Thanks to oil disaster, BP becomes scapegoat for bad government policy

Up until 4/20/2010, the words “drill, baby, drill” were synonymous with patriotism and finding a way out of our economic crisis.  Now, three weeks later, oil from one of the largest reserves on earth continues spewing out of the ocean floor at a terrible rate.

Engineers have finally succeeded in diverting some of the oil by inserting a pipe into the hole, however this is by no means anything close to a viable solution.  It’s simply a stop-gap measure in the face of an unthinkable reality.

To give you an idea of how large this disaster has already become, here’s a video which contains footage recently shot out of a coast guard helicopter flying over the area:

As oil drifts towards the coastline, speculation builds about what will happen to to the lives and livelihoods of people all around the Gulf of Mexico.  Fishing will soon become a nightmare, if it hasn’t already; tourism will also take a sharp dive, except for perhaps those who travel to see the unprecedented ecological disaster and possibly even help to clean it up…

Our President has been kind enough to blame BP alone for what happened, even though it was our government that gave the company and others in the industry a categorical exemption from having to assess and manage the risks of a major blowout.  The companies said it couldn’t happen, and that was good enough for the government.  In fact, according to a May 12th article at ABC News, that’s still good enough for the government:

Suckling said in a statement that MMS officials have “learned absolutely nothing from this national catastrophe. (MMS) is still illegally exempting dangerous offshore drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico from all environmental review. It is outrageous and unacceptable.”

The BP drilling plan approved April 6, 2010, for the site that is now the cause of the Gulf disaster, says that “a scenario for a potential blowout of the well from which BP would expect to have the highest volume of liquid hydrocarbons is not required for the operations proposed in this EP.”

MMS approved a different BP drilling plan on May 5, 2010, providing the similar “Blowout Scenario,” stating: “Information not required for activities proposed in this Initial Exploration Plan.”

Suckling said that MMS also had the option of rejecting the off-shore drilling proposals but “that’s not even a concept in the MMS.” Suckling said that the fact that BP had previously claimed a blowout wasn’t possible should make all similar claims suspect…”

Obama says that we will spare no expense in cleaning up the gulf, being careful to note that BP will be footing the bill.  But, given how many people are apt to sue the British oil giant in the coming months, it seems reasonable to assume that the company may soon run out of money for the extensive clean-up efforts which will be required for an unknown amount of time.

This scenario has been played out many times before, with the government (i.e., the TAXPAYERS) left to pick up the tab.  In the case of BP, it is an extremely large and well-respected, publicly-traded corporation which ought to be able to afford a whole lot of cleanup costs.  According to their website, they refined 2.3 million barrels a day in 2009.  Their total sales “and other operating revenues” were $239 Billion for the year.

But this disaster is enormous, and its ongoing–we don’t even know how fast its leaking, or maybe they are just too afraid to admit it.

BP has estimated the size of the leak to be somewhere around 5,000 barrels a day (200,000 gallons); yet a respected engineering professor, who’s actually written a book on the subject of flow measurement, puts the number closer to 70,000 barrels a day. (2,800,000 gallons)

If these numbers are anywhere close to accurate, Exxon Valdez lost its infamous title long ago.  That spill was undoubtedly devastating to a large area of otherwise pristine wilderness, and it was huge at 11 million gallons.  Using the professor’s numbers, that’s less than four days of flow.  We are now at 27 days and counting.  Assuming the flow rate has stayed fairly constant, we are looking at roughly 75 million gallons of oil slowly headed towards the coast of Florida and Louisiana.  And that’s not all.

As an act of desperation, the company has chosen to dump chemicals dispersants into the water.  There has been “inconclusive” research into the effects these toxic chemicals may have on the environment and its inhabitants, although it seems rather obvious that deodorized kerosene might be harmful to various living things.  At least that’s the stance being taken by a group of toxicology experts who are now attempting to advise the Gulf Area Disaster Recovery Group, “a group of lawyers claiming to protect the interests of those affected by the crisis.”  Here’s a bigger clip from the article, Are chemical dispersants doing more harm than good?:

‘“The dispersants used in the BP cleanup efforts, known as Corexit 9500 and Corexit EC9527A, are also known as deodorized kerosene,” said Sawyer. “With respect to marine toxicity and potential human health risks, studies of kerosene exposures strongly indicate potential health risks to volunteers, workers, sea turtles, dolphins, breathing reptiles and all species which need to surface for air exchanges, as well as birds and all other mammals…”

This oil disaster is already having a vast impact on our world and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Although, in the long run, at least some of the impact actually has the potential to help our ailing environment:  according to an article at, 55 percent of Floridians now oppose off-shore drilling.

In reality, renewable and truly sustainable energy sources may have a much better chance thanks to the atrocity which continues to unfold before our eyes.  Yet, it is still important to keep in mind what needs to change and how.  The real problem here is a government that panders to major corporations at the expense of its citizens while ignoring the desperate need to invest in sustainable energy sources.

Other countries actually invest in large-scale renewable energy, while we continue to subsidize oil companies who reap huge profits and still manage to get out of paying taxes–much less being held responsible for the various toxins and dangerous chemicals unleashed on our world every day.  By no means should you take this as an endorsement for the carbon-tax scam being promoted by the likes of Al Gore, although the planet truly is in peril.  And not just because the U.S. burns a little over twenty million barrels of oil per day (that’s 827,200,000 gallons!)

Being realistic, there is no way that wind and solar power can totally replace our need for oil in the next ten or twenty years; but if we don’t use some of our dwindling resources to build the infrastructure required to make society more sustainable very soon, we may never get the chance.

Flywheel technology, for instance, has the potential to make solar, wind and all other energy sources much more efficient by giving us a way to store it for future use–something currently impossible on a large scale.  One manufacturer, Beacon Power, was awarded $43 in loan guarantees by the Department of Energy.  This is definitely a step in the right direction, but compared to everything else the DoE is doing it seems almost like a mis-step; or simply a PR move.

Corn ethanol (E85), an environmental disaster in and of itself which is also doing a lot of harm to the Gulf of Mexico, received $7 billion worth of  subsidies in 2006.  And recently, the Obama administration passed controversial legislation which guarantees that the corn ethanol industry will continue to be booming business–despite the fact that more energy actually goes into the process than you get out, and it requires the use of various chemicals and toxins.  Here’s a sample of the controversy surrounding the subject, California Pushes Corn Ethanol Subsidy Despite Doubts over GHG Benefits:

“According to Inside Cal/EPA, California Energy Commisison (CEC) is “advancing a new subsidy for corn-based ethanol production in the state by using money earmarked for the advancement of alternative fuels and vehicles — a move that is drawing criticism from some environmentalists who argue the funding program is intended for next-generation technologies to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The activists argue that subsidizing the corn-ethanol industry may undermine the state’s climate change goals because of lingering questions about the GHG-reduction benefits of ethanol use and would divert funding from more promising clean-energy technologies.”

It’s become painfully obvious that everybody wants to cash in on the idea of being ‘green’, so why does our government continue supporting scams like corn ethanol and ‘clean coal’?  Could it be for the very same reasons that they issue companies like BP a “categorical exemption” for deep-sea drilling?  Considering what’s at stake here, this seems like a good place for Obama to start with his well-publicized push towards greater transparency.

And, while he’s at it, perhaps he can explain why industrial hemp is still illegal to grow in this country thanks to a prohibition policy he once called an “utter failure.”  Far and away the most useful plant in the world, capable of replacing all petroleum products without the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides; and our government is deathly afraid it will get confused with its psychoactive cousin, which incidentally has pharmaceutical companies shaking in their high-priced loafers.  With good reason, I might add.


One Response to Thanks to oil disaster, BP becomes scapegoat for bad government policy

  1. Pingback: Deep sea oil plumes, dispersants endanger reefs – The Associated Press - Most hotest, Most latest U.S. News Online - Online News 28 – Top Stories in U.S.

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