11 June 2010

More Great Moments in Photog Hosted by Boston.com 

The vague suggestions that we're possibly "wasting our resources" by trying to save these creatures concealed beneath euthanasia pleas are particularly disgusting. Yes, many will not survive the release back to the wild, but some will. They ought to be cleaned and released [AND MONITORED, that's pretty easy and BP ought to pay for that too] and given the chance to flourish.

[update] An addendum to the comment on our state bird:

The most disgusting thing about this disaster we're experiencing is that everything comes down to basic material reconciliations about costs.

Our state government waits for authorizations to build barriers against oil (barriers I don't necessarily think are a good idea, but that's another post) based on whether or not someone will pay us back to do it. Our federal government reassures us that BP will pay for everything at some point. BP worries about dividend payments to pensioners in London. And on and on and on.

We already know that it's a zero sum game for available "resources" to plug Macondo, clean up the residual effects, and compensate the various victims of this disaster.

Our lives and our culture, our natural treasures: these things have no "price." They represent the very definition of infinity. All the money in the world won't make this right. This is not a zero sum game. For all of us here this is an infinity game. Pour everything that exists into it and respect our way of life. That's why we save pelicans goddammit.

Time Killing Game of the Week 

Because it can't be oil all the time. Here's an old feature that I always loved searching for:

Play Super Mario Bros., but instead of playing as Mario use some of your other favorite Nintendo characters. The best part is that you get to use their "weapons" too.

10 June 2010

Moratorium Now! 

I beg you take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster.

Our nation's (and England's) minds have proven ourselves unequal to the task of taking on a giant gusher of oil at the seabed near our Gulf Coast. As a government we have proven ourselves unequal to the task of even accurately determining the scope of this disaster. As a resilient Louisiana population repeatedly harassed by weather, indifference, and hostility we have stood strong in the past.

The wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita brought the outrage and organization of locals in the face of federal indifference, but we are now an abused wife who begs the police to just leave her husband alone. Our state leaders are literally begging the federal government to get out of the way and let us kill ourselves. Our elected officials are begging to lose the greatest part of our "Gret Stet" that exists south of the Pine Curtain that separates us from East Texas/South Arkansas/West Mississippi.

Will Saletan expressed the problem pretty simply today:
Of all the lessons we can learn from the BP fiasco, the simplest, and the first we should apply to offshore-drilling laws, is this: Don't open any holes you can't close. If the well site is too deep for humans to reach, drill a simultaneous relief well so you can plug a blowout promptly. If a relief well is too expensive, don't drill at all. Or you can keep robots on hand to shut down leaks. But they'll have to be better robots than the ones we're now watching.

Today's laws don't come anywhere near this standard.

We shouldn't drill for one more drop of [dangerous semi-deep] oil anywhere near our coast until the following things happen:

1. We absolutely must know what caused this disaster. This moratorium shall not end until we at least have adequately explained the proximate causes of the explosion. This really shouldn't be a very difficult task. However, this must be a public process where criminals are prosecuted and liabilities are determined.

2. Regulatory frameworks and agencies responsible for oversight must be overhauled. There must be public investigation by appropriate governmental bodies to determine their failures and other non-proximate causes of the explosion. Until these are determined and corrected we should not drill in the [dangerous semi-deep] waters off our nation's coast lines.

3. No company lacking the resources to pay for the cleanup and damages associated with black swan events shall be where the buck stops on any future drilling. If a rig operator can't either pay on their own for damages associated with these events (most can't), then they must be under contract by companies that can (most are).

4. Relief wells must be drilled simultaneously with any [truly deep, highly dangerous] production wells until we have some scientific, demonstrated proof that wellheads in deep water can be capped in some agreed upon, fixed amount of time (I'll say less than two weeks on this one, but I'm all ears).

5. With training and drilling funded by "lease fees" we must have some sort of paid National Guard-style spill response who who can be called up on a moment's notice on the responsible party's dime to react to future disasters.
We make [response] decisions years before we need to and we maintain a command structure and we train community teams and we do yearly drills and and we obtain and maintain the materials we need and if the Oil Industry wants to drill or produce offshore, then they pay for it all. Now. Before they do anything else, and as part of their permitting, they get this done.

That's it! How hard will this be? Well, the kind of moratorium I'm calling for will probably take a pretty good long time. In the current world where we're met by indifference and occasional hostility by our federal government this would be devastating to the Louisiana economy.

Of course Oil and Gas Production has wreaked havoc on our commercial fishing industry, our tourism and service industries, our public health, our environment, and has devastated our natural protections against nature's wrath, but it's been so goooooood to us. All that income and all those jobs are very important. I am being sarcastic, but only as a way to make myself feel better. Those jobs and all that money is important. We don't need a divorce from oil and gas, we need a truly mutually beneficial relationship.

How do we mitigate the economic disaster that might come with a truly effective drilling moratorium that satisfies the above demands?

Doug Brinkley stole my idea when he "leaked" last night that the Obama administration is apparently preparing a major TVA-style wetlands reclamation project. This would be step 2 on a gigantic effort to offset job losses and business closures that happen as a result of a drilling shut down that affects most of the oil industry in our fine state.

I don't know if this is true or likely, but I do know that in the moratorium scenario that I am suggesting that a project of this nature will be necessary not just for our state's short-term economic survival, but also for our long-term physical and environmental well-being. It is hugely important an effort of this nature is pushed through Congress quickly. Special sessions through Independence Day weekend are in order for this. Money needs to flow down for this immediately for projects. We already have a great organization that can put a commission like this in touch with several "boots on the ground" projects that need workers. They're called America's Wetland Foundation.

This should all be funded by O&G royalties. As long as oil exists in our Gulf and along other coasts, they will come to drill it. They should pay us for the resources and protect us from the risk. It's a pretty simple proposition in those terms.

The political climate is right for this now. Hundreds of billions of dollars need to be earmarked and poured into this immediately. Money needs to be into the economy before the relief well is drilled. This needs to start now, and the President needs to put the Congress on it immediately.

Step one into the economic disaster mitigation effort is even simpler. Vast unemployment benefits to rig workers and oilfield services retailers/service providers need to start right now. We are in a moratorium and much of this work has always been impermanent. Taxpayers need to pay some of it while a moratorium happens. We can try and fail to bill BP for it sometime in the distant future.

The big thing to remember and accept and prepare for is that this is going to hurt a lot. We can't get past that, but we need to make some changes so that we have a future. We have to do it now. And we can't drill anymore until we protect ourselves.

Left out of this post due to length and laziness:
Thoughts on how to help our fishing industry hold over until they can have their lives back.
Lengthy exposition on how an economic "reboot" could end up being much better for our state, and how oil will eventually go away so there are some silver linings to this disaster changing our relationship to the O&G industry.
Another lengthy exposition on how an effectively implemented moratorium that truly makes drilling safer and regulatory agencies more effective could actually help to encourage other states to allow more drilling off their coastlines and thus increase our production of oil and "reduce our dependence on foreign oil."
Long quotes from The Earl of Louisiana about oil and gas and how our state is like a foreign country.

Bonus MUSIC/COMEDY, Booming with style!


Draft is in the hopper. In the meantime, this is what's turned up on an image search on google for "Louisiana oil."

07 June 2010

Worst Case Scenario Just Got A Lot Worse. 


Oh shit! Some other oil rig is leaking too. I thought these wells were safer than shipping oil in tankers through our Gulf??

In other ME news: I'm going down to check out oiled beaches this weekend. I've got an old friend in town who evacuated New Orleans before Katrina to Lafayette. He eventually moved to Baltimore to earn his masters in BME. He's back for a few days and we've decided we need to see this shit to get to know a sense of scope of it.

Future Reading: I make the case for a major moratorium on drilling off of the coast of the Gret Stet. Planning this post for Wednesday/Thursday.

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