May 24, 2010

The nuclear option... in the Gulf of Mexico.



Quite aside from that madness — it is madness, isn't it? — how can President Obama go on and on waiting and blaming BP?
There’s no doubt. The responsibility to run the effort to stanch the oil flow lies with the White House. It was pretty clear on May 14 and is clearer now: Move over, BP.

135 comments:

Palladian said...

But waiting and blaming is what Obama does best!

AJ Lynch said...

Shouldn't we have had a Plan A and a Plan B and a Plan C? etc?

It does us little good to be saying "Yeah but BP is gonna get the bill for all this!". That is why you don't call a lawyer when your house is on fire or someone is robbing you.

Fred4Pres said...

Well once done with BP, Obama will move on to George Bush and of course Sarah Palin. That should carry him till they get around to capping it sometime this summer.

Maguro said...

I tend to think that an aggressive Federal cleanup effort would probably do more harm than good at this point. The delicate ecosystems that everyone is worried will be damaged more by well-intentioned cleanup personnel than by the oil itself. The focus for BP and the government should be on stopping further spillage at the source.

Dale said...

Who is that anchorbabe in the video? She talks like she's farting in cadences out of her mouth.

Or is this a broadcast for children?

AJ Lynch said...

Was that The Onion Althouse?

Big Mike said...

We have the TVs in our cafeteria tuned to CNN, and I saw Governor Jindal followed by a bunch of politicians from Washington, DC (including the totally feckless Napolitano). I was struck both by Jindal's urgency, as well as by the obvious fact that he was actually proposing to do something. Everybody else was "we'll see to it that ..." and "we'll see to it this ..." and a couple "we'll force BP to ..."

Only one person was actually saying "here's a plan that's doable with the resources we have. If you've got a better one, let's hear it." And that was Jindal.

Good man. I know you don't like Jindal, Beth, but from Northern Virginia it sure looks to me like you're lucky you have him.

PatCA said...

Hey, it worked in Hollywood. Maybe they got the idea from the Russians.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJmCFfNWAE4

Fred4Pres said...

The most critical thing is stop more oil. That and skimmers when the slicks get close to marshes and shorelines.

Big Mike said...

And, no, it's not madness. It might actually work. Of course the fish from the Gulf of Mexico might be radioactive for the next several decades, and all the H2O released into the atmosphere will seriously mess with the climate in the Northern Hemisphere for a few years, but that's just details.

Besides, the US hasn't tested any of its nuclear warheads in a long time. We need to find out if they still work.

To quote Victor in Letters to Juliet, "win-win."

Big Mike said...

Just joking!!!

Yes, it's madness.

Beth said...

I'm furious with BP, and I'm furious with the feds - Obama, yes, and many years of them. But I'm off the grid for discussions bent on grinding that wheel for now. There's the leak, and the encroachment into the wetlands, and onto the barrier islands and beaches. Everything else is a sideshow. Stopping what can be stopped, saving what can be saved, protecting our people and our habitat - that's all that matters right now. Sort out the political bullshit later. There are investigations going on, we'll have plenty of data and facts to sift through.

Althouse, if you're seriously interested in what's happening in the Gulf, go beyond the NYT and LA Times, and Washington Post, and follow some local coverage as well:

www.wwltv.com
www.nola.com
@TheLensNOLA ( Twitter)
thelensnola.org
www.thedeadpelican.com
www.fox8live.com

Beth said...

The focus for BP and the government should be on stopping further spillage at the source.

That, but we have to also be aggressive about stopping the encroachment. There are two tasks here, three with cleanup. Each needs its own leadership.

sunsong said...

This is an horrendous disaster - really a global disaster - we are all interconnected now.

Obama can't blame his way out this. We have a combination of corporate greed and government ineptitude and the damage is much worse than we are being told.

Obama has let down his own people. What a jerk!

blake said...

Relax, people.

We'll always have healthcare reform.

AJ Lynch said...

Is it true the treeguggers are forcing the wells farther and farther out to sea? And that means deeper drills and bigger potential for catastrophes like this?

Beth said...

Big Mike, Jindal's a good problem solver. Not a good governor, but he shines in situations like this. I've been behind him on the dredging plan. There will be environmental costs to it, but right now birds are nesting, shrimp are spawning and all sorts of species are at their most vulnerable. We may have to make a tradeoff and berms made first of sand bags and later of dredged sand look to be at least one means of holding the oil back from the most delicate systems. And I'm really, really tired of waiting for the EPA, and the Corps of Engineers to approve it. We're about to get anarchical down here.

former law student said...

Touching, really, the faith people have in the power of big government. Has anyone asked Grover Norquist yet if he still wants it small enough to drown in a bathtub?

AJ Lynch said...

Neither Bush nor Obama care about New Orleans.

Beth said...

When I say "hold the oil back" I mean hold back what hasn't already hit. We're losing ground daily. The tide is bringing it up into the marshes, at least 12 miles in by now, maybe more since the last story I read. These areas contain dolphins, turtles, pelican and their eggs, oyster beds and shrimp and fish estuaries.

It's a horrible, horrible disaster.

edutcher said...

Obama's Katrina, they're calling it, but it's gonna be worse than that. Wait till summer and the Gulf and Atlantic coast states start losing tourism money. They had a year to get ready for this and they have no plan, really, and a lot of the equipment wasn't even available. Best of all, it looks more and more as if the administration was in bed with BP.

Then there's the guy on The Zero's 'elite team' of scientists who was let go because he didn't tow the party line on some environmental issues.

Sounds like Himmler creating 'Aryan Science' and getting rid of all the Jews in academia.

(Breach of Godwin, I know)

AJ Lynch said...

Shouldn't we have had a Plan A and a Plan B and a Plan C? etc?

Last I'd heard, every administration since Nixon did.

Until now.

Maguro said...

I tend to think that an aggressive Federal cleanup effort would probably do more harm than good at this point.

I have a feeling that's not the plan - although it may become it.

Beth said...

Shouldn't we have had a Plan A and a Plan B and a Plan C? etc?

Last I'd heard, every administration since Nixon did.


Citation, please. When has there been a plan for the black swan event, and when was it abandoned?

Gabriel Hanna said...

A nuclear blast isn't necessarily madness, and it isn't necessarily going to make anything radioactive, and we're not going to have extra global warming from the water vapor any more than we did from the Bikini tests.

If you haven't guessed, I'm not very impressed by the fears of people who don't know a gamma ray from an alpha particle.


I have no reason to think a nuclear blast is called for in this case, but fear-mongering about scary radiation is NEVER called for.

AJ Lynch said...

I think Plan A would be allow BP to try to stop the leak while,at the same time,the federal poobahs brainstorm, prepare and trigger the execution of Plan B and C when /if BP's Plan A fails.

It appears Obama admin never did the work of planning or brainstorming for Plan B and Plan C.

AJ Lynch said...

If the fish were radioactive, you could use UV lights to highlight the bones when your were cleaning them for dinner.

EdF said...

Karma for Obama has arrived, but at a devastating cost. If he keeps blaming BP, yet continues to let BP run the cleanup operation, then he looks weak and ineffectual at best, and bought off by campaign contributions at worst. If and when he finally acts, why so late? If and when Jindal gets approval for his begged-for booms, why so long to do it?

Quayle said...

Maybe Obama can organize a teach-in to help bring focus to, and solve the problem.

This is what happens when you elect a professor as chief executive officer.

Flexo said...

Said Barack Obama, "It's not my fault. It's not my job, it's BP's job. BP needs to clean it up, or George Bush, but not me. Not my responsibility, so leave me alone already. Just let me eat my waffle."

Theo Boehm said...
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EDH said...

I don't think using a weapon in this way would be madness.

The greater downside would be providing oil-producing Iran with a pretext for developing a "peaceful" nuclear bomb.

Theo Boehm said...
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Beth said...

Theo, you are correct. Pardon me, though, if I decline to participate. There are in fact some smart and well-meaning people here who have some intelligent and interesting things to say in such a discussion. There are also a lot of hacks, and I just can't let myself pay attention to them.

Seven Machos said...

Poor Obama. Governing is hard.

But I thought Kevin Costner had this all figured out.

Seven Machos said...

Also, having read through the thread, I realize that this is a serious, awful thing. Just horrendous on every level. BP should pay billions.

However, Beth, and as wrong as it is, you have to understand that conservatives are experiencing a little schadenfreude here after Katrina was blamed on Bush for months.

C Black said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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C Black said...

@Beth: "Jindal's a good problem solver. Not a good governor..." Some of us Louisianian's might draw a common-sense link betwixt the two. But, then, we would be the Louisianian's that elected him...
I'm not coastal, I'll admit. But the coast and it's wetlands (and the Gulf "Dead Zone") have always been of concern to me and I hope for the best just like you. And the sand traps ain't perfect, but "ain't perfect" describes any solution right now and "any solution" is better than ANYTHING Obama, Inc. has come up with in a MONTH!
Just, please don't give Obama a pass for anything you wouldn't give Bush a pass on. That matters because integrity matters.

P.S. I think President Obama will ask North Korea and Iran to NUKE the Gulf of Mexico as a show of good faith between our nations.

houstonian said...

The nuke solution is real, as the video states the Russians used it 3 or 4 times. It is not an insane idea; just obsolete. Back when the Russians did this the technology of directional drilling was not sufficiently advanced to enabled drilling a second well that intersects the first well. Therefore there was no possibility of killing the well via drilling a relief well as BP is currently doing.

The nuke idea involves drilling a well a mile or so deep and in relative proximity to the wild well. A warhead is placed in the new well, which is then sealed above the warhead. When the warhead detonates the resulting shock wave shifts the rock enough to crush the wild well bore, shutting the well in. The detonation occurs so far underground in a cemented in well that no radioisotopes are released into the environment.

Nowadays directional drilling is so accurate that the kill well can be drilled so close to the wild well that conventional explosives can be used. Either way, the seismic/hydrostatic shock wave from the detonation is likely to damage all of the other equipment in proximity to the well (ROVs, control pods, etc) and thus this represents the final, Hail Mary solution, with no likely interventions possible thereafter. Plan Z, if you will.

C Black said...

@Beth: P.S. I like your Blog! At least what I saw; i.e. Good Food! Like I said, I am from Louisiana.

Beth said...

Back when the Russians did this the technology of directional drilling was not sufficiently advanced to enabled drilling a second well that intersects the first well.

They're doing that now, but it's a long process. The despair we are experiencing is exactly because the damage moves much faster than any hope of closing that well.

Beth said...

c black, thanks for checking out my blog. We're both Louisianians; we don't have to be political allies, we can still love our state.

I'm not giving Obama a pass here - I've been very frustrated with many, many things coming out of Washington in this catastrophe. We have a good radio host here, Garland Robinette, who attacks what he calls the Demodon'ts and Republican'ts. I'm inclined to think that way, myself. I'm not invested in defending Obama, or Bush.

Beth said...

Seven, enjoy the schadenfreude. I'm tuning it out.

houstonian said...

One of the frustrations being inside the industry looking out is that the outside world is not seeing any of the work going on to solve this problem. BP is basically enforcing radio-silence. I understand why their lawyers are doing this to try to limit liability, but I think it is highly counterproductive in the larger political sense. I think what will determine if BP continues as a solvent viable company is not the lawsuits but the political reaction, and I don't think BP is comprehending this.

From my involvement at the periphery of this effort I would guess literally thousands of engineers are working on this. Stuff that normally takes weeks is occurring in days or hours. From the outside, though, I would guess it looks like the effort is floundering.

Call me naive, but I think BP & the administration should have embedded some journalists in this effort instead of clamming up. At least it would have enabled the outside world to understand why this is taking so long to fix, and why so many seemingly simple solutions that bloggers are suggesting wouldn't work.

I think this one will go down in history as a textbook example of bad crisis management.

Theo Boehm said...
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Ralph L said...

Obama has the MSM on his side because they know it's racist to show the little birdies in blackface.

Where's the Monty Python 16 ton weight when you need it?

houstonian said...

To clarify, I think BP's leading of the engineering response has been excellent. This is simply a really difficult problem that requires some time to fix.

It is their handling of the PR side of the response that has been bad.

Theo Boehm said...
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C Black said...

@Houstonian: I'm not being antagonistic only curious. You have written that you're on the inside looking out. Are you involved in the effort to stem this, ahem, "tide"? Do you think that the Administration has done all it could i.e. the Rapid Response control actions that the government and industry has at its disposal not to mention government inspections and demands for PROOF of "Holy-Shit-WTF?!!" emergency contingency preparations; not just "plugging the hole" finger-crossing after the cluster-fark has already destroyed the Gulf. Seriously, I don't think either the industry or the government ever put much thought into what would happen if everything didn't go perfectly. Essentially, they got Cocky. Then, they got Cold-Cocked. I'm really concerned now that this is just the first Domino in a chain of "Ooops!" moments. Soothe me. Soothingly.

Theo Boehm said...
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Fen said...

Beth: Seven, enjoy the schadenfreude. I'm tuning it out.

Of course you are.

Wish you had been this rational on Katrina.

wv: sitetic, situational ethics

Fen said...

Call me naive, but I think BP & the administration should have embedded some journalists in this effort instead of clamming up

I bet they thought it over, and then remembered 1) how the "journalists" distorted Katrina and 2) that they are "Big Oil".

Clamming up looks bad now only because its the lesser of two evils.

Theo Boehm said...
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houstonian said...

C Black, I'm not involved in the cleanup in any way, I work in a tertiary subsea equipment manufacturer. I'm only very slightly involved in the effort to do failure analysis, but I know people who have been a bit more involved (still distantly) in the get-the-damn-thing-shut-in effort.

I've been working in the industry for 13 years now. In that time I have been involved with MMS a little bit, in an attempt to introduce a new technology into the industry, and work with them on developing their regulations as to what they will allow engineering-wise. My impression was that they were extremely conservative and risk-averse. This was during the Bush admin. The technology has still not been introduced (14 years after the effort started) and it has been in widespread use in other industries for about 30 years now. You have probably been in situations where your life depended upon it (sorry to be vague, I don't want to get fired).

There are people in the MMS with technical expertise, but it is not the sort of nitty-gritty detail expertise that would be required to solve this. The only option is to rely on BP, who themselves are relying on the subcontractors, who themselves are relying on their subs.

I don't think the accident is either Bush's fault or Obama's. Efforts to portray it as such are remarkably hack-y.

You can make a credible argument that the cleanup effort should be under the aegis of the state/fed government, and draw conclusions of competence thereof. I have no insight to offer there.

Oil drilling is dangerous. Sometimes people get killed. Sometimes disasters occur. I would note in our defense that the US oil industry is producing about one major disaster every quarter-century, which compares favorably with e.g. NASA and extremely favorably with the commercial airline industry.

C Black said...

@Houstonian: BUT, even though I have these serious concerns and expectations; I do not relish giving more money to foreign dictatorial douches to pump more crude. But really? Do you think no one ever even thought: "Hmm, what, if, y'know...this thing blows up? What then?" That seems like...engineering / industry / governmental oversight to my naive eyes.

C Black said...

@Houstonian: Well, thanks for the response. I wrote my last previous comment right as you posted your response; but I'll leave it up for it's rhetorical value.

Eric said...

it is madness, isn't it?

Well, it probably is right now. But if this thing is still going in three years despite all attempts to plug it, then no, it isn't madness.

EdF said...

From this article.


Jindal is still waiting for the federal government to provide millions of feet in boom and to approve an emergency permit for a state plan to dredge and build new barrier islands to keep the oil from reaching the marshes and wetlands.

Jindal is so desperate for the islands, he's said he'll build them even if it sends him to jail.

"We've been frustrated with the disjointed effort to date that has too often meant too little, too late for the oil hitting our coast," Jindal said.


Why hasn't Jindal gotten the help he's been asking for, especially since the requests seem actionable? I'm cynically wondering if the administrating is calculating that not taking charge at this time is more politically expedient, because doing something now would underscore tardiness of action. What rational reason exists that justifies not having already given Jindal the permit he's been requesting requesting?

houstonian said...

The industry was engaged in what-if exercises; there was for example an experiment done in the North Sea a few years ago where a bunch of oil was released at 2500' and the resultant spill analyzed. I believe dispersants were tested in that as well. The great insight from that experiment was that only a tiny portion of the oil made it to the surface. That is probably not a happy thought, at this point, with what seems like a lot of oil washing ashore.

Also, there was a a similar blowout offshore Australia a year or two ago, which was shut in after a month or so. So this situation is not unprecedented. (Not even in the Gulf; there was a bad blowout off of Mexico in the 70s.) There have been efforts in the industry to prepare for this.

I would fault my industry for not having some of the assets pre-built and available (the cofferdam, for example), and in not having a more well-thought-out response strategy in place. And certainly the environmental impact potential-disaster assessments in the well license which have been published seem like over-optomistic BS in hindsight.

As far as the efforts to do the top-kill later this week, I don't really see how that could have occurred more quickly. It required rebuilding the choke & kill lines off of the wellhead (robotically, via ROVs), and installing a new manifold next to the well. That takes a few weeks to accomplish. (See the BP animation of the top-kill.)

I guess I'm suggesting that I'm not sure how much the situation would have been improved in an ideal, well-prepared world. It really is a very hard situation to deal with.

Whether this risk is worth the oil is not really my call to make.

Alex said...

FLS:

Touching, really, the faith people have in the power of big government.

Remind me to explain you the difference between libertarians and anarchists. But I suspect there is no difference in your mind.

Fen said...

Hmmmm. For context I tried to google the worst/longest blowout.

This return was interesting on several points:

"In the next nine months, experts and divers including Red Adair were brought in to contain and cap the oil well.[6] Approximately an average of ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped on 23 March 1980, nearly 10 months later.[7] Prevailing currents carried the oil towards the Texas coastline. The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Eventually, in the US, 162 miles (261 km) of beaches and 1421 birds were affected by 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil.[7] Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided paying compensation by asserting sovereign immunity.[8]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_I_oil_spill

Seven Machos said...
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Fen said...

"We are on them, watching them,” Napolitano said. “We are going to stay on this and stay on BP until this gets done and it gets done the right way.”

[....]

Seven Machos said...

Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided paying compensation by asserting sovereign immunity.

Pemex being the national oil company of Mexico if I recall. Being able to sue people and companies who fuck up royally into oblivion is one more reason to hate socialism and like keeping as much as possible in the private sphere.

Fen said...

But cant BP do the same? Should we be expecting that?

C Black said...

"Jindal is so desperate for the islands, he's said he'll build them even if it sends him to jail." Another Louisiana Governor sent to Jail? No, Bobby, No! Seriously, though, if Obama sent Jindal to jail; 2012 would write itself: "Democrats use utter contempt for American public as fail-safe against complete incompetence." Ugh. Time to sleep fo' me!

Seven Machos said...

BP is a private company operating privately. I own stock, sadly.

I don't think there is any question that BP can be sued in the United States. There's no sovereign immunity for private companies.

Off the top of my head, there are some interesting questions of territoriality. Also, who has standing to sue? I would imagine, though, that all of these things were worked out when BP got the green light to drill in the first place.

houstonian said...

If I may be permitted to get philosophical in the way people do at 2AM...

I obviously went to an engineering school. As such, I missed out on the classic liberal arts college experience, with all that entails both positive and negatively.

Often, when the subject of somebody majoring in something like "Lithuanian Folklore" arises, some skeptic asks, "what the hell use is a degree like that in the real world?," no doubt implicitly contrasting it in their mind with something like an engineering degree. The response from academia is usually something like, "no, you don't understand: we are teaching students how to think, and that is usefully generally..."

You can say the same thing about an engineering education. There are insights to be had which have nothing to do with calculating stresses and flow rates. Such as:

There is an external reality. It is what it is. It is not what you perceive it to be. It is not what you want it to be. It simply is. If you believe that you have designed a failsafe thing, and it blows up and kills 11 of your acquaintances, and creates an environmental catastrophe, you are objectively wrong. Nothing personal. This is not about politics, about whether you are a leftist or rightist, or whether this validates your libertarian views of the role of the government. This is simply the universe, doing what it does, following the laws of physics, with no concern whatsoever about what goes on in between your ears. And you have to deal with that reality, not your own. You have to face this objective external reality and deal with it on its terms. This is what you have to do to staunch the flow. This is the only thing you can do.

This stands in sharp contrast to other fields of academic inquiry, who for example have convinced themselves that the literary criticism of a work of art is more important, and more meaningfully real, than the artwork itself.

Would a lawyer be included in that culture? Would a politician?

It occurs to me that this may be the first time in Obama's life wherein he has faced an inanimate, immovable object, a problem with no face, no soul, no political meaning. It simply is what it is; it simply is a thing which cannot be spun. It exists in an external, objective reality, and does so under its own rules, and is completely oblivious to your needs, wants, credentials, power and ego. You cannot accuse it of racism.

Is this a silent existential terror for Obama and his cohort?

I am morbidly fascinated by this.

And I need sleep.

Fen said...

There is an external reality. It is what it is. It is not what you perceive it to be. It is not what you want it to be. It simply is. If you believe that you have designed a failsafe thing, and it blows up and kills 11 of your acquaintances, and creates an environmental catastrophe, you are objectively wrong. Nothing personal.

You reminded me of Bill Whittle's Tribes. He has your background and he wrote:

"Then, in the other corner, there is the Grey Tribe – the grey of reinforced concrete. This is a Tribe where emotion is repressed because Emotion Clouds Judgment. This is the world of Quadratic Equations and Stress Risers and Loads Torsional, Compressive and Tensile, a place where Reality Can Ruin Your Best Day, the place where Murphy mercilessly picks off the Weak and the Incompetent, where the Speed Limit is 186,282.36 mph, where every bridge has a Failure Load and levees come in 50 year, 100 year and 1000 Year Flood Flavors.

The Grey Tribe motto is, near as I can tell, THINGS BREAK SOMETIMES AND PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE MY BRIDGE."


Once you catch up on sleep, read the whole thing. I think you'll appreciate it.

http://pajamasmedia.com/ejectejecteject/2009/10/07/tribes-2/

Beth said...

c black - I added some posts to my blog; you might enjoy the one on Bacon.

Beth said...

c black, you know I'm no Jindal fan, but know this: if Jindal goes to jail, a whole bunch of us will be going with him.

This is so complex; these fishing communities that are going broke, and losing their family culture that goes back many generations, are also longtime supporters of the oil industry. BP's lack of grace in dealing with them is a slap in the face.

But they're so wrapped up together: you have BP employees, sheriff's officers, and fisherman all in the same families. Right now, BP's riding herd on the locals, who are afraid for their livelihoods, and hoping to be on BP's payroll for working the booms and the beach cleanups. But let BP or the feds act to stop them from protecting their coast, and you'll see some action. Already, Jefferson Parish commandeered a bunch of inactive boats and boom that BP had just sitting out on the water, with no one to operate them.

master cylinder said...

gee.... a clean up sounds like big government.....
big government is bad.
And Obama hasnt done it!

rhhardin said...

Lower the seas like Obama promised.

The the oil wouldn't reach the shoreline.

edutcher said...

master cylinder said...

gee.... a clean up sounds like big government.....

Only to you, maybe. Once again government is proving it often does more harm than good.

AllenS said...

There two forces at work here, the Fed Gov and BP. It would have been nice if Mr. Affirmative Action had said that the Fed Gov would be helping BP with it's clean up, or that the Fed Gov would be taking charge of the situation and that BP would be assisting in the clean up, but no, Obama will do what he's always done, blame everyone else for the situation that he finds himself in.

Those that voted for Obama, sent a boy to do a man's job.

Roger J. said...

Appreciate the informed commentary. The operative statues that govern emergency management are the stafford act (which Gov Jindhal as employed by asking for federal assistance)--the other two statute, not parfticularly relevant in this case are the insurrection act and posse comitatus. As a general rule, emergency managment is a local responsibility, although in this case I think it can be argued that the feds should have been involved much earlier in the process. There does not appear to be any federal contingency plans for such a disaster and their slow response is certainly blameworthy.

Beth--appreciate your concern for the ecological impact as I grew up in south florida and am very aware of the role of coastal wetlands in preserving the ecology of the gulf. Will be checking in on your blog.

This isnt the time for assigning blame--this is the time for action. Lets get on with it.

HDHouse said...

Just curious as to what ever happened to government intrusion into private businesses?

The cleanup bill and residual damages to the Gulf, the businesses, and lo if that spill gets down to the Keys and around the bend - well 100 billion $s seems within reach.

BP has the market cap to be worth that but they can't and won't pay that so we pay and grab equity.

Go put on a CD of wolves howling in the winter night and that will be the right wing of this country lamenting one more government intrusion and one more socialist grab at a core business.

HDHouse said...

Fred4Pres said...
Well once done with BP, Obama will move on to George Bush and of course Sarah Palin. That should carry him till they get around to capping it sometime this summer."

Well I disagree with George Bush being included. He is anonymous - something that he richly deserves. Substitute a Cheney for him...then you have the trifecta of incompetence, greed and uncontrolled spewing.

Fred4Pres said...

Didn't MacArthur want to use a river of radioactive waste to stop the Chinese coming into North Korea? Good times. Good times.

Fred4Pres said...

HD House, oooh Cheney and Haliburton, ooooooooh.

That will buy Obama a week or too. Ooooooh.

Hagar said...

Stopping the leak is a job for Red Adair/John Wayne of which the Feds ain't got none. However, one must wonder why the Feds have not gotten involved with the contamination prevention/clean-up efforts after more than a month. It would seem like the President could at least have told the EPA and the Corps to stand aside and stop hindering the State and locals from doing something!

Class factotum said...

There is an external reality. It is what it is. It is not what you perceive it to be. It is not what you want it to be. It simply is. If you believe that you have designed a failsafe thing, and it blows up and kills 11 of your acquaintances, and creates an environmental catastrophe, you are objectively wrong.

The rumor when I was in college was that they didn't give partial credit at Texas A&M. Either the bridge stood or it didn't. It didn't matter if you got most of the problem correct if you would have had a failure in the real world.

AllenS said...

I bought gas yesterday from the BP convenience store. Gas prices have went down this past week.

Thanks, BP, for providing me with this necessity of life. I really appreciate it.

For those who don't appreciate all of the enormous costs involved in drilling for this stuff, and the hard dangerous work that these people do, please quit driving.

Theo Boehm said...
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Brad V said...

OPA?

MadisonMan said...

I think this one will go down in history as a textbook example of bad crisis management.

Agree. No information is so very bad.

Lawyers -- I assume they are driving the public face of BP's response -- can be really clueless.

AllenS said...

The nuke solution is real, as the video states the Russians used it 3 or 4 times

Wait one fucking minute. When did this happen? I'd like to think that the Russians setting off nuclear explosions, for whatever reason, would have been a big fucking news story. Yet, I can't recall ever, ever hearing about the Russians doing this. And I don't want to hear about a news story from this past couple of weeks either, I want the original story from the year that it happened. My BS detector is going off.

AllenS said...

Besides, if there was the option of setting off a nucular (I almost forgot how to spell the word) bomb, they'd have to get one from the Obama administration. I'll tell you something right now, that ain't gonna fuckin happen.

Fen said...

Agree. No information is so very bad.


http://www.bp.com/bodycopyarticle.do?categoryId=1&contentId=7052055

response
Latest news:
Update on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response - 25 May. Subsea efforts continue to focus on progressing options to stop the flow of oil from the well through interventions via the MC252 blow out preventer (BOP) and to collect the flow of oil from the leak points. These efforts are being carried out in conjunction with industry experts and governmental authorities.

Read the full press release
Recent updates:
Press release: BP Briefs US Government on Initial Perspectives of Deepwater Horizon Investigation, 24 May
Kent Wells Technical Update, 24 May
Press release: Update on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response, 24 May
Latest media interview with BP executives, 24 May
Press release: BP Reiterates Oil Spill Response Transparency, 21 May

Response quick links:
Response in detail
Response in pictures
Response in video
Read our press releases
Keep up to date
Follow us on Twitter Official Facebook page RSS FeedLatest video updates from BP
Below are the latest video updates released by BP:

BOP modification for Top Kill procedure, 24 May
Water Samples Evaluation, 22 May
Video: Community Outreach Centers, 21 May
Ed Owens SCAT Team overview, 17 May
More video updates from BP

Fen said...

it looks like Obama is making a solid effort not to be able to communicate to the public an overall picture of the situation, what is being done, and what's expected.

"Never let a crisis go to waste"

LarsPorsena said...

What we have here is politicians, social scientists, and lawyers trying to solve an engineering problem. They can pass resolutions, write poignant letters, and file suits to no avail. A la Canute they are demanding the oil tide to recede.

roesch-voltaire said...

Houstonian thanks for adding some hands on real life perspective free of easy blame. I suppose in someway we are all responsible given our never ending use of oil, but as you point out the technology to possibly solve problem this can not be implemented in days. Perhaps such faith in technology keeps both BP and the Govt in denial. After all this many are still calling for drill baby drill, and given the denial factor we will baby will.

Joe said...

Madness or no...I believe that the explosion of nuclear device would be illegal.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think our Catholic parish, with connections through the Pastor to New Orleans, is organizing volunteers to ultimately go help with the cleanup, but it's very unclear just yet if that is possible or useful.

How about all those unemployed people sitting around in their Katrina trailers collecting welfare checks. Get them off their asses and back down to Louisiana and make them work for once in their sorry lives.

Win win.

Seriously. This is a terrible terrible ecological and economic disaster. The Federal Government was not prepared with equipment or a mobilization plan for just such a disaster.

Obama is the head of the Federal Government and the buck stops right at his desk. Did he create the disaster. No. BUT he IS responsible for the response to it.

Obama is epic EPIC fail, and still wants to point fingers and play the blame game. We have a narcissistic child in the White House while the world is doing a melt down.

We are so so so fucking screwed.

GMay said...

For the few commenters who still just don't get it, those who are asking Obama "wtf?" aren't doing so becaue they want big government intrusion.

The liberals/left/MSM mercilessly hammered, pilloried, castigated, and whined incessantly about Bush and his federal government after Katrina. We had, and sometimes still have it shoved down our throats that the Katrina disaster was a federal failure. That misconception is now canon to the public.

So you anyone who bought off on that should not be surprised or angry when it comes full circle. You made your bed, so you might as well get comfy. Besides, assigning blame is the first step in any American crisis these days, or hasn't that memo gotten out yet?

Hopefully this will be a teaching moment for everyone that thinks the Feds are capable of riding to the rescue with their calvary of Skittle-shitting unicorns whenever something goes awry.

Rialby said...

Btw, in a bull session over cerveza the other day, I asked the question - why can't the Navy fire torpedos at the hole in an attempt to stop the flow? My friends scoffed. And then I saw this.

Solution, perhaps?

Big Mike said...

Jindal's a good problem solver. Not a good governor.

I think that being a good problem-solver is part of being a good governor. This is not the time or the place, Beth, but someday you'll have to explain what -- besides his party affiliation -- you don't like about Jindal.

@Gabriel, actually I do know the difference between alpha particles and gamma radiation. FWIW, I cornered a climate scientist I'm working with, and he says that the WRF weather model that NOAA uses doesn't do a good job of handling cloud albedo or the greenhouse effect of H2O. Apparently no one knows how much H2O would be thrown up into the atmosphere by detonating a nuclear device deep underwater, much less where it would all come down as rainfall -- probably not over the Southeastern states, but possibly as close as the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. Obama couldn't be bothered with the flooding in Nashville, but perhaps if Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York and Boston are underwater he could bestir himself.

And that's ignoring any tsunamis that might be thrown up against the Louisiana wetlands; the Gulf coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida; not to mention (are we ready for another war with them?) Mexico.

I don't think you'll get radioactive shrimp, much less cheap 1950's horror movie giant crawfish or something. And I'm as aware of that as you are. But as a practical matter hardly anybody would be willing to eat fish, shellfish, or oysters caught in the Gulf after a nuclear detonation for years to come.

Yes, it's madness.

bagoh20 said...

Shrink the Department of Education by 95% leaving it for only research and analysis. Then take half the remaining funds and develop a FEMA that concentrates on preparing for all disasters with the emphasis on solving problems rather than distributing money.

All that was needed here was advanced preparation and a solution ready to deploy. It's hard to do engineering in the middle of a disaster.

This is what government is for, addressing real problems that are too big for any state or company. It's not big government, it's right-sized and properly directed. Every community can educate it's children, few can fix a huge disaster that just happens to take place in their jurisdiction.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Big Mike:

Like all the tsunamis and global warming we had in the 50's right?

Did you read any of the other comments that explained what would have been done with a nuclear blast? Evidently not. I'm not advocating the use of a nuclear blast in this instance anyway.

I know radiation is SCARY, but fear-mongering is not called for. It's the equivalent of telling people that vaccines contain "antifreeze".

I will belive that people understand radioactivity when they move out of brick and concrete buildings and stop flying commercial airlines, or when they stop fear-mongering.

As for eating "contaminated" fish from the Gulf, have they given up eating catfish in that part of the country? The dose makes the toxin, and it's the same with unstable isotopes.

LarsPorsena said...

"Shrink the Department of Education by 95% leaving it for only research .." How about shrink the Dept of Energy? Where's our Nobel winning Secretary of Energy? Anybody heard from Steven Chu?

bagoh20 said...

"How about shrink the Dept of Energy?"

I'm all for it. I'm sure they waste a lot of money with poor results too. I picked Dept of Education, because: 1) communities can educate without it and 2) They are an abject failure after decades of spending billions of tax dollars.

Fen said...

Never let a crisis go to waste

Is Obama hampering efforts to block the spill so he can use public outrage for political gain?

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Hagar: However, one must wonder why the Feds have not gotten involved with the contamination prevention/clean-up efforts after more than a month. It would seem like the President could at least have told the EPA and the Corps to stand aside and stop hindering the State and locals from doing something!

This.

bagoh20 said...

I don't blame Obama for the fecklessness, I blame the voters who continuously vote for fecklessness and feel good ephemera over proven capability and leadership. Being a politician (in the current embodiment) should be a negative not a requirement.

LarsPorsena said...

"I'm all for it. I'm sure they waste a lot of money with poor results too. I picked Dept of Education, because: 1) communities can educate without it and 2) They are an abject failure after decades of spending billions of tax dollars."

I'm all for it. I'm sure they waste a lot of money with poor results too. I picked Dept of Energy, because: 1) it doesn't produce any energy 2) They are an abject failure after decades of spending billions of tax dollars.

Let's go for a twofer

Sofa King said...

gee.... a clean up sounds like big government.....

No, actually, it doesn't, since the big government, despite its bloated size, lacks the expertise, the experience, and the knowledge on the ground to actually solve the problem. We would like it very much if they could at least get the hell out of the way.

Turtledove said...

Maybe Obama should appoint a commission to look into appointing a commission to do something about the oil. But he's really only interested in who gets the blame. Meanwhile, we have Korea, Iran, the Euro crisis, high unemployment and he really has to get cracking on "don't ask, don't tell" and get cap n trade going. Don't blame me, I voted for McCain.

Big Mike said...

@Gabriel, my understanding is that the alleged use of nukes by the Russians was entirely on land. Such land-based explosions would not cause a tsunami. Even a small nuke -- and it's not clear that the US even has any small nukes left in our arsenal -- exploded in deep water (even underground under deep water) would certainly cause tsunamis.

FWIW, I'm not the person who would push the story about radioactive fish from the Gulf -- there are plenty of earnest young know-nothings cranked out every year by the universities who, based on observed behavior to date, would be all too glad to parrot whatever line the environmentalists feed them. Nor would it surprise me to find Atlantic and Pacific coast fishermen pushing the line about radioactive Gulf shrimp. And the alleged journalists from the NYT and Washington Post are dumb enough to fall for it.

You don't need to lecture me about radiation -- I'm married to a nuclear scientist who has worked for the EPA and who is published (under her maiden name) in the Physical Review.

Paul Snively said...

Beth: When has there been a plan for the black swan event, and when was it abandoned?

If we accomplish nothing else, can we please abandon the term "black swan event" for things that are completely and utterly predictable and have reasonably good probabilities assigned to them, so much so that you can actually purchase insurance against them? Thankyouverymuch.

AllenS said...

roesch-voltaire said...
After all this many are still calling for drill baby drill, and given the denial factor we will baby will.

Walk, baby, walk. Walk today, walk tomorrow, walk forever.

gk1 said...

And democrats wonder why people were skeptical big government would actually make healtcare worse and not better. The sorry BP debacle shows government meddling and incompetance at its worse. Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way!

master cylinder said...

Not sure at all what you all keep talking about...
what is your notion?
to have help from the government or not?
There must be community organizers out there forming citizens' brigades I dont know about.

Beth said...

The government is not in BP's way. I don't understand where anyone is getting that idea. BP's not out there chomping at the bit to deploy tankers and trawlers and boom and sand bags.

Jindal and parish presidents are asking the feds for help, not to go away. The only "get out of the way" aspect is the dredging permit. That's a big one, but anyone chanting "government is bad, get out of the way" has his own agenda, and it's got nothing to do with improving this situation.

Beth said...

DBQ - there aren't Katrina trailers anymore. Those are long gone.

The unemployed people in question here are the fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen whose work and boats are idle. Many of them had just done their yearly ritual of taking out a small business loan to clean and outfit their boat for the opening of the brown shrimp season. They're now in debt and unable to make their living.

BP is supposed to hire them to work the clean-up and that's not going well. BP is seriously dropping the ball in that area.

There's no labor shortage here.

Beth said...

Big Mike, I don't "have to" explain anything, no more than you have to tell me why you do or don't like an elected official in your state. But I'll respond anyway: cutting taxes while increasing spending isn't what a smart governor does (haven't we learned that yet? Voodoo economics doesn't work, not even when you can call on actual voodoo). That's a start. And he's spent the past year and a half out of state campaigning for president. This is the first time we've seen him around these parts for quite awhile. I don't like his plan for the department of health and hospitals, nor how he interacts with the legislature, nor his chaotic approach to our budget problems. That will have to do, my friend.

Beth said...

And those barrier islands he wants to dredge? He should have been working on those already, because they're part of our overall plan to restore the wetlands for greater protection against hurricanes. Now he's got a way to get that done and make the oil industry pay for it, which they should have done years ago, since it's that industry, since the 1930s, who've ripped the wetlands apart with their equipment. So good for him, I say.

former law student said...

And the sand traps ain't perfect, but "ain't perfect" describes any solution right now and "any solution" is better than ANYTHING Obama, Inc. has come up with in a MONTH!

Obama's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Conservatives haven't exactly been applauding him for his support of the bank bailout package and they surely have been second-guessing his stimulus package. Had Obama stepped in, Limbaugh would have been all over him, asking what a community organizer knew about oil platforms, and mocking Obama's faith in the omnipotence of big goverment over market solutions.

Let the free-marketeers stew in their own juice a while longer.

Beth said...

All that was needed here was advanced preparation and a solution ready to deploy. It's hard to do engineering in the middle of a disaster.

I agree that there's a big role for government here, but why use our taxes for it? That's "privatizing reward, socializing risk" in a nutshell. This isn't the taxpayers' problem to pay for, it's BP's, and their investors'. When did we start thinking that capitalism meant only making money, and never encountering any consequences for bad decisions?

BP was required to have such a plan, but they didn't. They downplayed the possibility of this event, and the government-industry relationship allowed them to get away with that. Our own senators accepted it. But just such an event happened in 1979 in the Bay of Campeche - we knew it was possible. Yet BP had a joke of a plan to respond, and none of the equipment on hand. They should have had that containment building they tried out already made and nearby, but instead they had to take a couple of weeks to fabricate one. Everything they're doing is slowed by having had no plan.

I agree with bagoh that we - the government - ought to have a clean-up/containment plan ready to go. That part is beyond the company's expertise and resources, and having BP in charge of that has been a bad idea.

former law student said...

The unemployed people in question here are the fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen whose work and boats are idle. Many of them had just done their yearly ritual of taking out a small business loan to clean and outfit their boat for the opening of the brown shrimp season. They're now in debt and unable to make their living.

Same as West Coast salmon fishermen who have been idle for two years, because every drop of precious water was used for irrigation.

former law student said...

The sorry BP debacle shows government meddling and incompetance at its worse.

Drill, Baby, Drill! BP lied to the Feds, and continues to lie. And now we see the result of untrammeled free enterprise.

Just Lurking said...

Houstonian said:

If I may be permitted to get philosophical in the way people do at 2AM...

Loved this comment. I was skimming through quickly and your intro caught my eye. I'm glad I looked in here.

Darcy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darcy said...

I didn't read all of the comments. I'm very worried about the Gulf and the coastline and hope this won't be as devastating as it seems likely to be. Really, really hoping people put aside politics and just get it done.

That said, I remember being so frustrated and heartbroken, really, that people couldn't manage to do this during the devastation that was Katrina - so much time and energy was wasted fixing political blame. And to my mind, very unfairly so, but that's neither here nor there.

Shame on those who did that and who are now studiously avoiding doing it here because their guy is possibly the screwup now. I'm calling you out, hypocrites. And it feels very good to do so. You deserve it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

DBQ - there aren't Katrina trailers anymore. Those are long gone.

I was being facetious. I know. They have all rotted away.

The unemployed people in question here are the fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen whose work and boats are idle. Many of them had just done their yearly ritual of taking out a small business loan to clean and outfit their boat for the opening of the brown shrimp season. They're now in debt and unable to make their living.


This is a very serious catastrophe and I certainly don't mean to make light of people's suffering and the environmental ramifications that will persist for years.

HOWEVER... there are people all over the place collecting welfare and unemployment, now extended for years and years. I think that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with cutting past the government red tape and putting these people to work.

If I were Jindal, I wouldn't wait for a stupid government permit. Time is wasting. Build the berms and do whatever it takes to minimize the damage. Government be damned.

There should be some sort of financial relief, disaster area delcaration, to help the fishing and other industries that impacted.

Big Mike said...

@Beth, I reserve to right to point out that it is possible to cut taxes and increase tax revenue. Applying Rolle's Theorem to tax rates says that there is a maximum value somewhere between the point where you collect zero taxes (hence zero tax revenue) and 101% tax rate (where you collect zero taxes because no sane person would work if they pay more out in taxes than they collect). Raising tax rates beyond that point means collecting less revenue. Moving back to closer to the theoretical maximum increases revenue.

Without knowing more specific details about Louisiana tax rates and tax revenues I can't tell you whether Jindal did the right thing; I merely point out that he didn't necessarily do the wrong thing.

As for the rest, you are pretty much on the money, though as regards your 11:50 post I think that the government must share more blame with BP. There really is an agency that is supposed to vet and sign off on an oil company's disaster plans and preparedness, and that agency clearly dropped the ball. According to an article in this morning's Washington Post the US Minerals Management Service is incentivized according to the number of plans they approve, and are not at all incentivized to protect the public. I don't know if this was started under Carter, under Reagan, under either Bush, under Clinton, or under friend Obama. But as a policy it's utterly insane, and every president who let that stand bears part of the blame for Deepwater Horizon.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Oh....and just WHY are they drilling so far offshore in such deep waters, when there is plenty of oil closer in and on dry land?

Clue. Environmental wack jobs continue to force exploration and drilling out of the more accessible areas and thus we have this type of disaster.

Unintended consequences of leftard's rigid dogma strike again.

An event in Montana or in the Bakken Shale Fields isn't going to contaminate the ocean.

Big Mike said...

@fls, where have you been for the past century or so? The US learned a lo-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-g time ago that total laissez faire capitalism doesn't work. The trick is to find the balance point, because over-regulation is just a serious as a problem as "untrammeled free enterprise." My sense of your philosophy is that if a little regulation is good, then lots and lots of regulation must be that much better. And it isn't.

Beth said...

Big Mike,

MMS is a disaster in so many ways I've lost count. They let the oil companies fill in their own inspection forms, while the MMS agents are cooking meth and watching porn. Not kidding. Some insane culture took root there, over the past decade.

Beth said...

Darcy, don't know if it makes you happier or not, but I am as disappointed in Obama right now as I was with Bush in 2005 and onward.

Darcy said...

Beth: Well, that seems very fair.

I think both tragedies were/are pretty overwhelming for our available resources, unfortunately. I hope we can learn from this one without over-politicizing it. I think we do a great disservice to our ability to prepare for future disasters when we do that.

Easier said than done, I know. I just don't hold out much hope for a stupid commission overseen by partisan politicians. I have zero faith in either side and I can hear the sound bites already. It's depressing.

Really hoping that whatever you need down there, you get, ASAP and I mean that, though.

blake said...

Had Obama stepped in, Limbaugh would have been all over him, asking what a community organizer knew about oil platforms, and mocking Obama's faith in the omnipotence of big goverment over market solutions.

Oh, well, that's a good reason to let an ecosystem be irreparably damaged: A radio blowhard might make fund of you!

Let the free-marketeers stew in their own juice a while longer.

Right, because we all know that building oil rigs is completely unregulated.

FLS has ODed on stupid.

Will said...

What exactly is the government supposed to do here? Is there some naval group that specializes in deep-sea drilling? Does the government have miles of boom stored somewhere that we are not using? This is not like Katrina, where people need food, water, and clothing - all things we have all over the country. Come on, Althouse. Tell us what you think Obama should be doing here other than riding BP hard and putting a moratorium on drilling until we can be sure it can be done safely.

Fen said...

Priceless.

Our resident Libtards ask that we not demonize Obama like they did Bush, and then they go on to demonize BP without missing a beat.

/via Tigerhawk

"Somewhere within BP true heroes are working night and day to stop the gusher and clean up its consequences. These people -- everybody from petroleum engineers to the rough men and women who work in oil fields in the world's most challenging environments to the machinists and welders who labor around the clock to build the next solution -- are not, in the main, responsible for the disaster. They are responsible for ending it. They are not known to us as individuals. In the current climate, where liberal activists intimidate the families of corporate executives to gain leverage, they no doubt hope to remain anonymous. They are working around the clock, to the point of exhaustion, in conditions, both physical and emotional, more stressful than most American employees (including many who complain about all the stress they are under) can possibly comprehend. They will eventually solve this problem they did not create. At the moment of their success, which no doubt will come, these men and women will have prevented staggering incremental damage. Their only reward, though, will be relief and the satisfaction of a job well done.

I respectfully submit that the anonymous employees of BP and its contractors who are devoting themselves to plugging the hole and cleaning up the oil are, perhaps, the most heroic people in America right now. I'm one American who is grateful for you, and wish you the strength and wisdom to finish the daunting task before you."

more of it at:

http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/

Fen said...

What exactly is the government supposed to do here?

Clean Water Act of 1990:

"requires the President to ensure effective and immediate removal of an oil discharge and, where there is substantial threat to public health or welfare, requires the President to require all Federal, State and private actions to remove the oil discharge or mitigate it"

Of course, 8 days in Obama was more concerned with filming a 2010 campiagn video.

Fen said...

And now he's taking another vacation.