancer on the Gulf of Mexico, and the most effective treatment at the moment is nuking it, which seems to be working. The oil spill, like a cancer, seems to be shrinking as this is written. It appears to be shrinking despite constant replenishment from that oil-well blowout still spouting deep in the ocean. This ought to be cause for at least a little optimism, but optimism doesn't seem to sell all that well.

Or maybe some people think that being optimistic will make it harder to bite multi-million dollar chunks out of BP's thick corporate hide. Here, as with the Exxon Valdez, a lot is about money. BP was trying to make a ton of it by drilling for oil a mile deep in the ocean, a risky business, but the London-based multinational corporation has gotten stinking rich engaging in risky business, including drilling in Alaska's Arctic.

Anyway, Craig is pumping out more words from the north shore of the Gulf than at any time since he left the Anchorage Daily News. As it was during Craig's heyday, one has to sift through the verbiage to find the occasional gem.

Others have similarly droll takes on this. Medred is one of the best I've read. The worst has been Rush Limbaugh, who seems to have found a new source for oxycontin, as he spews conspiracy theories out of the ocean bottom that no dispersant has yet found a way to stanch:

Now, lest we forget, ladies and gentlemen, the carbon tax bill, cap and trade that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day. I remember that. And then it was postponed for a couple of days later after Earth Day, and then of course immigration has now moved in front of it. But this bill, the cap-and-trade bill, was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist wackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants, nuclear plant investment. So, since they're sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they're sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here.

That was earlier in the week. Limbaugh seems to have backed off. But now, he's falling into the same zone Medred is noticing - dissing the likelihood of the seriousness of the spill:

image - 2006 Lebanon oil spill


Anonymous said...

AP reports that a rule change put in place by the Bush Interior Department in April 2008 exempted BP from filing a plan on how it would handle a blowout scenario such as the one flooding the Gulf of Mexico with oil today.

Petrochemical giant BP didn't file a plan to specifically handle a major oil spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project because the federal agency that regulates offshore rigs changed its rules two years ago to exempt certain projects in the central Gulf region, according to an Associated Press review of official records.

The Minerals Management Service, an arm of the Interior Department known for its cozy relationship with major oil companies, says it issued the rule relief because some of the industrywide mandates weren't practical for all of the exploratory and production projects operating in the Gulf region.

The blowout rule, the fact that it was lifted in April 2008 for rigs that didn't fit at least one of five conditions, and confusion about whether the BP Deepwater Horizon project was covered by the regulation, caught the attention of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

According to AP, Salazar was not aware that BP had been exempted from filing a blowout scenario plan until an AP reporter approached him with the information. Apparently, the Minerals Management Service says the rule changes were made because a blowout scenario plan was impractical.

AP pressed MMS for an explanation of why the rules were changed, but no official would speak on the record. However, one MMS official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter said the rules were changed because some elements were impractical for some deepwater drilling projects in the Gulf.

If having a plan for dealing with a massive well blowout scenario is impractical (which, based on what we are seeing today, it is), then isn't deep sea offshore drilling also impractical?

Update (3:14PM): In response to a directive from President Obama, the Interior Department earlier today suspended plans to sell leases for oil and gas drilling off the coast of Virginia.

It's going to take years to find all the asinine policies instituted during the Bush administration. There were so many similar to this idiocy that were passed by fiat or executive order and never publicized that it's going to take a small army of reviewers searching for all the stupid crap the Bush administration left for us all.

Contrary to Phil's narrative, the new administration didn't 'allow' this disaster to happen because BP paid them to look the other way.

But, people the Bush administration imbedded in the federal regulatory agencies were paid by the oil companies to look the other way. They, people in the MMS, got sex, drugs and payola from the oil companies.

Between Bush administration payoffs, and the idiotic deregulation instituted during the Bush administration, we get disasters to pay for and clean up.

And the wingnuts, (and Phil), can try to lay the blame on Obama, or on supposed environmental activists carrying out acts of sabotage.

You can have the fantasy narrative of the wingnuts and Phil, or you can look for the reality and know what needs to be done to solve these kinds of screw-ups and stop them from happening again.

Too many people, like Phil, will opt for a fantasy narrative and never get around to addressing reality.


Anonymous said...

More reality based reporting available here:


Philip Munger said...

"Contrary to Phil's narrative, the new administration didn't 'allow' this disaster to happen because BP paid them to look the other way."

I'm not pinning the blame on this fuckup on Obama. If he's to blame for anything in this regard, it is in not making a far more clean sweep of Bush appointees in so many layers of government, including those overseeing offshore drilling.

freeper said...

Phil, the Repugnants in Congress are holding up 97 of Obama's replacements that he's been trying to get working on cleaning up the Bush era malfeasance.

As to your claim not to be blaming him, you're the only one who thinks your claim is credible.

Not one of the comments on your last post agreed with your narrative of implied blame,

.......and to continue here, and try your very next breath to blame Obama for not fixing Bush's malfeasance fast enough for you, you've only laid bare the lie to your claims.

I've commented on several of your 'blame Obama' posts. I've offered evidence that your claims were unbased and ill-conceived.

And what is the response ? Crickets, or lame denials that your aren't doing exactly what is evident that you are doing.

Your audience sees through your duplicity, it's time you address a different tack than silence or denial.

A reality based view demands responsible accountability, .....that accountability isn't evident in your last response.


Anonymous said...

Hey Phil. You would do well with a leader such as Saddam was. He liked to make "clean sweeps" of those around him.
Now don't deny it Phil we know how your thought processes work.
And Barry is getting paid off but I don't think the biggest contributor is the oil companies.

Petrocelli-FDL said...

Hi Philip, you've prolly already seen this, but I'm leaving a link to Rachel Corrie's article in the Independent -


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Anonymous said...

I find Craig Medred's coverage of the spill troubling, to say the least, and not in a good way. He has always come across as a pompous know-it-all and I'm sure he's having a blast in Louisiana playing the Alaska spill survivor expert to the hilt.