- It's common practice in America. A government-Wall Street
cabal caused the financial crisis and subsequent fallout. Now debated financial
reform is a stealth scheme to let bankers self-regulate. Rogue Democrats
rammed through health reform to ration care and enrich corporate providers.
Defense, technology, and related firms profit hugely from permanent wars,
and a regulatory-free Washington - energy industry alliance lies at the
root of the Gulf disaster, by far America's greatest ever environmental
calamity, worsening daily with no fail-safe, or perhaps any, way to stop
- It's too big even for the major media to ignore - to
wit, on May 15, New York Times writer Justin Gillis headlined, "Giant
Plumes of Oil Found Forming Under the Gulf of Mexico," saying:
- Alarming reports show "Scientists are finding enormous
oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large
as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery"
shows that BP and the Obama administration lied about the incident's severity,
and they're still lying.
- According to University of Georgia researcher Samantha
Joye, "There's a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative
to" what's visible on the surface, the tip of a big and growing iceberg,
this one containing oil. "There's a tremendous amount of oil in multiple
layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column."
- Worse still, it's depleting Gulf oxygen, prompting fears
about killing sea life in the effected areas and permanently destroying
the livelihood of area fisherman who supply 20% of the nation's supply.
- Already since April 20, oxygen levels are down 30%, a
pace that if maintained "could draw (it) down to very low levels that
are dangerous to animals in a couple of months. This is alarming."
- Even The Times admits the daily flow may be as high as
80,000 barrels (3.4 million gallons or the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez
spill around every three days). Yet the Obama administration and BP still
claim only 5,000 barrels a day, and company officials won't let scientists
use sophisticated instruments to measure the output more accurately on
the ocean floor. Clearly they have something to hide, but there's no way
to suppress the growing ecological devastation once clear evidence substantiates
- The National Institute for Undersea Science head, Ray
Highsmith, worries that rapid oxygen depletion may create huge dead zones,
especially on the seafloor. He called this:
- "a new type event, and it's critically important
that we really understand it, because of the incredible number of oil platforms
not only in the Gulf of Mexico but all over the world now. We need to know
what these events are like, what their outcomes can be, and what can be
done to deal with the (inevitable) next one."
- Despite industry and administration denials, these type
events are foreseeable, often preventable, or at least their severity under
proper regulatory scrutiny, what's not in place nor in prospect with enough
teeth to matter. The Interior Department's Mineral Management Service (MMS)
long ago left industry giants free to pollute and spill, at most assessing
occasional pocket change fines.
- In the weeks preceding the Gulf incident, numerous red
flags were apparent but ignored. On May 10, Science Insider writer Richard
Kerr headlined, "Gulf Spill: Did Pesky Hydrates Trigger the Blowout?
- "Methane-trapping ice of the kind that has frustrated
the first attempt to contain (the spill) may have been the root cause of
the blowout....according to University of California Berkeley Professor
Robert Bea (head of the school's Center for Catastrophic Risk Management),
who has extensive access to BP plc documents on the incident. (If so),
the US oil and gas industry would have to tread even more lightly"
in its offshore search for energy.
- With 55 years experience assessing risks, Bea said "there
was concern at this location for gas hydrates. We're out to the (water
depth) where it ought to be there." The deeper the water, the greater
the pressure, and according to Bea, gas hydrates likely contaminated the
cement encasing the well.
- Halliburton knew the risk that let natural gas shoot
up a riser pipe and explode, but claimed a new chemical cement would be
resistant to methane hydrate-caused damage. Bea, however, believes it was
tainted with the same slushy gas hydrate that scuttled BP's plan to contain
the spill with a giant dome and may frustrate other attempted solutions,
no matter what company officials claim.
- He explained the chemicals used likely emitted enough
heat to thaw gases from their methane hydrate form that shot them up the
bore and riser. Concrete well plugs should have blocked them, but the final
one wasn't installed.
- The explosion followed a seawater geyser shooting 240
feet in the air, then a second eruption of mud, gas and water. Its gas
component ignited, and afterwards a firestorm, uncontainable because the
blowout preventer failed.
- On May 14, John Byrne's Raw Story article titled, "Oil
spill could go on for years, experts say" cites a worst case scenario
from two of them. According to Matthew Simmons, retired investment bank
Simmons & Company chairman, specializing in "the entire spectrum
of the energy industry," BP and US military engineers have no idea
how to stop the flow, calling efforts to plug it a "joke."
- Incoming American Association of Petroleum Geologists
head David Resink addressed the enormity of the spill, saying:
- "You're talking about a reservoir that could have
tens of millions of barrels in it." At the current spill rate, it
"would take years to deplete," and already appears ten times
or more greater than earlier reports, now compounded by the administration
leaving BP in charge of cleanup efforts with no oversight of its work.
- Earlier the company was exempted from an environmental
impact study and spill contingency plan, both of which contributed to the
growing disaster. Now with a real emergency, untested blowout preventers
are still used, and no new regulations are expected or enforcement of existing
ones, despite hundreds of operating Gulf rigs (some in deeper waters than
Deepwater Horizon), any of which might leak, perhaps explode, and release
- In addition, none have remote-control shut-off switches,
an acoustic device that operates automatically to prevent small problems
from becoming greater, and the administration keeps granting "categorical
exclusions" (27 in total), exempting Big Oil from environmental impact
- The Center for Biological Diversity's Kieran Suckling
called it "inconceivable that MMS (regulators, aware of the worst
environmental disaster in US history, could) then rubber stamp new BP drilling
permits based on (its) patently false statements that an oil spill cannot
occur and would not be dangerous if it did."
- On May 15, Skytruth.org reported that the "COSMO-SkyMed
radar image taken yesterday is somewhat ominous," showing a 4,922
square mile slick, much larger than two days earlier, and that's only what's
visible on the surface. "And we think we've discovered an unrelated
leak from a nearby platform that was installed back in 1984. A small, dark
slick appears next to this platform on radar satellite images from April
26, May 8, and May 13" plus the latest one. It's not major but shows
a chronic unaddressed problem. In this case, one that needs to be checked
to assure it doesn't worsen.
- On May 11, Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum, Director of
its Energy Program, called on Congress to enact reforms, specifically HR
5214: Big Oil Prevention Act of 2010 "To require oil polluters to
pay the full cost of oil spills, and for other purposes." It would
increase their liability from a meaningless $75 million to $10 billion,
but, in fact, should legislate no limit - in other words, "Your Spill,
Your Bill," the entire cost with no government bailouts.
- Senator Lisa Murkowski (R. Alaska), introduced S. 3309,
making consumers liable for a like amount through an 8-cent per barrel
tax on domestic oil and 9 cents for imported.
- New regulations are vitally needed to require tested
blowout preventers, shut-off switches, MMS enforcement instead of rubber-stamping
industry demands, or perhaps shifting its responsibility to the EPA, OCHA,
or a new body, independent of industry officials and their dominance -
a tall order, but anything less assures new disasters compounding old ones.
- More still in the way of huge fines, denials of new leases,
making misconduct this grave a criminal offense, banning new drilling until
all new measures are in place and enforced, and prohibiting all new offshore
drilling, leasing, and permitting, especially in deep water because of
the unacceptable risks, now apparent.
- Slocum adds that "we should be aggressively developing
forms of renewable energy," the obvious solution not taken, but it's
"the only way to reduce the chances of a repeat of this nightmarish
disaster that gets worse by the day," with no end of it in sight no
matter what BP claims or does. It's an inveterate liar and can't be believed.
- As for its claiming a successful tube insertion drawing
oil to a surface ship, some healthy skepticism is in order. Most likely,
it's a PR stunt, not a solution to halt most oil from spilling, spreading,
and contaminating because no one's sure how to stop it.
- Slocum also urges car owners to boycott BP for at least
three months. The following link lets them pledge and comment: http://www.citizen.org/boycott-bp.
- It says "Send a clear message to BP by boycotting
its gas and retail store products. Don't spend a cent of your hard-earned
money to feed the bottom line of a corporation that has a sordid history
of negligence, willfully violates environment regulations, and is spewing
thousands and thousands of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico,"
that may cause permanent widespread contamination and an end to the way
of life for thousands area residents.
- Chemical Dispersants - Solving or Compounding the Disaster?
- Environment scientists fear using them poses more risks
than solutions, and according to the EPA:
- "Dispersants have not been used extensively in the
United States because of possible long term environment effects, difficulties
with timely and effective application, disagreement among scientists and
research data about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and toxicity
- It's why Defenders of Wildlife Richard Charter (a marine
biology expert) says using them is "a giant experiment (because their)
chemical toxicity (in) many ways is worse than oil."
- BP is using two Corexit dispersants, not rated effective
or safe for marine life, yet EPA approved them, risking far greater ecological
- For competitive reasons, Corexit won't disclose what's
in them, but a worker safety sheet for one says it includes 2-butoxyethanol,
associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems at high doses.
- Mixtures of solvents, surfactants and other additives,
they work by breaking up an oil slick's surface tension to make it more
water soluble, according to the National Academy of Sciences. But once
dispersed, they generally sink or stay suspended in deep water, while treated
oil can collect on the seafloor where shellfish and other organisms feed,
in turn become food for other sea life, then humans.
- What fish and animals eat, we do, including all toxins
they ingest. It's why the National Academy of Sciences warns about "insufficient
understanding of the fate (and effects) of dispersed oil in aquatic ecosystems,"
whatever the benefits like preventing less of it contaminating coastlines.
- Because of the spill's size over a vast area, BP has
available around one-third of the world's dispersant supply, so imagine
the amount toxicity to be unleashed, with its clear risks to sea life and
humans. Former University of Alaska marine conservation professor Richard
Steiner and other experts wonder how much the public is being deceived
by coverup and denial. The combination of oil and dispersant toxins will
kill millions of organisms they contaminate, what Richard Charter explains
- "You are trying to mitigate the volume of the spill
with dispersant, but the price you pay is increased toxicity," or,
in fact, making a horrific disaster worse.
- Dispersants also endanger coral reefs, several within
reach of the spill, including Flower Bank Gardens 75 - 115 miles off Louisiana
and Texas, and Florida Middle Grounds off the Florida panhandle with their
rich diversity of marine life.
- As for BP and the Obama administration, dispersant use
is all gain and little pain, the idea being to break up as much oil as
possible, let it sink, be out of sight and declare success, when, in fact,
we may end up with a far greater catastrophe that's our problem, not theirs.
That's how a business-government cabal works, stealing our wealth, civil
liberties, and health for profit and dominance while claiming they're on
- A Final Comment
- On April 30, Defenders of Wildlife Richard Charter issued
the following statement, along with DW's executive VP Jamie Rappaport Clark,
hoping the Gulf disaster is a wake up call to halt dangerous drilling and
protect the environment.
- "In a catastrophe that imperils the entire Gulf
Coast (and perhaps beyond), offshore oil drilling has again proven to be
unreliable and unsafe. As officials gamble with untested means to stop
the flow, oil continues to gush into the Gulf and move towards our beaches,
coastal communities, wildlife habitat and fisheries. Wildlife refuges and
estuaries in Louisiana, Mississippi, (Alabama), and possibly the coast
of Florida, along with thousands of migrating birds, sea turtles, whales
and dolphins, river otters and many other species lie potentially in the
path of the spill. The extent of the environmental and economic impacts
of the spill have yet to be seen, but clearly raise grave concerns for
any expansion of drilling off of our coasts in the future."
- DW also said since 2006, Gulf rigs have experienced 509
fires, including nine major ones that killed at least two people and seriously
injured another dozen, according to the Minerals Management Services. With
this type record and the current disaster, tolerating operations this hazardous
endanger the environment, humanity, and all planetary life. If that's not
reason enough to stop them, what is?
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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