Drill, Baby, Drill

As expected, President Obama is planning to lift the drilling moratorium and to return to his planned drilling program off pristine areas of the East Coast. While Obama is no longer claiming that oil rigs really do not spill much, it really does not matter much. Bureau head Michael Bromwich has announced that the six-month ban is unlikely to be renewed in a blow to environmentalists. One lasting change? The Obama Administration changed the name of the scandal-laden Minerals Management Service to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.


The Administration has been putting on a full court press with officials expressing relief that they can find no large amounts of oil left — brushing over the millions of gallons of toxic chemicals that they allowed BP to dump into the ocean to disperse the oil. Experts have objected that the Obama Administration has been actively downplaying research showing these chemicals remain in the food chain for many years. Administration officials have said that the health impact of these chemicals remains uncertain — leading others to question the decision to dump millions of gallons into the ocean.

The recent public offensive appears calculated in part to lift the ban. In the ultimate example of “out of sight out of mind,” Bromwich insists that he can “see no information so far that would justify extending the moratorium.”

Source: CNN

280 thoughts on “Drill, Baby, Drill

  1. From Huffington Post (8/25/2010)

    Gulf Oil Spill: Rick Steiner Got BP Disaster Right From The Beginning, Warns Crisis Is Far From Over
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/25/the-sage-of-spills-rick-s_n_693812.html

    Excerpts:
    I first spoke to Rick Steiner more than three months ago — about two weeks into the Deepwater Horizon disaster — after a source recommended I talk to him for a story I was writing about the spill as a teachable moment. Steiner is a marine conservationist and activist in Alaska who started studying oil spills when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, and never stopped.

    What Steiner said to me during that first interview was blunt, depressing — and struck me as having the ring of truth. Little did I know how true.

    “Government and industry will habitually understate the volume of the spill and the impact, and they will overstate the effectiveness of the cleanup and their response,” he told me at the time. “There’s no such thing as an effective response. There’s never been an effective response — ever — where more than 10 or 20 percent of the oil is ever recovered from the water.

    “Most of the oil that goes into the water in a major spill stays there,” he said. “And once the oil is in the water, the damage is done.”

    Steiner was also one of the first scientists to warn that much if not most of BP’s oil was remaining underwater, forming giant and potentially deadly toxic plumes.

    I thought of Steiner last week, as I sat in a congressional hearing room listening to Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey question Bill Lehr, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Lehr was one of the authors of an increasingly controversial federal report about the fate of BP’s spilled oil that Obama administration officials misleadingly cited as evidence that the “vast majority” of the oil was essentially gone.

    Markey’s persistent questioning eventually got Lehr to acknowledge that, contrary to the administration spin, most of the spill — including the oil that has been dispersed or dissolved into the water, or evaporated into the atmosphere — is still in the Gulf ecosystem. Then Markey got Lehr to recalculate what percentage of the spill BP had actually recovered, through skimming and burning.

    That amount: About 10 percent.

    In other words, Steiner was right.

    **********

    Before the Obama administration lifts its deepwater-drilling moratorium — currently set to expire on Nov. 30 — Steiner said the government should do four things:

    1. Complete a comprehensive risk assessment that establishes the “101 other ways” that deepwater blowouts can occur.

    2. Develop a much more effective risk mitigation system, i.e. better blowout preventers.

    3. Develop better blowout response plans, such as the marine well containment system being developed by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell.

    4. Develop better oil spill response plan for worst-case scenarios — with equipment ready to go, precontracted responders trained and drilled, protocols established for dispersants and burning, and regional citizens advisory councils.

    The first three are crucial, because they are about prevention. But the fourth is still important, Steiner said. “We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that effective oil spill response is possible, because it isn’t. Yet they still need to prepare.”

  2. Elaine:

    ““Most of the oil that goes into the water in a major spill stays there,” he said. “And once the oil is in the water, the damage is done.””

    Is it? How do you account for the fact that every year there is an oil leak 1/3 the size of the Exxon Valdez off the coast of California from natural sources and there is no environmental damage?

  3. Top Democrats are growing markedly more pessimistic about holding the House, privately conceding that the summertime economic and political recovery they were banking on will not likely materialize by Election Day.

    In conversations with more than two dozen party insiders, most of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about the state of play, Democrats in and out of Washington say they are increasingly alarmed about the economic and polling data they have seen in recent weeks.

    They no longer believe the jobs and housing markets will recover — or that anything resembling the White House’s promise of a “recovery summer” is under way. They are even more concerned by indications that House Democrats once considered safe — such as Rep. Betty Sutton, who occupies an Ohio seat that President Barack Obama won with 57 percent of the vote in 2008 — are in real trouble.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41469.html#ixzz0xik1hdOk

  4. Looks like the Deere is no longer looking into the headlights.

    Oh the times they are a changin.

    Deere Quits Climate Coalition Supporting Cap-And-Trade

    CHICAGO -(Dow Jones)- Deere & Co. (DE) has quietly dropped out of a coalition of large companies that has supported a cap-and-trade program for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

    Deere, the world’s largest manufacturer of farm machinery, opted to leave the U.S. Climate Action Partnership in May because the group’s legislative strategy “no longer served as a foundation for moving forward” with climate change regulation, Ken Golden, a spokesman for the company said Tuesday.

    “We came to the conclusion that Deere had other opportunities to be involved in climate change initiatives,” Golden said.

    The Moline, Ill., company joins a handful of other companies that have left the partnership in recent months, as political support erodes for comprehensive energy legislation that includes a cap-and-trade program and stricter mandates for energy conservation. Other members to leave the group include construction machinery company Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), and energy companies BP PLC (BP.LN, BP) and ConocoPhillips Co. (COP)

    http://www.automatedtrader.net/real-time-dow-jones/13419/deere-quits-climate-coalition-supporting-cap_and_trade

  5. Unemployment: A damning memo shows the administration knew its oil drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico would kill tens of thousands of jobs but did it anyway. We’re the ones getting drilled.

    There’s a law known as the law of unintended consequences. It’s invoked when you try to do the right thing but overlook other events and occurrences set in motion by your actions. In the case of the drilling moratorium, the consequences were intended.

    In June, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman struck down Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s original moratorium, saying it was overkill based on flawed reasoning. “If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?” Feldman asked in his ruling. “That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed and rather overbearing.”

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/544944/201008251810/Jobs-Knowingly-Killed-And-Destroyed.aspx

  6. Byron,

    ““Most of the oil that goes into the water in a major spill stays there,” he said. “And once the oil is in the water, the damage is done.””

    Is it? How do you account for the fact that every year there is an oil leak 1/3 the size of the Exxon Valdez off the coast of California from natural sources and there is no environmental damage?

    Here’s one response to your question:

    From Newsweek

    If Oil Naturally Leaks From Underwater Sources Every Day, Then Why Are Man-Made Spills Such a Big Deal?
    by Ian Yarett May 05, 2010
    http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-human-condition/2010/05/05/if-oil-naturally-leaks-from-underwater-sources-every-day-then-why-are-man-made-spills-such-a-big-deal.html

    Excerpt:
    Literally tons of oil get released on a regular basis from natural underwater petroleum seeps around the world. Does that mean man-made spills like the ongoing one in the Gulf of Mexico are less problematic than most people think?

    It’s true that seeps located off the California coast release up to several thousand gallons of crude oil each day and that these leaks eventually amount to many times the amount of oil released in even the worst man-made oil spills, like the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

    But there are also some important differences between these situations—and many reasons why the environmental impact of a man-made spill is hardly comparable to that of oil leaked from natural seeps.

    For one, the biological communities around natural seeps have developed and adapted to the presence of oil over hundreds or thousands of years. When oil spills from a tanker or oil rig, on the other hand, biological communities that haven’t had to deal with oil before are suddenly exposed to it at high concentrations. “At underwater seeps, you’ve already got luxuriant concentrations of microbes who depend on that seep as a carbon source and are very good at chewing it up in place, but you don’t have any of that when a catastrophic release like [the one in the Gulf of Mexico] occurs,” says Jeffrey Short, who spent decades studying oil spills as a chemist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is now Pacific science director at Oceana. “You’re just exposing a naive biological community to an extraordinarily damaging change all at once.”

    As a result of exposure to an ill-prepared biological community, microbial degradation of man-made oil spills occurs much more slowly than degradation of oil from natural seeps, where the resident organisms literally make their living off of the oil that gets released. It’s also important to note that natural seeps dribble oil at a rate that is much slower than most spills—so the flow is not nearly as overwhelming to surrounding organisms. The bottom line is that oil does indeed naturally seep from the seafloor in many places and that this seepage does, over time, add up to an awful lot of oil, rivaling some of the biggest human spills. But natural seeps have become part of the ecosystem (over long periods of time), while oil spills wreak massive ecological destruction.

  7. Byron,

    From TPM
    Natural Oil Seeps vs. Oil Spills
    May 26, 2010, 12:21AM
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/j/d/jdf15/2010/05/back-when-this-all-first.php

    Excerpt:
    A 2003 National Academies study estimated that about 980,000 barrels of oil, or about 41 million gallons, seep into the Gulf – every year. Recall that the Exxon Valdez is estimated to have spilled about 250,000 barrels.

    So if that much oil is released every year, why isn’t the Gulf covered in oil slicks? It actually is. You just can’t see them (and it doesn’t really matter). Oil can spread out very, very thinly. In fact, a gallon of oil can spread out to cover more than a full square mile, forming the tiniest film on the surface, one-hundredth of a millimeter thick. At that dose, oil is not dangerous. Note: in an oil spill, a lot of oil is released into the same place at the same time. It is still hydrophobic and all wants to sit on top of the water, so it forms a thicker slick than that.

    While invisible up close, microscopic oil slicks from natural seeps are visible from space because cohesion between oil molecules flattens wave action to form smooth areas on the water.

    Because seeps are dispersed and oil only seeps from them instead of gushing, areas around seeps are still able to support thriving biological communities. Scientists don’t even think the animals living near seeps have needed to evolve any adaptations*; seeping oil simply doesn’t have that great an effect.

    *One cool exception to this statement: you may have seen pictures or videos of the giant red tubeworms etc. that leave near deep ocean hydrothermal vents. Those vents don’t just expel superheated water; some are actually gas seeps too. The chemosynthesis that supports those ecosystems actually uses methane as a feedstock. So those animals have not adapted to natural gas as a toxin they can tolerate, they’ve adapted to natural gas as a food source they can eat, and gas seeps as a habitat they need to survive! …but oil is bad!

    Strong oil seeps can lead to increased microbial productivity (as those bacteria break down more abundant oil) and result in some local hypoxia (lack of oxygen) on the ocean floor, but not to the point of causing large dead zones. Further, individual seeps are not always active and the release rate can even vary considerably during a single day and from day to day. As a result, only a small area around a seep is ever actually exposed to “fresh,” un-degraded oil, and that is when it is most toxic.

    What we know as “oil” is actually a varying combination of thousands of different compounds. Many of these react differently and have different fates when released into the water: some molecules evaporate, others degrade in sunlight (“photolysis”), some dissolve in seawater, some get eaten by microbes, and others sink and end up in sediments. That is, if they don’t wash up on a beach or become entrained in the biosphere first.

    A study published in May 2009 found that oil from natural seeps normally stays in the water for between 10 hours and 5 days. In that time, those molecules that easily can be broken down are, leaving behind the remaining, heavier oil – consisting mostly of larger compounds that are more difficult to dissolve, evaporate or be digested by microbes. These molecules sink to the floor.

    Oil from natural seeps stays in the water for less than 5 days.

    An analysis of sediment samples from different areas around a natural seep revealed a consistent rate of hydrocarbon loss in the oil that eventually sank. This indicates that there is an upper limit to how much oil can be broken down by natural forces in the ocean. This appears to be the key finding for us.

    The question we are trying to answer here is, “how are oil seeps different from oil spills?” Oil seeps occur constantly, throughout the Gulf. Although they do release a lot of oil together over time, their individual spill rates are far, far lower than the Deepwater Horizon gusher. What’s more, these much smaller seeps are dispersed around the Gulf, so each seep’s oil can be degraded quickly.

    That is not what happens in an oil spill. It is true that the amount of oil that has spilled from this gusher so far is less than the ANNUAL AGGREGATE of all 600+ seeps in the Gulf. But it’s all coming out at the same time, in the same place. The water in one location can only degrade so much oil at one time; an oil spill goes far beyond overwhelming the ocean’s natural oil-coping mechanisms.

  8. http://www.turnofffox.org/ You should read more of Josh Marshall’s “Talking Points Memo”, bdaman ,and get better reporting than your Fox channel. I have been reading it for a couple of years. Does not claim to be fair and balanced.

  9. I really don’t watch it that much any more only because my wife snatches the remote and say’s turn that shit off I’m sick of it. I might get the chance to watch the first 15 minutes of Orielly and thats about it.

    So then I go to the computer and she says why don’t you put a clock next to it and count how many hours you spend on it.

    Can’t win

  10. Bdaman,

    You have a wise wife! Better to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report than FOX. At least when the news is bad–as it usually is–those shows can make you laugh. The shows’ writers are adept at skewering idiot politicians of both major parties.

  11. Here you go SwathMore Mom

    Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 of the important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.

    The GOP has consistently been trusted on most issues for months now, but in July they held the lead on only nine of the key issues.

    Republicans lead Democrats 47% to 39% on the economy, which remains the most important issue to voters. Those numbers are nearly identical to those found in June. Republicans have held the advantage on the economy since May of last year.

    But for the first time in months, Republicans now hold a slight edge on the issues of government ethics and corruption, 40% to 38%. Voters have been mostly undecided for the past several months on which party to trust more on this issue, but Democrats have held small leads since February. Still, more than one-in-five voters (22%) are still not sure which party to trust more on ethics issues.

    Government ethics and corruption have been second only to the economy in terms of importance to voters over the past year.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/trust_on_issues

    The last sentence, see Rick Scott vs McCollum

  12. 9/11 MOSQUE IMAM BOASTS, “Obama’s historic speech in Egypt came from me!”

    The Shoebat Foundation has obtained a shocking audio recording of Rauf’s own voice boasting in Arabic that Obama’s historic speech in Cairo was provided by the Imam’s work with the Cordova Initiative in what the Imam called “The Blue Print” which, according to him, was the solution to the Islamic-American divide. Rauf claimed that Chapter 6 of the Imam’s work engineered by the Cordova Initiative was the construct for the entire speech:

    “This is an example of the impact of our work in a positive way to be used by the President.”

    “The blue print,” Rauf elaborated, included everything from U.S. policy to Jewish and Christian relations with Muslims.

    For an Imam in New York to be involved in the orchestrating U.S. foreign policy is quite the claim. In the recording dated February 5th, 2010 Rauf boasted that:

    http://www.specialguests.com/guests/viewnews.cgi?id=EklkylyAyumQZDLoWO&tmpl=default

  13. Swarthmore mom,

    Thanks for the Taibbi link … been out of town and forgot to check him … met a man the other day who likened the teabaggers to the old videos that we used to see of the “street arabs” jumping up and down and yelling … he called teabaggers the “street republicans”.

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