Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plumes of unusual size?

Tony Hayward doesn't think they exist
VENICE, La. -- BP PLC CEO Tony Hayward on Sunday disputed claims by scientists that large undersea plumes have been set adrift by the Gulf oil spill and said the cleanup fight has narrowed to surface slicks rolling into Louisiana's coastal marshes.

During a tour of a company staging area for cleanup workers, Hayward said BP's sampling showed "no evidence" that oil was suspended in large masses beneath the surface. He didn't elaborate on how the testing was done.

"The oil is on the surface," Hayward said. "Oil has a specific gravity that's about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity."

Scientists from several universities have reported plumes of what appears to be oil suspended in clouds stretching for miles and reaching hundreds of feet beneath the Gulf's surface.
This rodent is still in charge of the disaster response operation.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shorter Obama

I came here to "Grand Island" today to tell you a little more about how awesome our historic response has been so far. We still really really want to stop that leak and we've got this Nobel Prize winning dude ready to shove his medal right in the hole if need be. Please don't get too scared if Mommy and Daddy fight about stuff while we try to decide what you need. We finally agreed to let you buy some islands yesterday and we're trying to get you some more boom too. So hang tight. Please enjoy your beaches and shit while you still can. Check out this awesome website we made. And, hey, call me. I mean that. Peace.

Story here

Still waiting for Obama

Here are two quick discussion items.

1) Newell Normand wants to take your blood.
This holiday weekend, local deputies will be trying something new in the battle against drunk drivers this holiday weekend.

It's a crackdown being called the ''No Refusal Initiative,' being tried in Jefferson, St. Tammany, Lafourche, and St. Charles Parishes. It could lead to an uncooperative drunk suspect to be held down for a mandatory blood test. Prosectors noticed more and more drivers refused to take the breath test, they would take a license suspension but get no convicted for DWI. Under this plan, police will call a judge to obtain a search warrant, which allows for a blood test down at the jail, according to Sheriff Newell Normand. "At that point and time the court order would allow us to take the test, without the driver agreeing to that, at that time," Normand said.
I'm suspicious. We all know that Steven Segal must feed at every full moon. Someone should ask Normand about that.

2) Pierre Thomas is pissed. I wonder why?
It's hard to see how Thomas could expect to get the kind of money (Steven) Jackson got -- especially considering how much money the Saints already have tied up in their other running back, Reggie Bush.

Obama making me sit and wait all day

Presser already an hour late. Here's an annoying quote I just read from the President as he picked up tar balls off the beach this afternoon.
"These are the tar balls that everyone's been talking about,'' he said. "Obviously, until we can stop the flow (of oil from the well) we've got problems.''
Um...stopping the leak is just the first of our problems. Problems do not go away while we're still swimming in oil.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chance to buy an island

T-P: Coast Guard approves building one part of state barrier island plan at BP expense; Corps approves more, but says state must pay for that part


Setback Delays ‘Top Kill’ Effort to Seal Leaking Oil Well in Gulf

Discussion at The Oil Drum indicates that they might have to try a Junk Shot on top of the Top Kill operation.

Collecting Heads

First to go: Elizabeth Brinbaum of MMS

At today's presser, President Obama took great pains to inform us that people who charge that he has been "detached" from the crisis "don't know the facts". Later when he was asked whether Birnbaum resigned or was fired he answered, “You’re assuming it was a firing,” Mr. Obama said. “I don’t yet know the circumstances.” Maybe the President just didn't know the facts there. But if we can't say he didn't have the facts as a result of his detachment, what do we assume next? Dishonesty? Stupidity?

Maybe it's just confusion. Maybe BP wrote Birnbaum's resignation letter for her in pencil and she traced it over in pen as per standard MMS operating procedure. Could be the President wasn't prepared to include that explanation in the rest of that condescending bullshit lecture he just gave us.

Obama talking

Watch here

Video is preceded by an "Oil of Olay" commercial. I shit you not.

Update: Well that was a giant plume of depressing disappointment.

Speaking of which
NEW ORLEANS — Marine scientists have discovered a massive new plume of what they believe to be oil deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, stretching 22 miles from the leaking wellhead northeast toward Mobile Bay, Alabama.

The discovery by researchers on the University of South Florida College of Marine Science's Weatherbird II vessel is the second significant undersea plume recorded since the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20.

The thick plume was detected just beneath the surface down to about 3,300 feet, and is more than 6 miles wide, said David Hollander, associate professor of chemical oceanography at the school.

Hollander said the team detected the thickest amount of hydrocarbons, likely from the oil spewing from the blown out well, at about 1,300 feet in the same spot on two separate days this week.

Which we wouldn't have been able to see if BP had been better at plugging their media leak.

As BP makes its latest attempt to plug its gushing oil well, news photographers are complaining that their efforts to document the slow-motion disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials—working with BP—who are blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible. More than a month into the disaster, a host of anecdotal evidence is emerging from reporters, photographers, and TV crews in which BP and Coast Guard officials explicitly target members of the media, restricting and denying them access to oil-covered beaches, staging areas for clean-up efforts, and even flyovers.

Adorable BP nearly bailed out by David Vitter

I guess the important people really are untouchable.

This will not be the last attempt by a member of the Louisiana congressional delegation to save BP.

Adorable Lil' Liddy slapped on the wrist and sent on his way

I guess the important people really are untouchable.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How do ya like dem ersters, Mr. President?

Unfortunately Landrieu will have to think of something else to say.

Quick and fun BP facts

The BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response plan the MMS apparently traced with a pen before rubber stamping doesn't seem to have been thoroughly researched.

There's mounting evidence that federal regulators at the Minerals Management Service were paying zero attention to the oil industry, particularly when it came to authorizing oil spill response plans. Case in point: BP's Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico lists sea lions, seals, sea otters, walruses in its evaluation of how a spill might affect local wildlife. The problem? None of these critters live in the Gulf.

BP has a less than stellar health and safety record

..the Center for Public Integrity reports, the company was responsible for 97 percent of the worst violations cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration between June 2007 and February 2010.

But at least they approach it with a sense of humor.

Now The Daily Beast has obtained a document—displayed below—that goes to the heart of BP procedures, demonstrating that before the company’s previous major disaster—at a moment when the oil giant could choose between cost-savings and greater safety—it selected cost-savings. And BP chose to illustrate that choice, without irony, by invoking the classic Three Little Pigs fairy tale.

The white lines are tracers for facers of the aftermath

The scandals in the Minerals Management Service have been widely documented now for quite a few years. But since this report is directly related to the New Orleans and Lake Charles offices, now is as good a time as ever to revisit these issues.
The investigation also uncovered evidence of illegal drug use by at least two MMS employees in Lake Charles, and the use of federal e-mail accounts by 13 employees in Lake Charles and New Orleans to receive or forward pornographic images and links to Internet sites with pornographic videos.

One inspector even conducted four inspections of Island Operating Company oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico while he was negotiating and later accepting a job offer from the company.

One confidential source told investigators that some inspectors allowed oil and gas company personnel to fill out their own inspection forms, which would then be completed or signed by the inspector and turned in for review.

Actually what they said about the inspection forms the meth-fiending inspectors handed over to company reps was this.
Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week.

So this afternoon when we read that another BP subsidiary (The United States Coast Guard) has approved the "Top Kill" well-plugging scheme we had to wonder what color pen they used to do the tracing.

Also I found this video of one Top Kill operation attempted some years ago on Nickelodeon with unfortunate results.

Whatever happened to Moose, anyway?

Sit up and scream about it

These people say they're staging a "protest" in Jackson Square on Sunday, I guess, just in case anyone was wondering whether or not they disapproved of the oil in the Gulf? As always, I am highly dubious as to the point of such things beyond the obvious need some people have to go outside and call attention themselves and their mood. But if you see some value in it that I'm missing go right ahead.

BP's Rules BP's Schools

The Lens: Five years after Katrina, the return of disaster capitalism?
BP representative Hugh Depland said that while the company wasn’t sure exactly when more workers would be hired, the $239 billion company was spending “a lot of money, time and effort to bring this event to a close.” And to those worried restaurateurs facing rising prices for shrimp and oysters? In the words of fellow BP rep Randy Prescott: “Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.”

I wonder how much of America understands what an underwater dustbowl this event is. Do they know how big a hit the entire country's seafood supply has taken? Do they know what's happened to the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have depended on the bounty of the sea for generations? I'm guessing they have no idea. I'm guessing in less than a year we're going start hearing about how the desperate out of work people of Louisiana's coastal communities are "lazy" or "waiting for a government handout" when they should have been bootstrapping up their education.

Actually BP is already hinting at this. During Monday night's townhall meeting in St. Bernard, I was amazed to read this tweet from a reporter in attendance.
BP spokesman says " we are looking into getting people some extra college"
Perhaps they'll look into getting them some courses in "other places that have shrimp" That might be helpful. Whatever they have in mind, I hope they weren't planning on "getting people some extra college" at LSU. Pretty soon there won't be anything "extra" there to speak of.
LSU is expected by Monday night ot propose eliminating several academic degree programs and institutes ranging from the School of Library and Information Sciences to bachelor’s degrees in German and Latin.

The “Phase I” plan calls for closing the Louisiana Population Data Center, architecture’s Office of Community Preservation and others.

Also, state funding would be eliminated for the United States Civil War Center, the Center for French and Francophone Studies and the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History.

The proposals, which would save $3 million a year, come at a time of university budget cuts when more budgetary axing is anticipated in the summer of 2011.

This is what we've come to in this state; a "flagship" University that doesn't even teach Latin anymore. I mean, sure, who needs librarians anymore when we've got Job One around to direct people to essential information resources? I get that. But you'd think we'd at least want to pretend to value higher learning as a worthy pursuit unto itself. Surely our state tax dollars should be applied toward something a bit more elevated than a glorified technical college or, worse, some kind of outsourced corporate R & D arm, right?

BP grant money expected to finance dispersant research at LSU
Louisiana State University's School of the Coast and Environment will be the first recipient of a grant from BP under what could become a $500 million, 10-year program to gather scientific information about the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the response to the spill on the marine and shoreline environment of the Gulf of Mexico, BP officials announced Monday.
So not only are we providing oil industry chemists with an entire ecosystem on which to test the effects of their product, but we're also leasing our own scientists and equipment to them to do the research. Brilliant. Once again, a South Louisiana disaster zone finds itself a living laboratory for somebody else's experimental remedy. Anyone familiar with the state of Orleans Parish public schools should understand what that means. Every horror is its own "Vessel of Opportunity" for somebody. I hope the 4th and 5th generation fishermen of South Louisiana take advantage of the grand opportunity being afforded them now.

Spillcam is looking really weird tonight

Are they sure they have a handle on this Top Kill thing?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Iced tea gone. Moving to black coffee

Video stream shows oil plume getting darker


From Mac McClelland's Mother Jones article on BP's operation at Grand Isle:
So I call the Grand Isle police requesting a press liason, only to get routed to voicemail for "Melanie" with BP. I call the police back and ask why they gave me a number for BP; they blame the fire chief.

I reach the fire chief. "Why did the police give me a number for BP?" I ask.

"That's the number they gave us."



When I tell Chief Aubrey Chaisson that I would like to get a comment on Barbara's intimations—and my experience so far—that BP is running the show, he says he'll meet me in a parking lot. He pulls in, rolls down the window of his maroon Crown Victoria, and tells me that I can't trust the government or big corporations. When everyone saw the oil coming in as clear as day several days before that, BP insisted it was red tide—algae.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen speaking to the LA Times:
Asked if he trusted BP, Allen said:

"When I give them direction or the federal on-scene coordinator gives them direction, we get a response. I've got [BP Chief Executive] Tony Hayward's personal cellphone number. If I have a problem, I call him. Some of the problems we have had that we've worked through are more logistics and coordination issues. ... I trust Tony Hayward. When I talk to him, I get an answer.

Two Tweeter Tube items I have no links for at the moment

1) Obama is coming back to LA on Friday. Update: Item!

2) Apparently BP is going to kill the live Spillcam feed while it attempts its "Top Kill" operation. That surprises me. Surely they would want their heroic victory over the demon televised and recorded for all posterity, right? Update: Item!

Upperdate: Oh but the show must go on!

Monday, May 24, 2010

For the rest of your days you must dig a deeper hole

Mother Jones: “It’s BP’s Oil”.
The shoreline is packed with men in hats and gumboots and bright blue or white shirts. Nearly all are African-American, all hired from around New Orleans. They tell me they've been standing in these exact same spots for three days. It's breathtakingly hot. They rake the oil and sand into big piles; other workers collect the piles into big plastic bags, and still other workers take them to a plant where the sand is separated out and sent to a hazardous-waste dump and the oil goes on for processing. Then the tide comes in with more oil and everybody starts all over again. Ten dollars an hour. Twelve hours a day. When I joke with one worker that he should pocket the solid gobs of oil he's digging up to show me how far beneath the sand they go, he stops dead and asks me if BP's still trying to use the oil they all collect. "Aw, I knew it!"
I think Mr. Burns is running BP's operation right now. Also, if you'd like to go to work shoveling oil-sand into plastic bags for BP, you can apply at the Job One office on Canal Street. What they will tell you there is that you will need OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standards (HAZWOPER) certification if you want to be considered. If you do not have this certification and are interested in learning how to acquire it, Job One will write the words "HAZWOPER" and "google.com" on a slip of paper for you and send you to the nearest library.

Hair seaweed all around here*

The nutty and ineffective hair boom idea refuses to die. Kind of gross, really.



Somebody finally starts telling the Ixtoc story.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill has 'perfect precedent' in 1979 spill

More BP's rules

They've also bought a double handful of mainstream environmental groups. Just for back-up in case the coast guard stops following orders for some reason.

Probably should have just done this years ago

You know, Sinn Fein and all that.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sundayadvising them that the State of Louisiana was within its rights to rebuild barrier islands in order to combat the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Credit where it's due. The only people showing anything like real leadership at this point are Craig Taffaro, Billy Nungesser, Bobby Jindal, and now Caldwell. It's not every day you get to say that.

Morning Question

People really like to watch Spillcam. It's certainly more compelling TV than Treme anyway. Which one do you think they'll figure out how to cancel first?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Uh oh

Believe it or not, the oil gusher appears to have gone even more out of control.

Update: The linked post is largely speculative interpretation of images from Spillcam. May be that nothing has changed and we're still only dealing with the catastrophic horror we already knew about.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Getting drunk and playing live

March 2005 was a good time media-wise for local "hypersonic pop" band Testaverde. That month, Offbeat contributor Michael Welch gave them "my 2005 vote for New Orleans' best rock band" although the article in which he wrote that was themed around his repeated misunderstandings of or at least disagreements with the band members about their music.

That same month Rob Bryant interviewed the band for ANTIGRAVITY magazine. The AG online archives don't go back quite that far so we can't link to the issue here. Luckily a few print copies do, in fact, happen to be laying around from which we can excerpt the following bit,

RB: What is your favorite part about playing in Testaverde?

(Guitarist and vocalist) Joe: I don't know if have a favorite part. Maybe getting drunk and playing live. That may not be true but you can put that. We like getting drunk and playing live.

RB: Is it hard to get drunk and play live?
Joe: Yeah. I would prefer to play songs that are a little easier so that we could get more drunk than we do. For example, Kevin is our drummer, so he can't get that drunk because he's got to be tight. It can be somewhat of a challenge to play difficult music drunk, but it can be done.

RB: What kind of people would enjoy Testaverde?
Joe: Every kind of person you would come in contact with. Grandmas... babies...

RB: Young and old?
Joe: Yeah. Grandmas and babies.
(Then bassist) Eddie: Actually I think war-supporters would like our music because, well, nevermind. It is kind of furious, but then again it also has a sentimental side. Yeah, nevermind.

Five years later, and with a slightly different line-up, Testaverde plays its first post-Katrina show tonight at the Saturn Bar. Grandmas are welcome. The Saturn's policy on babies is less clear.

The true meaning of "shit happens"

Bob Herbert translates for us
The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.

The fact that 11 human beings were killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion (their bodies never found) has become, at best, an afterthought. BP counts its profits in the billions, and, therefore, it’s important. The 11 men working on the rig were no more important in the current American scheme of things than the oystermen losing their livelihoods along the gulf, or the wildlife doomed to die in an environment fouled by BP’s oil, or the waters that will be left unfit for ordinary families to swim and boat in.

This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter.
This is precisely why I find all the pooh-poohing that goes on of congressional hearings and criminal investigations puzzling. If we continue to let these "too big to fail" type criminals go unpunished for their crimes, then they truly are above the law. If you allow the cycle of "shit happens" to continue, then shit will keep happening to you. But we live in a time when everybody just wants the healing to begin, or something. Oh well.

The hair boom thing was bullshit too

Really, I'm shocked

This was always in that category of transparently stupid things that shouldn't get the attention they do save for the fact that the idea of them gives some people a chance to feel like they "contributed to the solution" by doing something easy like cutting their hair. And, for some reason, we give a high priority to making stupid lazy people feel better in relation to transmitting useful information.

Friday, May 21, 2010

BP's rules again

BP to EPA: We're gonna keep doing it anyway
BP has told the Environmental Protection Agency that it cannot find a safe, effective and available dispersant to use instead of Corexit, and will continue to use that chemical application to help break up the growing spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP was responding to an EPA directive Thursday that gave BP 24 hours to identify a less toxic alternative to Corexit -- and 72 hours to start using it -- or provide the Coast Guard and EPA with a "detailed description of the alternative dispersants investigated, and the reason they believe those products did not meet the required standards."

Yet again BP gets the final call on something that seems like it ought to fall under Federal jurisdiction. Interesting little system of government we've got working for us these days. Meanwhile Billy Nungesser and Bobby Jindal are still waiting for Corps approval to start dredging their (too late but what the hey) sand barrier. Is the Corps waiting for BP? Would anyone be surprised anymore?

The hierarchy at work here appears to be something like this.

New Federalism

I haven't checked. Is it too late to amend the Texas social studies textbook standards to include this information? Nevermind. It's probably in there already anyway.

Cake Wars

As with all great crises, this one is being hashed out through the universal language of expressive cake baking. Just this morning we learned that the Alaska office of the Minerals Management Service (the federal agency charged with safeguarding you against mishaps like the great Macando oil gusher) recently staged an office celebration with a "Drill Baby Drill" cake.

Now maybe that's a little shocking but since we've already learned that BP is currently ordering the US Coast Guard around, we aren't quite as surprised as we used to be. Here is a must-read NYT article about the entrenched conflicts of interest generated by leaving BP in charge of clean-up operations. The feds want BP to pay for everything, so BP gets to call all of the shots, and since they're paying they make they're decisions based at least in part on finding the best way to save themselves money.

Here is a video of "Plack-mines" Parish President Billy Nungesser complaining that the feds won't approve state plans to dredge sand for emergency oil barriers. Likely because BP doesn't want to have to pay for it.

Meanwhile, as we all know by now, the good people at Breaux Mart have hit back with a cake of their own. We showed it to you earlier this week but here is it again in case you missed it.

BP Cake

And here it is on a blog called Cakewrecks. And here it is on eater.com, Salon.com, DailyKos, the LA Times, God knows where else it's gone now. Oh it also made HumidCity which I think is pretty sweet.

I'm a little sad that this random picture I took in the grocery with my cell phone currently has 68,221 views while Michael Homan's brilliant short film Geauxjira has pulled in a respectable but paltry by comparison 1147. The good news is that all of this sets up the sequel Geauxjira vs Cake which we hope goes into production any day now.

Meanwhile, as your Friday Cat Blogging treat, please enjoy. Biscuit Watches Geauxjira.

Biscuit watching Geauxjira

Expect this one to make the cover Time Magazine sometime next month.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Motorist's advisory

About an hour ago Norman Robinson shared the following chilling message on Twitter.
Don't miss the hot seat this Sunday with Helena Moreno and James Perry.
Note that in order for this event to happen, we can expect Perry, Moreno, and Robinson to all three be using the roads at about the same time. If you're out driving yourself on Sunday please be aware of this hazard. If you don't have to travel during this time, it's best to just stay indoors. Preferably under something if possible.

Quote of the Day

Billy Nungesser:
"Everything that that blanket of oil is covering today will die," he said. "All of the bugs that the fish come in to eat, all of the critters in the marsh will die. And that marsh will die. There's no way to clean it up."

I know. That's harsh. I hate it too.

Hey, I know let's watch a movie! What do you want to see?

Spillcam is pretty popular today

But so is Geauxjira and it's got a happier ending.

Alright, which one of you killed Spillcam?

On Wednesday, Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts wrote a letter to Lamar McKay, chief executive of BP America, asking the company to make its real-time camera feed of the gulf oil spill publicly available.

BP has complied, and the feed is up at the Web site of the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which the Democratic lawmaker is chairman.

Now, the only problem is that the site’s servers are unable to handle the traffic. As of early this afternoon, the video was not viewable.

“We’re working around the clock as we speak to fix this,” said Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for Mr. Markey. “The enormous demand for this video means that it’s now taxing the servers.”
Well I, for one, am glad to see that they're "working around the clock" to clean up this unprecedented overloading of their website that nobody could have predicted. It will probably take a few months to get the relief server installed so we're open to any quick fix "Apollo 13" style remedies you can think of. I've tried lowering a large dome down over my monitor a few times to no avail. Next I may start throwing old tires at it.

Define "some"

BP: Oil spill worse than first estimated

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - BP conceded Thursday that more oil than it
estimated is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico as heavy crude washed
into Louisiana's wetlands for the first time, feeding worries and
uncertainty about the massive monthlong spill.

Mark Proegler, a spokesman for oil giant BP PLC, said a
mile-long tube inserted into a leaking pipe over the weekend is
capturing 210,000 gallons a day - the total amount the company and the Coast Guard have estimated is gushing into the sea - but some is still escaping. He would not say how much.

You see a few days ago, BP told us they were sucking 40 percent of the total flow through their crazy straw. At that time their estimated total was 210,000 gallons a day. My phone calculator says BP was claiming to suck 84,000 gallons per day but BP uses more sophisticated instruments than I do so I'm glad I waited a few days for them to tell me that they're actually sucking the full 210,000.

But now there's "some" left over. Anybody want to guess how much "some" there is?

Proegler said the 210,000 gallons - 5,000 barrels - has always been just an estimate because there is no way to measure how much is spilling from the seafloor.

There's no way to know how much. But we were getting 40 percent of it. But we were really getting more than that. But that's not all of it. And there's no way to know how much more. But it's some.

Whatever. I guess it really is BP's ocean. They broke it, they bought it, right?

Speaking of which, I'm pleased to see that EPA is stepping in (after a month) to demand that BP use a safer dispersant than the toxic Corexit they've been force-funneling into the Gulf as though it were a fraternity pledge on alcohol poisoning initiation night. Dambala astutely assumes that this probably means Nalco is pretty much out of the stuff anyway.

Lot of good it did too.
Oil is lapping on the Louisiana coast from Port Fourchon to Grand Isle, a Jefferson Parish official said.

Oil has also washed up on Elmer's Island off lower Jefferson Parish, a wildlife refuge and popular spot for bird-watching and beach camping, a Jefferson Parish official said.

Anybody got any more toxic waste you're trying to get rid of? Now would be the time to dump it into the Gulf. It won't clean up the oil either but at least you won't be ruining anything pristine.

"BP thinks it's their ocean"

Just following up on something I wrote at the end of an earlier post. I mentioned that I heard WWL reporters talking about Coast Guard officials witholding video of the oil leak apparently at BP's request. Here's the CBS report that verifies that statement.
Earlier Wednesday, (Congressman Ed)Markey demanded the broadcast so independent scientists could more accurately calculate the flow rate. He questioned why such data wasn't readily being made public.

"BP thinks it's their ocean," Markey said while chairing a House Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

Markey didn't stop with BP, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. He blasted the Coast Guard for what he described as letting BP call the shots.

Coast Guard officials were on a boat with BP contractors who stopped CBS News cameras from viewing an oily beach, and the Coast Guard - which is in charge of the investigation - admits it's had access to live video since Day One but wouldn't let Congress or the public see it, Attkisson reports.

This I wanted to pair with another story I shared in the same post about Coast Guard officers threatening to arrest reporters, again apparently on BP's orders, for attempting to film oil coming ashore in South Pass. I thought those two stories were jaw-dropping examples of the kind of power we've allowed corporate giants like BP to wield in our current climate of laissez-faire lawlessness.

But somehow I managed to obscure that point by shoving it in at the bottom of a messy post with a picture of a funny cake at the top.

Update: Just to demonstrate that I'm not the only genius around, C&L pairs the exact same stories in a similar post but writes more effectively about it.

Hold the phone...BP is making the rules???? Kind of hard to argue that we aren't a full-blown corporatocracy, when BP--that's British Petroleum--is leading the United States Coast Guard on this--and this is okay with a branch of our armed forces.

The British Petroleum are coming. We tried to send down General Jackson to stop them but he was already on their payroll.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sucking harder than BP's crazy straw

State Senator Robert Adley
The Senate Commerce Committee dispensed this afternoon with a bill that would have effectively shut down the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, putting an end to one of the session's most controversial proposals.
Adley described Tulane as "a billion-dollar industry that recruit out-of-state kids to come in and sue us."
We're real sorry BP got oil all over your icky corporate shield law, Bobby. Go find something to complain about other than those darn meddling kids.

Update: Besides Adley should know that Tulane is really all about recruiting out-of-state kids to come in and beat the crap out of us in baseball.

None of these pictures is of cake

Greenpeace pics from Chandeleur and Lower Plaquemines

via Mosquito Coast

Update: So happy to know that all the not-cake in those pictures is actually "very very modest"

Holy crap this has gone on for 30 days already

I knew there was a reason for that cake.

Go see Maitri for lots more links

BTW: Speaking of that cake, is anyone else reminded of the Lakeside Shopping Center's Katrina Christmas Village from 2005? Same kind of clever on a slightly smaller scale.

Afternoon oil digest (Please do not attempt to digest oil-tainted seafood)

BP Cake
Cake spotted in Breaux Mart grocery store on Magazine Street May 18, 2010

WWLTV: Local leaders concerned after oil sheen begins hitting Pass a Loutre

PLAQUEMINES, La. -- 20 miles down the Mississippi River from Venice at the mouth of South Pass where it meets the Gulf of Mexico, large patches of oil stain the beach. Bright, slimy stains cover nearby rocks where thousand of birds normally perch.

It is the arrival of the heavy oil at the coast that officials have dreaded.

Times-Picayune: Even underwater oil must be removed, La. officials warn

Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said Tuesday that an argument between EPA and NOAA over the validity of tests of the effects of dispersants in deep water call into question assurances by EPA and BP that the dispersants are safe. Barham said NOAA officials told him the ship's dispersant tests contained few useful samples and that the analysis would provide little useful information. EPA officials disputed NOAA's conclusions, he said.

"The use of sub-sea dispersants to combat the effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on our coast is an action that I am not able to give my support to," Barham said in a letter to David Rainey, BP America vice president for Gulf of Mexico exploration, requesting more sampling information. "While I understand the importance of mitigating the effects of this oil on our fragile wetlands to date, little or no substantive data has been provided to the state of Louisiana concerning the efficacy and risks associated with deep injection of dispersants."

The Atlantic: Why BP Won't Measure the Oil Spill
One potential motivator for the company's behavior may involve its unprecedented use of chemical dispersants. Responders have been spraying the dispersants across the oil slick and applying them underwater as well. The discrepancy between the volume measurements based on the surface slick and those gleaned from the underwater footage may mean that the dispersants are working, breaking the oil into distinct particles before it reaches the surface in slick form.

Funny thing about that. Now that BP is sucking some portion of the flow up through a crazy straw hooked to a boat, they're quite happy to claim they're getting 40 percent of it. Although that figure depends on which estimate of the flow rate you believe. From the above-linked T-P article:
Some scientists have said they believe the estimate is absurdly low, and several members of Congress continued to question it Tuesday, based on new videos released by BP on Tuesday. "This new leak video deserves a new look by independent scientists," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. "BP brags about collecting more than a 1,000 barrels of oil a day from their new siphon technique, but they still don't know how many thousands of barrels they are missing."

Here's a nice rant from Black Gulf including a timeline of the misinformation regarding the severity of the leak. It concludes
This list is far too short.
Yet, here is major media this morning, controlled by Big Energy and Big War, ready to gobble the magic pipe (story) and we can all rest easy. The bronze statue to CNN for this prize would be pornographic and distasteful. Too distasteful for description here. I leave it to your imagination, dear reader, to conjure the image I am thinking of.
Meantime, won't we at least ask someone for video footage of the allegedly staunched flow before we gargle and spit this information onto the public?
Funny thing about that, of course, is the newly released video shows us..
A new video has emerged revealing heavy plumes of oil slowly seeping out from the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, suggesting BP oil leak bigger than previously thought. This is a leak that is suspiciously close to the location of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which exploded on April 20. The plumes may be evidence of a spill that is far larger in scale than previously thought, and is certainly cause for much concern.

Last night I was half listening to WWLTV's newscast when I swear I heard somebody say in passing that the Coast Guard has had access to underwater footage of the leak for some time now but had not released it to the public until BP was ready. That seemed a little weird to me. But not quite as disturbing as this.
When CBS tried to film a beach with heavy oil on the shore in South Pass, Louisiana, a boat of BP contractors, and two Coast Guard officers, told them to turn around, or be arrested.

"This is BP's rules, it's not ours," someone aboard the boat said. Coast Guard officials told CBS that they're looking into it.

As the Coast Guard is a branch of the Armed Forces, it brings into question how closely the government and BP are working together to keep details of the disaster in the dark.

This WWL story from the same broadcast wonders if the Federal response to the leak "feels like deja vu" with regard to the flood of 2005. Yeah a little. Although I guess BP would tell you they're pretty satisfied with the service they've gotten to this point.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Heisenberg's principle of dead turtles

Now it's the act of looking for them that's killing them.
There have been 162 sea turtle strandings along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico between the Texas/Louisiana border and the panhandle of Florida this month, which could be triple the average number of dead turtles found on those beaches during May in the past five years, a NOAA senior scientist said today.

While necropsies -- animal autopsies -- of 156 of the turtles are not complete and the turtle corpses were not visibly oiled, the deaths seem linked to the spreading pool of Gulf of Mexico oil offshore from the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, said Steve Murawski, NOAA Fisheries director of science programs, during a teleconference with reporters.

That compares to an average stranding rate of 47 for the past five years, he said.

"The stranding rate is significantly higher than background levels," Murawski said. "I have to caution that a little bit, though, because of the increased effort of looking for turtles now, compared to before the spill."

Also, and in no way possibly related, Corexit banned in UK

I've been sick all weekend

Nothing too serious. I'd say it was probably some bad seafood except that I'm afraid the growing "clap louder" for the seafood to be safe to eat crowd will bludgeon me to death with ineffective oil boom. Anyway I took advantage of the down time to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy which I thought would be bleak enough to take my mind off all the happy news. Unfortunately the book was more stupid than bleak and now I'm more angry than anything.

Oh well. So how's the oil? Did BP magically suck it all away yet?

I don't know why he does it

I don't know why he does it

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Copy-Cat blogging

Have to call it "copy-cat" because Adrastos already has a similar picture up this morning.

Anyway, I thought it germane to point out that since Steve Theriot says here that his decision to sue the entire internet is really just an attempt to find and "address the concerns" of one or two individuals, I may have figured out who he's looking for.

Last week, I caught Biscuit trying to log on to NOLA.com

NOLA.com kitty

I know some of what goes on in those comment threads can be pretty gruesome but I sincerely hope Steve Theriot doesn't sue my cat for trying to read the news. Otherwise he might be forced to spend his time online trolling for kitty porn and that's just not right. He's still a baby, after all.

Phantom test

Rig explodes at 10:00 PM. Data is only current until 3:00 PM. During that seven hours somebody made a fateful decision based on... what?
(Rig workers' attorney Tony) Buzbee said that when Halliburton showed BP PLC and Transocean officials the results of the pressure tests that suggested gas was leaking, the rig workers were put on "standby." BP is the rig operator and leaseholder.

Buzbee said one of his clients told him the "Transocean and BP company people got their heads together," and 40 minutes later gave the green light.

The attorney said the Halliburton crew members were not shown any new test results.

"They said they did their own tests, and they came out Oklahoma," he said. "But with the phantom test that Transocean and BP allegedly did, there was no real record or real-time recordation of that test."

Buzbee suggested that BP and Transocean had monetary reasons for ignoring the earlier tests.

"The facts are as they are," he said. "The rig is $500,000 a day. There are bonuses for finishing early."

The "missing seven hours" business could get interesting. And no, I don't mean interesting in the fun "look what's in Ray Nagin's email" way. Nothing Nagin lied about ever resulted in eleven horrifying deaths and the destruction of an irreplaceable coastal estuary.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

They are using the wrong kind of sweetener on the iced tea

NYT: Less Toxic Dispersants Lose Out in BP Oil Spill Cleanup

But according to EPA data, Corexit ranks far above dispersants made by competitors in toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in handling southern Louisiana crude.

Of 18 dispersants whose use EPA has approved, 12 were found to be more effective on southern Louisiana crude than Corexit, EPA data show. Two of the 12 were found to be 100 percent effective on Gulf of Mexico crude, while the two Corexit products rated 56 percent and 63 percent effective, respectively. The toxicity of the 12 was shown to be either comparable to the Corexit line or, in some cases, 10 or 20 times less, according to EPA.

I used to tell people that since the pink stuff was carcinogenic and the blue stuff was linked to Alzheimer's, every morning coffee presented the same dismal choice. I always went for the pink stuff. My reasoning for that, I would argue, was at some point when I'm lying in a hospital bed, at least I'll be able to say to myself, "Wait, what's happening? Oh yeah I'm dying of cancer. Wait, why? Because I had too much of the pink stuff." That's fine. But the alternative result of too much blue stuff being a semi-aware state of child-like consciousness struck me as unbearable. I mean, that's too close to an actual description of my regular work day as it is. And the thought that basically nothing will have changed by the time I'm ready to check out... well there's real horror there. Anyway, I stopped worrying about any of this when they came out with the yellow stuff. Nobody knows what the hell that might do to you and I hope they never find out. Otherwise it's right back to the daily dismal decision.

Which is what, I guess, BP was thinking about their use of Corexit. Everybody knows oil on the beaches is bad but the effects of the dispersant are less well-known and so given the choice between a known known and a known unknown most people feel safer if they just don't know. Except now it turns out that EPA knows a bit more than we knew they had known. And now it's even less clear that BP knows anything about anything. Obviously they could use a little help here. Perhaps EPA should use all of this data to make stronger recommendations. Isn't it their job to prescribe guidelines for safe usage of these products they're evaluating?

EPA has not taken a stance on whether one dispersant should be used over another, leaving that up to BP. All the company is required to do is to choose an EPA-approved chemical, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters yesterday during a conference call aimed at addressing questions about dispersants being used in efforts to contain the Gulf spill. "Our regular responsibilities say, if it's on the list and they want to use it, then they are preauthorized to do so," Jackson said.

One explanation for BP's reliance on Nalco's Corexit, which its competitors say dominates the niche market for dispersants because of its industry ties, was its availability in large quantities at the time of the Gulf spill.

"Obviously, logistics and stockpiles and the ability for the responsible party to pull the materials together," Jackson said. "I'm sure that has a lot to do with the ones that they choose."
Of course. Silly me I almost forgot about how bad all that government regulation type stuff can be compared to the wise efficiencies generated by one company's dominance of a niche market. Carry on, I guess.

Meanwhile, clearly desperate, state officials are considering going back to natural sweeteners. Don't they know what that stuff does to your teeth? Or for that matter your oysters?

Oyster fishermen, normally concerned about fresh water hurting their harvest, may now prefer it to oily dispersant creeping up all across the Louisiana marsh.

Slight post-publication edits to this post may have occurred.

Quote of the day

I'm not optimistic that the people saying there will be criminal action are correct. Mary Landrieu will probably chain herself to a BP executive if they try to take one away in cuffs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Somebody recently compared this to a siege

While we're still waiting here behind our besieged floating walls of hair for... what? Are we waiting for the food supply to run out? Because we're already short on oysters.

Anyway here's that Boston.com collection of photos from the mess.

And a few more links from today:

Huffpo: Whistleblower Claims That BP Was Aware Of Cheating On Blowout Preventer Tests
Mike Mason, who worked on oil rigs in Alaska for 18 years, says that he observed cheating on blowout preventer tests at least 100 times, including on many wells owned by BP.

As he describes it, the test involves a chart that shows whether the device will hold a certain amount of pressure for five minutes on each valve. (The test involves increasing the pressure from 250 pounds per square-inch (psi) to 5,000 psi.) "Sometimes, they would put their finger on the chart and slide it ahead -- so that it only recorded the pressure for 30 seconds instead of 5 minutes," he tells HuffPost.
You're supposed to get a good 5 minutes of action but BP only wants to pay for the 30 second version. It's like they're browsing itunes, I guess.

Uneasy living in Lafitte It's a Lens interview with two fishers from Lafitte who attended the BP training event for possible clean-up duty.
The Lens: So at the fishers recruiter meeting you attended, what did BP reps say they would provide for protection?

Bizani: Rubber suits and gloves, but they didn’t say anything about respirators. You sweat and that stuff gets in your pores. For me, I have small children. My youngest son is 2-years-old. I might want to have more kids. I don’t want to be dead in 10 years because I made a couple thousand dollars. I just want to do what I love. That’s why everybody’s here. They talked about going out in the boat for a few months, but if they shut us down for five years what are we going to do?

I guess today is Day 23. Maitri is back to counting them up again

Varg provides us with more gratuitous oyster pics and ruminations.

Ros and I went down to Acme in the quarter on Monday night to get as many of them as we could. We took pictures too.


2010-05-10 20.03.09.jpg

Environmental Law clinics demonstrate "wanton disregard for the economic well-being of the state"

Gill: Polluters have had enough of law clinics

Steve Theriot's stupid lawsuit

Honestly, you should just go read this post by Dambala and the discussion in the comments... especially the discussion in the comments, actually which is where Dambala makes this observation.

One thing I can tell you I've learned from the discipline of anthropology....the fundamental requirement of a community is communication. Without communication there is no community.

When the government of a community shuts themselves off from the populous like Nagin did....the community fails.

When the government of a community sues their populous to stop them from communicating (right or wrong) like Theriot and JP just did....the community fails.

Dude says a bunch of other stuff I mostly agree with about Mitch and his new police chief and well just go read that. It's good communication.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Durin's bane

There are a lot of reasons to recommend this front page article from today's Times-Picayune about Berkley professor Robert Bea's investigation into the causes of the great gulf oil gusher. We learn the word "imagineering" as in
'The same trail of tears led to Katrina ... and it's showing up here again,' professor Robert Bea says. They failed to address what's called "residual risk," those things that planners don't think will fail. And in doing so, they underestimated the risk in ways very similar to the engineers who designed New Orleans' levee system, Bea said.

"BP fell into the same damn trap, and they were not engineering; they were 'imagineering,'" he said. "Risk analysis continues to mislead us because we're only looking at part of the risk."
We learn more about Halliburton's role in applying cement plugs that were supposed to secure the well as it was capped off.

A transcript Bea collected from a witness says the companies were confident enough they had a lucrative oil source that they decided to convert from an exploratory well to a more permanent production well, a process that requires them to apply a metal and cement casing to the well hole. They chose casing 7 inches in diameter, Bea said, and that was further sealed with cement pumped in by Halliburton. Bea said his sources reported that Halliburton was using a "new" kind of cement for the seal, something the scientist said made him say, "Uh oh."

We also learn that the BP, Transocean, and Halliburton officials in charge of the operation debated whether or not they should remove the "drilling mud" from the column before the final cement plug had been set.

One of Bea's witness transcripts describes in detail a heated debate among BP, Halliburton and Transocean officials as they are about to add the final cement plug to the well, 5,000 below the wellhead and 10,000 feet below the rig. They argued about whether to set the plug with drilling mud still in the well and riser, or if they should do it with lighter sea water there instead.

As The Times-Picayune reported last week, Bea's witness claims the decision was made to displace the heavy mud barrier with water before the final plug was set in order to finish the job more quickly

There's the obligatory irony.
Among those tossed asunder by the explosions were BP officials who were on the rig to celebrate a seven-year spotless safety record.

And, of course, there is the description of the ominous gas surges highlighted in the headline which caused work on the well to shut down temporarily a few weeks before the final incident.

"As the job unfolded, ... the workers did have intermittent trouble with pockets of natural gas," said one statement sent to Bea. "Highly flammable, the gas was forcing its way up the drill pipes. This was something BP had not foreseen as a serious problem, declaring a year earlier that gas was likely to pose only a 'negligible' risk. The government warned the company that gas buildup was a real concern and that BP should 'exercise caution'".

A second statement said, "At one point during the previous several weeks, so much of it came belching up to the surface that a loudspeaker announcement called for a halt to all 'hot work', meaning any smoking, welding, cooking or any other use of fire. Smaller belches, or 'kicks,' had stalled work as the job was winding down" in the days before the accident. Bea said he could not name the people who gave the statements or reveal their positions.

When I read this part, I thought it reminded me of something I saw in a movie once. So I sent a text message to Menckles who I thought could appreciate the reference better than would most people.
The front page story is about the investigation into the causes. It has statements from the rig workers who describe fiery gas belches that preceded the explosion and shut down work for a time.

That should have told them there was a Belrock down there.

Now I'm just a guy who happens to have seen a lot of movies. But Menckles is a full-fledged dice-carrying D&D gamer geek so I knew she would run with this. A few minutes later I got the following response.

Btw, if you're going to make this joke on the blog, it's spelled, "Balrog." Also, mithril was what the dwarves wanted to come back to Moria for, after it had been plundered by the orcs.

"Its worth was ten times that of gold, and now it is beyond price; for little is left above ground, and even the Orcs dare not delve here for it. The lodes lead away north towards Caradhras, and down to darkness. The Dwarves tell no tale; but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin's Bane. (The Balrog) Of what they brought to light the Orcs have gathered nearly all, and given it in tribute to Sauron, who covets it."

What a fucking tree-hugger that Tolkein was, huh? Drill! Drill! Drill

I guess I could have said something like "BTW if you're gonna make that joke, it's spelled Drill, Baby, Drill!" but I figured I'd already lost this round anyway. So today's big Ha Ha cred goes to Menckles, I guess.

In the scene linked here*, Gandalf prepares to lay protective boom ahead of the approaching menace. Maybe he should have used more hair.

*God forbid we be allowed to embed the work of the masters

Monday, May 10, 2010

The smell of fried foods and pure hot tar*

Air tests from the Louisiana coast reveal human health threats from the oil disaster

Today the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released its analysis of air monitoring test results by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's air testing data comes from Venice, a coastal community 75 miles south of New Orleans in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish.

The findings show that levels of airborne chemicals have far exceeded state standards and what's considered safe for human exposure.

Forget the respiratory and neurological issues. Forget about the carcinogens. Here's how this is affecting me personally. This afternoon in Uptown New Orleans it smells like somebody left a Barbie in the microwave. There is no way I can go do my semi-regular 4-6 mile jog in this. Meanwhile I'm desperately eating up all the Louisiana seafood I can get my hands on before it all goes away forever.

Seafood gumbo

That's a gumbo I made Friday with oysters, crabs, and shrimp. I made a big shrimp stock to do this and have the excess stored in the freezer right now. I figure I'll be able to get $500.00 an ounce for the shavings in another month or so. I'm on my way out the door to find and eat as many fried and raw oysters as I can tonight. Also this is fucking depressing in general so I'm drinking more than I usually would.

So I guess my question is, can I just sue BP for making me fat?

*Isn't it great to exist at this point in time?

With just a touch of my burning hand I'm gonna live my life to destroy your world

So I guess it's Lake Lieberman now, too.
In a recent interview with National Journal, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) not only defended offshore oil drilling, but also sought to downplay the current Gulf coast crisis, saying "accidents happen."

You know, just... Fuck you

I'm sorry but that's about all I can say there. I could repeat it a kabillion times if you like but we still wouldn't have an adequate flow rate to match what BP and its enablers have unleashed.

Here are some links.

Maitri: SE Louisiana is "officially screwed"

Chemical dispersants being used in Gulf clean-up are potentially toxic
OSHA requires companies to make Material Safety Data Sheets, or MSDSs, available for any hazardous substances used in a workplace, and the ones for these dispersants both contain versions of a disturbing statement. 9500's states that "Component substances have a potential to bioconcentrate," while the one for 9527A has the slightly more comforting, "Component substances have a low potential to bioconcentrate."

This is not what you want to hear about toxins being dumped in the sea by the hundreds of thousands of gallons. The EPA defines bioconcentration as the "accumulation of a chemical in tissues of a fish or other organism to levels greater than in the surrounding medium." In other words, substances that bioconcentrate tend to move from water into fish, where they can do damage to the fish itself, as well as be passed on to predator fish -- and on up the food chain, to human eaters.

And just how toxic is this stuff? The data sheets for both products contain this shocker: "No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product" -- meaning testing their safety for humans.

This is jaw-dropping. According to Ronald Tjeerdema, chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis' College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, who has been studying dispersants since the '90s, "The industry typically only stockpiles one or two of these things," and while Corexit 9527 has been the dispersant of choice for a long time, in recent years, Corexit 9500 has gained prominence. Yet Nalco has done no toxicity studies on these industry-dominating products now in heavy use in the Gulf?

They do appear to have toxic properties. Both data sheets include the warning "human health hazards: acute." The MSDS for Corexit 9527A states that "excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects," and "repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol [an active ingredient] may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver."

It adds: "Prolonged and/or repeated exposure through inhalation or extensive skin contact with EGBE [butoxyethanol] may result in damage to the blood and kidneys."

Opinion: An oil-stained cloak (from City Business)
BP’s reach evidently extends beyond the fishermen when it comes to keeping a lid on cleanup operations. CityBusiness reached a number of local businesses known to be involved with BP’s containment operation, and they refused to discuss their work.

No one begrudges legitimate businesses making a profit from this unfortunate situation. To the contrary, most are thankful the expertise and capacity to address such a catastrophe exists in our own backyard, just minutes away from the problem.

What is worthy of resent is keeping people in the dark, especially those who stand in harm’s way. A lack of information generally leads to misinformation, and ignorance can only exacerbate a problem that already stands to reach grotesque proportions.

That greed evidently outweighs concern for the well-being of those affected by the disaster is not only shameful, it borders on criminal.

Broken record time. BP exists to make money. That's what guides its priorities and incentives. Ideally your democratically elected representatives exist to recalibrate things so that your safety and livelihood takes precedence over BP's priorities but then, you know...

(via oyster) Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in gulf
WASHINGTON — Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now that... that's probably closer to being "criminal" than City Biz's complaint against BP.

BP struggles with list of ways to plug Gulf of Mexico oil spill
"Top kills" golf balls, giant boxes, slightly smaller giant boxes. Get the feeling they're just giving you something to look at while they spend three months doing the only thing that will actually work? Yeah me too.

BP is managing a PR crisis. Not an environmental crisis. Remember, your elected representatives never required them to plan for that. Because no such plan was required, we've instead been treated to a series of colorful food metaphors to describe the "iced tea", "chocolate milk", "mousse", "toasted marshmallows" happily floating atop the Gulf. We've been told again and again how "unprecedented" and "unpredictable" this situation is/was when that clearly is not the case. We've been prepped with a number of alternate explanations for the sudden appearance of dead or distressed wildlife on the beaches. It has even been suggested that BP's efforts to combat the flow might someday make a great movie.
“It’s just an amazing effort, truly an Apollo 13 effort 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean trying to stop this spill.”

The worst thing about this is somewhere out there marketing pros are talking excitedly about the challenge of reviving the BP brand or about the pitfalls of "green branding"

Particularly galling, says Merriam, who runs Merriam Associates, is its slow response time. "They put all this emphasis on 'human energy,' and where are the humans now? It took them seven days to get out a Twitter response, and it's so corporate and robotic. If you're going to brag about how honest and open and responsive you are, you have to do that -- would it have killed them to run a Twitter post that said something like, "Our hearts go out to the friends and families of those lost in the accident," or "We are working around the clock to contain the damage"?

Yes, of all the horror, angst and despair brought about by tons of sludge spurting into the ocean I thought that BP's lack of facility with the Tweeter Tubes was "particularly galling".

But OK that's fine. Since there's not much any of us can do to keep the oil off our coastline and out of our seafood by this point we might as well get to work writing BP's new ads for them. So far all I've got is the slogan at the top of this post which is a line from the jingle. It goes like this.

Friday, May 07, 2010

We'll go down and smell around

Apparently nothing on the rig worked at all. BOP didn't work, cement didn't work, and it's also possible the rig crew wasn't following the safest procedure at the time of the explosion.
In order to properly cap a well, drillers rely on three lines of defense to protect themselves from an explosive blowout: a column of heavy mud in the well itself and in the drilling riser that runs up to the rig; at least two cement plugs that fit in the well with a column of mud between them; and a blowout preventer that is supposed to seal the well if the mud and plugs all fail.

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, Scott Bickford, a lawyer for a rig worker who survived the explosions, said the mud was being extracted from the riser before the top cement cap was in place, and a statement by cementing contractor Halliburton confirmed the top cap was not installed

Perhaps the companies responsible for making sure these things worked would have taken the issue more seriously if they had been given the impression that someone was going to hold them accountable when something went wrong. Turns out they weren't even required to file a contingency plan for this sort of emergency.
Petrochemical giant BP didn't file a plan to specifically handle a major oil spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project because the federal agency that regulates offshore rigs changed its rules two years ago to exempt certain projects in the central Gulf region, according to an Associated Press review of official records.
Now why would Minerals Management Service employees feel at liberty to take such a relaxed attitude toward their mission? Well, yeah, they kind of felt that way about a lot of things.
Government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, federal investigators reported yesterday.
That's right. The regulators were actually literally in bed with representatives of the industry they were supposed to police. I just hope those oil lobby-whores were damn good lays because they sure did turn out to cost a lot of shrimp.

Even if you go out and get the biggest toughest condom you can find, it doesn't do anywhere near as much good if you wait until the load is shot before you put it on.

And all of this says nothing about what kind of a deal they managed to swing for Senator Landrieu but we assume it was some good shit because..

Meanwhile there is renewed discussion of the lovely smell wafting over New Orleans from the south tonight. It's difficult to describe exactly. It's kind of a charred chemical sweetness. Somebody, I think it was Pat, described it as melting crayons but that's not quite strong enough. When I was a kid, I had this friend who liked to melt Star Wars action figures with a butane lighter. I think it smells like somebody barbecued a pile of Boba Fetts outside tonight. Maybe that goes well with iced tea but I haven't seen any yet.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Palate cleanser

I am officially a very old person.

New Orleans Saints invite Craig Heyward Jr. to try out at rookie minicamp

The first Saints "jersey", if you can call it that, I ever owned was a plain black long-sleeved shirt we had Craig "Ironhead" Heyward's number 34 imprinted onto it at a T-Shirt shop in the Lake Forest Plaza Mall in New Orleans East. We did this because my father objected to the exorbitant price of officially licensed NFL merchandise. I imagine that at the time an official replica jersey probably would have cost something like 25 bucks maybe. Nevertheless it was sufficiently offensive that I had to settle for our improvised knock-off and a long repetitive speech about Chinese sweatshop labor.

Anyway Heyward is probably still my favorite Saint of all time. And now his children are old enough to play pro-football. And I am getting old, aren't I?

Might still have that shirt in a box somewhere though.

Send more hair

Gulf oil spill spreads west of mouth of Mississippi

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Streaks of putrid, orange and rust-colored oil snaked well west of the mouth of the Mississippi River in an area that has received less attention.

Here's an NPR story on the nylon and hair booms we read about the other day.
Commercial booms are usually made of plastic. But an alternative source for the booms is found on the floor of salons across the country.

As it turns out, hair adheres to oil pretty efficiently, which is why your hair gets greasy. Now salons are donating their discarded locks to help with the Gulf Coast cleanup.

A group in San Francisco has been producing hair booms for nearly a decade now. Matter of Trust makes nylon stockings stuffed with human hair and trimmed animal fur.

Christmas trees to fight erosion and old hair to fight the oil. Way to "push the technological envelope" guys.

Putting up big numbers on the ocean floor

You knew it was only a matter of time before we got the obligatory gallon counter widget

Meawhile a typo precipitates chaos on Wall Street

Middle Tennessee is not OK

Football fans turn to extreme measures in desperate scramble to appease God.

More links with impressive photo

Maitri: Today in Gulf Gusher News

Bucking the trend

Louisiana seafood proclaimed safe amid Gulf oil spill fears

"Louisiana seafood is safe and available," Harlon Pearce, chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, repeated often during a full day of meetings.

Pearce said he and three other industry representatives told "anyone who would listen" that 75 percent to 85 percent of Louisiana Gulf fish comes from west of the Mississippi River and has not been affected as some Gulf waters closed to fishing because of the BP rig oil spill 50 miles off the state's coast.

But Pearce said the industry has a "branding challenge" and knows it must be "proactive and aggressive." Industry officials and celebrity chefs have planned events in such far-flung places as Finland, France and Chicago to promote Gulf seafood, he said.

Here's your branding challenge.

Parts of the slick are projected to be west of the river as early as tomorrow.

Links links links

Everything you wish you didn't want to know about the Gulf oil gusher compiled here by LSU Libraries.

Well that was fast

Mitch is going to name Ronal Serpas as the next NOPD Superintendent today. We had been told not to expect this for another week perhaps. I wonder if the move is motivated by a desire to squelch some of the scrutiny of Serpas' history and connections that has started to bubble up. If so, you have to give Mitch credit for political savvy.

Just checking on the status

Oil still gushing int the Gulf?

Mary Landrieu still acting like oil companies are the real victims here?

As you were

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Pushing the envelope

T-P guest column by Len Bahr of LaCoastpost

As a coastal scientist I've been closely following the technical issues. My conclusion: We have been slimed by BP's arrogant decision to push the technological envelope of deep-water oil production, with more at stake than the $5.6 billion first quarter profits reported by this oil giant.

Adding... frankly the column gets a bit weaker from there ending in the trite statement about our "addiction to oil". The important point for me remains that the catastrophic risks were not only accounted for but flatly denied by BP and its allies in government.

Irony is dead

Gambit kills Suspect-Device. Guess it wasn't edgy enough to keep up with the dark brooding stylings of Chris Rose.

Note: Link fixed. Sorry.

Bike Tax

Um... how about, no. Find some other way to harass people if you're that bored.

Deep thought of the morning

No one has even considered the possibility that Lombardi trophies act as magical oilsbane talismans. I hope Coach Soupy didn't bury it already. Although he may have other things on his mind right now.

Mitch to address Federal oversight of NOPD today

Mayor Mitch Landrieu will hold a news conference this afternoon to discuss U.S. Department of Justice involvement with the New Orleans Police Department, a spokesman said.

A news release issued by the mayor's office says the mayor will discuss his request to the Justice Department that the federal government be involved with "instituting transformational reforms" in the NOPD.
In other words, it looks like Mitch has managed to cop a plea deal, if you will, with DOJ to maintain local control of NOPD. Yesterday at The Lens, Eli Ackerman wrote about this Gambit interview with Mitch where he said a little of what we're likely to hear more of today.

“I’ve told the justice department that I’m happy to partner with them. I’m not interested in a hostile take-over. I don’t think that would be in the best interests of the city, and it wouldn’t be in the best interests of the Police Department.”

Landrieu talked instead of a “cooperative relationship” with Justice in which the NOPD agrees to mandate changes and the DOJ provides additional resources.

“[Y]ou can sit around the table and create a document that spells out very clearly who’s supposed to do what… [Y]ou can file a piece of paper in federal court that basically holds all of our feet to the fire, and it requires the citizens of New Orleans to do certain things as well.”

Landrieu’s response seems to indicate he is interested in pursuing a memorandum of understanding or cooperative endeavor agreement with the Department of Justice.

A consent decree is one potential result of civil-rights lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against the NOPD. The consent decree is a court order. Consent decrees can be negotiated, in that the police department can work with the feds on the details, but it would still mean a court-ordered mandate even if the parties don’t go to trial.

Landrieu seems to be saying that he would prefer Justice to hold off on a lawsuit and instead work out a binding memorandum of understanding or cooperative endeavor agreement.

Eli goes on to write about some confusing statements Landrieu makes with regard to terminology but I think the above description of his intentions is accurate.

I'm also pretty sure we still won't have a new police chief for as long as another week. Whoever it is, I hope he likes waffles.

Update: More today from The Lens following up on the Mayor's press conference.