The Spreading Stain

As the oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, more than two months after the Deepwater Horizon sank, scientists have completed detailed models of ocean currents that predict where the oil will go.  It’s not good news for the Atlantic coast of the United States or the Atlantic Ocean generally; the simulation indicates that the oil will move into the “loop current” and then be whisked up the coastline and eventually into the north Atlantic.  It’s not certain, of course, and we may get lucky, but scientists think it is likely that the oil will move out of the Gulf in the next six months.

The recriminations about the original Deepwater Horizon incident and the government’s response to the incident are escalating.  Imagine how heated the political discourse will be if the oil continues to flow and, by Election Day, tar balls and oil plumes are polluting the beaches of the Atlantic coast of Florida and South and North Carolina.

Four Times (Or Is It Five?) And Counting

One of the chief talking points for the Obama Administration about the Administration’s response to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico seems to be that President Obama has visited the region four times since the spill started.  I ask:  Why is this considered an important or even moderately persuasive talking point?  If the President goes to the Gulf to eat a snow cone and encourage tourism, or pick up a tar ball from a beach, are we supposed to think he is really accomplishing anything — other than providing odd photo opportunities?

I am sick to death of our “talking point” political culture where we get bombarded by the same “talking points” uniformly mouthed by the respective sides of an issue, but I am even more puzzled by “talking points” that don’t seem to make any sense.  With the environmental disaster in the Gulf, the question is whether President Obama and his team are actually accomplishing anything, not whether they are visiting the area to no particular effect.  The accomplishments — if there were any — could be achieved just as easily in the Oval Office as on a tarry beach in Louisiana.

For Only Half a Million !

I am frustrated and angry about the oil spill as I am sure millions of other Americans are, especially when I see the wildlife covered in oil. We will continue to hear about this twenty four / seven until the leaking oil is stopped and even then the impact that this spill has had on the environment will probably be reported on for many years to come.

Not only am I frustrated, but I am irritated when I read an article like this one from the Wall Street Journal that one of my friends sent me. According to the article the oil well that is leaking lacked an additional safeguard device that other countries who do off shore drilling like Norway and Brazil require as mandatory.

I found it bothersome that the drilling companies questioning the cost and the effectiveness of the acoustic switch, that going back two decades is an oil industry that has had way to much input in federal regulations imposed on the industry and that the United States drilling policy is way to lax.

Reports that British Petroleum stated in documents that they were prepared to handle a spill much larger than this one and then come to find out the CEO of B P now says that “unfortunately we didn’t have all the tools in our tool chest that we needed to control or stop the spill”.

Doesn’t it make you wonder why we are doing this in the first place other than the fact that we are so dependent on foreign oil ? In fact I bet it has got to drive someone like President Obama crazy since he ran on a clean energy platform and one where he believed the country needed to be less reliance on oil.

So while it probably won’t do much good I am making an effort to drive less and walk more. I also will be boycotting B P and will be buying my gasoline from the Shell station across the street.

The Competence Question

Peggy Noonan’s column today argues that the oil spill disaster raises serious questions about the Obama Administration’s assumed competence.  I’m not sure that I agree with the notion that people are concluding that the President and his team are incompetent, but I do think the implicit message of the oil spill and its aftermath undercuts the notion that the federal government can be trusted to handle everything.  Even if you assume that the President and his team were “fully engaged” and “totally focused” on the spill since “day one,” you still have to question the cumbersomeness, delay, and miscommunication that seems to necessarily accompany the involvement of the federal government in this kind of incident.  Why did it take so long to unleash the booms?  Where are the people and materials employed to try to keep oil out of the marshes and wetlands?

A quick tour by the Prez and an examination of a tar ball or two doesn’t address the issue of why the federal response has been so painfully slow.

The Widening Ripples From The Gulf Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon experienced a blowout and caught fire on April 20, 2010.  (I remember the date because it is my birthday.)  Since then, enormous amounts of oil have been spewing, pretty much unabated, into the Gulf of Mexico.  Amazingly, more than a month after the incident we seem no closer to plugging the spigot and stopping the flow of oil than we were the day the blowout occurred.

It is now clear that the United States is facing an environmental disaster of the first magnitude.  We have seen the pictures of the massive oil slick and the oil-soaked birds, we know about the fragile wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas on the Gulf Coast and the Florida coastline that will be devastated if they are reached by the oil slick, and we understand that entire industries — like the fishing and tourism industries along the Gulf Coast — are likely to be ravaged by the catastrophic spill.

It also seems clear that the Deepwater Horizon and its aftermath will have significant political consequences.  Supporters of offshore deep water drilling for oil are going to have a tough time explaining why we should sanction risky conduct that, in the event of a mishap, threatens such appalling consequences and is apparently so impossible to remedy.  And while I am not someone who believes the federal government should be able to snap its fingers and solve every massive problem immediately, it is hard not to question why we haven’t been able to at least contain the spill and promptly collect, distribute, and place booms to try to fence off environmentally critical areas. There is a whiff of incompetence in the federal government’s seemingly haphazard response to both the initial incident and the resulting oil spill that no amount of political spin can dispel.