Difference between revisions of "Gulf of Mexico oil spill"

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''Wired Science'' reports the [[Obama administration]] disaster-relief agencies and BP are using a toxic chemical to disperse oil in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Use of dispersants are said to be a public relations strategy.<ref>[http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/gulf-dispersants/ Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative,] Brandon Keim, 5 May 2010. Retrieved from ''Wired Science'' 15 May 2010.</ref> U.S.[[Department of Homeland Security]] Secretary [[Janet Napolitano]] reported the dispersants were  dropped form [[C-130]] cargo aircraft.<ref>[http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-05-02/news/os-oil-disaster-chemical-cleanup-20100502_1_dispersant-spill-crude Oil-spill disaster: Chemicals used in cleanup add to toxic mix,] Kevin Spear, ''Orlando Sentinel,'' 2 May 2010.</ref> Jackie Savitz of the ocean-conservation group Oceana stated the use of dispersants is only slightly less horrendous than the Gulf oil spill itself. "You're basically pouring chemicals into the ocean, which is never a good thing."<ref>Ibid.</ref> According to a 2009 [[Environmental Protection Agency]] report  dispersants have not been used in the United State "because of possible long-term environmental effects, difficulties with timely and effective application, disagreement among [[scientist]]s and research data about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and [[toxic]]ity concerns" and the effects "are still unknown."<ref>Ibid.</ref> Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, executive vice president of the [[environmental]] group Ocean Conservancy, said dispersants risk damaging [[ecosystem]]s and hurting wildlife.<ref>Ibid.</ref>
 
''Wired Science'' reports the [[Obama administration]] disaster-relief agencies and BP are using a toxic chemical to disperse oil in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Use of dispersants are said to be a public relations strategy.<ref>[http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/gulf-dispersants/ Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative,] Brandon Keim, 5 May 2010. Retrieved from ''Wired Science'' 15 May 2010.</ref> U.S.[[Department of Homeland Security]] Secretary [[Janet Napolitano]] reported the dispersants were  dropped form [[C-130]] cargo aircraft.<ref>[http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-05-02/news/os-oil-disaster-chemical-cleanup-20100502_1_dispersant-spill-crude Oil-spill disaster: Chemicals used in cleanup add to toxic mix,] Kevin Spear, ''Orlando Sentinel,'' 2 May 2010.</ref> Jackie Savitz of the ocean-conservation group Oceana stated the use of dispersants is only slightly less horrendous than the Gulf oil spill itself. "You're basically pouring chemicals into the ocean, which is never a good thing."<ref>Ibid.</ref> According to a 2009 [[Environmental Protection Agency]] report  dispersants have not been used in the United State "because of possible long-term environmental effects, difficulties with timely and effective application, disagreement among [[scientist]]s and research data about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and [[toxic]]ity concerns" and the effects "are still unknown."<ref>Ibid.</ref> Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, executive vice president of the [[environmental]] group Ocean Conservancy, said dispersants risk damaging [[ecosystem]]s and hurting wildlife.<ref>Ibid.</ref>
  
=== Health concerns of cleanup workers ===
+
=== Health affects on cleanup workers ===
  
 
The ''[[Guardian (uk)]]'' has reported the controversy over Corexit exposes the [[Obama administration]] to criticism that its scientific agencies have been too compliant with BP. In addition to sanctioning the use of Corexit, the Obama [[Environmental Protection Agency]] (EPA) has come under fire for withholding test results on the toxicity of the water close to shore.<ref>http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/20/gulf-oil-spill-chemical-dispersant</ref>
 
The ''[[Guardian (uk)]]'' has reported the controversy over Corexit exposes the [[Obama administration]] to criticism that its scientific agencies have been too compliant with BP. In addition to sanctioning the use of Corexit, the Obama [[Environmental Protection Agency]] (EPA) has come under fire for withholding test results on the toxicity of the water close to shore.<ref>http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/20/gulf-oil-spill-chemical-dispersant</ref>

Revision as of 18:40, 23 May 2010

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010 (U.S. Coast Guard)
Oil slick near the Mississippi River delta on 29 April 2010 (NASA)

The Deepwater Horizon was an oil platform that exploded on April 22, 2010, killing eleven crew members and resulting in a massive oil spill. A month later, the crisis has not been resolved with oil reaching the Louisiana coastline and threatens the Florida Keys. President Obama has been widely criticized for a weak and late response on the issue.

On March 31, 2010, President Barack Obama announced the resumption of domestic offshore oil drilling during a speech at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.[1] The President's actions have been labeled, "a decision to endanger our coastal ecosystems with the risk of catastrophic oil spills."[2] Defending the decision, the President remarked "oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."[3][4]

According to the New York Times Obama "said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address[5] in January [2010] that weaning the country from imported oil would require “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”[6][7]

The Obama plan

Map of expanded areas of offshore oil drilling authorized by President Obama on 31 March 2010.[8]
Source: United States Department of Interior.

Obama called for expanded development and production throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) estimates that the Gulf of Mexico contains 36-41.5 billion barrels of oil and 161-207 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. According a DOI press release, Obama's plan would "expand oil and gas development and exploration" while "protecting fisheries, tourism, and places off U.S. coasts that are not appropriate for development."[9]

Nobel Laureate in Economics, Dr. Paul Krugman,[10] who has been highly critical of Obama economic policy[11] wrote a column entitled "The oil spill is Obama's fault" in his regular New York Times opinion column, Conscience of a Liberal, although the article simply mocked conservative pundits who might express this statement.[12]

Federal Inaction

The White House lacks any type of plan to combat the oil spill disaster. House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer publicly admitted that the Obama Administration was ill-prepared to deal with the situation. [13] While the disaster steadily grew, it took eight days for Obama to discuss the crisis at length. He would order a moratorium on all future deep sea oil platforms until they determine the problems associated with the current situation. As to be expected, Obama tries to remove himself from blame saying "the system failed", this despite the fact the he heads the system. Then he pointed fingers of blame at oil companies while taking an indirect jab at the Bush administration. [14]


"For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did his best to put a good spin on the disaster saying the response was "comprehensive and fast" and the Coast Guard and Interior Department were on the scene almost immediately. Meanwhile, the Democrat-led Congress ordered public hearings from oil executives. Again, Obama would blame others saying the answers from oil executives were a "ridiculous spectacle", "You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else." [15]

New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez wants a ban on new offshore drilling permits. In addition, he submitted a bill that would retroactively raise the financial liability of BP from $75 million to $10 billion. [16] Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe successfully killed the bill saying it would reduce competition and shut down smaller independent oil companies in favor of larger companies.

Deepwater Horizons

On Earth Day 2010, a British Petroleum-leased oil drilling rig sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico two days after it exploded, creating what has been described as the "worst environmental disaster in US history."[17] Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told CNN "It potentially is catastrophic," and "I think we have to prepare for the worst."[18][19]

Congressional investigators think they have identified the rigs blowout preventer as the cause of the explosion. [20] The blowout preventer was leaking hydraulic fluid, had a dead battery,[21] and was inspected by the Obama Minerals Management Service (MMS) only two weeks before to the explosion[22] which killed 11 people. Amy Goodman, a leftist radio talk show host, has suggested those responsible should be prosecuted for manslaughter.[23]

Blowout preventers are meant to shut off the well, and the last line of defense is a set of shear rams which cut the pipe and seal off the well.[24] The MMS, the Obama administration agency that regulates offshore drilling along with the Coast Guard, is supposed to require proof that shear rams are powerful enough to shut the well. Michael Saucier, MMS's regional supervisor testified before Congress that the MMS did not require BP to file a "scenario for potential blowout."[25] The MMS certified that BP "has the capacity to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst-case discharge, or a substantial threat of such a discharge."[26]

Slow response

Chris Oynes (left) of the Mineral Management Service presents Keelan Adamson (right) of Transocean the MMS's,
Safety Award for Excellence (SAFE),[27] at the at the MMS National Award luncheon 7 May 2009 in Washington.[28]
Source: Beacon magazine

On 23 April 2010 Department of Homeland Security officials with the U.S. Coast Guard reported the was no leak from the sunken oil rig.[29] Administration officially estimated leakage from the sunken well at 1000 barrels per day after studying information from remotely operated vehicles.[30] Later administration estimates were raised to 5000 barrels per day,[31] while National Public Radio has reported the Obama administration's estimates may be understated by a factor of ten.[32]

Federal officials did not begin burning the leaking oil off the surface of the water until one full week after the rig collapsed.[33] Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal criticized President Obama for his slow response[34] The New York Times castigated the White House for delays and not moving quick enough, calling the evidence "damning" and declaring the Gulf oil spill a "huge disaster whose consequences might have been minimized with swifter action" from the Obama administration.[35]

Transocean

Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizons drilling rig leased to BP, was the recipient of the Obama Mineral Management Service's, Safety Award for Excellence.[36][37]

British Petroleum

A symbol that the president is responsible, Obama takes ownership of this crisis. His actions alone will be judged and cannot easily pass blame onto others as he has previously.

During the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of the Interior granted a “categorical exclusion” from a detailed environmental impact statement required under law[38] to British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon drilling operation, according to the Washington Post.[39] BP's exploration plan received in the Administration's MMS field office on 23 March 2009 states "no mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources." It declared any spill would have only "sub-lethal" effects on fish and marine mammals but it was "unlikely that an accidental oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."[40]

As Senator, and while running for president, Barack Obama received a total of $77,051 from British Petroleum[41] and has taken more money from BP's Political Action Committee and individuals connected with BP over the past 20 years than any other candidate, according to FEC disclosure records.[42] Likewise, the independent watchdog Center for Responsive Politics noted, "the “top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself.”[43][44]

Environmental disaster

Attempted cleanup

Wired Science reports the Obama administration disaster-relief agencies and BP are using a toxic chemical to disperse oil in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Use of dispersants are said to be a public relations strategy.[45] U.S.Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano reported the dispersants were dropped form C-130 cargo aircraft.[46] Jackie Savitz of the ocean-conservation group Oceana stated the use of dispersants is only slightly less horrendous than the Gulf oil spill itself. "You're basically pouring chemicals into the ocean, which is never a good thing."[47] According to a 2009 Environmental Protection Agency report dispersants have not been used in the United State "because of possible long-term environmental effects, difficulties with timely and effective application, disagreement among scientists and research data about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and toxicity concerns" and the effects "are still unknown."[48] Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, executive vice president of the environmental group Ocean Conservancy, said dispersants risk damaging ecosystems and hurting wildlife.[49]

Health affects on cleanup workers

The Guardian (uk) has reported the controversy over Corexit exposes the Obama administration to criticism that its scientific agencies have been too compliant with BP. In addition to sanctioning the use of Corexit, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come under fire for withholding test results on the toxicity of the water close to shore.[50]

The dispersant 2-BE is known to cause heath dangers to clean up workers[51] and wildlife alike.[52] 2-BE has been documented to cause the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow of humans – effects not included on the information sheet for workers.[53] The dispersant Corexit 9500 is associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems as sides effects to clean-up workers.[54] Lawrence Duffy of the University of Alaska claims dispersants "are more a public relations measure than a preventive one. It has an effect on our psychology because we don't see the oil slick,"[55] though oil particles continue to do damage.[56]

Silverfish

Most scientists agree that Corexit 9500 will have a much larger biological effect when it reaches coastal areas teeming with wildlife.[57] Many species are being threatened at a crucial time in their life cycle.[58] In testing done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the dispersant Corexit 9500 was found to be extremely lethal to silverfish, a benchmark organism in toxicity testing.[59]

Gulf menhaden

Gulf menhaden are a species harvested mostly for fish meal and fish oil. Menhaden could be badly affected by the spill.

Coral, oyster and shrimp

Corals, oyster and shrimp likewise are critically affected. Richard Charter, a foremost expert on marine biology and oil spills who is a senior policy advisor for Marine Programmes for Defenders of Wildlife and is chairman of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council has said, “There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” which "in so doing you may be more seriously damaging the ecosystem offshore.”[60] Shrimp were found to be extremely vulnerable to the lethal effects of the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 used by Obama administration disaster relief agencies and BP in testing done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[61]

Oil-covered bird struggling to stay alive

Brown pelican

The Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican, was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2009 and breeding season has just commenced.

Other bird species

Other species endangered by the oil spill are American oystercatcher and Wilson's plover.

Sea turtles

As several species of sea turtles move through the Gulf during their spring nesting season, they need to surface to breathe.

Economic impacts

The economic impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster could be large and devastating to several key industries, including fishing, tourism, and transportation.[62]

Employment in fishing

Fishing[63] in the Gulf of Mexico employed about 27,000 workers in Louisiana alone and second to Alaska's fishing industry. Dockside sales are approximately $660 million. Loses to the Louisiana fishing industry could be as high as $2.5 billion.[64]

Tourism

Tourism along the Gulf coast likewise could be devastated as the spill comes ashore. Florida tourism industry could lose $3 billion according to analysts at Bernstein Research.[65]

Transportation

The disruption of shipping traffic in and out of the Port of New Orleans will impact barge, container, and tanker traffic in the Mississippi Delta and along the Mississippi River. Prices of all types of commodities would affected,

Insurance industry

British Petroleum (BP), the operator on the oil drilling lease with a 65% stake, insured itself, rather than buying coverage from insurance companies. Industry analysts estimate total costs related to the oil spill clleanup and damages could exceed $14 billion. [66]

Other Liberal Reaction

Forthcoming

References

  1. Obama Lifts Ban on Offshore Drilling, Associated Press, 31 March 2010. Retrieved from Youtube 9 May 2010.
  2. President Obama must reinstate moratorium on offshore drilling, Greenpeace USA blogs, 30 Apr 2010.
  3. White House Press Release, Remarks by the President in a Discussion on Jobs and the Economy in Charlotte, North Carolina, Office of the Press Secretary, April 02, 2010. Retrieved from whitehouse.gov 3 May 2010.
  4. Video: Obama Says "Oil Rigs Today Don't Generally Cause Spills", 2 April 2010. Retrieved from RealClearPolitics.com 12 May 2010.
  5. Barack Obama State of the Union Address 2010. Retrieved from C-SPAN.org 15 May 2010.
  6. Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time, John M. Broder, New York Times, March 30, 2010.
  7. Obama clears way for oil drilling off U.S. coasts, Associated Press, March 31, 2010, Retrieved from nola.com 8 May 2010.
  8. Obama Offshore Oil Drilling Details, 1 April 2010. Retreived from About.com Guide to US Government Info 16 May 2010.
  9. Department of Interior Press Release, 31 March 2010.
  10. Economics 2008. Retrieved from Nobel.org 10 May 2010.
  11. Krugman Garners Newsweek Cover for Left-Wing Criticism of Obamanomics, Julia A. Seymour, Business & Media Institute, 3/31/09.
  12. The Oil Spill Is Obama’s Fault, Paul Krugman, New York Times Op-Ed, April 30, 2010,
  13. MMS Thought Deepwater Horizon was Award-Winningly SAFE, The Project on Government Oversight, Exposing Government Corruption, 29 April 2010.
  14. Angry Obama Seeks to Deflect Blame for Gulf Oil Spill Crisis, CBS, May 14, 2010
  15. New look at Gulf oil spill as cleanup continues, NYPost, May 15, 2010
  16. Senator Menendez on Oil Spill: No New Drilling Permits, ABCNews, May 12, 2010
  17. Worst environmental disaster in US history, Maryann Tobin, Examiner, April 29, 2010.
  18. Gulf Oil Spill: Impossible to Measure Impact of "Unprecedented Environmental Disaster", Aaron Task, May 03, 2010. Retrieved from Yahoo Finance 12 May 2010.
  19. Salazar: Oil spill 'massive' and a potential catastrophe, CNN, 3 May 2010.
  20. Congress Homes In on Rig's Blowout Preventer, Ben Casselman and Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal Online, 13 May 2010.
  21. Ibid.
  22. White House Press Office, Press Briefing on the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf Coast, 29 April 2010. Retrieved from whitehouse.gov 12 May 2010.
  23. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/law_order_corporate_crime_unit_20100518/
  24. Congress Homes In on Rig's Blowout Preventer, Ben Casselman and Jennifer Levitz, WSJ Online, 13 May 2010.
  25. Ibid.
  26. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/29/gulf-oil-spill-exceeds-bp_n_556798.html
  27. http://www.mms.gov/awards/SAFEcriteria.htm
  28. http://www.beaconmag.com/gomrigteamswinmm.html
  29. Coast Guard: No oil leaking from sunken rig, Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, 23 April 2010.
  30. Oil Rig, Deepwater Horizon, Leaking Into Gulf Of Mexico, Cain Burdeau, 4 April 2010. Retrieved from the Huffington Post, 15 May 2010.
  31. Size of Spill in Gulf of Mexico Is Larger Than Thought, Campbell Robertson and Leslie Kaufman, New York Times, 28 April 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  32. Gulf Spill May Far Exceed Official Estimates, Richard Harris, National Public Radio, 14 May 2010.
  33. http://blog.al.com/live/2010/04/burning_should_have_started_a.html
  34. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzEntQPr9OA
  35. Unanswered Questions on the Spill, New York Times Editorial, 30 April 2010.
  36. Democratic Leader Hoyer Doesn’t Know Whether Obama Administration was Prepared for Oil Spill, Matt Cover, CNSNews.com, May 20, 2010.
  37. MMS Thought Deepwater Horizon was Award-Winningly SAFE, The Project on Government Oversight, Exposing Government Corruption, 29 April 2010.
  38. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.
  39. U.S. exempted BP's Gulf of Mexico drilling from environmental impact study, Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 5 May 2010.
  40. http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/initial_exploration_plan050410.pdf
  41. http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/BP?view=detail&siteid=nwhwk
  42. Obama is biggest recipient of BP’s political action cash in the last 20 years, John Byrne, 5 May 2010. Retrieved from rawstory.com 9 May 2010.
  43. Jake Tapper, Political Punch, ABC News, 5 May 2010. [1]
  44. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/04/on-thursday-oil-giant-bp.html
  45. Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative, Brandon Keim, 5 May 2010. Retrieved from Wired Science 15 May 2010.
  46. Oil-spill disaster: Chemicals used in cleanup add to toxic mix, Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel, 2 May 2010.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Ibid.
  49. Ibid.
  50. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/20/gulf-oil-spill-chemical-dispersant
  51. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/gsolomon/oil_spill_clean-up_workers_get.html
  52. Chemical dispersants seem to be keeping oil from Gulf shore, but results may range from simply cosmetic to very toxic. Retrieved from Belona.org 15 May 2010.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Ibid.
  55. Ibid.
  56. Oil-spill disaster: Chemicals used in cleanup add to toxic mix, Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel, 2 May 2010.
  57. Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative, Brandon Keim, Wired Science, 5 May 2010.
  58. FACTBOX-Possible environmental impact of Gulf oil spill, Reuters, 28 April 2010.
  59. Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative, Brandon Keim, Wired Science, 5 May 2010.
  60. Chemical dispersants seem to be keeping oil from Gulf shore, but results may range from simply cosmetic to very toxic. Retreived from Belona.org 15 May 2010.
  61. Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative, Brandon Keim, Wired Science, 5 May 2010.
  62. Preliminary Economic Assessment of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, Nariman Behravesh, 4 May 2010. Retrieved from ihsglobalinsights.com 8 May 2020.
  63. http://www.marketwatch.com/video/asset/fishing-industry-hammered-by-gulf-oil-spill/41612D0E-B338-464D-A15E-5885B1D227D6
  64. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/insurers-brace-for-liability-hit-from-oil-spill-2010-05-05
  65. http://www.royalgazette.com/rg/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7da532730030019&sectionId=65
  66. U.S. oil spill could bill could exceed $14 billion, Tom Bergin, Reuters, 2 May 2010.