Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein
I haven’t posted anything on the BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast until now because, frankly, I haven’t had much to say about it. Everyone agrees it’s a terrible thing, and lots of people have been jumping up and down on BP with hobnailed boots. The connection to Halliburton – and hence to Cheney and Bush – has come out and been handled in a reasonably satisfactory way. And this disaster seems to have put a halt to President Obama’s plans to increase offshore oil drilling, at least for the time being.
So I haven’t felt like I had much to contribute, and there hasn’t seemed to be any need for increased publicity on the issue. But of course I’ve kept reading as much of the coverage as I could, and this last week, a few items leaped out at me so starkly, that I decided to throw something together. The items that really got my goat were these:
- The oil spill, already a disaster, is now predicted to be 5 to 12 times worse than initially thought.
- If efforts to cap the leak are not successful, the spill could continue seriously damaging the Gulf region for decades. We may be dealing with the consequences for the rest of the 21st century.
- The companies ignored safety problems, and the government agencies concerned did not exercise proper oversight.
- BP makes enough profit in 4 days to cover the cost of cleaning up this spill.
- The BP CEO says the spill is ‘relatively tiny’ compared with the ‘very big ocean’.
For links to these items, and a round up of other links and ledges on the most interesting and or damning articles on the oil spill from the last week, see below…
The Seattle Times: BP oil spill disaster – photos.
Gulf Coast oil spill map – requires Google Earth.
BP Oil Spill 2010: Latest News, PHOTOS: “The BP oil spill has had devastating effects to the environment as well as humans and wildlife in the Gulf region.”
U.S. Said to Allow Drilling Without Needed Permits: “The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to dozens of oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency.”
Firms ignored warning over oil leak: “Documents suggest BP, Transocean and Halliburton ignored tests indicating faulty safety equipment, says committee”
My job is at risk, admits BP boss: “Tony Hayward, the beleaguered chief executive of BP, has claimed its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is ‘relatively tiny’ compared with the ‘very big ocean’.”
Oil leak ‘may be 12 times BP estimate’: “One analysis suggests gusher is 70,000 barrels daily, or an Exxon Valdez every four days, and 12 times more powerful than estimates by Coast Guard or BP”
Gulf Oil Leaks Could Gush for Years: “If efforts fail to cap the seafloor leaks, the continuous seep of oil could poison the Gulf’s coastal habitats for decades, experts say.”
Oil blowout device ‘was faulty’: “Congressional investigators say the device meant to halt an oil leak after the Gulf of Mexico rig blast was faulty.”
Probe Finds Lots of Problems At Oil Rig: “Bad wiring and a leak in what’s supposed to be a ‘blowout preventer.’ Sealing problems that may have allowed a methane eruption. Even a dead battery, of all things.”
As Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Spreads, BP, Halliburton and Transocean Executives Deflect Blame for Spill at Senate Hearings: “As thousands of gallons of oil continue to spew daily from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico, representatives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton were grilled by lawmakers in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Industry executives from all three corporations began with prepared testimony that involved blaming each other for the explosion and deflecting responsibility for the unfolding environmental and economic disaster.”
Angry Obama denounces oil companies’ ‘ridiculous spectacle’: “A visibly angered President Barack Obama hit out at oil companies Friday for trying to avoid blame over a massive slick, and vowed an all-out effort to stop the leak pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.”
The Gulf of Mexico spill: a new call to action?: “We may well be living with the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for the rest of the 21st century.”
Time for BP to stop blame game | Jules Boykoff: “As the ruptured BP well relentlessly haemorrhages oil into the Gulf of Mexico, experts now predict that by mid-June, the spill will exceed the amount the Exxon Valdez unleashed on Prince William Sound in 1989 when it dumped 10.9 million gallons of Prudhoe Bay crude into Alaskan waters, the biggest spill in US history.”
Finger-Pointing, but Few Answers at Hearings on Drilling: “As the Congressional hearings into offshore drilling began in Washington, a more intimate inquiry into what went wrong three weeks ago on the fallen Deepwater Horizon drilling rig began in this suburb of New Orleans, with members of the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service demanding answers — often from within their own agencies.”
Well, we could always nuke it closed…: “TrueSlant translates best-selling Russian newspaper Komsomoloskaya Pravda as they remind us that back in the Soviet era they used nuclear blasts to seal off oil leaks much like the one currently making a mess of the Gulf of Mexico [via SlashDot]. Five times, in fact… and only one of those five attempts failed”
UPDATE: For why this is a bad idea, see BP Oil Spill: Why we can’t nuke it closed…
BP makes enough profit in 4 days to cover costs of cleanup: “BP said yesterday that it had already spent $350 million on the spill response, and the company’s stock has taken a big hit, but the ‘behemoth’ company will almost certainly survive the disaster with little long term damage. BP’s daily profits dwarf the daily cost of spill response: the company could cover the entire cost in just four days.”
Gulf oil spill: quick fix dashed as BP tower fails to contain oil: “Hopes of a quick fix to stop oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig gushing into the Gulf of Mexico were dashed on Saturday, when a build-up of crystallised gas blocked the pipes in the huge metal containment tower, which then had to be lifted from the seabed.”
BP Sees Hope for Solution in Capping Spill in the Gulf: “Officials said Wednesday that new plans involving work on a safety device called a blowout preventer could move them closer to halting the oil spill.”
BP continues hunt to stop Gulf of Mexico oil spill: “With no clear sign of an early fix, authorities were stepping up their efforts to keep the oil from making landfall.”
BP’s solution for the spill, chemical dispersants, may make things worse: “Are the chemical dispersants BP’s using in the Gulf oil spill a cosmetic solution?”
From the “lest we forget” file: Justice Department Targets BP Over Massive 2006 Oil Spill: “The Justice Department recently filed a civil suit against BP’s Alaska unit over two massive oil spills in Prudhoe Bay three years ago.”
And finally, in the “every oil spill has a silver lining” category: Gulf of Mexico disaster: Oil and vinegar: “The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers on 20 April has the potential to transform the face of oil exploration.”
Last word to our best political commentator: Jon Stewart On Gulf Cleanup Efforts (VIDEO): ‘We’re All Going To Die!’.
(What does it say about the state of our public sphere that some of the best political commentary and hardest hitting interviews with public figures appear on a satire show on “Comedy Central”?)