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The Real Deal on the Oil Platform Accident. What you need to know (so far). UPDATED!

Posted by iusbvision on May 16, 2010

UPDATE VVideo: Sarah Palin on the BP oil spill, the slow federal reaction, the contributions to Obama, and the elite media’s hypocrisy on all of it.

I will get into the reasoning for this but first and foremost this was an accident that has revealed yet another likely government corruption scandal.

Yes this was an accident, accidents happen and will always happen, but as we learn and grow accidents of this type, size, and scale will happen less frequently and have a smaller impact. Just because accidents happen does not mean that we should stop offshore drilling any more than we should stop driving or flying. Flying is the safest way to travel and drilling is very safe and much more so when the latest technology is used. Less drilling means more oil tankers that are much less safe. The answer to more safe energy is more drilling by the United States, not less.

Banning off shore drilling will make offshore energy drilling and exploration LESS SAFE. Cuba, China, Mexico and others are building offshore oil wells just off our coasts. So who is going to use the safest technology us or them? If we do not get that energy they will and we will be borrowing money to buy the oil from them. There are trillions of dollars worth of energy wealth kept off-limits by our government largely due to wealthy environmental extremists, some of who get funds from the oil cartel (OPEC).

The oil rig was using an older technology (single backup shut-off system) and was owned by a company called TransOcean. British Petroleum (BP) was leasing the platform. The new rig technology has secondary and tertiary  safety redundancies built-in. Granted the blow out valve technology has never failed before now, but this was a record depth well.

While ultimately BP will have to pay much of the bill for this accident the government was supposed to have a role to play in partnering withe energy companies to help clean up these accidents when they happened. The government was very late getting to the show. Why?

There is a government agency within the Department of the Interior called the Minerals Management Service (MMS) that is funded by energy companies. One of the key missions of the MMS is to use that money to buy fire booms and other equipment and have equipment pre-positioned off the coasts in strategic areas to respond to accidents. This way the government could assist in the clean up efforts lightening fast. The plan to have equipment ready for such a spill was implemented in 1994 after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. Billions donated by energy companies, bureaucracy hired, papers pushed and no fire booms and other equipment actually pre-positioned. Read this carefully and you will see what an outrageous failure the government response was.

Alabama News:

Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

The “In-Situ Burn” plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.

At federal officials’ behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days, he said.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

“They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand,” Bohleber said. “If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose.”

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn.

At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet — who helped craft the 1994 plan — told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. “The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away.”

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well.

Washington Examiner:

Why didn’t federal officials implement an oil spill clean up plan they’ve had on the books since 1994 as soon as possible after crude began pumping into the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion and sinking of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform 53 miles south of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico?

The Mobile Register reports that Ron Gouget, who formerly managed the oil spill cleanup department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as a similar unit for the state of Louisiana, is criticizing the Obama White House’s failure to act according to existing government plans in the event of a spill in the area now being deluged with thousands of barrels of crude oil every day.

Gouget said when he was at NOAA, the agency created a plan that required burning off an oil spill in the region in its earliest stage, if the prevailing winds would not push the smoke and soot from the operation inland. The plan is still in effect, but was not activated last week by NOAA.

~
“It may have been a political issue. The burn would make a big plume and lots of soot. Like Valdez, the decisions to get the resources mobilized may not have occurred until it was too late,” Gouget told the Register. “This whole thing has been a daily strip tease. At first they thought it was just the diesel, then they said the well wasn’t leaking. It’s unfortunate they didn’t get the burning going right away. They could have gotten 90 percent of the oil before it spread.”

Unbelievable. The rules were there, the money was available and through Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and the mission that gave this government agency meaning did not get done (and these are the people we are supposed to entrust national health care too? No thanks).

What other factors delayed the appropriate federal response and contributed to the problem?

Waivers were issued to get out of a costly environmental impact study were granted partly as a result of BP lobbying according to The Washington Post. Would the study have made the rig safer and made the accident less likely? Probably not. This is appears to be a case of if you have the clout you don’t pay the cost of the study, but if don’t have the clout you pay the piper.

However, the problem with members of Congress and the Administration leaning on the “government regulators” so that the regulation process is captured by the industry they are supposed to watchdog is a problem as the video from the House Government Oversight Committee explains:

Politico and NewsBusters are reporting that Obama was the largest recipient of BP cash:

While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

The Initial Exploration Plan submitted by BP to the MMS was approved and the safety inspections were to be conducted in compliance with the rules according to the plan:

But… NOLA.com reports that the MMS engineer admitted in the congressional hearings that he approved the blowout preventer (failsafe backup device) without assurances it would work. Nice.

While BP did at first underestimate the size of the leak it is unclear if this was deliberate or a simple mistake.

Jake Tapper reports that the Department of the Interior Chief of Staff decided to take a vacation to the Grand Canyon three days after the spill:

Though his agency was charged with coordinating the federal response to the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Department of the Interior chief of staff Tom Strickland was in the Grand Canyon with his wife last week participating in activities that included white-water rafting, ABC News has learned.

The Stricklands departed for the Grand Canyon three days after the leaks in the Deepwater Horizon pipeline were discovered.  Ultimately, after the government realized that the spill was worse than had been previously thought, officials decided that Strickland was needed in the Gulf so Strickland was taken out of the Grand Canyon by a National Park Service helicopter.

One government official, asking for anonymity because of the political sensitivities involved, told ABC News that some Interior Department employees thought it was “irresponsible” for Strickland to have gone on the trip, given the crisis in the Gulf, which was fully apparent at the time he departed for the Grand Canyon.

Gateway Pundit reports that on the 12th day after the explosion President Obama stopped his campaign tour and visited the site:

After 12 days of campaigning against the Arizona immigration law and Wall Street bankers while pushing his next big government takeovers in energy and banking, Barack Obama finally decided to visit the oil slick disaster zone today.

Doug Ross posted President Obama’s activities the last 12 days while the oil slick grew to over 1,000 square kilometers. The President is finally visiting the disaster zone today.

Even the New York Times was critical:

BP Is Criticized Over Oil Spill, but U.S. Missed Chances to Act

The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” and then set up a second command center in Mobile. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day.

The delay meant that the Homeland Security Department waited until late this week [April 30 – IUSB Vision Editor] to formally request a more robust response from the Department of Defense, with Ms. Napolitano acknowledging even as late as Thursday afternoon that she did not know if the Defense Department even had equipment that might be helpful.

By Friday afternoon, she said, the Defense Department had agreed to send two large military transport planes to spray chemicals that can disperse the oil while it is still in the Gulf.

Just priceless…

Speaking of priceless. The White House put the timeline of its response to the oil mess in its own White House Blog. It is almost laughable. They had a meeting, they had a deceleration, they sent out two Coast Guard ships and a helicopter, they had more meetings, they set up a command center, they send a couple of bureaucrats to the Gulf Coast, they brief Obama…. well I think you are starting to get the picture. At least on the 25th they started sending responders to the coasts to prepare to help to clean up oil that may come ashore.

If Bush and/or his people had done what you see above what would the elite media reaction be?

UPDATE – Charles Krauthammer, Mort Kondrake, and Stephen Hayes comment:

NOTE: By the way, oil has always been measured in “Barrels”; now the elite media is measuring it in gallons to inflate the sound of the number.

UPDATE II – MMS was not doing all of the inspections it was required to do.

AP:

LOS ANGELES – The federal agency responsible for ensuring that the Deepwater Horizon was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that the rig be inspected at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

In fact, the agency’s inspection frequency on the Deepwater Horizon fell dramatically over the past five years, according to federal Minerals Management Service records. The rig blew up April 20, killing 11 people before sinking and triggering a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

UPDATE III – Today Susan Collins of the Homeland Security Committee of the Senate thanked BP for being transparent and totally cooperative with the committee. Senator Collins then chastised the Obama Administration for not allowing the MMS to appear.

UPDATE IVU.S. Drilling Regulator Quits Amid Criticism Over Rig Disaster

Bloomberg:

May 18 (Bloomberg) — The top-ranking U.S. official in charge of ensuring the safety of offshore oil rigs resigned four weeks after the Gulf of Mexico disaster that killed 11 workers, sank a $365 million vessel and triggered leaks that have gushed millions of gallons of crude into the sea.

Chris Oynes, associate director of the offshore energy and minerals management program for the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, has left his job, Bill Lee, an agency spokesman, said yesterday in an interview.

 

UPDATE V – Democrats propose to increase offshore drilling tax by 500%. Remember folks, companies don’t pay taxes, they pass those taxes on to you in the form of higher prices. The politicians can claim innocence when they force a company to become the tax collector for the government. –  LINK

One Response to “The Real Deal on the Oil Platform Accident. What you need to know (so far). UPDATED!”

  1. […] Posted by iusbvision on May 23, 2010 Previous – The Real Deal on the Oil Platform Accident. What you need to know (so far). UPDATED! […]

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