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Monday: Just How Bad is the Gulf Coast Disaster?

Good Morning Conflucians. I realize everyone else is talking about Elena Kagan’s nomination, but we’ve discussed that pretty extensively here. Today I want to focus on the oil spill down in the Gulf instead. I did quite a bit of reading on it yesterday, and I’m convinced that the mess down there is a lot worse than we are being told.

A number of experts are saying that the Coast Guard estimate that 5,000 barrels of oil a day are being released into the Gulf is wrong. On May 1, the Christian Science Monitor in reported estimates of “independent scientists” who said

that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.

As estimates of the spill increase, questions about the government’s honesty in assessing the spill are emerging. At the same time, pressure is building for the US to release worst-case scenario estimates so residents of the Gulf Coast can adequately prepare.

Five thousand barrels translates to 210,000 gallons, and these anonymous scientists quoted by CSM are saying five times that much is really being released–more than a million gallons a day.

The story also quotes and NO environmental attorney who wants to know why no worse case scenario estimates have been released.

“In the environmental arena, risk modeling is done day-in and day-out for every type of pollutant, whether going in the water, earth or air,” says Stuart Smith, an environmentl attorney in New Orleans, in a statement. “Why are BP and the Environmental Protection Agency not releasing such information to the public?

The Coast Guard–getting their information from BP–originally said there was no oil leaking after the explosion, then they put the number at 1,000 barrels a day on April 21. On April 29, they changed their estimate to 5,000 barrels a day and have stuck to that figure ever since.

I’ve read some pretty frightening scenarios around the ‘net, although I’m not knowledgeable enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, so I hesitate to post them. There are suggestions that the oil could spread from the Gulf into the Atlantic and then up the east coast, destroying fishing areas. See this April 30 report of a leaked government report at al.com.

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.”

Asked Friday to comment on the document, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said that the additional leaks described were reported to the public late Wednesday night. Regarding the possibility of the spill becoming an order of magnitude larger, Smullen said, “I’m letting the document you have speak for itself.”

So according this this report, the leak could become 10 times as big as the current 5,000 barrels a day estimate.

The story also quotes an expert, Stephen Sears, who heads the petroleum engineering department at Louisiana State University.

“Typically, a very good well in the Gulf can produce 30,000 barrels a day, but that’s under control. I have no idea what an uncontrolled release could be,”

This alternative energy website consulted a U.S. army consultant in Alabama named Paul Noel. He gave them a lengthy description of the situation. Here’s just a bit of it (published on May 2).

By yesterday morning, the nature of the crude had changed, indicating that the spill was collapsing the rock structures. How much I cannot say. If it is collapsing the rock structures, the least that can be said is that the rock is fragmenting and blowing up the tube with the oil. With that going on you have a high pressure abrasive sand blaster working on the kinks in the pipe eroding it causing the very real risk of increasing the leaks.

More than that is the very real risk of causing the casing to become unstable and literally blowing it up the well bringing the hole to totally open condition. Another risk arises because according to reports the crew was cementing the exterior of the casing when this happens. As a result, the well, if this was not properly completed, could begin to blow outside the casing. Another possible scenario is a sea floor collapse. If that happens Katie bar the door.

Unfortunately, I’m not knowledgeable enough to know how reliable this information is.

This BBC story is very helpful, I think. The story lists the biggest oil spills around the world, and shows that the Exxon Valdez is not even in the top ten. However, the size of the spill per se isn’t a measure of how damaging it can be. The location is also extremely relevant.

…the potential for damage caused by Deepwater Horizon is apparent when looking at the events of June 1979 in the Bay of Campeche, also in the Gulf of Mexico.

In that spill, the exploratory oil well Ixtoc 1 suffered a blowout and wasn’t capped until more than nine months later, having released 461,000 tonnes of oil in total.


The biggest leaks are not necessarily the most environmentally destructive.

The tanker Exxon Valdez, which ran aground on Bligh Reef, Alaska, in 1989, caused serious damage to the environment, killing thousands of seabirds as well as seals, sea otters, whales and fish. The remote location in sheltered waters only accentuated the problems.

The overall impact of an oil spill cannot be measured solely on size; weather conditions, the type of oil and the time it takes to stem the flow are just some of the many factors that also need to be considered.

This story in The Economist from May 6 also emphasizes the uncertainty about how much oil is being released.

Ian MacDonald, a marine biologist at Florida State University who studies oil that comes out of natural seeps on the sea floor, estimates on the basis of pictures and maps from the coastguard that the rate may be as much as five times that. The largest accidental oil spill in history, which was also in the Gulf, was due to a 1979 blowout on a Mexican rig called Ixtoc-1 (see chart). Between June 1979 and March 1980 it released around 3.3m barrels. For comparison, the Exxon Valdez fiasco in Alaska in 1989, America’s most infamous oil spill, released just 260,000 barrels. At the coastguard rate the Deepwater Horizon leak would take years to match Ixtoc-1; at Mr MacDonald’s rate, months.

There’s that five times as much estimate again!

This Bloomberg story is pretty meaty. After pointing out that the oil is already threatening

some of the most productive and profitable shrimping and fishing grounds in the world, part of a Gulf industry that provides a quarter of the seafood in the U.S.

the authors, Peter Coy and Stanley Reed speculate on what could happen if BP’s efforts to stop the leaks are unsuccessful:

Should efforts to seal the well go awry, they could cause even larger volumes of oil to spill. In some scenarios, the Gulf of Mexico loop current could even carry the oil around Florida and up the East Coast. The unfolding environmental disaster might yet become the worst in U.S. history.

So, there is a possibility of the spill getting into the Atlantic and spreading up the coast, as I said above. What if the oil gets into the gulf stream? I wish I knew.

The Bloomberg story has a good description of what actually happened to the Deepwater Horizon rig:

The Deepwater Horizon accident occurred at the final stage of the job, as the rig crew was preparing to put a temporary seal on the well and move on to another site. The exact circumstances aren’t likely to be known for months, though it’s clear that pressurized natural gas was able to infiltrate upward, meaning the seal was imperfect. A 2007 MMS study found that cementing was a factor in 18 of 39 Gulf of Mexico blowouts over 14 years. The pressure surge from a gas bubble has a nickname: the kick.

Although there are procedures for recementing, those take time and money. Each extra day of leasing the drilling rig costs about $500,000. Halliburton Co. was in charge of cementing, under BP’s direction. Robert MacKenzie, a former cementing engineer who is now a securities analyst for FBR Capital Markets Corp., said he wants to know whether BP ordered a so-called cement bond-log test to evaluate the cementing. Such a test would have determined whether a remedial cement job was necessary. BP declined to comment.

There was a “blowout preventer” that was supposed to keep an accident like this from happening.

“We have found that there are some leaks on the hydraulic controls” of the blowout preventer, Bob Fryar, senior vice-president of BP’s exploration and production operations in Angola, in southwestern Africa, told the Houston Chronicle.

Hayward said he was mystified that the blowout preventer failed. The last-ditch shear ram is rarely tested under real conditions because of the destruction it causes. In a 2002 laboratory test for the MMS, researchers found that three of six shear rams failed. Seven other makers declined to be tested.

Isn’t that nice?

What do you guys think about all this? Maybe someone here has more knowledge than I do. But to me it sounds like BP and the U.S. government really don’t know how to stop this thing. It also sounds like if they don’t get it under control soon, it could blow again.

I’ll have another post later today about BP’s long history of accidents and the Obama administration’s role in allowing them to drill down into the the ocean floor at a a depth greater than the high of Mt. Everest.

For ongoing updates and information, here is the official Deepwater Horizon web page, and here is an information page set up by the Center for Biological Diversity. Reuters has a timeline of the spill here.

Treat this as a regular new post, and please tell us what you are reading today. Have a great Monday.

150 Responses

  1. I am really worried about the spill — it seems like it’s literally an epic disaster.

    • I’m really worried too. I spent most of the day yesterday reading about it, but I don’t have any expertise at all. I just have to try to logically evaluate what I read.

      • Well, this kind of sounds like BP is desperate and will try anything:


        “They are actually going to take a bunch of debris – some shredded up tyres, golf balls and things like that – and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up to stop the leak,” the US Coast Board Admiral Thad Allen told CBS News yesterday.

        There’s no possible way that plan can backfire. /snark
        Hey, maybe That One could spare a few golf balls for this effort?

        • That was all over the news yesterday. Apparently that has been done before. First they release millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf, then they spray chemicals all over it, and now they’re going to throw a lot of garbage at it.

          They weren’t very well prepared for this eventuality, and that’s the understatement of the century.

      • They’re saying it’s headed towards Texas now … the winds are coming out of the west. I consider that Karma if it goes towards Houston

    • I have been surprised that the US hasn’t set up an international committee/group. One that can be part of the Oil Cartel that deals with such problems created by them. They meet to RAISE the prices, why not meet to solve such DISASTERS as this oil spill!?!

  2. SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan

    • I had a very tiring day on Mother’s Day, traveling to see one, driving hours to see the other, and this morning the Elena Kagan nomination was a shinny penny to wake up to. I had looked her up when BB did her post, and thus far this morning most folks are singing her praises.

      I thought she was most thoughtful in her remembrance of her parents, that I took to heart, and it was a bit of a teary moment in her acceptance speech.

      So, Cheers, Elena Kagan!

      • Most liberals don’t like her. Read Glenn Greenwald to see why. She is a “pragmatist” like Obama (read conservative) and she has no paper trail, so no one will know exactly what her views are on anything. And she was on the board of Goldman Sachs.

        • Thanks, that explains why I couldn’t find too much info or any videos of her besides dinner parties and such.

        • This nomination actually drives me up the wall.

          Republicans go out of their way to nominate someone who has expressed RW views, who is on record to wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade, who is pro “free” markets, pro corporations and who is beloved by the RW base.

          Democrats go out of their way to avoid nomination the liberal equivalent of such a person. We’re talking here about replacing the most liberal justice on the SCOTUS and we get a total blank slate because we’re looking for someone who could garner “bipartisan” support.

          Why are Liberals such cowards?

          • They hate confrontation and conservatives thrive on it.

          • Democrats are duplicitous. They pay lip service to the liberal ideals but they really want to serve their corporate paymasters.

          • Obama is NOT a liberal.

          • Cowards? How about closet republicans?

          • I spent some time reading some of the people making the painfully thin case for Elena Kagan (actually they got nuth’n). From Emily Bazelon’s Untried, Untested, and Ready, this had me screaming:

            Kagan also has the virtue, politically speaking, of not being the choice of the left.

            That is a virtue? And this is written by a “Liberal” woman?

          • Excellent rant. Most “Dems” and “Liberals” are spineless.

          • Kagan also has the virtue, politically speaking, of not being the choice of the left.

            Like I said last night, the WH probably sees the temporary backlash from “the left of the left” as something that works to their advantage…they know most progressives will walk back their criticism eventually now that she’s the pick, but in the meantime the WH can just blow off criticism without actually addressing it (‘Obama is getting blowback from the left and the right so Kagan must be a splendiferous pick’).

          • I’m not loving this nomination either. Another conservative child of privilege from Harvard. Here’s my excited face. : | Whoopee.

          • I’m glad she’s a woman. I’m glad she’s a lesbian. And I’m overjoyed that she’s not Catholic. I just wish Obama had picked a liberal. We desperately need liberals on the Supreme Court and Obama is not giving them to us. This massive shift to the right, where center right is “liberal,” scares the cr@p outta me.

          • gxm17,

            You are the first person to say she is a lesbian. 😆 She is single, I am soon to be single too. 😆 Gosh, me o my…

          • She was an freelance advisor to GS, not on their board, and not as her day job. Lawyers in private practice work with corporations. I like Glenn for his work on executive powers, but who made him the oracle of the left. He supported corporate personhood in the Citizens United case, which even Kagan disagrees with. Salon’s own front page this morning disagrees with Glenn on Kagan. Anyhoo, I’ll study up on her and watch the hearings. Could be Kagan is as left as Pam Karlan, but she’s been more careful (ambitious) about positioning herself for the Court. Karlan has been more vocally left and probably wouldn’t survive confirmation. Once you’re through, there are no more strings at Scotus. As an SG or AG, there are still strings.

          • TW said:

            I’ll study up on her

            Good luck with that, because we’re are dealing with somebody who has never taken a position on anything of note up to now.

            Can you tell me why we are replacing the most liberal Justice on the SCOTUS with somebody we don’t know? There’s such a deep bench of accomplished Liberal members of the judiciary and we have to go with a stealth candidate?

          • Let me try…

          • Not sure when Stevens became a justice, he was seen as a flaming liberal. He was nominated by Ford. They tend to bloom so to speak after they’re confirmed. Who did you want mablue. Ginsburg may choose to retire under a Dem, and chances are good she’ll be replaced by another woman.

          • Who did you want mablue

            Are you serious with that question? If you want a very accomplished LIBERAL, how about Diane Wood.

            My own nominee would have been Goodwin Liu: Brilliant legal scholar, proud liberal and he’s 39.

            Every RW nominee for any court has been groomed by the Federalist Society and who are we going?

            Who’s telling you she’s not going to turn into a Rightwinger? We don’t know what she thinks about ANY major issue.

          • Exactly. We’re hanging by a thread here, and the only way to recover is to *make the case.* This ducking and hiding and playing defense has got to stop. We need someone to step forward and spell it out, this is who this person is, this is what he or she stands for, this is why it’s important and necessary. It may not even work, the only way to build consensus and gain support over the long term is to represent something, otherwise we’re done. Sadly, the Establishment doesn’t care.

            WV, I think she has a long-term partner. :0)

    • The NYTimes has a long piece on her, worth reading:


  3. Morning BB.

    It’s too bad I don’t know how to insert a graph in the comments section. You guys should check this graph out, it’s scary:

    Cost & Effects of The BP Oil Spill

    The scarier thing is that the numbers have to be revised upwards.

  4. It is epic – beyond all imagination. The destruction of life, means of income, – it’s overwhelming. Thank you for this post because with our lack of real news and their bias, the facts may come out later, but this should be front and center. While Cheney and his oil buds twisted regulations, doomed the environment – since BO just showed he was going to continue the de-regulation, drill baby drill – he owns it.

    How anyone could listen to the live long fishermen being interviewed and the heartbreak and lose without realizing the suffering this is causing…..the weather channel also did a special on Bayou living the other night. It was done before the gusher – I was lucky many years ago to be able to visit, explore all of NOLA for several years – it was magical. There are so many cultures there. But I digress. Where I was going with the bayou story – they all stated they lived to fish and be in these waters. So sad.

    What irony that the oil in Deep Horizons represent a pitance compared to the damages this will cause. Corporations and politicians have no respect for life now. It would seem that other countries who have real human beings governing, would stop this ravaging of the environment – the US stands for very little these days – look who our leaders are and were – Bu$hit and BO.

    • Some of the folks in the small bay areas are trying to reinforce the booms with sand barriers. I think every one knows down here that life will never be the same.

    • Imagine if it really pollutes the entire east coast? That’s a lot of fishermen out of work, not to mention the tourist industry, etc., etc.

      • It’ll be catastrophic for the entire state of Florida.

      • Maybe I’m just being alarmist, but I wouldn’t put it past them to keep it a secret as much as possible, either. Obviously some things will get out, but I can easily see them coming out, you know, “Don’t listen to that catastrophic report, it’s exaggerated, sure, there’s been some damage, but fish from here is perfectly safe, and the reports of a breach over there are false, and….” I don’t exactly see the public interest being put first here, this is Bush and deny, evade, hide all over again.

  5. I noticed in doing my tabloids entry that they are starting to push the story away – NYT has nothing on page one.
    I was watching Desperate Housewives last night – one of the bad guys there, Captain jack from Doctor Who/Torchwood is an “eco-terrorist” – obviously a cold blooded killler in the name of saving the planet.
    Lat week it irritated me, this week I was yelling at the screen:”Captain Jack, you’re needed elsewhere” – especially after reading about the continuing exemptions oilmen get from this administration and the corrupted politicians clamoring for more drilling.

    • Captain Jack on Desperate Housewives? I’m gonna have to start watching.

  6. With corporations like these, why bother with terrorism? They’re doing more damage than Al Quaeda and the Taliban could even possibly dream up

  7. Bruce Bartlett writes about how Dubya’s bringing back starve the beast economics created this horrible economy we’re in at Forbes. It’s really worth a read.

    He calls it

    The most pernicious fiscal doctrine in history.


    • DAK,

      So, they are meeting in Washington this past week and this week to make decisions on Social Security and Medicare and the main news outlets are reporting on Tiger Woods Mistress Rachael’s second affair with some actor? WOW!

      Is this what they are saying that Obama is borrowing pages from the BUSH presidency?

      • The responsible thing to do is to close all those tax loopholes and make people pay, but i doubt that’s what will come up as a result of these meetings.

        • Why are we not seeing any reporting of these meetings in the main news, as it will affect the majority of the people? #NEWS FAIL! 😦

          • There was a lot of reporting a couple of weeks ago when the meetings happened. There was also a counter meeting where a bunch of real economists tried to tell the truth about social security.

    • Campaign to cut entitlements in the U.S.

      • DAK,

        This video is saying just about the same thing as the article you posted! I don’t know if I can retire at age 80. 😦 I may not live to age 80. 😥

        • Obama’s “fiscal commission” has no teeth. The Congress voted against it. They have no ability to impose their conclusions on anyone.

          • Can you imagine what will happen to the Dem Party if they kill social security and medicare? They’ll go the way of the dinoaurs.

      • “Entitlements”??? WTF. We pay into these programs. Anyone who talks about “entitlements” is a member of the bonus class.

    • Imagine taking economic advice from Jack Kemp–a former football player. But that’s what the Repubs did, according to that article.

    • Interesting thing in the second video released today is that ONLY the upper 1% is taking benefit from living beyond age 67 the age of retirement for us folks still to retire. This comes at a time when they are asking for the retirement age to be pushed beyond age 67…yes, maybe 70 or 72????

    • I’m shocked that Bill Clinton participated in that joke of a meeting at the Pete Peterson Foundation! Now I’m really mad.

      • BB,

        If the age of retirement for us is 67, what age are they talking about allowing us to retire at? I am DOUBLY mad since they blocked access to the PUBLIC OPTION and now they may raise the age of qualifying for MEDICARE 67 or God only knows what age.

        Did you see that the 1% are the only one’s benefiting from living longer…and us commoners have to keep working and working. Also the Wall Street folks got their bonuses and this past week the Obama Administration said their won’t be any further help from Washington and States will have to cut their budgets!?! 😯

        • WV,

          Don’t buy into the panic. Pete Peterson has been trying to end social security and Medicare for decades. You can’t trust anything that comes from his foundation.

          • I just cringe since Obama blocked the Public Option, never even allowing it onto the table of discussions, so I am very worry of WHOM he meets in private, since we don’t have any access to those chit chats.

            Thanks, though…I was trying to work out how us Oldies could keep working…and working…

          • Yes! I heard that, but didn’t catch which economic ranges are getting hit with shortening lifespans. Or whether it’s the poorest getting the shortest, etc. Not surprising, tho’ — things are becoming more and more stressful in this nation.

            The Part II of the video report had this stat, given by the bearded guy whose name I missed.

            Did anyone notice that the reporter managed to include in his discussion of the cost of SocSec that we’d prepaid to the tune of a (or was it more?) trillion dollars. Pissed away on Bush’s tax cuts for the richie rich.

            It didn’t take him very long to give truthful background to provide context, but our vaunted highly paid sycophants of power acting as reporter-stenographers somehow never give the public that important info???

            And, of course, David Brooks did let the cat out of the bag: The fix for this Peterson/Obama Eat Cat Food Commission was in well before health insurance reform got close to being voted on. It’s a tidbit of “What David Learned at the WH from Barry” at Obama’s reach out to conservative pundits.


          • BB, we never had the Democratic president leading a Democratic Congress around by the nose on behalf of Pete Peterson’s campaign to gut SocSec and Medicare (Medicaid also, but that can’t be mentioned until they make cuts to the as yet unimplemented Obama health insurance reform bill). And out Dems are gutless wonders when Obama pushes them to the right.

            Gee, is that a feature or a bug?

        • My comment on Part 2 was supposed to go here to reply to Woman Voter’s comment.

  8. Here’s a page at the National Wildlife Fdn for ways to help.


  9. Hey BB, found something you may want to read:


    It’s called

    Red Families v. Blue Families
    Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture
    Naomi Cahn and June Carbone

  10. Apparently, there is already a “dead zone” in the Gulf.

    An over 7,000-square-mile wildlife “dead zone” located in the center of the Gulf of Mexico has grown from being a curiosity to a colossus over the past two decades, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and scientists are now concerned the recent oil spill and other emerging chemical threats could widen the zone even further.

    The NWF describes the dead zone as being “the largest on record in the hemisphere in coastal waters and one of the biggest in the world.”

    During the summer months, it is nearly devoid of wildlife, save for the dead bodies of crabs, shrimp and other marine species that succumb to oxygen depletion in the polluted water.

    Animal toxicology experts believe the Gulf dead zone is a man-made monstrosity.

    • Yes, there’s already a dead zone. Unfortunately, it looks like it is going to grow instead of shrink and get deader.

  11. I was listening to NPR this morning. They’re going to try a smaller dome type version of the cement condom they used this weekend to try to stop it. They’re also talking about dumping tires and stuff in the gusher to try to stymie it. It sounds like they really don’t have any plan that will work. It’s going to take 2 – 3 months to do it the way that it really needs to be done. If that’s the case, it’ll be a mad max scenario all along the gulf coast and it will take down all the economies of the states down here.

    • Yeah, I read about that. They really don’t know what they are doing, because this is the deepest well that has ever been drilled. The cache of oil is huge and from what I hear it is like an erupting volcano down there.

      They have to drill a relief well, and that is going to take a long time. But if you look at some of the links I posted, this spill could actually reach the level of the worst one ever–Ixtoc, which was also in the Gulf, in the time it takes to drill the relief well (3 months).

      All the independent experts say they are lying about the rate the oil is escaping.

  12. Women and the Supreme Court: The number of women in public vs. private practice is discussed (Interesting video with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’connor and Elena Kagan)

    • I don’t even know what to say about this. You want more women in the Supreme Court bar? F*ING PROMOTE THEM IN THE LAW FIRMS. Of course, we couldn’t POSSIBLY do that.

      Rant off.

      • This may be a sore spot. I learned about a week ago that one reason I did not advance at my previous firm was that the managing partner did not like the stockings I wore. He preferred bare legs (not a great look for a pale-faced brunette, if you know what I mean).

        Yep, you read that right.

        Rant really off this time.

        • Jadzia, that’s horrible and completely rant-worthy.

          • It’s been a bad couple of weeks. This is the first time I’ve even LOOKED at the news since mid-April.

        • Oh. My. God. Isn’t that sexual harrassment or something? Jesus.

          • Actually the answer is probably no. He was just very very persnickety about our clothes, and was equally ridiculous with the menz and the wimminz. The major reason I ended up leaving, however, was undoubtedly discriminatory (as confirmed by the same partner @ the firm who told me about the stockings thing).

        • Oh my god, that’s unbelievable. Sorry.

  13. Glenn Greewald on the Kagan choice:

    It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority. The Obama administration is filled to the brim with exactly such individuals — as is reflected by its actions and policies — and this is just one more to add to the pile. The fact that she’ll be replacing someone like John Paul Stevens and likely sitting on the Supreme Court for the next three decades or so makes it much more consequential than most, but it is not a departure from the standard Obama approach.

  14. Thanks for doing all of that research, BB – much appreciated.

    Those responsible should be forced to swim in that toxic mess to have the experience of what the creatures at sea are feeling.

  15. Its times like this I really miss my Dad. I grew up in the oil patch and my Dad was in the business for many years until he switched professions. I was having trouble with understanding some of what was being reported because it just did not make sense and I know just enough to be really, really concerned about the bs. I really wanted my Dad to explain it to me but he died last November.

    So, I called my brother last week who lives in Florida to see if he was following the stories. He was not. I told him I could not figure out from the media if the casing was in place, had stayed in place, and if the gusher was coming up within (contained in) the casing or the oil propelled by gas was coming up outside of the casing.

    My brother’s response – if its outside the casing I don’t see how they can stop the gusher and we are all f*cked. I couldn’t believe he was not following the problem given that he lives in Florida and has more knowledge than the average citizen.

    Anyway, I find Paul Noel’s comments that you posted the most interesting.

    • Dee,

      Someone posted video of the gusher on twitter, but I lost it the link somehow. The person said it looked like a geyser.

      I’m sorry you lost your Dad.

      • I will go look for the video.

        Its hard enough to stop a blowout on dry land. Stopping a blowout a mile down in the ocean seems impossible.

        Where is Red Adair when you need him?

      • A sense of doom settled over the American coastline from Louisiana to Florida on Saturday as a massive oil slick spewing from a ruptured well kept growing, and experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic

        BP official – ‘Apollo 13’ effort in capping oil spill underwater

    • I found the video. It does look like a geyser.

      • BB – thanks. I just watched the video and it doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact worse.

        I don’t know the time frame on the decision to let a foreign country produce in U.S. Economic Zone unregulated but I have to wonder if it has anything to do with British support of our wars in the mideast. Maybe this is “the special relationship” that Tony Blair, George Bush and Obama have referred to.

        Second posting – last comment disappeared.

        • Obama himself gave wavers to BP to drill without an environmental impact statement. They have given 27 new wavers for offshore drilling since the spill. I’ll find the link when I can, I have to rush out now.

      • It’s a horrible enactment of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Playing with dangerous tools.

    • I was telling the Obots Obama would privatize social security back in January, 2008.

      • The thing about telling the Obots about privatizing SS is that they are just find with that. That campaign deliberately fostered a generational war by pushing blame on boomers.

        I spoke with (argued with) a kid who had just come from Obama Camp in February of 2008. He had a print-out of a list of lies about SS, Medicare and seniors. I ticked off the lies one by one whereupon he called me a liar and stupid bitch.

        He went on to work all the kids in the bar with those lies and I could tell they were buying in.

        • Wow.

        • Yep. Generational warfare has been a central part of the beautiful outpouring of hope and change since the beginning. When it’s all just shallow and empty and about being better than everyone else, you have to define yourself against your enemies. They’re old, they’re girls, they don’t know what clothes to buy and wouldn’t look hot in them and can’t afford them anyway. Really inspiring.

      • Several statements in his books were clear that he disliked “entitlement” programs. Close to the Reagan accolades, if I recall. Funny how the evidence was there if one bothered to look.

    • Thanks BB. This looks pretty shocking and once again our friend (snark) Baucus is on a committee that will affect most if not all Americans at some point in their lives.

  16. Here’s something we can do to help:

    Hair and fur are impressive oil collectors.

  17. Here’s the Matter of Trust video. At about 3 minutes it shows a demonstration of how effective these “hair mats” are at clearing oil out of water.

  18. I have no expertise on oil rig construction or maintenance, but I did read that piece by Noel last week. We should all pray to the gods that the man is wrong because if he’s right, even close to being right, we have bought the farm. We’ll have no need to wait for the endtimes, the Rapture or the Mayan 2012 prediction. If Noel is right, we’ve signed our own death warrent. It’s that scary.

  19. Sirota once again shows he hasn’t been paying attention: Apparently any version of Take Back/Want My Country Back is right-wingnuttery:

    “I Want My Country Back” — this ubiquitous tea-party mantra belongs next to Nike’s “Just Do It” on Ad Age’s list of the most transcendent idioms. In just five words, it perfectly captures the era’s conservative backlash.


    • That saying used to be ubiquitous at dailykos, but now that the tea party people are saying it, it’s not OK.

      • because *now* it’s raycist and it’s about taking the country back from a black man. In 2008 they crossed out “Take My Country Back” on their sippy cups and wrote “Yes We Did.” In their view, the country was already returned to the people.

      • Yeah, my screen name initials stand for Want My Country Back. The phrase was all the rage during the Bush years among the Left.

        But now it’s “extreme” and dangerous and radical? Ya know, I don’t like ANY segment of the American people being told to STFU, or bullied into doing so. I don’t care if I agree with them or not. If you can’t “win” unless you silence all dissent, then something is badly wrong with what you are selling.

        I don’t want even policies I agree with on those terms. If the only way I could have UHC (which I badly want) was to silence all opposed with threats and boots on the neck, then it’s not worth it. Not that way.

    • Sirota is an attention seeking moron. No really, he is stupid. But looks good on camera.

  20. I don’t know how big this leak really is or will get, but I do think that as citizen taxpayers we are at least entitled to know the results of research done on the unusual spike in sea turtle deaths after the spill. The researcher who did the initial necropsies was put under a gag order by federal officials as far as speaking about his findings, (other than being allowed to say that he did not find any oil), and he was not even allowed to take photos of the necropsies which is odd. There is an interview here.


    Since I did vote for Obama, I’m very disappointed by that and very alarmed that at least 27 more impact study waivers have been granted to companies wanting to do oil and gas exploration in the Gulf since this spill occurred.

    The waiver to BP that allowed them to avoid doing an environmental impact study on the leaking well that just blew up was granted by the Obama administration in 2009. It was extremely disappointing to learn that.

    I’m glad to have found your blog and hope you will continue to seek “principle before party.” That is very much needed!

  21. Wall Street can’t wait to get their hands on social security to continue the roll with more of our money. They truly believe that they need to cash to prop up stock prices. Create an artificial demand for crap and the price of the crap will increase. In the end it is still crap. The hucksters make a profit.

    Wasn’t too long ago you bought stock in a company because the company actually made something. Now stock is a means to its own ends.

    No one of can calculate the environmental and economic catastrophe that is unfolding in the gulf. The Wall Streeters even want to you to believe the recent proposal will somehow save Greece. Stocks went up 400 points on the news of the “deal”. Portugal has to borrow money at a higher interest rate to bail out Greece than the rate that Greece will have to re-pay.

    Yes we are living in strange times. The Rapture? I don’t personally believe in it. We will be all stuck here..no one gets free ticket out of this one..

    • Well, Portugal isn’t in great shape either. This is monetary expansion in the EU. It will dilute the euro and probably their standard of living long term, and it’s not a given that the move will solve the debt crises in the southern EU nations. The US is also chipping in to the EU bailout with dollar swaps from the Fed, which means we’re printing more money to help Europe, which means more pressure on our long term debt including social security and medicare.

  22. The gulf well gushing untold amounts of oil into the oceans, and the toxic chemicals being utilized – what chance does the human race have to survive long term? The oil won’t just stop at the Florida coast, and if it gets into the gulf stream, it will impact not just the eastern coast of the U.S. but many other countries as well.
    What fools we mortals be, to quote Shakespeare. Poison the oceans, it will leak into all the fresh water, poison the world. Just my opinion, but it worries me greatly, as the other commenters have stated, that there is no viable actionable plans in place to deal with “accidents” such as this.

  23. Has anyone here heard about the suggestion of nuking the leak? Apparently the physics are sound. The only problem is conducting the cost benefit analysis on the environmental impact of detonating a nuclear bomb in the ocean (which would limit human repercussions but would have significant environmental ones) versus the environmental impact of allowing this thing to keep spewing oil for as long as it takes to come up with and execute another solution.

    And why exactly is there no moratorium on off-shore drilling happening?

    • I think explosives are being considered, along with high pressure injection of debris to attempt to plug the well. But the use of a nuclear device seems to have a high risk of making the hole larger. (And of course there is the radioactive pollution issue.)

      As for the lack of a moratorium, it sounds like the waivers for offshore oil exploration that the Obama admin has been granting even after the Gulf spill are all for exploration in the Gulf area. Maybe the Democratic machine leaders do not think the rest of us care about a ‘Red State’ region. I hope they are wrong, if so.

      • On the Obama response, I remain baffled. Maybe it is just simply the assumption that their base won’t care much.

        Re: the nuclear option, from what I understand, which admittedly isn’t much, underwater nuclear explosions would have a significant effect on the nearby wildlife and create some heavy water, but wouldn’t have too much of a radioactive pollution issue. It also looks like if it was executed correctly, the ultimate effect wouldn’t be to blow up the rock and sea bed, so much as to melt the rock, thus sealing it shut.

        But I’m not an expert by any means. My husband is an engineer, and a nuclear history hobbyist has pawed through this though, and thinks it’s plausible.

  24. If this was lava, perhaps it would be treated more like the code blue emergency it is, rather than a PR problem for BP. Don’t die laughing, but I would like to see some leadership from SOMEWHERE…The White House shows exactly no interest of course…but gulf coast governors/ gulf coast senators… ..hello?? My local news at noon had dancing with the stars update BEFORE a new brief on this horror…WTF?? .

    • I just keep hoping that someone, anyone, will come along and rescue us from this nightmare.

  25. GAWD, Rick Sanchez strikes again! He just said the oil well was 5000 feet down and then asked the weather guy if that was five miles? Doesn’t he know a mile is 5280 feet? I’d love to see him on that show about are you smarter than a fifth grader. Bet, he’d lose big time!

    • RE Sanchez, Ignorance is bliss. Perhaps that’s why he’s still a go to guy on the telly. You don’t need to know anything, you just need to be pretty?

    • Forget the fifth graders, he couldn’t even do Cash Cab.

  26. OK – I have given it some thought …

    They have not figured out any plausible way of shutting off the oil and gas gusher in the Gulf so I plan to take money out of savings and invest in the companies that make portable oxygen tanks.

  27. When we decided to send a man to the moon, we didn’t simply figure a way to get him there and then leave him there. We had to come up with a plan for getting him there and back.

    Therefore, deep-sea drilling should be disallowed if we do not have a plan in place for accidents such as this. Drilling, with no safety measures in place for an accident and the prevention of catastrophy should mean a complete stop to drilling at this deep until the technology for getting man or machine down there to stop a leak catches up with man’s ability to drill at that depth.

    Personally, I think that the executives of these major oil companies, and their families, should have to live below the sea near where these drills operate. Sort of like “The Abyss” meets. “Hello Down There”. They can be the proverbial canaries in a coal mine. Maybe then safety would be taken alittle more seriously if they might pay with their own lives!

    • Good suggestion!

    • It wasn’t a for profit enterprise so therefore maximizing profits and minimizing costs wasn’t an issue. Safety of people as well as scientific achievement and knowledge were the primary goals. Decisions weren’t based on ROA.

  28. sorry…drilling at this depth

  29. I’m really in despair over this. They broke our planet. Literally. And we are helpless to fix it.

    • Don’t despair. Thousands of people are volunteering to help clean up this mess, as we read this blog.

      Here’s a link with several ways of helping.:

      (Honestly, the hairmat project is very effective at keeping oil off the coastlines etc.)

      • Thanks. I’m going to contact the salons and pet groomers in our area to make sure they are participating.

      • Sorry but this is a microdot of lipstick on a pig if they can’t figure out how to STOP the flow.

        • Of course. The enormity of this catastrophe is stunning.

          Nevertheless, we have to do what we can, one bird, one pond, one habitat at a time.

          Any creatures or waterways we save is a plus.

    • I agree – this is a “paradigm shift” (gawd how I hate that marketese doublespeak).
      They have finally suceeded in breaking the planet, but prepare yourself for the largest PR bomb in history, trying to downplay the implications. We can all go back to watching whichever vacuous movie star, or the latest Obama pap.
      BTW, I believe Mother Earth will survive. It will be homo sapiens who will become extinct. I just hope the next supposedly intelligent beings will treat Gaia with much more respect.
      And Obama – Pffffffft, what a maroon

  30. Amazing. May we somehow find grace in this disaster. What I see at the center of leadership failure is the inability to face and come to grips with reality and to actually confront worst case disaster scenarios. It is only sound bites and sick political posturing. I think 0 is submerged in his disaster moment and he has no clue what to do—we are not surprised.

    I have decided that on my no votes list I am going to add Harvard education. Maybe their maroon colors are the real message.

    • As for Harvard you are seeing the dark side of affirmative action. Both with O and Michelle. I think she is a stupid bourgeois woman and he is the bs we all knew in high school.

      I don’t care who wins against him. He needs to be taken down. Like Bush I. If taking them down is all we can do then we need to do it. No more the best of two awful choices. I will not vote but I will actively work to stop as many votes going in his direction as I can.

      • I don’t care who wins against him.

        “Anybody but…” thinking is how we ended up with Obama, who was the progressives’ “Anyone but Clinton” candidate.

      • Obama is a legacy at Harvard, that’s how he got in, much like the idiot Bush and Kennedy children. You’re seeing the dark side of alumni donations to help their idiot children, going back until the dawn of time.I don’t see any evidence that Michelle is stupid, and if she were she wouldn’t have gotten in, afirmative action or not. Hill probably got in to Yale based in part on AA, that doesn’t mean she’s stupid or unqualified.

        • Obama used affirmative action to get into Harvard, and probably Columbia (if he actually went there). And there is nothing wrong with that.

      • Neither Barack nor Michelle is stupid. They just use their intelligence for selfish ends.

  31. This oil disaster will not be over in our lifetime. We will grow accustomed to its terrible effects and learn to live with it. Our government is not going to change no matter what the catastrophe nor how much it will cost. The sci fi writers have it right. Our environment will be even more poisoned but we will adapt.

    Just think of third world governments and how they keep on while their people live worse than primitives thousands of years ago. This is where we are headed. They will not stop as the machine is too enmeshed for them also.

    The solution is to stop denial that we can change it. We can’t. But we can resist with all our might, influence, strength and anything else. It is important to fight it constantly and carefully so we can confront them as strongly as possible in our own local ways. Stop thinking they care about us, the people. They don’t. Learn to get along with your neighbor even though you can’t love her.

    I allowed myself to hope that Obama meant what he said. I will never make that mistake again with anyone. He is as bad as the neocons say he is. I think worse as he is very dangerous.

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