Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Uh oh... The 2002 Thad Allen said that the 2010 Thad Allen should waive the Jones Act

From Doug Ross @ Journal, in the 2002 Spill of National Significance Exercise, Thad Allen 1.0 said that Thad Allen 3.0 should immediately get the Jones Act waived (Thad Allen 2.0 was the Katrina version, now obsolete):

USCG Admiral Thad Allen has spent a lot of time of late in front of the television cameras after the White House realized he made a much better face-man than, say, Janet Napolitano (oops -- did I say that out loud?).



 

 

Perhaps some of this time would have been better spent in front of a web browser, where he might have Googled his own 2002 recommendations from the 2002 International Oil Spill Conference (PDF).

Among the national issues identified back in the days of the evil Emperor Chimpy McBushitlerburton was this gem:

Put simply, this document summarizes the '2002 Spill of National Significance Exercise' in -- you guessed it -- the Gulf of Mexico.

A certain Vice Admiral by the name of, uhm, Thad Allen was in command of the entire region.

On page 3 of the document, a process to instantly waive The Jones Act was put in place.

Whoops.

The Times-Picayune notes that Thad Allen 3.0 officially retired from the United States Coast Guard today, but he will stay on as the Incident Commander. All in all, I think Thad Allen 2.0 was much better.  Despite the fact that he's a Coastie and that the Katrina recovery was a land based operation, he seemed to remember things better.

NB: Doug Ross @ Journal was the first blog to link to the Deepwater Incident Timeline and has always been one of the best and consistently good right-handed source of news and information.  The blog is included in the Reading Room in the side bar, too.  Make sure it's part of your daily diet.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Obama awards himself Medal of Courageous Restraint for handling of BP oil spill

Knifework has the story on this, the latest accolade heaped upon Teh One.  With his laser like focus on jobs, townhalls, golf, fundraising and ant swatters, Obama has managed to score some major bling:

In what appears to be a much needed pick-me-up in light of continuously sinking poll numbers, President Obama today awarded himself the first official Medal of Courageous Restraint for his valiant inaction in the face of the catastrophic BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.

In an intimate ceremony, hastily organized immediately following the President’s first press conference in ten months, Vice President Joe Biden, who just happened to be passing by the oval office at that moment, presented the medal to Mr. Obama. Biden was visibly confused when the medal was first handed to him, as he himself has no military experience to speak of. However, after Mr. Obama explained the situation to Biden through an interpreter, the ceremony continued without a hitch. Biden recited his lines nearly perfectly, earning a little silver star for his efforts.


No word yet on the chances of a repeat, based on courageous inaction in securing the border, preventing Iran from building Teh Big One or keeping North Korea from invading Seoul.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Alex comes ashore...

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Chaos and confusion, part deux: the $20 billion slush fund

Just yesterday, we learned about the apparent confusion over who's covered by the $20 billion BP shakedown fund when, during an interview with CNN, the fund administrator told the interviewer that he'd just learned that the moratorium claims would be covered.

But it's a different day today, so it's a different story.

Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the new claims process for victims of the Gulf oil disaster, made crystal clear today that individuals and businesses hurt by the drilling moratorium are not eligible for a piece of the $20 billion escrow fund BP set aside to pay all eligible claims.

"If they send moratorium claims to me what am I supposed to do with them under the $20 billion?" Feinberg said during a break of a hearing of the House Small Business Committee at which he was testifying about his new job. "Those moratorium claims are only going to be paid out of the $100 million."


This is not what he said Monday:


"Yes, I now have discovered -- I didn't realize this until yesterday -- that the moratorium claims will fall under my jurisdiction," Feinberg said in an interview Monday on CNN.

"That's a huge development, and we didn't know that before?" replied the CNN reporter.

"I didn't either," Feinberg said.

There doesn't seem to be any lack of confusion or chaos on the part of the White House or BP, either.  In the second story linked above, a White House spokesman said that the $100 million fund would be administered by BP.  In the story linked yesterday, Feinberg said he believed he'd be administering the fund.  Keep in mind, sports fans, that these two slush funds were established in negotiations between the White House and BP on June 16, two freakin' weeks ago.

So why all the confusion?  Maybe it's because there is no document formalizing the agreement.  At least, there isn't one that's been made public.  As a result, Kenneth Feinberg tells the media one thing on Monday and tells Congress something completely different a few days later.

Who the hell is in charge?  $20 billion here.  $100 million there.  Pretty soon, we're talking about a lot of money, and a tremendous opportunity for waste, fraud and abuse.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Relief well ahead of schedule, could kill spill in 14 days?

Finally, some hopeful news on the continuing slow motion disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Houston Chronicle reports that independent analysts believe that the drilling of the relief well is sufficiently ahead of schedule that the intercept could be made within 14 days, and the well killed very quickly afterwards:

While BP has not adjusted its early August timetable for completing the first of two relief wells boring toward the Macondo more than two miles beneath the Gulf of Mexico seabed, independent drilling engineers and some energy analysts said the company could be in a position to intercept the damaged well and begin the critical kill operation within 14 days.

"Two weeks might be reasonable," said Darryl Bourgoyne, director of the petroleum engineering research and technology transfer laboratory at Louisiana State University, though he added the company still has many steps to complete first.

Before getting too excited over this, it's important to remember that we've been given hopeful news in the past, only to have those hopes dashed by failure or disappointing performance.  First, there was the four-story containment dome contraption that failed because of methane hydrates clogging the valves.  Then there was the insertion tube strategy, followed by the top kill, kill shot, junk shot and currently, the "lower marine riser package," otherwise known as "top hat."  None of these top-down procedures have worked terribly well, but the relief well is a bottom-up approach.

BP is sticking to their August completion date, and performing ranging runs after every few hundred feet slows the drilling process down so engineers can check the aim of the intercept well.  They're trying to hit something the diameter of a soccer ball, located more than three miles below the surface, so while plugging the damned hole quickly is good, getting it right is critical.


Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Thank you, Coast Guard and EPA. But WTF took you so long?

On the 71st day of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, the federal government finally figured out that, yeah, it really was standing in the way of the deployment of more skimmers to the region:

In an attempt to streamline federal laws that require skimmers and other oil spill response equipment to be on hand in other parts of the country -- preventing their use in the Gulf of Mexico -- the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary rule Tuesday that would free up resources and allow them to combat the Gulf oil disaster.

The rule releases regulated facilities and vessels from Coast Guard and EPA requirements that "would otherwise preclude them from relocating owned response resources or releasing contracted response resources to be moved to the Gulf region."


In large bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico, oil spill response consists of two primary operations to prevent large concentrations of crude from spoiling shorelines: Disperal operations and skimming/collection. EPA has stood in the way of both of them in the Gulf. They threw a hissy fit when BP announced that it would use chemical dispersants below the surface, and didn't relent until BP demonstrated that the measures were effective. They stood in the way of deploying skimmers and oily water collection because water they left behind wasn't 99.995% pure. Try to wrap your mind around this bureaucratic nonsense:

You can't use that skimming or oily water collection technology to remove massive, miles-wide globs of crude because, well, you're leaving the water contaminated with more than our arbitrarily determined few parts per million.

That's like telling an ER physician that he can't perform an emergency surgical technique because it might leave a scar. It's like telling a firefighter that he can't hose down a burning house because the ground will get all yucky with ashes and stuff.

We're glad you finally came to your senses, guys. Governors Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour and Bob Riley have been hollering for more skimmers for weeks on end.  Senator George LeMieux took to the floor of the US Senate and pleaded for more skimmers.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot took you so long?

Related:  Obama can't suck it up with a straw, but...

I want to give some props to Chris Kirkham of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  His reporting on this disaster has been nothing short of exceptional.  You can follow his stories with the link above, and if you're on Twitter, you can follow him at chriskirkhamTP.

UPDATE: Ace has more on this.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Confusion, chaos reign with $20 billion BP shakedown fund--what could go wrong?

In a CNN interview on Monday, the administrator of the Obama regime's $20 billion shakedown/slush fund announced that, by Jove, his purview will indeed also include settling claims for individuals and businesses affected by the deepwater drilling moratorium.  That would be the moratorium that a Federal Judge has set aside and is technically no longer in effect.

But here's the kicker--Ken Feinberg didn't know his jurisdiction would include moratorium claims until the weekend:


"Yes, I now have discovered -- I didn't realize this until yesterday -- that the moratorium claims will fall under my jurisdiction," Feinberg said in an interview Monday on CNN.
"That's a huge development, and we didn't know that before?" replied the CNN reporter.
"I didn't either," Feinberg said.


Just last Thursday, Feinberg was telling reporters that idled workers couldn't submit claims against the $20 billion escrow account BP established following a June 16 meeting at the White House.  Instead, workers were expected to be compensated by a separate $100 million slush fund that was also agreed to at the June 16 meeting.

So, between last Thursday and his interview with CNN yesterday, who told Feinberg that his fund's jurisdiction would cover workers idled by the moratorium?  More interestingly, why is he being told to cover workers idled by a moratorium that cannot be enforced due to a court order?  

It's easy to understand the confusion that reigns over how these funds are to be administered.  If a formal agreement exists, no documentation of it has been made public.  First it was a $20 billion fund that was to be neither a guaranteed minimum nor a guaranteed maximum, nor was the establishment of the fund to mitigate BP's liability from the coming onslaught of civil lawsuits.  That fund was supposed to compensate individuals and businesses who were hurt by the spill's effects on tourism, fishing and other economic activities shut down by the spill.  Then, we learned about a separate $100 million fund that would serve workers idled by moratoria and other regime interference in the oil and gas sector.  Now, apparently, those two funds are to be conflated, co-mingled and completely confused with one another.  Gee, do you think there might be an opportunity for waste, fraud and abuse here, sports fans?

We already have fantastic evidence of how well managed these types of slush funds are.  Remember how well TARP and Porkulus funds were accounted for.  Why, every red cent went right where it was supposed to, didn't it? Remember also that this is the Gulf Coast, and the epicenter of this disaster is Louisiana.  In the five years since Katrina and Rita hit the state in a hurricane double-whammy, the a special task force at the Department of Justice is still indicting, prosecuting and convicting people of defrauding the government with bogus claims.

There's a $20 billion slush fund and its own administrator doesn't know what it covers.  There's supposedly a separate $100 million fund that's supposed to cover workers idled by the moratorium--the moratorium tossed out of court last week. Does Feinberg administer that fund as well, or is someone else in charge of it?  There's absolutely no documentation of the agreements between BP and the federal government, so we don't really know who's in charge of what fund and who can file claims against this one, that one or some other one.  And, there's a state with a legendary history of graft and corruption. 

Gee... What could go wrong?

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Times-Picayune: Red tape keeps prized oil-fighting skimmers from Gulf

Welcome to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Vice President. You're visiting Pomes Seafood tomorrow in one of the seafood capitals of the world.  This lunch is on us, if you can give us some oil skimmers.

We've already seen legitimate questions about why promising technologies haven't been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico.  In tomorrow's New Orleans Times-Picayune comes a bombshell of a revelation:


Just weeks after the oil spill crisis began to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, the French  foreign minister volunteered a fleet of oil skimming boats from a French company,  Ecoceane. A month later, in early June, Ecoceane Chief Executive Eric Vial met with BP and Coast Guard officials to present the idea.
But after that meeting, weeks went by with little contact as oil continued gushing into the Gulf. A frustrated Vial was able to get around the bureacracy last week only when his company sold nine of the oil collection boats to a private contractor in Florida, who could then put the boats to work.
Oil giant Shell was in negotiations to let BP use the Nanuq, a 300-foot oil recovery boat sitting idle in Seward, Alaska. But in recent weeks, BP declined to bring it to the Gulf.
...
But federal response officials have been pressed for more than a week to streamline U.S. maritime restrictions that would allow more foreign skimming vessels to be put to work on the spill. And the Coast Guard and BP have been taken to task for not bringing more available U.S. skimmers to the Gulf spill.
According to the latest numbers from BP, 433 vessles are collecting oil in, the Gulf, but less than a third of those are specialized boats designed specifically for oil skimming.
On the Senate floor last week, Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., pointed to a Coast Guard map detailing more than 850 skimmers available in the southeastern United States -- and more than 1,600 available in the continental United States.


The question begs asking: Why are these vessels not already in the Gulf of Mexico, collecting oil before it washes ashore, destroying fisheries and wrecking tourism?  Will someone risk being called a smart-ass, and ask the Vice President why we can't get a few state-of-the-art skimmers down here?

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Barbour in 2012?

There's been quite a buzz in southern political circles that not only is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour considering a run at the White House in 2012, he's all but certain to go all in.  The former lobbyist, Republican National Committee Chairman and current governor of a dyed-in-the-wool Red State has the national political connections and fundraising apparatus to make a serious run in 2012.

A story ran in Politico last week, touching on how he's been constructing a political machine that rivals anything assembled by other potential 2012 GOP hopefuls:


His apparatus, which has socked away hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone, will get a major boost — as will the Barbour 2012 buzz — when the governor takes some time away from the Gulf oil spill threatening his home region’s shorelines to attend a big fundraiser Thursday for one of his three political action committees.

Barbour's political instincts are as keen as a well-honed Mississippi Buck Knife.  During a June 6 interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News' Sunday, Barbour was asked about Barack Obama's performance in dealing with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Barbour famously replied:
“The American people will make their own judgements… Like Napoleon said, ‘Never interfere with your enemy when he’s in the process of destroying himself.’”
While the other two Republican Governors--Jindal in Louisiana and Riley here in Alabama--have pulled no punches in criticizing the federal response to the oil spill, Barbour has stayed above the fray.  The quote above aside, he has not been as vocal as his colleagues in blasting the Obama regime for its ineptitude.  Instead, he's presented a level-headed "let's work together and solve this problem" approach. 

Remember also that Barbour was elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee in January 1993.  He is credited by many observers on both sides of the aisle as being one of the chief architects of the 1994 Republican Revolution that swept Democrat majorities from both houses of Congress.  Barbour sensed blood in the water 16 years ago, and is credited with organizing a party-wide feeding frenzy that nationalized Congressional elections for the first time in the post-war era.  In his 2003 campaign for Governor of Mississippi, Barbour beat a conservative blue dog Democrat in a campaign that the Jackson Clarion-Ledger called "relentlessly well organized."  The incumbent, Ronny Musgrove, was pro-life, anti-gay rights and wrote a letter in praise of the Alabama "Ten Commandments Judge," Roy Moore.  Musgrove would have made conservative Republicans in other states blush, but he was beaten by a machine he simply couldn't compete with in, terms of fundraising, organization or message management.

If Governor Barbour makes a run at the White House in 2012, then he's doing so because it's a battle he thinks he can win. His reputation as a "super-lobbyist" is sure to make him a target, but he's overcome that in the past with a record of getting sh__t done.  Should he make a run, he'll make a formidable opponent simply because he out-raises, out-organizes and out-works his opponents.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Secretariat Salazarovich: I will give you stealth ban, peasants!

Two items in the media stream today bear some attention and point to what is quickly becoming an economic disaster as bad or worse than the Deepwater Horizon spill currently spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  Secretariat Salazarovich isn't granting permits to drill anywhere--shallow or deep water.

The first is an opinion piece in Roll Call from Louisiana Representative Bill Cassidy. Cassidy writes, in part:

An offshore moratorium is also a job killer, not for executives at multinational energy corporations but for welders, pipefitters, roustabouts and the range of service and support industries connected to them. And these blue-collar workers won’t be able to make their mortgage payments or buy groceries for their families with unemployment checks and food stamps.

Job losses spurred by ending offshore production would extend far beyond the industry itself. The average multiplier effect for a job in energy production is 5.5. In other words, every job created in energy production leads to the creation of almost six more. The reverse is also true. Job losses would be most acute in areas most affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill, such as coastal Louisiana.

Even a temporary moratorium has significant economic consequences. The deep-water drilling rigs, upon which many of these jobs depend, can rent for $500,000 per day. During a moratorium, these rigs will be towed to Africa or Brazil to begin multiyear projects. Jobs directly and indirectly associated with these rigs will go to Africa and Brazil with them. This isn’t hypothetical; it’s already happening. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. already announced that it is moving rigs from the Gulf to other countries, and officials at Port Fourchon, La., have said that some of their tenants are weighing layoffs.

Instead of a knee-jerk overreaction, the president and Congress should pursue rational policy. There is a middle ground. Do a real-time analysis of what went wrong and implement corrective measures successively based on what we have learned.

Cassidy is absolutely correct.  Any stoppage of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico causes significant economic harm, not just to Louisiana, but to the Gulf Coast communities from Houston to Mobile.  It also causes significant economic harm to the nation by restricting supply and driving up energy prices at a time when the economy badly needs high-paying blue collar jobs like those in and supporting the offshore oil and gas industry.

But a second item in today's news shows that the Obama regime isn't the least bit concerned about jobs, the Gulf, or the energy needs of our economy.  CNN.com has a story about a "stealth ban," imposed by regulatory officials who have stopped granting permits on already leased tracts:

But drillers in shallow water say they haven't been issued permits since the April 20 explosion. The delay has already forced hundreds of layoffs, and many more could be on the way.

"I'm almost out of business over here," said Paul Butler, president of Spartan Offshore, a small drilling company in Metairie, La.

Butler said that only one of his four drill rigs are operating; all four were drilling before the spill. Spartan has six contracts that would put his entire fleet back to work, but he can't get going until the permits come through, he added.

The week before last, Butler said he had to lay off 72 employees. Come Tuesday he'll have to let another 140 go.

"That's 140 families, is how I look at it," Butler said.

Same is true at Hercules Offshore, the largest shallow water driller in the Gulf.

"The Department of Interior isn't issuing permits," said Jim Noe, a Hercules executive. "By mid July all of our rigs will be on the beach, and the workers without a job."

That could be a lot of jobs.

  Judge Martin Feldman imposed an injunction on the deepwater drilling moratorium last week, and the ban on shallow water drilling was lifted June 8, a full three weeks ago. Could the regime be in contempt of court?  Or, could it be arbitrarily and capriciously exercising regulatory power, causing undue economic hardship?

Interior officials quoted in the CNN.com story told reporters that new safety requirements were issued along with the lifting of the shallow water moratorium, and that none of the permits have complied. Representatives from both Spartan Drilling and Hercules Offshore, along with representatives from a local oilfield services company, have told me that this is not true.  Revised permit requests meeting or exceeding the NTL linked above were submitted within a week of the June 8 issuance date, and pointed out to me that the NTL specifically requires all such paperwork to be submitted no later than June 17, and specifically outlines the additional data required:

Operators must submit the following information by 5:00 pm EDT June 17, 2010, to the address set forth below:

  1. BOP and well control system configuration. This includes the piping diagram of the stack and control system, including the BOP stations and accumulator system.
  2. BOP and well control system test results, including any anomalies in testing or operation of critical BOP components. Submit test results (charts, digital pressure data, forms, etc.) and information on any initial failed test attempts and remedy to obtain a successful test.
  3. BOP and loss of well control events. Document any loss of well control event, even if temporary, and the cause of the event. The operator does not have to include kicks that were controlled but should include the release of fluids through a diverter.
  4. BOP and well control system downtime. Submit downtime related to BOP and well control system failures (failure to test properly).

All of the paperwork is in, yet MMS hasn't granted a permit in more than two weeks. 


Furthermore, very few of the shallow water wells from Texas to the Alabama-Florida state line are producing oil.  The vast majority are producing natural gas, in very shallow water, in areas where the geology is much better known.  Since the MMS began managing offshore drilling in 1982, not a single spill of significance has occurred in the shallow water zone of the Gulf of Mexico.  Not one.

The refusal of the Obama regime to grant permits that meet the regulatory guidance constitutes a dereliction of duty.  There is no legitimate reason to deny these companies the ability to drill and produce in shallow water.  The safety record is flawless, and the new safety requirements have been met.  If the regime doesn't begin issuing permits within a reasonable time, these companies should haul Secretariat Salazarovich before a Judge in the Eastern District Federal Court, and force him to do his job.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tens of hypocrites protest offshore drilling in Mobile's Battleship Park

Comical. I drove down just to get a few photos, only to find my cheap digital camera wouldn't write images to the flashcard. Oh well.

There was a Mobile Press-Register reporter on site, though. Here's the recap of the event:


In Mobile, about 40 people participated in the 15-minute peaceful protest. Sherri Wilson of Daphne said that the oil spill is a "tragedy of epic proportions that the Gulf may never recover from."

"It's important to let people know that we care about the environment, and offshore drilling is not something that I, now or ever, supported," she said.

After 15 minutes in the sweltering heat, the attendees headed back to their cars, shouting, "Air conditioning," and "Ooh, that was warm."

Two of the protesters climbed into a black Lexus sport utility vehicle -- left on and idling all 15 minutes -- and drove away.


Perhaps that shiny Lexus SUV then sped the pair off to Brookley Field to board a private jet and fly to the Cali Coast, where they could joint former Vice President Al Gore for a fundraising gala.

This is fairly typical for the wacko environmentalist community on the Gulf Coast. These types of events happen with surprising regularity. The usual MO is to organize a protest of some type or stage some cockamamie event--like the one that took place yesterday--and call the local media to make sure a reporter and photographer show up. At the appointed time and place, a "smaller than expected" group of well-dressed, well-heeled and well-transported "activists" pile out of their SUV's and make a great show of things for a few minutes. They then make a statement or two to the gaggle of media, get back in their SUV's and head down to Dauphin Street for a cocktail or three.

Idiots and hypocrites. Thankfully, no one with any sense takes them seriously.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stop with the "Oilcane" hysteria, already

Last week, a post here briefly touched on the potential impact a hurricane might have on the massive oil slick in the Gulf.  Now that Tropical Storm Alex has formed in the Carribean Sea, with forecasts showing a track into the Gulf of Mexico by early next week, media reports are breathlessly speculating on whether a storm might combine with the oil slick and create a completely new and historic ecological and economic disaster.

These reports and the speculation surrounding them are tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.  I don't mean to insult anyone by calling them an idiot--I just felt the need to paraphrase Shakespeare while trying to calm a few razzled nerves.

We have had tropical cyclones blow through a massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico before.  Not once, not twice, but three times in the same year.  The year was 1979, and the oil slick was caused by the blowout of the Ixtoc well in the southern Gulf of Mexico in June of that year.  The well spewed as many as 202 million gallons of oil before being killed by a relief well in March of 1980.  In the interim, two named hurricanes--Bob in July and Frederic in September--blew through the Gulf.  The third storm was Tropical Storm Elena.  All three moved through or very near the slick, which spread from the southern Gulf all the way to the Texas and Louisiana coasts and also dropped tarballs and weathered oil patches as far east as Panama City Beach, Florida.

Bob was a Category I storm that formed very near the Ixtoc well itself and eventually struck the Grand Isle, Louisiana area on July 11.  Its path took it straight through the massive slick caused by the Ixtoc well, and there were no reports of oil ruining entire swaths of the coast or rendering them uninhabitable.

Tropical Storm Elena formed on August 29, also very near the Ixtoc well and growing oil slick.  It tracked northward and hit the Texas Gulf Coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi on September 1.  Just like Bob, it went right through the slick and again, there were no reports of oil ruining entire swaths of the coast or rendering them uninhabitable.

Frederic was the worst of the bunch. This was a classic Cape Verde storm, forming off the coast of Africa, tracking west, entering the Carribean and tracking straight through the heart of the Gulf of Mexico.  It hit the Mobile, Alabama area with Category III force winds and devastated Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Dauphin Island, Alabama.  And, just like the two storms before it, there were no reports of oil contaminating the communities or rendering them uninhabitable.

There are three things you need to take away from this post:
  1. An oil spill in the Gulf combined with a tropical cyclone is not a baby duck.  We've seen it before, and things were nowhere near as bad as the speculation you might be reading in the press right now.
  2. The Gulf of Mexico is a massive, complex and amazingly resilient body of water, and so are the coastlines it washes upon.  The Ixtoc disaster remains the largest oil spill in the history of the Gulf and absolutely no one was talking about it until the Exxon Valdez spill ten years later.
  3. Today's mass media thrives on the creation of the sense of crisis and fear.  Without fear, uncertainty and doubt, you won't watch.  When you hear breathless reports about a potential oilcane destroying the Gulf and its coasts, remember that they're just trying to sell you toothpaste and Toyotas, the truth be damned.


Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Friday, June 25, 2010

IRS: "Um, about that BP settlement check you just got..."

We'll see how long this stays in place, but according to an Associated Press item hitting the wires today, money you get from BP for lost wages or income is going to be taxed, just like the wages or income the settlement replaces.  Of course, that would include payroll taxes, FICA and Medicare as well.

The IRS is technically correct, but the government really doesn't need another PR black eye, especially with Vice President Joe Biden set to visit the area next week. 

Jones Act Folly Shows Misguided Priorities

Today's Mobile Press-Register has an insightful editorial urging the Obama regime to suspend enforcement of the Jones Act, allowing foreign-flagged vessels much greater freedom in assisting the domestic fleet in the response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  The editorial board writes, in part:

Now, under current law, foreign ships can request individual waivers to enter and exit U.S. ports, but such requests must be reviewed by the Departments of Defense and Energy, plus the Coast Guard, before customs officials can grant them.

That's way too cumbersome and time-consuming for a Gulf Coast awash in oil.

...

The U.S. has said it will accept equipment from several countries. But we cannot afford to tell anyone "thanks, but no thanks," as the president did to the Dutch when they wanted to send ships in the days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. Had those ships departed in late April, they already would have spent weeks skimming the oil that is now covering wetlands and wildlife across several states.

The editorial goes on to say that this is basically oily water under the Perdido Pass bridge, but it is still very important to point out that incredibly precious time has been squandered by the regime, and this is not even the first--or the worst--instance of thumb-twiddling.  Valuable opportunities to take bold action have presented themselves on numerous occasions since the April 20 explosion, fire and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 men and set off what could become the worst spill in the history of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  Consider:

  • Crews didn't begin the first "controlled burn" of oil floating atop the water, using specially constructed fire booms, until April 28. The fire booms, which were not on hand (or even within hundreds of miles of the coast) had to be ordered from Ohio. Experts in marine oil spills harshly criticized BP and the federal government, stating that burning procedures were established in plans approved in 1994 and were pre-approved to facilitate rapid response.
  • Obama waited until April 29, nine days after the disaster began to declare it a "Spill of National Significance," which only then triggers a federal response under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. On May 1, eleven days into the spill, he named Thad Allen the "National Incident Commander," which only then triggers the organized disaster response protocol known as the National Incident Management System, or NIMS.
  • In less that 30 days after the spill began, Congressional Democrats had held no fewer than seven hearings on the accident and the spill.  While Obama can't control the Congress' agenda, to argue that he can't influence it is ridiculous.  Furthermore, hearing after hearing forces the executives and technical experts from BP and federal responders to stop what they're doing, prepare testimony, gather evidence, travel to DC and sit before a bunch of grandstanders.
  • On May 22, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser both blasted federal officials, especially the US Army Corps of Engineers, for sitting on permit requests to construct sand berms and protect Louisiana marshes.  Plans were not approved until June 13.
  • James Carville famously blasted the regime for not doing enough on the political disaster and inaction.
  • The Coast Guard didn't grant approval to attempt the "top kill" (injection of heavy drilling mud into the well) until May 26, a full two weeks after BP submitted plans for the procedure.  While it ultimately failed, the time it took to review those plans and the days lost in attempting the top kill allowed tens of thousands more barrels of oil to flow into the Gulf, and in turn delayed the deployment of the additional vessels now being put in place to capture and either process or burn off oil from the well.
  • The regime completely ignored technology used as far back as 1993 by the Saudis, and recommendations of former Shell Oil Company President John Hofmeister.  The strategy calls for deploying a fleet of empty tankers to vacuum huge quantities of oil and water (as in several tens of millions of gallons per day) and transporting them to shore for offloading, separation and processing.  But that, ladies and gentlemen, would require a waiver of the Jones Act.
 Instead of taking bold action to protect the livelihoods and ecological resources of the Gulf Coast, the regime has instead dispatched teams of lawyers to the area.  Suing the well isn't going to make it stop.  And neither are criminal investigations.

Instead of commandeering tankers, waiving the Jones act and clearing the bureaucratic mess that's hampered local and state response "since Day One," the regime manufactured evidence that experts supported a moratorium on deepwater drilling.  In fact, ALL offshore drilling was halted by the regime's bogus and fatally flawed moratorium, and only after a region-wide political and media crap-storm was shallow water drilling allowed to resume on June 8.

The thumb-twiddling, the bureacratic morass, the dispatching of teams of government lawyers, the imposition of draconian, economically disastrous measures to halt drilling, and the stubborn refusal to waive the Jones Act should all be be viewed in the largest possible context.  When you do so, it's hard not to see that the regime's priorities are out of whack.

It appears as if the regime is not nearly as concerned with preventing the damage as it is ensuring that the damage is caused and then amplifying the effects.

Why?

UPDATE: More at Patterico, and more still at Confederate Yankee, and still more at JammieWearingFool.


Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Law.com: Judge Martin Feldman is "fair, terrifying."

 Judge Martin Feldman, the judge who schooled the Obama regime on the rule of law and handed down a harsh, scathing ruling on Tuesday is profiled today on Law.com.  The profile describes a jurist who is stern, uncontroversial, fair and at times...  "terrifying."

The judge who blocked the Obama administration's moratorium on deep-water oil drilling has a reputation as a stern jurist, but until now he has sparked little controversy during his 27-year judicial career.

With a reversal record since 2000 that is the second-lowest among the judges of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Martin Feldman has navigated his position without much drama. Within the New Orleans legal community, the 1983 Reagan appointee has a reputation for demanding exactness and little tolerance for missteps from the attorneys who appear in his court.

"He can be terrifying," said a New Orleans attorney who didn't want to be identified because the judge has presided over some of his cases.

Since 2000, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed Feldman 10 times, affirmed 107 out of 159 of his decisions and dismissed 24 appeals.

According to one of the attorneys quoted in the article, you don't go into his courtroom unprepared, which is almost certainly what Eric Holder's DOJ lawyers did earlier this week.

The Obama regime--from the head man down to the least litigator in the DOJ--is a bunch that is swimming in a sea of their own arrogance.  They don't believe there are any checks on their power, and they clearly underestimated the 27-year veteran jurist.

Earlier today, Judge Feldman dealt the regime another blow--denying their petition to stay his injunction pending appeal.  This clears the way for Andarko, Noble, Shell and others to re-mobilize their equipment and resume drilling.  No one has yet announced plans to do so, but with the Government now facing a less than likely chance that Feldman's decision will be overturned, they're probably warming up the engines, stocking the galley with provisions, and putting the crews on standby.

Drill baby, drill!

UPDATE: Judge Feldman is now receiving death threats, and, according to the Bayou Buzz, the attacks on his impartiality are entirely baseless slander:

If Feldman held financial interests in any of companies involved in the lawsuit or the Deepwater Horizon rig, he would not have been allowed the take the case. The 5th District Court uses a sophisticated computer system to check whether judges have a conflict of interest in any legal proceeding. This system automatically determines whether a judge needs to be recused from a particular case. In this lawsuit, Feldman was allowed to take the case because he did not own any stock related to the parties involved.

It's been a real tough day for the Büro des Zentralkomitee.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Companies accuse Obama regime of violating court order

Several companies accuse the Obama regime of violating Judge Feldman's order barring enforcement of the drilling moratorium.

Several companies say the Obama administration is ignoring a judge's decision to strike down a six-month ban on deepwater drilling.

Attorneys for the oilfield service companies said in court papers Wednesday that Salazar's comments have had a chilling effect on the resumption of drilling.

It's not yet clear whether DOI or USCG have prevented the movement of any vessels or ordered rigs to return to port.

UPDATE: Reuters has more:


"Secretary Salazar's comments have the obvious effect of chilling the resumption of OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) activities, which is precisely the wrong this court sought to redress through its preliminary injunction order," the companies said in their request to Feldman filed on Wednesday.

Obama administration officials "have chosen to ignore and disobey it," they said.

They asked Feldman to order the administration to "refrain and cease and desist from any additional effort to continue their enforcement of the moratorium."

The companies asked the judge to hold an emergency hearing as soon as possible

I'm leaving the headline as is--being accused of "ignoring and disobeying" a court order is the same as being accused of violating it.

But it's also likely that no on-the-ground officials have given verbal or written instructions stopping the plaintiffs from resuming pre-moratorium activities. Also, given the uncertainty associated with the appeals process, it's not likely that Andarko, Noble, Shell and others are mobilizing their deepwater assets back to their prospect holes yet.  The plaintiffs--oilfield services companies--essentially want Judge Feldman to issue a gag order to Secretariat Salazarovich.  He's running around Senate Committee rooms talking about a moratorium that's "in place," and such language, according to the plaintiffs, is keeping their clients in port and keeping their boats in port by extension.

Should be an interesting day tomorrow.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

About those nasty, toxic, evil dispersants and NALCO conspiracy theories...

In some news that should calm the nerves of environmentalists who were fretting about how dispersants, dispersed oil and dissolved Oxygen levels were destroying water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, the Joint Analysis Group has released its first peer-reviewed analysis of data collected by the R/V Brooks McCall.

Their conclusion:  This stuff is not naturally part of the Gulf of Mexico water column, but it is nowhere near as bad as you thought it was:

The report concludes that decreased oil droplet size in deep waters is consistent with chemically-dispersed oil. The report also shows that dissolved oxygen levels remained above immediate levels of concern, although there is a need to monitor dissolved oxygen levels over time.

The report also confirms the existence of a previously discovered cloud of diffuse oil at depths of 3,300 to 4,600 feet near the wellhead. Preliminary findings indicate that total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentrations at these depths are in concentrations of about 1-2 parts per million (ppm). Between that depth and the surface mix layer, which is defined as 450 feet below the surface, concentrations fell to levels that were not readily discernable from background levels. The tests detection limit is about 0.8 ppm. Analysis also shows that this cloud is most concentrated near the source of the leak and decreases with distance from the wellhead. Beyond six miles from the wellhead, concentrations of this cloud drop to levels that are not detectable.


You can read the entire report here, and a synopsis of it is here. The entire report is a 4MB PDF document with enough scientific data and jargon to keep even the most radical lefty environmentalist busy for hours.

But, the report also blasts the loony rightwing conspiracy theories out of the water, too.  Corexit, the primary dispersant being used, isn't "killing the Gulf," which the black helicopter crowds had claimed was part of Obama's masterfully sinister plan to depopulate the Gulf Coast, or something. 

In fact, the stuff is doing exactly what it was chemically engineered to do:  Disperse spilled oil into tiny droplets so that they mix more easily with the water and make the oil more readily available to oil-eating microbes that make it go away.  And, the smaller droplet size means there are fewer surges in the biological activity that removes dissolved Oxygen.

Sadly, neither the wacko left nor the wacko right are much inclined to even read a government report, much less a peer-reviewed one.  And even if they were able to sit still long enough to read it, they might find some subliminal message by reading it backwards under a full moon.

Skyclad, of course.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Adding insult to injury: Scalpers post Buffet tickets on Ebay

Welcome al.com readers. Please have a look at the Deepwater Horizon Incident Timeline, which links to a large number of al.com and nola.com stories.

You can click the image for the full screen view. Nobody said capitalism and free enterprise were pretty.




UPDATE: Ebay has issued a statement pledging to remove these items, as well as setting filters to keep new auctions from going live.

I hope the guy with the "Buy it Now" price of $8,000 hasn't already picked out a new truck, or something...

Secretariat Salazarovich: I will give you Deepwater Moratorium 2.0, peasants!

As early as Sunday, the Obama regime is expected to hand down Deepwater Drilling Moratorium 2.0.  In a statement issued late yesterday afternoon,секретариат Salazarovich angrily exclaimed to the Gulf Coast's oil and gas industry: "We will bury you!"

This of course, comes after US Federal Judge Martin Feldman scolded the regime for its heavyhanded and overbearing Deepwater Drilling Moratorium 1.0 and granted a request for an injunction barring enforcement of a sweeping six-month ban on offshore drilling. Feldman beat the Department and Secretariat Salazarovich about the head, neck and shoulders area using the tried and true bludgeon you and I know as the "Rule of Law."

But this regime, this Büro des Zentralkomitee, is possessed of an arrogance that is as breathtaking as it is alarming.  Salazarovich's statement, and Press Secretariat Robert Gibbsochev's comments yesterday to the media TASS show that they didn't seem to get Judge Feldman's point:

Salazar pointed to indications of inadequate safety precautions by industry on deepwater wells. "Based on this ever-growing evidence, I will issue a new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Obama believes that until investigations can determine why the spill happened, continued deepwater drilling exposes workers and the environment to "a danger that the president does not believe we can afford."

Did they even bother to read Judge Feldman's ruling?  Oh, wait...

We already know why the spill happened.  BP made a series of risky decisions to cut corners down hole and the Obama regime's Department of Interior rubber stamped it.  Boom.  We also know why they can't get the spill under control.  BP's spill response plan was crap and no one in the Obama regime has the balls to take executive command of the situation.  Slosh. 

What we don't know is why the Politburo in Washington thinks that Judge Feldman isn't likely to issue a subpoena sua sponte and have Salazarovich appear before the Court and in a hearing to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. 

Extra Point:  Appeals courts almost never substitute their analysis of a case's facts for the analysis of the trial judge, just as the trial judge is not to substitute his judgement for that of the agency.  Feldman found no link between the evidence produced by the agency and the punitively broad nature of the moratorium. The appeals court is not going to reverse the decision based on analysis.  They will only overturn his decision as a matter of law, not of fact.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BREAKING: Judge grants injunction, lifts moratorium

Nola.com has the breaking news, which should send a cheer across the Gulf Coast and a groan through DC:

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday blocking the U.S. Department of Interior's moratorium on deepwater drilling, prohibiting the federal government from enforcing the policy.


UPDATE I: Judge Martin Feldman is not pleased with how the government tried to sell the moratorium, and writes, scathingly:

Much to the government’s discomfort and this Court’s uneasiness, the Summary also states that “the recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” As the plaintiffs, and the experts themselves, pointedly observe, this statement was misleading. The experts charge it was a “misrepresentation.” It was factually incorrect. Although the experts agreed with the safety recommendations contained in the body of the main Report, five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they “do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium” on floating drilling. They envisioned a more limited kind of moratorium, but a blanket moratorium was added after their final review, they complain, and was never agreed to by them. A factor that might cause some apprehension about the probity of the process that led to the Report.
Judge Feldman later asks, rhetorically:
If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavyhanded, and rather overbearing.



UPDATE II: Predictably, Reuters has this in their item: "A judge on Tuesday ruled against the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a blow to the White House which had hoped the ban would provide time to ensure other wells are operating safely.

What pap. The moratorium was never about safety or engineering. It was always about politics, and that's why this is a blow to the regime.

UPDATE III: The Empire Strikes Back--The Obama regime vows that it will immediately appeal today's ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, an appellate court based in ...  New Orleans.

UPDATE IV: Setting up what is sure to be a legal showdown, Ken Salazar says he will all but defy Judge Feldman's order and issue a new moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

As expected, Reuters trots out the media's favorite adverb

It's beyond comical now.  Reuters reports on disappointing month-over-month existing home sales:

Sales of previously owned homes fell unexpectedly in May as delays in processing mortgage applications hampered the closing of contracts benefiting from a popular homebuyer tax credit, an industry group said on Tuesday.

The National Association of Realtors said sales fell 2.2 percent month over month to an annual rate of 5.66 million units from an upwardly revised 5.79 million-unit pace in April.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected May sales to rise 5.5 percent to a 6.12 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.77 million units in April.


Unexpectedly? Who didn't expect to see existing home sales fall in this economic climate? There is oil spewing in the Gulf. Small businesses face enormous uncertainty over the recently passed healthcare legislation. Banks face enormous new regulatory challenges and uncertainty from the new financial reform legislation. The oil and gas industry is reeling from an arbitrary six-month moratorium on offshore drilling. And to top it all off, the regime is pushing for another bite at the cap-and-trade apple.

Who are these "analysts" polled by Reuters, and what Ivory Tower are they living in? While home sales were up over the same month last year, the regime has created such a toxic climate of uncertainty that no self respecting, competent economist could predict anything other than continued volatility or continued weakness. This is not an economic climate that fosters growth. It is a climate that causes businesses and consumers to reduce risk and minimize exposure to uncertain future risks. Reuters blames bank processing delays in stalling applications. I think it's much more likely that both banks and consumers are taking a wait and see approach, and are holding off taking on the additional debt of new mortgages.

UPDATE: The e21 blog has a great analysis here, concluding that a day of reckoning must come to the real estate market.  The so-called "shadow inventory" of existing homes (homes held in foreclosure by banks and not yet on the market).  e21 also notes a NY Times piece on one reason for banks' reluctance to lend. 

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Biased, liberal media conglomerate ends ties with other biased, liberal media conglomerate.

They all parrot the same nonsense, so having one parroting the other's nonsense redundantly made it easy to control the signal-to-noise ratio.  Now though, CNN will use it's own news gathering  manufacturing department and ditch the Associated Press (via Breitbart):

US television news network CNN said Monday it was dropping the US news agency the Associated Press as it expands its own newsgathering efforts.

"We will no longer use AP materials or services," Jim Walton, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a memo to CNN staff obtained by Agence France-Presse.

Walton said the move was "an important next step in the content-ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN's global newsgathering investments.

"Starting today, CNN newsgathering will be the primary source of all content for all of our platforms and services," he said. "The content we offer will be distinctive, compelling and, I am proud to say, our own."

What all this means is simply this:  When the mainstream either media breathlessly reports strong employment figures or bemoans the figures' dropping "unexpectedly," we'll get to see it twice.  There is no word as to whether CNN or Associated Press will drop the media's favorite adverb.

Extra Point:  CNN's viewership has been tanking, and tanking badly.  Execs at the one-time powerhouse of cable news could likely be making this decision based on economics, not "content ownership."  The latter is a useful meme, but dropping a very pricey subscription only helps the bottom line.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Obligatory "Falling Obama" Flash Game

It's so silly, it's irresistible.   When he gets stuck, use your mouse to "help" him.






Click here to visit the website

Enough on Sestak and Romanoff, already

I'm probably not going to hear a lot of agreement from my conservative friends on this, but I really think it's time for Darrell Issa and other Congressional Republicans to call in the dogs over the allegations of a White House quid pro quo offer to one Pennsylvania Democrat and one Colorado Democrat.

In case you've been mesmerized by the BP spillcam livefeed for the last few weeks, here's a short recap of the stories:  Democrat Representative Joe Sestak says that last year, he was offered a job in the administration if he would stay out of the Pennsylvania Democrat Primary against Democrat-turned-Republican-turned Democrat Arlen Specter. He says he declined the offer. Sestak went on to defeat Specter, and after the news media finally started suggesting something might be wrong with all this, the White House floated the story that Rahm Emanuel cajoled Bill Clinton to discuss certain "advisory board" or "council volunteer" type slots with Sestak.  Since, they say, none of the positions were paying, nothing of value was offered so there's no quid pro quo there.

Later, it was also revealed that a second Democrat primary opponent of an Obama ally in the Senate  received similar overtures.  Andrew Romanoff is running against Colorado's Michael Bennett, a fairly reliable supporter of the Obama White House.
 
Naturally, neither the White House nor any of the major players here are going to tell the whole story.  For example, Mr. Sestak was technically ineligible for any administration job, paid or voluntary, as long as he served in Congress.  And, why call in the only other big kahuna in the Democrat party to offer such a small position to such a small player?  Clinton goes to North Korea to free prisoners and Haiti to raise relief money.  He's not the kind of hardware you'd go to when you're working a dirty little backroom deal.

Yes, these deals stink to the high heavens.  Yes, they are the complete antithesis of what you'd expect from what was supposed to be the most transparent administration in history.  Yes, it's another example of nasty, backroom politics that has alienated millions of Americans and given rise to a party base that hasn't been this motivated to go to the polls since... 1998.

Please recall that from January 1993 through the 1994 Republican sweep of Congress, Republicans in both chambers howled about alleged dirty dealings of the Clinton White House.  In 1995, some of the first actions taken by the new Republican majorities were to launch all manner of Congressional investigations.  Subpoenas flew like confetti. Hearing after hearing after hearing was conducted.  Special Counsels were appointed, who dug into all manner of charges and allegations of wrongdoing. Three years later, after having failed to muster the political capital to oust a sitting, politically damaged but still publicly popular President, the GOP finally had their smoking gun  soiled blue dress. Ignoring election year polls showing that the Democrat base was as motivated as ever and that ordinary Americans had no taste for an ugly impeachment, Republicans in the House passed Article of Impeachment, marched right off the cliff, and very nearly lost both houses of Congress back to the Democrats.

Should the GOP take one or both houses of Congress in the upcoming 2010 election, the events of the 1990's should present valuable lessons to the party brain trust.  First, as sleazy as the other guys seem to be, the public views endless investigations, hearings and salacious allegations as partisan politics gone wrong.  This is not "doing the people's work," which is to restore fiscal responsibility, protect our borders, develop an economically sound energy policy, prosecute a pro-American foreign policy and get government off of Main Street's back.  Secondly, as sleazy as the other guys seem to be, there won't be a smoking gun.  There will be no transcript of a conversation.  No tapes.  No notes.  No memos.  No...  evidence of a crime.  The players aren't telling the whole story, but they've created what amounts to reasonable doubt.

Spending months on end holding hearings and conducting investigations will have very little political payout.  The best Republicans can hope to do--even with a majority in one or both houses--is draw a little political blood.  You're gonna spend my time and money on that?  Really?  Did you learn nothing from the 1990's?

Call in the dogs, already.  This hunt is over.

Extra Point: Conservatives have to choose their battles carefully.  Despite this being a center-right country, we will never have the mainstream media on our side and we have completely lost pop culture.  Nevertheless, the Chris Christie and Scott Brown elections show that Republicans win on issues that appeal to the center-right, not stuff that drives the centrists right into the arms of the sleazy other guys.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Now, let me be clear...

I won't rest until the ball is in the damned hole.


Meanwhile, just offshore of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on the Fort Morgan Peninsula (my ancestral home), near Gulf Shores, Alabama:

Photo courtesy of Ben Raines, Press-Register, June 19, 2010.  Click the image for the full version, and click here for his story that runs in the June 20 print edition.  This man is on his way to a Pulitzer for his reporting on the spill.

The other man could probably use some tips on his game from Rush Limbaugh.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Conflicts of Interest

 That expert panel that Barack Obama appointed to investigate the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire and ensuing economic and ecological disaster is far from being "expert" on anything except radical, left-wing anti-drilling policy.  They are nothing more than a collection of political hacks, with absolutely no experience in mechanical, hydraulic, structural or petrochemical engineering.

Only one of the seven commissioners, the dean of Harvard's engineering and applied sciences school, has a prominent engineering background -- but it's in optics and physics. Another is an environmental scientist with expertise in coastal areas and the after-effects of oil spills. Both are praised by other scientists.

The five other commissioners are experts in policy and management.


So, we're going to have a bunch of left-wing policy wonks, some of whom have publicly stated their opposition to new drilling, examine the causes of the tragic accident that claimed 11 lives and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gee... What could go wrong? Whatever do you think this panel's recommendations will be? I have a simple wild-assed guess: It'll look a lot like this.

Beineke and her leftist ilk have no business being within spitting distance of a panel that is charged with investigating an engineering and safety protocol failure.  The Deepwater Horizon incident was a failure of individual and corporate adherence to standards that, if followed, would have resulted in the safe penetration and exploitation of one of the Gulf's most prolific oil reservoirs.  The panel's job is to find out how and why those protocols were not followed, and make specific recommendations for avoiding such oversights in the future.

Extra Point:  Remember, sports fans.  This is the panel whose deliberations will determine whether the regime lifts the moratorium on deepwater drilling.  Do you have any confidence whatsoever that their deliberations will be based on anything other than ideology?  It is a clear conflict of interest, and Republican members of the Legislative Branch need to make a stand on this issue.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How BP played BO like a cheap fiddle

Updated with link to Bloomberg story on Dudley's experience in Russia.

Today, British Petroleum called Tony Hayward home to London and replaced him in the day-to-day role of managing the oil spill response with Mississippi-raised Bob Dudley, the Managing Director of BP North America.

This was three days after Barack Obama hauled BP's Chairman of the Board into a closed-door White House meeting for a $20 billion shakedown, and exactly one day after Hayward sat before grandstanding Democrats and heard how his company was responsible for everything except the 2008 mortgage and banking crisis.

The Democrats thought they'd extracted their pound of flesh.  After all, they'd just raked the two top dudes at BP over red hot, election-year coals.  They got a $20 billion promise from the Chairman and quite nearly brought a groveling, apologetic CEO to tears.  What does BP do?

Brings in a real "big gun."  Bob Dudley is no man to be trifled with.  He had previously led a joint venture with Russia and while doing so, grew hydrocarbon production by 26 percent, replaced proven crude reserves at an annual average rate of 138 percent and increased earnings nearly five-fold.  His unit also had the lowest average exploration cost  of any Russian oil companies and provided the highest shareholder return of any major Russian oil company.

He did this by playing hardball with...  Vladimir Putin.

Dudley had to survive near constant raids by Putin's secret thug army,  "defeated" bureaucratic red tape that kept his employees from getting construction permits and outlasted a Putin sponsored no-confidence vote of the joint venture's board.  He was eventually forced out of the country, but not before BP had made billions of dollars and locked up reserves for decades to come.  Part of Dudley's success is why, when the Obama regime demanded a $20 slush fund to compensate victims of the spill, Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg didn't blink.  Drop in the bucket, champ.  Let me introduce you to Bob Dudley...

In American Spectator today, Daniel Oliver laid out a powerful case for Obama as a President who is in way over his head.  Oliver calls it being in a "square box."  In business, being in "the box" means you are working within a well defined set of limits to one's experience and capabilities.  You have no solutions to the problem before you because your life experience has never presented you with a set of challenges even remotely similar.  Failure is inevitable, because your imagination is limited by your experience, capability and education.

Svanberg has shrewdly shrunken the box by replacing Hayward with Dudley.  Hayward is a British gentleman.  Dudley is a bare-knuckles brawler who beat Vladimir Putin on Putin's own turf.  BP is playing Obama like a cheap fiddle.  The company knows he's in way over his head, and they just hired the man who's more likely than not to break the ankle holding the boot on BP's throat.

Extra point:  Tony Hayward took all the Waxman - Stupak hate back to London with him.  Dudley didn't get the grill job, and that really has to chap their collective ass.

Hayward gets his life back, and the Empire Strikes Back

BP Chairman of the Board has ousted CEO Tony Hayward from day-to-day management of the Gulf oil spill response, tapping Managing Director Bob Dudley in his place.   Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said, during an interview with Sky News: "It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people. This has now turned into a reputation matter, financial and political, and that is why you will now see more of me."

Time will tell if that's a good thing, and whether Mr. "Small People" Svanberg can keep his own gaffes from spilling.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans US District Court, the government has submitted its response to the moratorium lawsuit filed late last week by Hornbeck Offshore Services. In their response, they conveniently ignore the fact that all deepwater wells had just passed safety inspections and argue that the moratorium is needed to prevent additional blowouts and spills.  The government also conveniently ignores data published by a trade group and corroborated by independent analysts, and claims that the moratoriums economic effects will be neither severe nor long-lasting.  A government lawyer, exiting the courtroom is overheard wondering aloud, "why the rigs simply wouldn't come back after six months."

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

What happens if we nuke the well, or something?

See update posted at the end.

I really, really, REALLY hope the relief wells are on or ahead of schedule, and that the well bore is at least intact enough to support the relief well kill procedure.

Because those relief wells are the last (gulp) engineering options left.









UPDATE:  Ok, Salon.com already has a piece on this, which I didn't know about (hey, it's Salon, after all).   It seems the Soviets did it successfully not just once, or even twice.  They did it successfully three times.  A fourth attempt failed in 1981 (Reagan's fault, by the Obama regime's logic).  There are big differences between a landside gas well and a deepwater oil well 5,000 feet below the surface. And, there are the geologic uncertainties to worry about:


This is just speculation, but I'm also guessing that we don't have a whole lot of data about what happens to the geology of a deepwater oil reservoir when a nuclear bomb is detonated in the general vicinity. I'd hate to be the president who authorized a nuclear strike against an oil well and discover that the blast created numerous fractures in the seafloor that allowed even more oil and gas to escape. It seems to me that one might want to hold such a tactic in reserve as a last resort.

Yikes.  How about holding such a tactic in reserve as a never-to-use resort?

At the end of the Salon piece is a snippet from the History Channel's Mega Disaster series.  It's definitely worth checking out.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

What happens if a Hurricane hits the slick?

So, what happens if a major Hurricane were to plow through the Gulf while all this oil is floating around? It's a question on a lot of folks' minds in these parts.

(Hurricane Gustav, August 31, 2008.  Click the image for a larger view)

In response, NOAA has released a slick (pun intended, of course), glossy FAQ sheet answering several questions about how a hurricane might affect the oil slick, and how the slick might affect the hurricane.  Short answer--They really don't know:

  • A hurricane’s winds rotate counter-clockwise. Thus, in VERY GENERAL TERMS:
  • A hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick could drive oil to the coast.
  • A hurricane passing to the east of the slick could drive the oil away from the coast.
  • However, the details of the evolution of the storm, the track, the wind speed, the size, the forward motion and the intensity are all unknowns at this point and may alter this general statement.

One other possibility that they don't include--a hurricane passing right smack through the middle of the slick would probably act like a mega-blender, sending some oil south, some east, some west, and some northwards to the shore. 

Is Gaia trying to kill us?

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Well Bore Condition Update, kinda

On Monday, I posted an item on the integrity of the Macondo well that's currently spewing as much as 60,000 barrels of oil daily into the Gulf.  Some self-described experts in oil & gas drilling and production have expressed concern that the structural integrity of the well itself has been compromised and that the reason why the top kill procedure failed was because mud was escaping through cracks or holes in the casing of the well.  They point to the enormous amount of drilling mud used in the process as evidence that oil is escaping the well.  In yesterday's operations briefing, US Coast Guard Admiral Allen was asked about this, and here is the exchange:

[Brian Hartman, ABC News] Q: Yes, hi. Thanks, Admiral. Do you believe the well pipes themselves are broken or leaking at all? And do you have any concerns about the integrity of the blow out preventer, the well borer [sic], the sea floor that’s holding up the blow out preventer? Thanks.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: That’s a terrific question. Let me kind of take it in sequence. We have some idea of the condition of the blow out preventer and lower marine riser package. In combination, they call that the stack that sits above the well head itself. We know from some sonic testing that was done based on radiography equipment from the Department of Energy we have a partial closer of some of those rams but not a complete closer. And that was a problem for the top kill operation because we could not get enough pressure on top of the blow out preventer to force all of the mud down into the well bore to allow us to top kill it, if you will.

So we know that the, that there is, there is, and we also know that there is product rising up through the blow out preventer through the, where we cut the lower marine riser pipe. We’re not going to know the exact condition of that blow out preventer until we’ve capped the well, can remove the blow out preventer and bring it to the surface.

I’ve said on several occasions, I consider that blow out preventer almost the equivalent of this incident of the black box we would be seeking to find after an aviation accident because it can reveal a lot of information related to what happened at the time of the event. And the blow out preventer was key to that.

As you move below that and you go down into the well bore, I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blow out preventer down to the actual oil field itself. And we don’t know, we don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not. One of the reasons we did not continue with top kill at higher pressures, there was a concern that if we increased the pressure too hard it might do damage to the casings and the well bore. What we didn’t want was open communication of any oil from the reservoir outside the well bore that might get into the formation and work its way to the sub sea floor and then result in uncontrolled discharge at that point. That has not happened and that’s the reason they’re taking such precautions and did not proceed any further with the top kill.

What we are doing is going down the very bottom of the well bore for this intercept and hopefully at that point they will start pumping mud in. And mud will first go up all the way and fill the well bore and then it will be forced down over the oil into the reservoir and then put enough weight of the mud to hold the oil in the reservoir. And then allow them to put a cement plug in after that.

So what I would tell you is we don’t know exactly the condition of the well bore. And that’s one of the unknowns that we’re managing around in terms of risks. And that’s the reason we didn’t go, didn’t go to excessive pressures on the top kill and decided that we’d deal with containment and then go for the final relief well.

Three things stand out here:  First, Allen says sonic and radiographic tests indicate that when the blowout preventer was engaged, the rams (hardware that mechanically crush and shut off the well pipe) were able to partially close the well, but not enough to prevent a massive flow of crude.  And secondly, Allen believes it was this partial blockage of the well that doomed the top kill procedure.

But thirdly, and most importantly of all, the actual condition of the well bore itself is not known, and probably won't ever be known, unless the worst case scenario--as described in the item I posted about Monday--actually plays out.   If the relief well is successful in stopping the flow, the well will be filled with mud and capped with cement, permanently sealing it forever and ever, Amen.  But if the relief well fails to stop the flow, the reason would almost certainly be a badly compromised well bore that lets mud escape the well.  Escaping mud would mean engineers on the surface are not creating enough pressure to contain the oil flow.

To make a long, sleeper of a post shorter, Allen's comments are somewhat encouraging, but since almost nothing has gone right in this slow motion disaster, there's still not a lot of confidence floating around out there.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Joe Barton, the $20 billion shakedown and BP

This whole situation is screwed up four ways to Sunday.

First of all, Barton is right--this is a shakedown. And not just a garden-variety, DC shakedown.  No, this is shakedown of Chicago proportions.  Yesterday, BP agreed to place (at least) $20 billion in an escrow account, which is to be managed by a third party, to help compensate those who have lost jobs or livelihoods to the oil spill disaster.

But secondly, I believe it's a perfectly legal shakedown.  By all accounts, BP voluntarily agreed to the deal, but you can be certain that Mr. Obama made it clear to company officials that if they didn't do it willingly, it would be done to them.  The government can't retroactively force a company to spend money to remediate a disaster for which a law prescribing how remediation is to be paid for already exists.  That's what the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 is for, so the administration's threats were a tad on the hollow side.  If they'd followed through, then we'd have a whole different discussion about the rule of law.

Thirdly, even though it's a shakedown, and probably just fine under existing law, I believe it's a very bad idea, because it's going to open the door to all sorts of fraud, just like we saw after Katrina and the 9/11 fund. It also does not relieve the company of its obligations under OPA, nor will it provide any immunity from current and sure-to-come future litigation.

Fourth, even though Barton was right, and even though it's a very bad idea, he was still stuck on stupid when he apologized to the CEO of the company who's screwed up safety procedures led to the worst environmental catastrophe in the Gulf since Ixtoc blew out and spilled (by some estimates) 200 million gallons of crude.

BP, the whole United States Congress, the whole executive branch, and every last environmentalist group should look at the American people, and apologize.  BP should apologize for screwing up their safety protocols, killing 11 men and spilling crude into the Gulf.  The government should apologize for the abysmal failure in oversight manifested in the Minerals Management Service.  And all those environmental wacks should apologize for pushing oil and gas exploration far enough off shore that they don't have to look at the rigs.  Absolutely none of the above have served the interests of this country, and they should all be shaken down.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Nag, nag, nag...

Wives spend six days a year week nagging their husbands, study shows


Wives spend 7,920 minutes a year nagging their husbands about household chores, their drinking and their health.

This equals two-and-a-half hours of earbashing each week - which totals 11 hours a month or five-and-a-half days a year.

I'm calling BS on this study.  If this is true, I married the wrong nationality.  American wives nag their husbands six days a week.  The only day we have off is Saturday, which of course is the day set aside for performing all of the tasks she's been nagging about the whole damned week.

Until football season starts...

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

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