Another offshore oil rig explosion — nothing to worry about folks…

September 2, 2010

Today’s offshore drilling rig explosion is coming off like the last one:

Initial reports were nothing to worry about folks, everyone is okay (except one guy who had to be flown to the hospital) and there is no sign of escaping oil. Radio reports on the station I was listening to, KNX, LA, implied or at least speculated that the the well was not even in production.

Now I just read on Yahoo News and the Huffington Post that there is an oil sheen appearing and in fact the rig was in production. I believe they say it is in shallower water than the BP Deepwater Horizon, which was (is) the worst oil spill in history.

You recall that in that fiasco we were assured that everything was under control (for a few days as I recall), but it was not.

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ADD 1:

At 4 P.M. PDT there seem to be conflicting reports as to whether oil is leaking or there is a sheen on the surface of the water. The fact that there was an explosion is not in dispute, apparently.

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And to think, one candidate for California’s open U.S. Senate seat, the Republican challenger (whose name I don’t want to look up for spelling at the moment) is all for offshore drilling. The  rig explosions of course were in the Gulf of Mexico, but I for one do not want anything similar to happen off of the California coast or anywhere for that matter.

I am against offshore drilling, but I realize it is probably a fact of life. But certainly it requires much stricter oversight and regulation.

P.s.

I guess the environmentally indifferent will just yawn and think, oh well the naturally occurring oil-eating microorganisms will take care of things.

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If the oil is gone, that’s good, but I hope that does not send the wrong message…

August 5, 2010

While the seemingly apparent good news on the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill is that the hole has been plugged — even though further hole plugging work and/or relief well work continues — most of the oil seems to have disappeared.

But the bad news on this to me is that it gives an excuse to all those anti-environmental naysayer’s, who seem to think we all worry too much about being kind to the planet and want to send everyone back to the stone age, to proclaim that environmental concerns are always bunkum.

First I find it hard to believe that there will be no major and bad residual effects, and second, I really would like to know where the oil really did go.

Of course I know that nature is miraculous. Scientists found that out after the natural devastation of Mr. St. Helens years ago. I think within the first year the area that faced the worst devastation started little by little coming back to life. The ash dumped over the northern Great Plains turned out to be a helpful soil amendment.

As bad as the Exxon Valdez spill was and despite the fact that many fishermen and others never recovered. In general, the area survived and life goes on.

And despite the fact that American scientists opened Pandora’s box by creating the A bomb during World War II, we have not faced the nuclear holocaust yet — yet (well except for a few hundred thousand in two Japansese cities).

I still think we should do more to protect Mother Earth and I am not much of a risk taker myself and why do we constantly want to risk ruining our planet anyway?


A false story on China drilling in Gulf of Mexico becomes true — even if false

July 11, 2010

Back in 2006 and since then, former Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that Red China (to use the old term) was drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and what with drilling restrictions, we, the U.S., were in danger of losing out on the hunt for this precious resource in our own backyard.

Lately, some Republicans, and I suppose others in the drill baby drill crowd, have been repeating this line.

Several months ago I picked up on the rumor and mentioned it in my blog, although I looked back and saw that I had said it was apparently a false rumor by Cheney. Nonetheless I asserted that if it was true we might have a case for asserting our Monroe Doctrine which calls for keeping foreign powers out of our hemisphere.

So, when I read yesterday an item from the McClatchy news service that the rumor of Chinese offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Florida, was false, I initially thought: didn’t I write about that as being true or at least thought to be true?

So, temporarily I fell for the rumor I had already asserted was false.

We all can’t remember the source of everything we hear and read about or recall the credibility of it all. And that is what those who like to play fast and loose with the truth depend upon.

Now to be clear, I still am not sure about the status of Chinese oil exploration and actual drilling here or anywhere else. I have read several times and commented on Chinese oil activities in Iraq where the Chinese have taken no risk and where the U.S. has spent so much blood and treasure.

(And now that we have been told that Afghanistan might be sitting on a wealth of valuable minerals — maybe not oil — I have read the Chinese are attempting to make deals on that.)

I have always been dubious about the advisability in terms of environmental risks posed by offshore drilling. And when I travel past those rigs near Santa Barbara, Ca. and that beautiful coastline, I dread — what if?

There is hope expressed today from BP that even though it has just let that disastrous oil flow in the Gulf of Mexico go full blast temporarily, it might actually get it plugged up by Monday if its latest gambit to recap it works — let’s hope so.

A lot of environmental damage has been done already. Nature does have a way of restoring itself, but how long will it take? And will it be in our lifetimes or your lifetimes or your children’s or grandchildren’s?


Congressional hearing on BP embarrassing waste of time…

June 18, 2010

Congressional hearings can be a waste of time, and in fact the one I caught some of today, which will be yesterday by the time most anyone would read this, was embarrassing, if not shameful.

I’m nearly as mad at BP and its CEO Tony Hayward as anyone could be, save those directly affected by his company’s ham handedness or greed and carelessness.

But I think I have to agree with some citizen commentors from the affected areas. What we need to be doing now is get the oil leak stopped — we can sort out the blame and punishment later.

I watched the very opening on the computer and listened to some of it while I was working (driving an 18-wheeler down the road and dropping off and picking up freight). All it was was congressmen asking self-serving loaded questions and they demanded that Hayward answer in a certain way, but like Obama, he kept his cool — he ain’t no fool.

It was like a kangaroo court.

I think we pretty much all realize by now that BP cut corners on safety in the name of profits and they were working in unknown territory, a mile under the sea. While the top guys of other oil companies claimed in earlier testimony they wouldn’t have done things the way BP did, that is easy and convenient for them to say — maybe so, maybe not, they didn’t get caught.

I’m not at all sure that the oil leak can be stopped by man.

I was going to post a blog the other night right after the president’s speech, but due to a computer glitch or my own mistake, added to the fact I had just driven 11 hours, I had to give it up.

But all I was going to say is that I thought something was missing from Obama’s speech, but I could not quite put my finger on it. I had blogged earlier that I thought he should directly address the American people. And at least he did that. And he did promise to put all efforts into fixing the leak and not let up until it is done.

I also now don’t think that speech was the time to politic on alternative energy, even though most political experts would say a crisis should not go wasted. Since alternative energy seems to be such a hot button and divisive issue (what isn’t these days?), I thought it kind of got in the way of the message that he was on the immediate problem at hand.

And beyond all this, I find it puzzling indeed that so many who scoff at environmental concerns and say they are nothing more to barriers to business, now seem to want to blame everything on Obama. It was the policies of primarily Republican administrations (but I suppose Democrats too) that led to such lax safety precautions.

But it is true that for a variety of reasons that this nation must move full speed ahead on the issue of developing alternative energy. I think now that it will take a government program similar to the moon landing project. Private industry can kick in later, but it is not good at long-term research and development. Shareholders are impatient and profit driven (and I suppose somewhat understandably so).

That comment I made about not being sure man can stop the oil leak came as the result of me reading a blog supposedly quoting various engineers — but of course you have to take a lot of what you read, especially on the internet, with a grain of salt, to include this blog, maybe. I try to stick to facts or at least legitimate conjecture, along with a little sarcasm and satire.


Frankly I don’t care if Gulf residents don’t want drilling stopped or not…

June 17, 2010

There seems to be a conflict between people on the Gulf Coast and even in the life of individuals themselves when it comes to this BP oil blowout.

While the oil polluting the waters is devastating the fishing and tourist industry, the moratorium on underwater drilling (a direct result of the unfolding environmental disaster) is throwing large numbers of people out of work, since the oil economy is so big down there. In fact, it is reportedly much bigger than the fishing industry.

So while everyone is ragging on President Obama to stop the oil — everyone from die-hard environmental-denying right wing Republicans to fishermen to even oil drilling workers to the average American, he is taking heat for doing the prudent thing, shutting down drilling until we can be sure it’s safe — the oil’s killing us, but don’t stop it.

I can see the quandary or dilemma here. On the one hand, we have to stop the oil from polluting our ocean and since we thought things were safe before, but they were not, it only seems reasonable to stop things for now until we can get a handle on it all. But meanwhile in the middle of the Great Recession we are throwing thousands out of work.

And then today on the radio (and most of the talk on radio is reactionary right wing) they are saying that a majority of folks in Louisiana do not approve of the way Obama is handling things and that they don’t like the moratorium on underwater drilling — even as the sea turns red and marine life dies off as in some biblical plague — and right there, isn’t that ironic, since the right wing loves so much to spout off or refer to biblical prophecy — maybe this is part of what is foretold in the Book of Revelation.

Maybe you bible-quoting right wingers who seem to worship the god of oil money and comfort more than God Almighty himself, are reaping what ye have sewn — may ye drown in a barrel of oil.

But seriously, I don’t care what the people of Louisiana think, necessarily. It’s not their Gulf or their ocean; it is all of ours’.

I need to read more about this all, but one headline I read hit what has occurred to me — what if the leak or gusher or whatever you call it cannot be stopped?

Will the people who call you a tree hugger or crazy hippie environmentalist still deny it all? No, they’ll blame it on Obama or Bill Clinton or maybe they’ll go way back in time and blame it on Jane Fonda.

I say it’s Sarah Palin’s fault!

P.s.

In the interest of balance, I note that Mr. Obama did some God talk himself in his Oval Office address. Of course he is not politically right wing — but even though we all have a right to refer to God, don’t tell that to the Christian right — they think they have exlusive rights on the subject.


As the oil spreads, how long before mockers quit mocking?

June 11, 2010

The oil keeps spreading like a virus.

It’s as if we are being attacked and can’t do anything about it.

We’d like to sick the Coast Guard on it. But what are they supposed to do? Shoot it?

I’d like to see the president, the commander and chief, take charge. He’s supposed to save us. I think it’s in the job description.

He says he is in charge. Has been since Day One. In fact I read in the last day or so that actually President Obama was briefed early on that the problem was not going to be easily nor quickly fixed.

Obama has played it mostly cool, although I just read on a blog on the Daily Beast site that he succumbed to the demand to get mad, so he dutifully said on one of the morning shows that he was ready to “kick ass”.

But at any rate, from all the news I hear, it seems BP still has a lock on a lot of the info and is in fact using its money to even try to control internet access to the news or at least pollute and dilute the media with its propaganda.

Although I’ve heard the reports that the oil has spread beyond Louisiana and is making its way onto Florida beaches and I’ve seen all the photos of oil-soaked birds and turtles and dead fish and distressed fishermen and so on, I still don’t seem to have a handle on how bad the kill off of wildlife is. Just heard a report on a Public Radio show that so far it is not as bad as was the case in the Exxon Valdez incident, but the potential is a lot worse. The Valdez was a tanker with a known amount of oil. This underwater gusher is virtually limitless.

And before I forget, something occurred to me. This incident was man caused. But could such a thing happen naturally? I mean couldn’t there be some type of underwater earthquake or something that could cause oil to gush out?

And then there’s the politics of it all. Now the right wingers usually mock any concern over the environment. But now some have taken to criticizing their arch-enemy, Obama, for not acting quickly enough to save us all. Well if environmental concerns are so silly, what’s the problem?

Also there is the paradox of people wanting the oil leak stopped and criticizing Obama for not stopping it but at the same time complaining about him putting a moratorium on new underwater drilling — we need the jobs.

I would think we as the American people have every right to be angry at BP for not taking necessary safety precautions and Obama has expressed that anger himself. But one right-wing business above all radio pundit was distressed because Obama had talked mean to or about BP. That would be Tom Sullivan. He also agreed with a caller that Obama in trying to put too much blame and liability and hurt on BP was risking sending that company into bankruptcy and then who would pay for the whole thing?

I don‘t think the rhetoric will throw BP into bankruptcy, but the cost of this whole catastrophe might well do it.

And someone I was listening to pointed out that BP tried to save costs and thus improve its bottom line by skipping safety precautions and in the end its safety failures may well lead to its bankruptcy.

Under no circumstances will BP actually pay all of the true costs. The biggest costs will be paid by those directly affected, those whose lives and livelihoods are ruined, such as the fishermen.

It costs the government because of all the attention it must put on the problem and of course it will cost the whole economy one way or another.

The eerie thing about all of this is that we really do not know when and if that oil will stop flowing.

It spreads like a cancer on a world that neglected to take care of itself and mocked those who have been concerned for all these years.

If the oil leak is plugged soon things might go back to normal fairly soon, except for those whose lives and livelihoods have been wrecked and the dead animals.

But if it is not and the oil keeps spreading, how long will it take for the mockers to quit mocking and start yelling in distress for someone to save them?


Mixed messages in the continuing Gulf of Mexico oil disaster; Obama should address American people directily (past news conferences) …

May 29, 2010

UPDATE: So what now? plan C or D? (I can’t keep track) The top kill and junk shot techniques have not worked, so now BP will try once more to cap the underwater well that is spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but that could take up to a week, it was reported Saturday evening. And still no solid feeling that the United States government is really on top of something that should be considered national emergency number one at the current time.

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Short of war, the BP Gulf oil disaster may become the longest running news story on record. Just checked the web and the news was that once again efforts to plug the underwater gusher have been halted. It seems that throwing mud and cement and golf balls and everything but the kitchen sink into the hole is not yet doing the trick.

Meanwhile, millions of gallons of oil are polluting thousands of square miles of the Gulf of Mexico and the threat is that it will spread as the result of the BP underwater oil well blowout. And scientists are saying that underwater plumes of oil are posing an invisible or hidden threat as well.

But the messages in all this are mixed (beyond oil and water). Even though residents of the areas affected so far in Louisiana desperately call for help and blame President Obama for not acting quickly and forcefully enough, there are also concerns expressed that a shut down of offshore oil drilling would endanger the area’s economy, just like the oil spill at sea endangers it too.

And while Republicans (well not all) claimed George W. Bush did what was called for during the Katrina incident, and Democrats (and others) claim he did not, now Republicans are criticizing Obama for not doing enough (and so do many Democrats), while Obama claims he has been in charge of the emergency response from day one.

While conservatives rail against big government, some of them now take the opportunity to criticize Obama (whom they see as liberal) for not using all the power of big government to deal with the emergency, and while they are usually against big government interfering with business, many think he ought to take over the emergency effort from BP, which is seen as not acting quickly or effectively enough.

I also read a column by one of those writers who makes it his profession to oppose nearly all things Obama criticizing his moratorium on new offshore drilling. He said that restrictions on offshore drilling closer to the coastlines, but somewhat safer because they are in shallower water, and on-land drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge is what has prompted drilling further out to sea and a mile deep into the ocean where things are harder to control, as BP was doing, and where, indeed, they can’t yet control things.

And while we hear the cries of devastation to beaches (resort areas) and ecologically valuable and sensitive wetlands, we also hear the complaints that while only three beaches on the Gulf are affected right now, all the negative news has discouraged tourists throughout the Gulf region to the detriment of the tourist trade.

And the fishing industry in the Gulf is shut down and in peril of being destroyed forever or for at least a generation.

Although Obama made his second trip to the Gulf Friday, he was immediately criticized by some for not staying longer and still not sounding all that convincing that he is on top of things and is in charge — even though he said he is in charge and is willing to take the blame — the buck stops here and all — in the response.

Meanwhile, BP had stopped the top kill efforts, for 16 hours, as I understand it, to shut down the underwater gusher and no one outside of BP, not even the government, it seemed was aware of it. It was also reported that BP put on a show of white-jump suited for-hire clean up workers on the beach when Obama was present and then sent them home once he had gone (BP subsequently vowed the cleaners would be back in the morning, it was reported).

But from what I am hearing and reading, I get the impression BP is still leading the government around by the nose.

As I blog this, this thing has been going on for more than five weeks and although the top kill and junk shot techniques BP is said to be using now — pouring mud and cement and golf balls and old tires and stuff down the hole — may be working (well I just learned they are not at this time), they may also not be and it might all go on until August when it is said the relief wells could be finished — or it might go on for decades (at least one scientist I heard said).

We’ve all learned a lot. We’ve learned that the governmental agencies, most notably the Minerals and Mining Management Agency (or whatever it is called) is corrupt with inspectors taking payoffs and with personnel going back and forth in employment between the industry and government. We’ve found that BP went out and drilled a mile deep without enough knowledge or even concern as to what to do should it hit a gusher and things got out of control. We’ve found out that no one was in charge and no one knew what to do on that Deep Horizon oil platform (well that’s what the headlines said) on which eleven men were killed. That’s not a criticism of the poor workers (and it’s a dangerous job and accidents will happen). It’s an indictment of BP, notorious for playing fast and loose with safety procedures and environmental concerns over the years.

But let’s get back to the big government thing. Very few people would say they are in favor of “big government”. But in a disaster, suddenly big government becomes desirable, a necessity. But how do you just create big government suddenly when you need it.

And in a world where we still value wealth and comfort and status over everything else, corruption flourishes.

I am fortunate to currently live in a place in Northern California far away from oil spills and to have one of the best views of nature anywhere in the world.

But the money-first pave-everything-over crowd is always ready to destroy it all.

And if they got their way, too many people locally would support them under the mantra: “We must have jobs”.

And one more thing, there are reports that some are getting sick in the cleanup efforts, presumably from the oil and oil mixed with toxic chemical dispersant.

I am not at all convinced that we have to spoil our nest to survive — that seems sort of a contradiction anyway.

P.s.

Just what does it take to get Barack Obama excited? And why doesn’t the leader of the world’s only superpower take it directly to BP (in person)? He should demand that the CEO meet with him (summon him, so to speak) and there should be a photo op of both of them together. And Obama should take that opportunity to say (demonstrate) that he really is in charge. I also think a television address directly to the people (aside from a news conference) on this one would be in order and quite valuable.

P.s. P.s.

I realize there is some reluctance by Obama, probably, to take complete ownership of this thing because then when things go from bad to worse he takes all the blame and it also might leave BP and out in future legal claims — but the facts are plain to see — it is all BP’s fault and liability, but the government has to be there to protect the interests, the life of the people.

OH, AND HAVE A NICE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!