Archive for the ‘Offshore Oil Drilling’ Category

From the Exxon Valdez to BP, little has changed in evaluating data on oil spills. A little “political will” as mentioned below would be good right about now.

Just released from The University Of  Florida:

Oil in Gulf of Mexico:  Biologists cite need for critical data to determine ecological consequences

Twenty years after biologists attempted to determine the ecological damages to marine life from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists dealing with the BP disaster find themselves with the same problem: the lack of critical data to determine the ecological consequences of human-induced environmental disasters, a University of Florida researcher said.

Writing in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Science, Karen A. Bjorndal,  a University of Florida biology professor and director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, and other biologists said the United States needs “strategic national research plans for key marine species and ecosystems based on evaluation of cause and effect and on integrated monitoring of abundance and demographic traits.”

“It is sad to see that we are in the same place now,” said Bjorndal, adding that not much has changed since the Valdez oil spill when it comes to getting the data needed to assess and restore a marine ecosystem after an environmental disaster. She hopes it will provide an impetus for action.

“We know how to create these research plans — what is needed now is the political will and leadership to do so,” she wrote.

“Achieving mandated recovery goals depends on understanding both population trends and the demographic processes that drive those trends,” Bjorndal’s article states.

Her team argues it “is not too late to invest funds from BP to support teams of experts to develop effective strategic plans that identify, prioritize and provide methodologies for collecting essential data.”

The team identified seven elements that need to be included in most of the plans.

“In the wake of the BP oil spill, the need for this policy shift is as clear as it is compelling. The largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history should provide the impetus and opportunity to effect this policy shift.” Bjorndal wrote in her article.

Co-authors of the article, called “Better Science Needed for Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico,” are Brian Bowen,  Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii; Milani Chaloupka,  Ecological Modeling  Services, University of Queensland, Australia; Larry B. Crowder,  Center for Marine Conservation, Duke University; Selina S. Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University;  Cynthia M. Jones, Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University; Molly E. Lutcavage,  Large Pelagics Research Center, University of Massachusetts; David Policansky, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.;  Andrew R. Solow, Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Blair E. Witherington,  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.





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Allen West (Run-For-Your-Life-FL) actually said these things (From The Sun Sentinel):

On Immigration Reform:

West, unlike most South Florida members of both parties, opposes any path to legal status for those who reside here illegally, including those brought as children. “You’ve got a war going on south of our border. Beheadings. Mass killings. Mexico is starting to resemble Iraq and Afghanistan. And if we don’t secure the boarders and enforce our laws, if we do not make employment verification mandatory all across this country, we will never be serious about tackling the immigration problems we have.”

That’s right. Mexico IS the new Iraq and Afghanistan. Paging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer: tell us about those headless corpses in the desert again?

On Social Security:

West said Congress should consider further raising the eligibility age for full benefits and possibly apply a means test.“Donald Trump is not going to need Social Security or Medicare in his life,” he said. “We need to make sure that these programs are targeted to people who really do need them, and not just have a blanket policy for everyone.”

Well, if Donald Trump doesn’t need Social Security or Medicare, um, OK. So will Rep. “Bullets for Ballots” West be determining those who are worthy and those who are not?

On Unemployment:

“I don’t believe that unemployment checks are the means by which you stimulate the economy,” he said. “I would say instead of extending unemployment benefits for another 13 months, let’s just extend them through winter. We should take care of the American people through what may be some very hard times in the winter. Coming into the spring, we have got to come up with the right kind of economic policies that spur growth.”

Sing it with me: “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow…” oh what’s that? You don’t have a bottom dollar? Oh. Bummer.

On Offshore Oil Drilling:

Energy experts say offshore drilling would have little impact on gas prices. But West said more drilling would make the nation less dependent on foreign supplies and no longer compelled to “send money to people [abroad] who want to see us killed.”

He brushed off the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer as “an isolated incident.” Rather than push rigs into deeper waters, West wants to bring them close to shore.

“We need to make sure it’s close enough so we don’t have what happened in the Gulf, where [the leaking well] was so deep we couldn’t get out there and take the emergency procedures to rectify that type of spill.”

Yeah! With drilling closer to shore it’s just a matter of a quicker clean-up! That way you can just scrape it off the beach without the wait.

Oh, but wait. If drilling closer to shore makes us less dependent on those who want to see us killed, and those who want to see us killed are now in Mexico as Rep. West now claims, how does that work exactly?

Perhaps these “solutions” of West’s are some of the reason why he is on the list of “vulnerable seats” in the House already after less than one month on the job.

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Good News For Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Doctors at Tucson’s University Medical Center have removed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from a ventilator, and she is breathing on her own. Doctors haven’t said anything about whether Rep. Giffords can speak.

Despite Shootings, Tucson Gun Show Goes On

New York Times Profile Of Jared L. Loughner


More Guns! Less Restrictions!

In the wake of the shootings in Tucson, and another at Florida State University last week where a drunk student accidentally killed his girlfriend’s sister with an AK-47, Florida lawmakers are about to propose changes in firearm restrictions. “They want more people to have the right to carry them in the open and fewer government restrictions.” What could possibly go wrong….?

Bob Graham Urges Gov. Rick Scott To Demand Oil Drilling Safety Reforms

Cuba is preparing to drill the wells off its north coast, using a Russian oil drilling firm “which frankly does not have a world standard safety record,” Graham told the Economic Club of Florida.

Tampa International Airport Eligible For Flights To Cuba

For the first time in nearly 50 years, Tampa International Airport will be eligible to restore direct flights to Cuba, fulfilling a longstanding goal of local Cuban Americans forced to rely on Miami’s airport because of federal restrictions.

Republican and darling of the Tea Party, Sen. Marco Rubio, opposes the new changes.

Planner Says It Would Be A Mistake For Gov. Rick Scott Not To Proceed With High-Speed Rail In Florida

“You Lie!”

Sen. Mike Fasano says that Florida 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Paul Hawkes “lied” when faced with tough questions about the brand new $50 million dollar “Taj Mahal” courthouse in Tallahassee.

Former Lobbyist And State Legislator David Bitner Elected As New Florida GOP Chair

New RNC Chairman Reince Priebus To Clean Up 2012 GOP Tampa Convention Mess

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Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against BP and several other companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf, accusing them of disregarding safety regulations leading to the explosion, which led to the spill and caused the death of 11 workers.

The other companies are: Anadarko Exploration & Production LP; Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; Transocean Holdings LLC; Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc.; Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and Transocean’s insurer, QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036. Haliburton was not named but could be added later. Haliburton was the cement contractor for the project and the maker of the valve that failed.

The lawsuit makes it possible for the federal government to seek billions of dollars in penalties for polluting the Gulf of Mexico, beaches and wetlands, and reimbursement for its cleanup costs.

More than 300 lawsuits filed previously by individuals and businesses, and now consolidated in the New Orleans federal court, include claims for financial losses and compensation for the families of 11 workers

The suit asks that the companies be held liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages caused by the spill, including damages to natural resources. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.

Under the Clean Water Act alone, BP faces fines of up to $1,100 for each barrel of oil spilled. If BP were found to have committed gross negligence or willful misconduct, the fine could be up to $4,300 per barrel.

Based on the government’s estimate of 206 million gallons released by the well, BP could face civil fines of between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion. BP disputes the estimate.

Just as the lawsuit is being filed comes the news that more of the newly released WikiLeaks cables show, among other things, that BP had a similar blowout following a gas leak in Azerbaijan just 18 months before the blowout in the Gulf Of Mexico.

The Guardian, one of five media outlets with early access to the trove of diplomatic communications being gradually released by WikiLeaks, released its report on the latest group of cables, one of which reveals that in 2008 BP suffered a blowout similar to the one that would later cause the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

On the Azerbaijan gas leak, a cable reports for the first time that BP suffered a blowout in September 2008, as it did in the Gulf with devastating consequences in April, as well as the gas leak that the firm acknowledged at the time.

“Due to the blowout of a gas-injection well there was ‘a lot of mud’ on the platform, which BP would analyze to help find the cause of the blowout and gas leak,” the cable said.

Written a few weeks after the incident, the cable said Bill Schrader, BP’s then head of Azerbaijan, admitted it was possible the company “would never know” the cause although it “is continuing to methodically investigate possible theories”.

According to another cable, in January 2009 BP thought that a “bad cement job” was to blame for the gas leak in Azerbaijan. More recently, BP’s former chief executive Tony Hayward also partly blamed a “bad cement job” by contractor Halliburton for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Guardian also reported that other leaked cables revealed:

  • Azerbaijan’s president accused BP of stealing $10 billion worth of oil from his country and using “mild blackmail” to secure rights to develop gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region.
  • American energy firm Chevron was talking to Iran about developing an Iraq-Iran cross-border oilfield, despite U.S. sanctions.

Coming on the heels of the release of the cables and the lawsuit is yet more bad news for BP:

BP Plc fell the most in almost four months in London trading after the Obama administration filed a suit saying the company and four others violated environmental laws in the largest U.S. oil spill.

The shares dropped as much as 3.2 percent, the most since Aug. 24, and were down 7.2 pence, or 1.5 percent to 469.35 pence as of 3:33 p.m. local time. BP has fallen 28 percent since the April 20 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and caused the Macondo well to leak crude into the Gulf of Mexico until July.

I suppose that BP hopes there is some truth to the old expression “bad news comes in threes,” but something tells me three is only the beginning.

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Florida Governor-elect Rick Scott finally takes questions from reporters, somewhat awkwardly, in Washington on offshore oil drilling, immigration, and upcoming meetings with John Boehner and President Obama, among other topics:

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Rick Scott is not happy about the offshore oil drilling ban reimposed today by the Obama Administration.

His statement on the ban, and President Obama:

“The Obama Administration’s offshore drilling ban is yet another example of government regulation impeding economic growth.  Florida is committed to pursuing energy independence, which is essential to national security. With sound policies in place, we could expand domestic drilling and eliminate our reliance on foreign oil.   Furthermore, I am disappointed that the White House has chosen to unilaterally impose a policy that threatens job creation and economic growth in Florida without consulting our office.”

Think about that statement for a minute. Just imagine how it would “impede economic growth” in Florida, or any of the other Gulf states if there were any LESS regulations on offshore oil drilling than there are now? Perhaps Scott should ask some of those fishermen who depend on the Gulf for their livelihood. Maybe ask those who own and run businesses like hotels and restaurants along the Gulf coast how they would feel about giving big oil more freedom than they had back in April when that blowout preventer failed to prevent a blowout? Because I did ask some of them back then. They weren’t pleased, to put it mildly. But then Rick Scott isn’t one to talk to the people who live here. He’s more concerned with dealing with big business. Behind closed doors.

He says he’s “disappointed that the White House has chosen to unilaterally impose a policy that threatens job creation and economic growth in Florida without consulting our office.” OK, first of all, Mr. Scott fails to realize, much like he did on the campaign trail, that he was not running for, nor was he elected to the office of Commander-in-Chief. Barack Obama, however, was. Scott may also be surprised to discover that President Obama doesn’t answer to the yet to be sworn in Governor elect Scott.

Second, when Rick Scott professes profound “disappointment” over “job creation [being] threatened,” I suppose he could have a small point there. After the BP oil spill, there was at least one company who discovered newly created jobs, but that was as a result of that oil spill, not the “drilling for” part. That would be this company:

This month the state of Florida awarded WRS a $250,000 contract for “reviewing county responses, designing beach protection devices and identifying areas of ecological concern.”

Kathleen Shanahan, the CEO of the consulting firm WRS Compass, has ties to both Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Shanahan was chief of staff for Cheney during the 2000 Presidential campaign and transition. She later became chief of staff for Jeb Bush. In March Shanahan was also re-appointed to Florida’s State Board Of Education by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Talk abut coming full circle. Nice work, if you can get it.

But then if Scott gets his way, there will be a lot more jobs and profits where those came from for his new found friends like Jeb Bush and businesses like WRS Compass.

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Due to problems with claims from the BP oil disaster, Alex Sink has set up a new claims website for Floridians.

Sink has been critical of new claims czar Ken Feinberg, saying he’s paying “too little, too late:”

“I’m kind of the mind-set that enough is enough,” Sink, the Democrat candidate for governor, said at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. “I don’t know about you all but I’m sick and tired of this. These desperate people through no fault of their own having to shut their business down? That’s horrendous!”

Sink said the owners of Harmony Beach Vacations in Destin sent her an e-mail yesterday telling her they were going out of business because their claim for lost revenues has languished under both BP and Feinberg, who took over the oil giant’s maligned claims process for individuals and businesses on Aug. 23.

Feinberg hasn’t yet responded to a letter Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist sent to Feinberg last week demanding that he revamp his claims process and appear before them at their next Cabinet meeting in two weeks, Sink said.

Claims no doubt will be an ongoing problem for years to come, as Gulf Coast residents continue to feel setbacks from the disaster.

National Geographic published an article a few days ago showing that the oil is far from gone, and it illustrates how the disaster may have only just begun.

The new website, along with other oil spill resources can be found here.

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