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Posts Tagged ‘Deepwater Horizon’

Today House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bart Stupak released findings on how much BP has spent on advertising since the oil disaster to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) who prompted the probe.

Among the findings:

Between April 2010 and July 2010, BP spent more than $93 million on advertising. That equates to an average of $5 million a week.

That is triple the amount the company spent on advertising during the same time frame in 2009.

Castor’s office sent out the information in a news release:

Upon learning that BP has spent more than $93 million in advertising between April and July, Castor said: “BP’s extensive advertising campaign that is solely focused on polishing its corporate image in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout disaster is making people angry. As small businesses, fishermen, and mom and pop motels, hotels and restaurants struggle to make ends meet, they are bombarded by BP’s corporate marketing largess day after day. BP should be doing more to address the damage to the Gulf Coast tourism industry, fishing industry, and for researchers and for the taxpayers.

“While BP’s advertising campaign ramped up, businesses and the Gulf communities struggled to deal with the costs of the disaster. While BP’s advertising campaign is being executed like clockwork, business and state claims have languished. While BP certainly has the right to advertise, its approach has been insensitive to the taxpayers and business owners harmed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout. BP should use a significant portion of its advertising dollars to ease the strain on Florida small businesses that rely on tourism. Some of the focus should be devoted to marketing and advertising to promote the beautiful, pristine beaches of Florida and give a boost to our struggling tourism economy.”

Castor also referred to Conde Nast, University of Central Florida, U.S. Travel Association and other economic impact studies that have shown the economic impact of the BP oil disaster to tourism and the state’s overall economy is projected to be in the billions of dollars.

The letter to Rep. Castor, below:

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Don’t insult my intelligence. Again.

Since April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers (repeat: KILLED 11, many forget that part) we’ve all watched the disaster unfold in spite of the misinformation, or the lack of any whatsoever, from BP and others. Even after demands were met to put a live camera feed down below so we could get a graphic of the destruction, we were told not to believe our lying eyes. We were faced every day by the “can’t look away” horror of oil gushing out of that well, and for those of us who live in states along the Gulf Coast it’s like a palpable slow death on camera. We’ve been given so many conflicting statements and timelines there’s no room for a list here.

Today we heard some of the biggest, boldest, and quite frankly ridiculous statements yet. They would be laughable if the subject weren’t so deadly serious.

Just like magic, on the very same day, the gushing well which has defied all efforts imagined by man to plug it, has been fixed after only eight hours, AND almost all the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is gone! POOF! It’s a miracle!

Yes. That’s what we are to believe. And who wouldn’t have confidence in such a statement like this one:

“We’ve pretty much made this well not a threat, but we need to finish this from the bottom,” retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill response, told WWL-TV in New Orleans.

“We’ve pretty much made this well not a threat, but we need to finish this from the bottom,” What would we do without the genius that is Thad Allen and his BP friends? So much for the “technical oil industry jargon.” But since we’re on the subject, a well that is currently “pretty much not a threat” is neither “static” nor “killed” so let’s stop referring to it as such. The secret is “pretty much” out that Allen and the crew don’t have a clue, and calling this a “kill,” static or otherwise is tantamount to draping a “Mission Accomplished” banner over the gusher-cam at this point. Just say it: “Who knows?”

For those of you with posture-perfect mothers thanks to avoiding the cracked sidewalks of your childhood, here’s some more “news” for you to swallow:

About one-quarter of the BP oil that spilled out of its broken well remains in the Gulf, according to a report to be released Wednesday by scientists with the Interior Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Nearly three-quarters of the oil – more than 152 million gallons – has been collected at the well by a temporary containment cap, been cleaned up or chemically dispersed, or naturally deteriorated, evaporated or dissolved.

“It was captured. It was skimmed. It was burned. It was contained. Mother Nature did her part,” White House energy adviser Carol Browner said on NBC’s “Today” show.

“Captured, skimmed, burned, contained. One fish, two fish, dead fish, blue fish!” Mother Nature had nothing to do with this one.

Browner noticeably left out “dispersed.” Probably to avoid mentioning the toxic fairy dust they used to “disappear” all that oil. They don’t call it “Corexit” for nothing. Sounds so nice and tidy, doesn’t it? So what are we whining about? What we can’t see won’t kill us eventually. Right?

Meanwhile, back on the shore there are unemployed fishermen, some of whom still won’t or can’t sell fish from now “safe and open for fishing” waters. They don’t believe BP and the government’s safety claims either, They also know the oil isn’t out of sight:

Charter boat captain Randy Boggs, of Orange Beach, Ala., said Wednesday he has a hard time believing BP’s claims of success with the static kill and similarly dismissed the idea that only a quarter of the oil remains in the Gulf.

“There are still boats out there every day working, finding turtles with oil on them and seeing grass lines with oil in it,” said Boggs, 45. “Certainly all the oil isn’t accounted for. There are millions of pounds of tar balls and oil on the bottom.”

But I guess they wanted to get all these statements and declarations out there ahead of the next hurricane, because wow, would they have oil on their faces then. Whew!

So that’s it folks! Nothing to see here. The oil disaster in the Gulf is over. Solved. Gone. Just like that.

Please. Don’t insult my intelligence. Again.

Soon we’ll have no more fish to wrap in those full-page BP newspaper ads down here.

They’ll be COMPLETELY worthless.

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The second “Hands Across The Sand” event to protest offshore oil drilling, and the first since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is planned for June 26.

The Hands Across The Sand movement, founded in Florida earlier this year by Dave Rauschkolb, held its first statewide protest in February. Since then the group has grown considerably, especially in the wake of the ongoing BP oil spill.

The June event will take place in 30 states and nearly a dozen countries. The protest is a symbolic one. For 15 minutes participants join hands on a beach to form a human chain “to protect the shoreline.”

More information about the events and the locations can be found here.

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In case there’s anyone out there kidding themselves about the BP oil spill gusher in the Gulf Of Mexico and still have confidence they have a plan to plug the leak:

Here’s the plan.

Other than “ideas anyone?” any questions?

Now, as for a plan to limit the oil companies liability for the spill, well they’re all over that one. Just ask Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for starters. (Handy campaign contribution chart included.)

You’re welcome.

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A couple of funny things happened on the way to picking a city for the Republican 2012 Convention. First the Tea Baggers went to Utah and ousted three-term GOP Senator Bob Bennett because he wasn’t crazy enough for them. He just wouldn’t fit tidily enough into their little padded insanity box.

Then they passed a radical anti-immigration law in Arizona and people started boycotting the state in protest. (Although I think the real reason Arizona lost out was that John Boehner was in real danger of being detained the minute he so much as set an orange toe in the state without presenting proof of citizenship and, let’s face it that would be more embarrassing for the GOP than having a leader whose coloring is not one occurring in nature in the first place. Just sayin’.)

So that left the third runner-up and ugly step-child in the form of a swing state that “The Party of No” so desperately wants to win: Florida, and a city with a well-known GOP developer, Al Austin, who’s been frothing at the mouth for years over the prospect of a GOP convention coming to his town: Tampa.

So now as the planets apparently have aligned just right, have collided with the demented wing of the Grand Obstructionist Party, and intersected with a state where aliens, both illegal and interplanetary would have to prove they are citizens of these United States, the GOP convention lands in Florida, making us a karma bulls-eye come Hurricane season 2012. I smell a party!

Just Because They Are "The Party Of No" Doesn't Mean They Don't Plan To Party!

City leaders and big wigs gathered yesterday to wait for a phone call from Republican National Committee Chair Michael “What Up Home….Bro?” Steele, and they weren’t disappointed.

“We’re excited and ready to get to work on what we believe will be one of the best people’s conventions we’ve ever had,” Steele told the host committee members.

Well, Tampa isn’t Hawaii, but I’m sure Steele will find something to his liking to do while he’s in Tampa. The city does have a lucrative red-light district after all. Al Austin and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio probably weren’t the only ones celebrating after the announcement yesterday. Connoisseur of all things smut and multiple strip club franchise owner Joe Redner was probably thanking the God of Pole Dancing, or whatever God he worships, that the Party that parties in lesbian bondage clubs was coming to his very own city! What a “get” indeed! He’s probably making plans and sprucing up as I type.

Of course this will be good for local tourism and the economy in Tampa, but I’m guessing that, given the GOP’s proclivity for scandal it will be great for the private investigation industry as well.

“This is big fish, but it takes a long time to land one,” said Al Austin, co-chair of the host committee, who spearheaded two previous unsuccessful bids to land the convention.

Sadly though, by 2012 that is the only “big fish” we’re likely to see in Florida. Thanks to the GOP’s lust for “Free Market Oil,”  by 2012 there will probably be a fishing ban in place, our white sandy beaches will be black and sludge laden, and the Gulf Of Mexico will resemble a giant “hold-your-nose” gas-scented tub of oil with boats, jet ski’s and rubber rafts replaced by old tires and garbage, and “No Swimming” signs will dot the coastline. But not to worry, Republicans, it’s OK! By all means, please do come down and feel free to swim in our waters.

Come on in, the oil’s fine!

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As Gov. Charlie Crist called today for a special session of the Florida Legislature to permanently ban oil drilling off Florida waters and members of the GOP claimed it was little more than political pandering, I watched as the Senate Environment Committee hearings on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill got underway in Washington.

Officials from BP, Transocean, and Haliburton were all there amid reports earlier in the week stating that they would merely point fingers at one another in an attempt to skirt blame for the explosion, deaths and the spill. They didn’t disappoint. Fingers were pointed. And pointed. And pointed….

When questioning got a little uncomfortable for them, proponents from the “drill, baby, drill” crowd were there to soften the blows. Among them? Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to name just a few, who all expressed the need to keep drilling, baby!

Murkowski said “we can’t look at this sad chapter and conclude we should increase the billions of dollars to foreign governments that run greater risk and use our money against us.” While stressing to the oil executives that finger pointing wouldn’t do any good, she said to them: “We’re all in this together.” Speak for yourself, Sen. Murkowski.

Barrasso added a little twist to his statement, questioning if “terrorists would have been able to sabotage the rig?” (Answer: “that would be very difficult,” or: “Ha ha, ha….uh no.”)

Mary Landrieu, whose own state is currently absorbing the brunt of the oil, perhaps finishing off what’s left after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, was all but begging that oil drilling continue. She stated that most of the victims were also from Louisiana. After expressing sympathy for those victims and their families, Landrieu made one of the odder statements of the day, asking those listening to think “of how much oil we’re losing while the spill continues.” She said this with a look of absolute desperation on her face; all but pleading. Maybe she was more worried that future contributions were drying up before her very eyes and faster than any oil spill ever could.

Speaking for Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson stated that the spill was one of his greatest nightmares coming true if the oil isn’t stopped. He spoke of the concern that if the oil strays into the loop current, it would send the oil down the west coast of Florida, and into the Keys where coral reefs would be destroyed, eventually taking it into the Atlantic and beyond. In his discussion of the economic and environmental devastation, he went further and called for no exploratory drilling and no new drilling. “My question is ‘Is it worth the tradeoff to our economy in Florida…for 10 percent of the undiscovered oil in the Gulf of Mexico?”

National Security is also a factor according to Nelson, due to the effects new drilling would have on military training in the eastern Gulf.

Finally, Nelson pointed out problems with the Minerals Management Service that need to be addressed. Of the agency that oversees the oil industry, Nelson said it needs to be cleaned up and that the agency has a “sorry record of incestous relationships” with the oil industry, citing “sex parties” and “pot parties” that occurred when they were supposed to be regulating. Finally, along with reforming the MMS, he said their liability cap, now limited to $75 million, should be raised upwards of $10 billion.

Republican Sen. (and placeholder for a future (?) Sen. Charlie Crist) George LeMieux also spoke. LeMieux, who some say is contemplating the “drill here, drill now” club, gave the oil companies credit for trying, but “Unfortunately, your efforts to stop the wellhead leak have not been successful.” While BP has given the affected Gulf coast states each $25 million, LeMieux says that amount is insufficient.“Accordingly, greater and more substantial action is required. BP must inject significant and appropriate upfront capital to the Gulf States so that they can properly prepare for this looming disaster.”

And now, because the suspense is probably killing you, let’s get back to the finger pointing, shall we? WHOSE FAULT WAS IT? Well, funny story….

While the “prepared” statements from each company were written with much attention to detail, and were read distinctly and by seemingly articulate people, the actual question and answer sessions were quite the little train wreck. Had this been a court of law the oil companies might well have been toast by now. If I may translate, there were a lot of “I don’t knows” and “well, um’s” and “eh…..uh…we…uh..” and lots of uncomfortable silence. In other words, these men are clueless and have no idea what they are doing. But then you probably figured that out already when you heard of their latest feat of engineering in which they will try to plug the leak with old tires and garbage.

BP: “The problem could have been the cementing.”

Transocean: “The failure was with the casing and cement.”

Haliburton: “Don’t rush to judgment.”

There was however, one question that got a a very clear answer:

Q. “How much will BP pay?

A: “All legitimate claims.”

Really?

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Navarre Beach, Florida

Ever since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform on April 20, 2010, and the subsequent oil spill, or rather the oil gusher, the entire issue of allowing offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico only miles from Florida has become just another political football. Politicians and elected officials have begun wavering on their policy stance. Some have started to change their minds, while others remain steadfast in their belief that drilling is still good energy policy and that it can be done safely. The most recent example is one of Florida’s candidates for U.S. Senate, Republican Marco Rubio. Recently when discussing how far away from the coast drilling should take place he said:

“The goal is not buffers, the goal is energy policy that’s safe and effective. Clearly, no one wants to see this ever happen again. And I’ve not heard anyone say you can not safely drill for oil because there are thousands of rigs drilling even as we speak, that are not leaking, that are not causing this ecological disaster.

Read that statement carefully: “I’ve not heard anyone say you can not safely drill for oil…” What more proof does Mr. Rubio need to convince him that drilling is a bad idea and not safe? Apparently for him, as long as he doesn’t “hear” the name “Deepwater Horizon” spoken aloud, it didn’t happen? It only takes one incident to destroy an entire ecosystem.

Before they decide to make decisions about drilling off the Florida coast, regardless of how far out the platforms should be, maybe they should try something new: Ask the voters.

I spent the last three days traveling in some of the areas where the oil is most likely to first make landfall in Florida, and did just that. The questions and answers they had were the ones that politicians should really be paying attention to, and they had absolutely nothing to do with politics. They’re concerned about survival, and not just their own, but of the environment.

Destin, Florida

In Pensacola Beach, it’s the family owned restaurant that’s made it through hurricanes and fires, and whose owners don’t have any health insurance. If oil lands on their shores, it will destroy the local fishing industry, tourism, and the beach environment for years to come.

In Navarre, there’s a small family owned souvenir shell shop, one of three stores, whose owner is a third generation native. “Mr. Bill” as he’s called is 80 years old. He says the oil spill hasn’t been a problem for them yet, but the tourist season has yet to begin. Ask his two daughters who work in the shops about the Deepwater Horizon incident and they have plenty to say:

“People are panicking. This will kill the environment and then it will kill us, kill our livelihood.” We are the only country who doesn’t have shut-off valves (on oil drilling rigs), the only one. Why is that? Whose idea was it to not have them? No one asked us if we should have them or not. Are we that stupid?”

As for tourists who have been there recently, “You ask them why they’ve come and they say: we’ve they come to say goodbye to the beach.”

Mr. Bill’s other daughter has concerns about how they’re being treated and what little information they’re getting:

“We feel like they’re giving us no hope.” She tells about a meeting local residents had with the Chamber of Commerce, and there was very little information.

“The other day I picked up Time magazine and there was just one tiny little article on the spill. It’s like we’ve been written off already.”

In Destin, the manager of a local restaurant says her customers aren’t only tourists, but locals and snowbirds who come down year after year. Even though she doesn’t rely on tourists, it probably won’t matter.

“A lot of my customers come from up North. They love us and they’re like old friends. If the oil comes here, it will ruin the beaches along with the rest of the environment, and the local fishermen will lose their businesses. Without those things, we’ll lose the tourists, and then the economy. Those snowbirds will have nothing to come back for. It’s all going to trickle down and hurt our business.”

Asking her what she thinks about the political posturing over oil, and she says simply:

“It’s too late for politics. We need to get this fixed!”

As for a waitress there serving us, who says she’s having panic attacks now after watching the news, she also worries about what’s in the chemical dispersants they’re using on the oil slick:

“Nobody asked me if I wanted them to spray more chemicals on the oil.”

The issue of offshore drilling isn’t only about energy policy and politics. It’s about survival of the environment, people, and survival literally of the State of Florida. While it may be easy to make decisions for others from an office in Tallahassee or Washington D.C. by consulting experts and doing studies to determine what impact something like oil gushers, not spills, gushers, will have on people, there’s one true barometer that will spell it out clearer than any other. It’s those who will suffer the impact themselves.

Really. Just ask them.




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