The surface area of a catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill quickly tripled in size amid growing fears among experts that the slick could become vastly more devastating than it seemed just two days ago.
I'm seriously considering the possibility or necessity of having to move away from New Orleans. But where can I find a remotely Carribean U.S. coastal city with it's own unique vibe? ...How about Key West, in the Conch Republic! That's the ticket. Papa dobleme, baby!
The slick nearly tripled in just a day or so, growing from a spill the size of Rhode Island to something closer to the size of Puerto Rico, according to images collected from mostly European satellites and analyzed by the University of Miami. ... Experts also cautioned that if the spill continues growing unchecked, sea currents could suck the sheen down past the Florida Keys and then up the Eastern Seaboard.
The Florida Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America, and the third largest coral barrier reef in the world. About 84 percent of the nation's coral reefs are located in Florida, where hundreds of marine species live, breed and spawn.
"If it gets into the Keys, that would be devastating," said Duke University biologist Larry Crowder.
Yo Al. What up? I hit. What else? Plus dome. Say word.
In a display of remarkable prescience, eight years ago rapper Cam'ron had a hit song that dealt with issues now facing the Gulf Coast after an oil spill, including: "being ready for dome", "getting it on tonight (or as soon as possible)", "laying pipe" and other assorted drilling metaphors. The song is called "Hey Ma", and can be viewed here. Bravo!
Please note: Cam'ron is the artist who struggles with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He's not to be confused with Cameron International, makers of blowout preventers which almost never fail... although perhaps the two Cams could help one another.
Nuclear Assault "Critical Mass". Features one-eyed happy face, lyrics, and Jessica Hahn. In 1989 I took my younger sister to see Nuclear Assault and Savatage open for Testament. It was loud and during one of the sets some metalhead ripped a fire extinguisher off the wall and sprayed the pit. Sounds sort of cool, but in reality that stuff tastes bad and removes the oxygen from the air. I used to sorta like this song.
And everyone enjoys this cut. For many, many years my wife Lovely thought they were singing "Rock the Cash bar":
What is the flow rate on Limbaugh's verbal pollution?
El Rushbo's dark suspicions about ecoterrorists blowing up the oil rig deserve further mention. It's a testament to how debased our political discourse has become that some cockamamie theory like this can be seriously floated by a major conservative pundit without widespread condemnation from all political corners. Many times I've stated that no one misunderstands New Orleans issues worse than Rush Limbaugh. Yet we have a local radio station named after him.
Rush said he was just "noting the timing", because the explosion occurred prior to some announcement about Cap 'n Trade legislation (which some on the right view as the real disaster surrounding the Macondo oil gusher). Rush says the environmental whackos also hate Cap'n Trade because they think it might expand oil drilling. Therefore: "what better way to head off more oil drilling... than by blowing up a rig?"
Again, he's just "noting the timing"!
Here's some help, Rush. Not only did the rig explode prior to a Cap'n Trade announcement, but it did so on 4/20 which is National Marijuana Day. And you know how those environmentalists like their cheeba. It also happened on Hitler's birthday, and Hitler was a National Socialist. And "Socialist" always means liberal even when it means fascist, so there you go. Pot-smoking ecoterrorist socialist liberals bombed the drilling tower to kill Big Oil. Case closed!
Narcissus-like, last August Senator Mary Landrieu genuflected by Big Oil's "reflecting pool" talking point. Then she basically called Skytruth's founder a liar.
Skytruth was one of the first outfits to publicly cast doubt on the widely-reported 1,000 barrel per day flow rate of the Macondo oil gusher. I'm very pleased to have linked to this prescient and accurate report, which I found via Noladder. When that flow estimate was revised to 5,000/day (by NOAA), that's when the Feds got really serious and Gov. Jindal declared a state of emergency, and everyone realized this would likely get catastrophic.
Here's Skytruth's founder, John Amos, on a Thursday CNBC interview dealing solid information about the current gusher and dispelling stupid Katrina myths. Segment starts around the 4:15 mark.
Fun fact! This morning I had two glasses of English Breakfast iced tea, without realizing the irony.
The title quote is the final lyric from "The Lark's Nest" by one of the great unkown metal bands of the nineties: Dead Horse. You wouldn't like the song, but since the Hayride continues to inflict Phil Collins on the interwebs, I needed to clear my head with some death metal thrash about environmental apocalypse.
A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.
"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought." ... In scientific circles, an order of magnitude means something is 10 times larger. In this case, an order of magnitude higher would mean the volume of oil coming from the well could be 10 times higher than the 5,000 barrels a day coming out now. That would mean 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day. It appears the new leaks mentioned in the Wednesday release are the leaks reported to the public late Wednesday night.
So, an "unchecked gusher" sending millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf each day(!) is now in the realm of possibility? I didn't even know that such a calamity could happen. I mean... jeebus... we're put in the position of hoping that a bloody riser pipe doesn't deteriorate or else a gusher of black death will ... just try to exaggerate the damage this will do to the Gulf Coast-- environment, economy, culture... I dare you.
[Update: Fuck me running. Jeffrey alerts me to this WSJ story, which says the oil spewage might already be at the 25,000 barrels a day level. So we may be halfway to unexaggeratable calamity. If we were still trusting BP's information on this disaster, would they still be telling us that the oil flow rate was 1,000 barrels/day? How did it suddenly go from zero to (an apparently acceptable) 1,000 barrels per day to upwards of 25,000? Has the flow been increasing that much, or was BP underestimating the flow, or just lying about it?]
British Petroleum, one of the largest oil companies in the world, didn't plan for a "black swan" blowout at one of the most technologically advanced rigs in the world, which used the best type of blowout preventer available. Now they're scrambling to find solutions. They said that a spill was unlikely (true), and that even in the worse case scenario they could handle a spill and didn't expect any significant adverse impacts to the coast (untrue).
I'm tired of being held hostage to companies and governments that can't anticipate or prepare for or adequately respond to "unprecedented" events.
Nine-eleven: who could've predicted? Unprecedented. Federal Flood: who could've predicted? Unprecedented. Credit crisis leading to Great Recession: who could've predicted? Macondo Oil Blowout: who could've predicted? Unprecedented.
And that's just in the past decade. Throw in George Bush as President and Ray Nagin as Mayor for most of those years and it makes you feel like muttering "I'm getting too old for this shit". (Take it from me, the venn diagram overlap of people who voted for both Bush's and Nagin's re-election represents a very, very scary slice of humanity.)
Here's the key to short term profits: pretend black swan risks don't exist! Assume that the "worst case scenario" must be precedented, not just remotely possible. Then bankroll profits while you dump all the unprecedented risks on the oblivious masses. If and when a black swan catastrophe occurs-- act very surpised, and deflect the blame: preferably on Clinton, on environmentalists and levee boards, on minorities who got subprime loans, or on insidious ecoterrorists and cap'n traders.
The folks who argue against regulations for Big Oil, and who basically think the industry should (continue to) regulate itself have a lot of nerve criticizing the Obama administration for trusting BP early on about this disaster, and not reacting sooner. In the coming weeks and months I'm sure we'll have a lot of time to discuss those issues, so let's table them for now.
Tonight, I want to offer solutions to the oil gusher crisis. The Obama administration and Big Oil are at a loss, so I'm here to help.
The first solution comes from my lovely 6 year old daughter Pearlgirl, who recently viewed a very special oil spill episode of "Go Diego, Go". At the 5:18 mark in the cartoon, Diego hysterically announces
There's a boat with a hole in it, and it's spilling oil into the ocean, and the oil is headed for the beach where there are lots of animals.
Enlisting the help of dolphins and whales, Diego saves the animals from the oil spill. But what about cleaning up the oil? No problem. You splash the water to keep the oil off the coast until your friend Alicia arrives with the "oil vacuum" (10:12).
Unfortunately for the Gulf Coast, Diego, Alicia and her oil vacuum have been detained in Arizona because of some paperwork issues, so we're going to have to go with Plan B, which comes from JudyB at Thanks Katrina:
Hairdressers take note: Loose hair can be stuffed into nylon stockings which we double up and tie together to make "booms" that surround and contain as well as soak up oil spills.
That's tremendous news! And with all the unnecessary grey ponytails currently on display at Jazzfest, I think we might have found our first lucky break since this oil disaster began. ----
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.”
“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 vigilantlydefend 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.
After wondering earlier whether the 1,000 barrels/day figure for the Macondo oil blowout was accurate, we learn from CNN (via the DP) that
The estimated amount of oil spilling in an underwater leak from last week's oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to 5,000 barrels a day, five times more than what was originally believed, a Coast Guard official said late Wednesday.
Then we get an oft-overlooked distinction between sheen and slick.
Most of the slick is a thin sheen on the water's surface. About 3 percent of it is a heavy, pudding-like crude oil.
Followed by the mandatory comparison to the Exxon Valdez spill, plus some bad math:
At its current flow, the spill would take more than 260 days to rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, when about 11 million gallons spilled into Alaska's Prince William Sound.
Using round numbers: if the current flow from the three pipe holes is 200,000 gallons/day, don't we arrive at a total of 11 million gallons in closer to 50 days, not 250? Most crucially: what if we can't break the American record, will everyone point and laugh at us?
But even if the Gulf spill never compares in size to the Exxon Valdez, it could have serious ecological repercussions if it makes landfall.
Thanks for pointing that out.
Macaoidh at The Hayride fears that the spill "has the potential to be a much larger disaster than anyone imagines"-- for Big Oil and the American economy, that is. Why? Because "the economic cataclysm of the Cap-And-Trade bill currently stalled in the Senate... is a likely result of the disaster in the Gulf".
In the same post, Macaoidh makes a rather bizarre claim followed by a strained comparison.
[I]t’s been 25 years since the oil industry has had a significant disaster like the one currently going on in the Gulf, and more than 40 years since a significant accident on an offshore well occurred.
What the hell is he talking about? I don't know if the nearly 9 million gallons spilled on and offshore after Katrina constitutes a "significant" disaster for the oil industry, but I'd say so. Sure, it wasn't the 11 million gallons spilled by the Exxon Valdez, which occurred 21 years ago... but still, how can either of those not be considered significant? Please help me understand.
Five years ago, when another disaster befell the Gulf of Mexico, it was bad government policy which turned a natural event into an expensive, embarrassing and deadly catastrophe. All the elements which made Katrina so devastating to New Orleans seem to be combining to revisit the process with the Deepwater Horizon spill – a chance event turned by politicians into the death of an industry and an economic cataclysm for America.
I don't even know where to begin unpacking the premises contained within that strained comparison. Seems much more apt to say that faulty engineering was the common denominator, though that has yet to be definitively established with the Macondo blowout. "All the elements which made Katrina so devastating to new Orleans" are "combining to revisit the process with the Deepwater Horizon"... really? Is that your sense of the dynamics, here? ===
Actress Sandra Bullock is suing for divorce and says she intends to raise a child born in New Orleans earlier this year as a single parent.
In a story posted on People magazine's website, the Oscar-winning actress reveals that she is adopting 3 1/2-month-old boy, Louis Bardo Bullock.
Since marriage vows are forever and since kids deserve to be raised by a heterosexual mother and father, shouldn't Bullock attempt to reconcile with her husband before adopting? Wouldn't the kid be better off that way?
Uhh, nevermind. Scratch that. ===
Fun fact: A month ago a lady in line at the drug store saw the cover of a tabloid and began complaining to every female who would listen about Jesse James. After a long rant, she looks at me (the only guy in line) and asks "You're not like him, are you?"
If I could summon and channel the force of will I used in that moment to resist the overwhelming urge to reply sarcastically ("Nein", "Sorry Madam, B's before H's"... etc)-- I could build a nuclear submarine with my bare hands.
Naming the Gulf Coast Oil Slick "Lake Palin" is unfair
While those who are referring to the Gulf Coast Oil Slick as "Lake Palin" are being cheeky, there are a few things about the spill I'd like to understand better.
What caused the spill? The Oil Drum explains, and briefly lists a few possible causes:
The basic idea of what happened is that Transocean, under contract with BP, was attempting to drill a new well, not too far from existing wells in a deep water area of the Gulf of Mexico. The well was almost complete--in fact, the well seemed to be far enough along that the danger of blowout appeared to be very low. The casing had been cemented, and work was being done on getting a production pipe installed.
Apparently, a pressure surge occurred that could not be controlled. While the equipment includes all kinds of controls and alarms, and a huge 450 ton device called a blowout preventer, somehow it was still not possible to control the hydrocarbon flow. At such high pressures, some of the natural gas separated from the oil within the hydrocarbon stream and ignited causing the explosion.
Some of our readers have provided their ideas as to what might have happened. Rockman has suggested that the strength of the pipes (to withstand the underwater pressure) might have made it impossible for the shear rams in the blowout preventer to slam shut and cut off the pipe, as they were intended to do. Westexas has suggested that perhaps metallurgical failure at such great depths may have contributed to the accident. It is possible that there was some element of human error as well. Without a thorough investigation, it is impossible to know exactly what happened, and even then, there are likely to be gaps in our knowledge.
The rest of the post is informative, but there's a bit of editorializing at the end which sounds like something Dr. Manhattan would say.
In the media coverage of this pipe blowout, I dislike the ubiquitous volume comparisons to the Exxon Valdez disaster. Is that a helpful standard to use? I'd much prefer people understand that this is a major spill event (100,000 gallons+) rather than it being a "much smaller spill" than the Valdez. Also, the nice round number of 1,000 barrels per day being emitted is another question mark in my mind. Might that be a low estimate? Skytruth satellite photo analysis suggests it is. (H/T Editilla.)
Just to be clear, here is my basic view on oil drilling that I wrote in a comment to an earlier post:
I'm not opposed to drilling in itself, but when proponents lie about it and minimize its total risks and costs, that's an insult to the risks and costs that Louisiana endures on behalf of our oil-addicted nation. Oil drilling shouldn't be "sold" with lies, or framed as a long-term solution.
A couple years ago, nearly all the major louisiana political blogs gave Jim Brown a "platform" to militate for more oil drilling. Then, Brown wrote:
Of the roughly 3,700 offshore oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, some 3,200 lie off the Louisiana coast. Yet Louisiana produces one-third of America’s commercial fisheries and no major oil spill has ever soiled its coast.
To me, this reads like a black swan lake waiting to happen. But in Brown's view, the concentration of oil rigs next to Louisiana's fisheries isn't a worrisome thing, since "no major spill has ever soiled [our] coast"-- a misleading argument I disputed here. Maybe we should thank our lucky stars that we haven't had a catastrophic spill. Similarly, when talking heads came out in force that same summer and baldly stated that "not one drop" of oil spilled after Katrina... I got pissed off. Louisiana takes massive risks on behalf of Big Oil. It has literally sacrificed its protective coast for oil pipelines, and its residents risk their lives to pump this stuff and bring it to market. When oil shills act as if drilling and transport is some easy, risk-free, "win/win" enterprise, it's an insult to the risks that "Sportsman's Paradise" endures on the nation's behalf.
As a Vitterologist, I'm intrigued by the claim that "Forgotten Crimes" will actually investigate the facts of the case. Will they just remind voters about the sordid past, or will new revelations be disclosed?
Here's an article about the original sponsor of the "Papers Please" Arizona immigration law.
The Arizona Senate passed some of the most stringent immigration requirements in the country Monday, marking a new level of influence for a Republican state senator who not long ago was seen by many as an eccentric firebrand.
"Eccentric firebrand"? Once again the liberal LameStream Media is out to get conservatives who simply want to protect our borders.
The state senator who wrote the law, Russell Pearce, had long been considered a politically incorrect embarrassment by more moderate members of his party.
Well if being "politically incorrect" makes someone an "embarrassment"-- count me in! Sounds like the only thing Russell Pearce is guilty of is loving his country and therefore wanting to protect it.
There was the time in 2007 when he appeared in a widely circulated photograph with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference.
Big deal! Politicians take pictures with all kinds of people they don't know.
In 2006, he came under fire for speaking admirably of a 1950s federal deportation program and for sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment — inadvertently, he said — from a white supremacist group.
Ummm... While that's never happened to me before, I can imagine someone doing research on opinions that are totally opposite from their own and accidentally sending out an incendiary research document in a mass email. It's not a totally unfathomable possibility-- right?
Hopefully there aren't any more embarrassing but inadvertent racist connections to this important national security legislation.
The sponsor of Arizona's new "Papers, please" immigration is law is Republican State Sen. Russell Pearce, a politician who was caught on tape hugging a neo-Nazi.
But if you want to meet the guy who's taking credit for writing the new law, that would be Kris Kobach, a birther who's running for secretary of state in Kansas. His campaign Website brags, "Kobach wins one in Arizona." He's also an attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of an immigration group called FAIR, the Federation for AmericanImmigration Reform.
So what if Kobach thinks the President is a kenyan socialist? That's pretty well established, right?
FAIR was founded in 1979 by John Tanton, who's still listed as a member of FAIR's board of directors. ... For nine of the first years of FAIR's existence, the group reportedly received more than $1 million in funding from something called the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund describes itself as based "in the Darwinian-Galtonian evolutionary tradition...
Sounds good. But what does that mean?
and eugenics movement." For the last 70 years, the Pioneer Fund has funded controversial research about race and intelligence, essentially aimed at proving the racial superiority of white people. The group's original mandate was to promote the genes of those "deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original 13 states prior to the adoption of the Constitution."
Tanton's organization, FAIR, claims credit for writing Arizona's new immigration law. The link between Fair and the Pioneer Fund makes sense, especially after you read more of Tanton's writing, like this: "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority and a clear one at that."
Why is bunk racialism often lurking about a half inch beneath the surface in the conservative illegal immigration debate?
Eli at the Lens has more about the legislation and similar efforts in Louisiana.
Today is Confederate Memorial Day in a handful of Southern states. Father Hollywood posted a "Confederate History Moment" about Americana, Brazil, a place he describes as
a little outpost of Confederate America that still exists, as Southern English and Brazilian Portuguese are spoken side by side, where the traditions and customs of the Old South are still practiced by the descendants of unreconstructed Americans who fled to Brazil during occupation.
Go see the videos here, if you want to learn more about the "Confederados" in Brazil.
Oil leaking from a sunken drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico oozed slowly toward the coast today, endangering hundreds of miles of marshes, barrier islands and white sand beaches in four states from Louisiana to Florida.
Listen, before anyone jumps to conclusions, can we get a second opinion from the oil luminaries on the right about whether this slick even exists? Perhaps the whole thing is just liberal optics.
Maybe "not one drop" of oil spilled-- it could happen! We sure heard a coordinatedchorus of thatmisleadingmantra two years ago when gas prices soared. Back then a murder of conservatives came out in force, crowing about the Katrina "success story" in which either (take your pick) 1) NO major spills occurred or 2) "Not one drop" of oil was spilt. Of course, both of these claims are wildly misleading and mendacious, as all the "minor" spills that occurred after Katrina were equivalent in volume to SEVEN "major" spills (not to mention the Exxon Valdez-like 8 million gallons spilled from facilities within Louisiana's borders)... but why should Louisiana's coast get in the way of a good conservative talking point?
The CityBusiness article continues:
The areas, home to dolphins, sea birds, prime fishing grounds and tourist play lands, could be fouled later this week if crews can’t cut off an estimated 42,000 gallons a day escaping two leaks in a drilling pipe about 5,000 feet below the surface.
Tell those critters that if they survived the 700,000 gallons* of oil rainbows spilled after Katrina, they sure as heck can handle the current situation. (Unless the pollution continues unabated for weeks, but maybe by then we'll have moved on to a different issue.)
* Seven hundred thousand can be safely rounded down to zero if you're a conservative, with almost no political penalty.
Matt Taibbi's articles on the underbelly of Goldman Sachs have been exquisite, and exquisitely timed. His recent piece for the Guardian is no exception. I recommend reading the whole thing as it includes a concise definition of the tea party, Randians, and an accurate view of what's at stake. (H/T Singularity)
...There have been a lot of greedy financiers and banks in history, but what makes Goldman stand out is its truly bizarre cultist/religious belief in the rightness of what it does.
The point was driven home in England last year, when Goldman's international adviser, sounding exactly like a character in Atlas Shrugged, told an audience at St Paul's Cathedral that "The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest". A few weeks later, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein told the Times that he was doing "God's work".
Even if he stands to make a buck at it, even your average used-car salesman won't sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes, then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids. But this is done almost as a matter of routine in the financial services industry, where the attitude after the inevitable pileup would be that that family was dumb for getting into the car in the first place. Caveat emptor, dude!
Oliver Stone's timing hasn't been bad, either.
=== Perhaps also timely, this noisy track: Nation of Ulysses' "Love is a Bull Market" off their album 13-Point Program to Destroy America. (Not for most.)