Thursday, April 29, 2010

Everything's fine until the black swan lands at your end of the pool 

When discussing the environment, Bob Marshall writes some of the most compelling and informative stories in the Times Picayune. Here's the latest:


To understand the gravity of the danger facing Louisiana’s coast from the oil that began washing ashore Thursday, pollution clean-up veterans offered this starting point: Forget the word “spill.”

Why?


“This isn’t a spill,” said Kerry St. Pe, who headed Louisiana’s oil spill response team for 23 years. “This isn’t a storage tank or a ship with a finite amount of oil that has boundaries. This is much, much worse.”

It’s a river of oil flowing from the bottom of the Gulf at the rate of 210,000 gallons a day that officials say could be running for two months or more.
If that prediction holds, much of the state’s southeastern coast will become a world-watched environmental battleground that hasn’t been seen in the United States since the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska 21 years ago.

This is really depressing. People in the know are pessimistic about this "river of oil" being stanched any time soon. Right now, the air in the Bouligny smells like a scene out of Blade Runner. How long is that supposed to last? Or do we just have to get used to it, and deal with a "crude summer"?

On the bright side, Big Oil had the foresight to obliterate much of Louisiana's coastal wetlands with their oil transport pipes, so there's far fewer estuaries to cordon off now as a potentially disasterous oil slick arrives. Since there's less state to protect, we must be saving a shitload on protective boom. Hi five! If that's not a rainbow lining on a black water cloud, I don't know what is.

Of course, in this dark hour we must vigilantly defend Big Oil against potential environmental policy overreaction. That's job one. Increased regulations on the industry would be the real tragedy to come from all of this. Because that might be expensive.

Whatever you do, don't hysterically overreact while Big Oil underreacts.

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15 Comments:

Yet it took 9 days for Obama to do anything about it by making the magnanimous decision to dispatch members of his cabinet and inner circle to the coast. Where's he been? We don't even get a fly-over from the man whose logged more frequent flier miles than any president in history. Guess he's too busy working on unemployment and AGW. This could turn into his "Heckuva Job BP" moment if he doesn't act quickly.

And can anyone explain why a SWAT team was dispatched to investigate? Are there hostages on the platform? Someone kidnapped here? I'm not in law enforcement, but SWAT teams don't usually perform post-spill investigations. EPA or MMS, maybe. Coast Guard for sure. But not the SWATs. They're para-military folks who capture and/or kill immediate threats. Just wondering....

Medium Jim

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 AM  

Misused "whose"... Sorry.

MJ

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:32 AM  

Some environmental dude from JP said on WDSU this morning that the smell will be around as long as the spill is, or between 30-60 days..some days better, some days worse.

By Blogger Duff, at 7:33 AM  

To the anonymous poster above, SWAT is an industry term, & it does not mean Special Weapons & Tactics units were sent out. It's merely another anacronym for their units who go & do spot-checks & monitor for compliance.

Barack can't get close to this with a 10-foot-pole. He just tried to outflank the right by talking about expanding drilling, & at first was defiant with his talking points coming out of Gibbs & the White House with their push to expand drilling.

Now this Ecological Dirty Bomb's heading towards or coast-or is already here-and he's stuck talking out of both sides of his mouth talking tough about "all options being on the table" when asked about a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, even temporarily.

If he came down here now, he'd look pretty foolish talking tough about the industry, yet just ballyhooing an expansion.

No one saw this coming, so its admittedly a tough situation for any Administration to be in. There needs to be an investigation into the whole ordeal, no lie, but at the same time, America can't sit back & say it can really look at a still-sputtering economy & lock down fossil fuel exploration, extraction, transportation & refinement.

We simply aren't strong enough economically.

It's already just easing into "Summer Drive Time" where prices at the pump go up. The Obama Administration has to speak softly & carry a big stick, because whatever it does could really affect consumer's pocketbooks this summer, & heading into November & the elections, they simply cannot risk alienating voters anymore than they already have.

By Blogger GO, at 9:43 AM  

Like clockwork, he trots Axelrod out to talk about a temporary moratorium...

There's no other way around it, quite honestly. You have to send your aides to fall on this sword, but he won't win any votes down this way, or elsewhere that's affected by this disaster along the Gulf Coast, without doing SOMETHING himself.

By Blogger GO, at 10:52 AM  

I (sorta) agree with GO. Obama basically spent a week demurring to the wisdom of BP while a major disaster loomed. And, as GO correctly points out, obstinately held to his bullshit triangulation political scheme even as the rig was sinking.

Meanwhile we have Mary Landrieu running around parroting BP's talking points about "iced tea" and "15,000 miles of boom" and then rushing to the Senate floor to stand up for more drilling at the very moment that New Orleanians begin to smell the oil.

Not only should the feds have been moving to contain this thing as soon as the rig exploded, but they should have been moving with years of planning in place for this very eventuality.

But that's not how our leaders operate. Instead they assume the fox will guard the hen house. Until of course the fox eats all the hens, at which point our leaders step in to buy them some more.

The bottom line is, the Gulf coast is about to eat it big time just as we all ate it five years ago. And we are doing so, at least in part, because our Senator is a whore and our President is at least a coward and possibly a whore as well.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 11:08 AM  

Obama repeated the "not one drop" bullshit after he gave us the "rigs don't cause spills" line.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/04/obama-administration-learns-that-oil-leads-to-oil-spills.php

By Blogger jeffrey, at 11:37 AM  

he won't win any votes down this way

True...but he probably isn't counting on much political support from the Gret Stet, Mississippi, Alabama, or Texas to begin with.

Florida seems to be pretty much the sole Gulf Coast concern for politicians of either major party...I wonder why...

Oh, and the WSJ is reporting that the most plausible theory for the explosion has something to do with a process called "cementing," which had been done by...Halliburton.

By Blogger Michael, at 11:47 AM  

Michael, while I agree with you, I am talking about the Congressional elections in November. Everyone's been riding his coattails, but this puts him in an awkward situation.

He backed a lot of folks on the left down with his expansion talk. Now, he's got a bit of backtracking to do. Either way, this was an unforeseen error, but one that's quite likely to cost him in Congress.

We all know he's got a razor thin majority, especially in the Senate, & a situation where he's caught sitting on an electrified barb-wire fence at one of the worst possible times of the year for oil & gas prices to spike or go up (knowing how jittery the markets are) is a bummer for the Obama White House.

No way around it on this one...They're more than likely going to have to bite down on the juicy end of a sh!t sandwich in this situation.

By Blogger GO, at 1:54 PM  

These are strange times we live in when 59 votes = "razor thin majority"

By Blogger jeffrey, at 1:59 PM  

jeffrey...Tell me again how that 59 vote majority helped him get Health Care passed, pray tell?

Dude had to use reconcilliation, which was another hypocritical backtrack since he said he did NOT want to use that method when they finally brought it up for debate.

He can't marshall the horses in the Senate, as is. If he loses any more, it won't be the actual numbers, but it'll be the perception. Democrats pushed environmental legislation, put the kibosh on Gitmo, bailed out Detroit, AIG, Citi, starved out everyone of Goldman's competitors & then decided to sue the chit out of them at a seriously convenient time...and let's not forget a massive healthcare entitlement program that polarized the hell out of the country.

They accomplished all that, yet they're looking at some pretty significant issues come November...and this could definitely influence a lot of Independent/Undecided's in some states that have seats in play.

Don't think the electorate votes with their pocketbooks? You may think differently if they say & do the wrong things down here on the Gulf & cause a price surge on the oil markets. Six straight months of paying through the nose at the pump will have a lot of folks pretty p!ssed off, if you ask me.

But, nobody is, of course...as is often the case here, I'm probably just completely full of sh!t...

By Blogger GO, at 3:03 PM  

Oil Man River,
Dat Oil Man River
He mus'know pumpin'
But don't say nuthin',
He jes'keeps flowin'
He keeps on flowin' along.

We have a bunch of stuff swinging on the Ladder,
-Transocean (RIG) BP shares trading active hot,
-Dept of Homeland Security Head Janet Napolitano gets the Quote of the Day: "There is reason now to know more than we knew originally...."
Uuuhhm OK, Yogi!
-Coast Guard Admr Mary Landry emotionally defended BP/response in the Bald Face of SkyTruth data saying the Flow Rate for this River of Oil is actually at 850,000 gallons per day? Ahem!
-Editilla has graded "UNIFIED COMMAND": F-Troop.

And finally (HA!) our motto for the day:
"Slime Waits For No One"
Thank you

By Blogger New Orleans Ladder, at 4:42 PM  

John Besh agrees with me.

I'm bitter that after 10 days, government continues to fumble the football, wondering whose job it is. Saying BP is ultimately responsible is a bunch of hogwash. We can't keep waiting for disasters to happen when we know how to prevent them in the first place. Yes, we've had luck with offshore drilling. But it's just like Wall Street: we can't expect companies to police themselves.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 6:10 PM  

Part of the BP is "in charge mantra" involves liabilty issues and making it their responsibility to pay for the horrendous damaage they've done.

Also, maybe something's wrong with my sniffer but I'm not smelling anything nearly as strong as other people are.

By Anonymous Adrastos, at 10:14 PM  

I didn't smell it today at all. But yesterday it was pretty strong.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 11:06 PM