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31 July 2010

Follow the bouncing ban 

So the House recently passed an amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Melancon, to lift the moratorium on deepwater drilling. Brief summary from WDSU here.

Now Mr. Prado, the progenitor of this fine blogus space, has made it pretty clear that he is in favor of a moratorium. Whereas I understand his arguments, my personal jury is still out. This is partly due to my current residence, which happens to be in one of those cheese-laden middly western states where the politically vocal are typically wackos - be it on the left or the right. I'll leave it at that for now.

So this vote is being used for fodder on both sides of LAs upcoming Senate race. Melancon's amendment drew bipartisan support and will likely help him with those against the ban, but Vitter is already out in the press calling it weak. Touting the strictness of Scalise's measure, Vitter was also quick to point out that the LA Oil and Gas Association was against it. He's even bringing out the specter of Pelosi.

“This amendment is nothing more than sleight of hand, otherwise it would have never gotten the vote of staunch drilling opponent Nancy Pelosi," Vitter said.

On no he didn't. Gotta give it to him, Vitter sure knows how to hit those sound bites.

29 July 2010

TKGOTW 

I'm out of town again this weekend. I have a short day at work tomorrow and then off to New Orleans to celebrate my uncle's 60th year in the Jesuit order. Maybe Ahquoi will hold it down for a few days, because I don't think I'll be posting.

Here's your game. Explore your surroundings with paint balls in order to complete each level.

When you're done with all that, read Oyster's latest post at the Lens.

28 July 2010

Wellheads in shallow water are also very difficult to cap 

Stopping leaks ain't easy. And it always seems to take longer than initially expected.

According to the Coast Guard, it will take crews 10 to 12 days to plug a spewing wellhead that is leaking over 30 barrels of oil per day near Barataria Bay.

Although officials had been optimistic that the flow from the abandoned well could have been capped by today, that date has been pushed back.


What's 30 barrels a day anyway?

Oil disappearing cont'd 

If you spent any time watching, listening to, or reading news today, you may be confused that all is well again in the Gulf of Mexico today. As I quoted yesterday, our local media hasn't helped much. The somewhat pervasive perception that now that the well isn't spilling anymore everything is just peachy keen is difficult to avoid.

So it was refreshing again to see Mother Jones investigator Mac McClelland bring everything into focus again today.

"Lower part past the barrier untouched with globs of oil that washed up last night," she said. By "untouched," she means by cleanup crews, and that "barrier" she's talking about is the one the press isn't allowed past. I sent another text to Drew Wheelan, who's also in Southwestern Louisiana, doing bird surveys for the American Birding Association, asking him how big the biggest tar mat on Grand Terre—the scene of those now famous horrifying oiled-bird photos—is. "20 feet by 15," he said. "But bigger ones submerged slightly."

If I managed to find that much oil with my BlackBerry without getting dressed or leaving the house, let's hope Thad Allen, who is quoted in the article as saying, "What we're trying to figure out is where is all the oil at and what can we do about it," can locate some more with the staff and craft of the United States Coast Guard at his disposal.


The Picayune has the night's comprehensive list for Louisiana oil sightings today. I guess they found some after all. The question is what the hell anyone is going to do about it?

I guess our governor could demand that someone just throw some rocks in the water. It has to be more effective than sand berms, right?

Nah, not really, maybe worse really...

Gov. Bobby Jindal said this: "No one can convince us that rocks in the water are more dangerous than oil. That is absolutely ridiculous. The only people who believe that are the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., who can't see the oil, smell the oil or touch the oil."

...

The governor knows full well that since the day the rock idea was broached by Jefferson Parish politicians, the foremost authorities on Louisiana's coastal ecosystem have come out against it. These are not Washington bureaucrats. They are men and women who have long lived and worked in coastal Louisiana; many of them are natives. They have spent their lives becoming expert on how the system functions, why it has been crumbling and what must be done to save what is left.


*Please read that whole delicious column*

In equally sad news about the general state of things, I had the misfortune of hearing the last bit of this interview with BP's new CEO on NPR this morning on the way to work. Dudley:


"It's a very restorative body of water . . . that's how [Louisianians] feel as well. . . . The Gulf will restore itself."

Listen to the whole thing here:



To be sure, Dudley hedges through that last bit with reassurances that "BP will still be here for years," but in the context of the rest of the interview it sounds more like a threat related to the fact that we need them to be here for years in order to keep drilling oil and holding our economy hostage:

"There are people along the Gulf Coast that think that because we capped the well, then we're going to pack up and leave — that's not the case," he said. "We'll be there for years. We'll have offices across the Gulf Coast."

Dudley acknowledged that safety measures that Hayward introduced three years ago upon assuming the post of CEO were not implemented fast enough. He vowed to ensure that they become a key part of BP.

"There's no question with this accident we have to up the trajectory on this dramatically," he said. "And that's what we will be doing."

But BP's safety record might hinder future exploration. Legislation before Congress would prevent companies with poor safety records from getting new licenses for exploration for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dudley said such actions would have a negative effect.

Vitty cries Death Panel 

How dare the FDA make a science-based recommendation

Our boy Vitter is doing everything he can to rack up the headlines these days. Who cares that it was an independent advisory panel of medical experts that voted 12 to 1 that the drug's limited benefits were far outweighed by the risks to liver health, and that its not even a final binding decision. The bastards.

(Note: Tried looking this up at FDA.gov, but no dice. Did find this story out of boston that mentions more details about the panel decision, including how it is only regarding a very specific breast cancer type and only in conjunction with chemo and another med.)

27 July 2010

Wikileaks 

The only reason I mention Wikileaks is because I really do think it's important to make the point that the major obstacle stopping big news organizations from serving the same purpose that Wikileaks does is that big news organizations are gigantic pussies. The New York Times, Washington Post, et al have all the resources to provide exactly the same function, but are scared to do so because of silly concerns like "access" and advertisers. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

Julian Assange and his krewe really expose this weakness to the rest of us. Whatever that means for the future of journalism is beyond me.

Gulf Oil Has Disappeared? 

I don't share the optimism of LSU scientist Ed Overton.

Because of the rate that oil is breaking down, Overton believes oil will stop washing ashore in two to three months, instead of the six months he originally predicted. Then, plankton will eat the bacteria, which will return to the food chain.

"I'm cautiously optimistic this time next year, this will be a bad, sad memory," said Overton.


Besides the whole, "we don't really know how the deployment of a third of the world's total supply of oil dispersant into our Gulf will affect it," I'm struggling to see how it's possible in six months that this will all be little more than an unpleasant memory. Ask Alaska.

Also, read the American Zombie about his trip out to the Gulf on Friday.

[update more or less immediately after posting] From today's Advocate, Where the hell did all the oil go anyway?

128 million to 219 million gallons of oil leaked from the well.

...

"What we’re trying to figure out is where all the oil is at and what can we do about it," retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday. "There is still a lot of oil that’s unaccounted for."

The oil is "definitely out there" Allen said, but officials are having a difficult time finding it.

...

Allen said that another reason oil may be hard to detect is that it may be "slightly below the surface" of the water depending on the temperature and time of day.

But most people fear that the oil is far below the surface and they don’t know where it will turn up. A group of Florida researchers have maintained that there are miles and miles of oil plumes on the floor of the Gulf.


Read that whole article, it's pretty good and was in my head when I started the above post, I just neglected to link and quote it.

26 July 2010

"We are united, however..." 

Accelerated revenue sharing gaining momentum

From Walter at the Independent comes this alert to a bipartisan letter led by Sen. Landrieu and Sen. Murkowski of Alaska asking for accelerated royalty revenue sharing for oil-producing states. 'Bout damn time. They are hoping to fit it into the upcoming watered-down climate legislation. The Ind quotes a quite telling portion of the letter:
Each of us and our constituents hold varying views on offshore energy production in the federal waters seaward of our states. We make no collective statement on such production — some of us would favor it and some of us would not necessarily favor it. We are united, however, in our position that any such production in federal waters must include a program in which affected coastal states and coastal political subdivisions are entitled to a share of the federal revenues resulting from such production.

The rest of the story and a link to the full letter

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