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Friday, July 9, 2010

Today in BP Oil Disaster: Day 81

Posted By on Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 6:03 PM

  • Another agency, another poorly calculated risk. This time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicted in its oil spill plan that should at least 1,000 barrels spill into the Gulf, endangering wildlife and habitats would be a "low-probablity event," at just 26 percent.

  • And another day, another deadline. Officials say the latest effort to cap the gusher could seal it by Monday.

  • More on the oil in Lake Pontchartrain. It's in the water near Carr Drive, a strip across the Highway 11 bridge, less than 30 miles from New Orleans: "Darrin Johnson lives on Carr Drive and said he has seen "thousands of dead fish and crabs" in the canals near his home." First reports of tar balls in the lake appeared earlier this week. From the L.A. Times:

    They made their way to Lake Pontchartrain, the vast estuarine oval that hems New Orleans to the north — and defines the city's character and destiny as much as the winding Mississippi River a few miles south.

    By Tuesday, cleanup crews had collected more than 1,020 pounds of tar balls and waste from the lake and the Rigolets, the strait connecting Pontchartrain to Lake Borgne and the Gulf of Mexico.

    It was a relatively small smudge for a 630-square-mile lake, and it will not pose a direct public health problem: New Orleans gets its drinking water from the Mississippi River.

  • On again, off again: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries decided to close all recreational fishing, after opening it briefly to catch-and-release fishing, which is kind of silly in the midst of, you know, total chaos.

  • The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied President Barack Obama's six-month drilling moratorium. First, there's this:

    ... two of the judges on the appeals court panel, Jerry E. Smith and W. Eugene Davis, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan, had represented the oil and gas industries while in private practice. ...

    Judge Davis’s 2008 financial disclosure reports listed $2,000 to $30,000 in investments in gas and oil concerns; Judge Smith had none.

    The third judge on the panel, James L. Dennis, appointed by President Bill Clinton, had investments in at least 18 energy companies valued at between $31,000 and $300,000, the group found. Judge Dennis sold a stake in Transocean, the company that was drilling the well under contract to BP, in 2006, according to financial disclosure reports compiled by the group.

  • And this — Gov. Bobby Jindal's response. He's "pleased," according to a statement from his office, but he's concerned of another moratorium in the future and the Department of Interior's de facto moratorium

    It was clear again from today’s court arguments that the Secretary of the Interior ignored the advice of his own experts. The Secretary’s six-month moratorium was not related to the facts provided by his own hand-selected experts. Indeed, the Judge in the original case said the Department of Interior’s report to shut down deepwater drilling was inaccurate and misleading. He said the Department’s statement that their report’s recommendations were ‘peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering’ was misleading and that five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium.’

    “The arguments at today’s hearing continue to show that the Administration’s six-month blanket moratorium was both arbitrary and capricious. The reality is that we absolutely want drilling to be done safely and do not want another spill or one more drop of oil on our coast or in our water, but thousands of Louisianians should not have to lose their jobs because the federal government can’t adequately do its job of ensuring drilling is done safely. The hearing today showed again that there is no clear pathway from the federal government about how to increase the safety of drilling.

    “The federal government has an entire agency dedicated to monitoring safe drilling. It shouldn’t take them six-months or longer for a new national commission to ensure safety measures are in place and their laws and regulations are being followed. Instead of an arbitrary moratorium, the Department of Interior should have listened to their experts and enacted the specific recommended steps from their own experts to ensure proper oversight and safe drilling.

    “Unfortunately, there are serious job losses that will result from the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium which is estimated to kill 20,000 Louisiana jobs and cost us between $65 to 135 million in lost Louisiana wages each month. The reality is that the moratorium not only threatens jobs on oil rigs, but it also jeopardizes many other industries that supply our oil and gas industry and the entire communities that depend on them.”

  • And if you missed Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday night, here's a little BP protest ditty he performed, called "Balls in Your Mouth."
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