Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Free Ride On The Karmic Carousel


Those regulatory whatchamacallits sure do come in handy:
Nevertheless, regulators in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil, in effect require them. Norway has had acoustic triggers on almost every offshore rig since 1993.

The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, according to the agency overseeing offshore drilling. The agency, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, says it decided the remote device wasn’t needed because rigs had other back-up plans to cut off a well.

The post goes on to point out that "an acoustic trigger costs about $500,000."

Of course, as previously mentioned, BP is spending $6 million a day on this spill ... so far. And from the memory hole, it seems the Interior Department's Minerals Management Division had a few other things on its mind besides saftey.


Fingers are pointing at Halliburton:

An oil-drilling procedure called cementing is coming under scrutiny as a possible cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico that has led to one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history, drilling experts said Thursday.


The scrutiny on cementing will focus attention on Halliburton Co., the oilfield-services firm that was handling the cementing process on the rig, which burned and sank last week. The disaster, which killed 11, has left a gusher of oil streaming into the Gulf from a mile under the surface.

Which gets us back to where I started with this post.


Free hand of the market FAIL:

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the doomed rig lacked a remote-control shutoff device commonly used in other major offshore oil-producing nations.

Would be nice if we had some sort of protective whatchamacallit, some kind of thingie mandating oil companies drilling in public waters take every available precaution to protect the environment so multi-billion-dollar fishing and tourism industries aren’t destroyed.

Another "flaw." Imagine that.


A temporary halt to new drilling has been instituted:

In a ‘GMA’ exclusive this morning White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod told me that in the wake of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, no expansion of off-shore oil drilling will take place until any investigation into how this spill occurred is complete.

Wonder how long that will last?


There's always a Halliburton connection, isn't there? A lawsuit filed by shrimpers names the company:

It also names Halliburton Energy Services and Cameron International Corp., which manufactured the blowout preventer that failed to cap the spill.

Thank you very fucking much. God I love the karma of this: Halliburton rakes in billions in Iraq War profiteering and now has to spend some of that fixing the mess it made in the Gulf of Mexico.

No one gets a free ride on the Karmic Carousel, people. This was absolutely, 100% predictable.

And I love how whenever a private company suffers a disaster we all pay to fix the mess.

Send in the U.S. Coast Guard! Send in the U.S. Navy! The EPA! Homeland Security! (Actually, it turns out there are 16 federal agencies involved in the effort.) Turns out Gov. Bobby Jindal "pleaded for federal help”; I wonder if he regrets scoffing at federal spending a few years back, or how he bragged about cutting Louisiana’s taxes six times--”including the largest income tax cut in the history of our state”?

Maybe he shouldn’t have ridiculed $8 billion for light rail projects around the nation, since such projects lessen our dependence on the very oil now washing up on his shoreline.

Yes, BP is spending $6 million a day on this disaster. Yes, President Obama says BP is responsible for the cleanup costs.

But I'm sorry, we're all going to pay for this. We just are.

It goes well beyond the costs of the federal response. It's bigger than the loss of wildlife. It’s the loss of an entire industry:

Louisiana has a $3 billion fishing industry—the source of a third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., according to the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board, a state-run agency. Seafood caught here also helps underpin the economy of nearby states that process it, such as Alabama and Mississippi. The impact could be long-lasting and could be made worse by the fact that it's spawning season for some fish and migration time for the young of some species of shrimp.

Hey guess what, solar power spilled all over my roof this afternoon and I didn’t need to call the fucking U.S. Coast Guard to help me clean it up. No local industries were harmed, either. What do you think of that?

Look, I’m tired of hearing people say solar and wind power aren’t developed enough to meet our energy needs. That’s bullshit. Seventy years ago this nation entered World War II and transitioned our economy to a war footing in a matter of months. Factories that once made consumer goods were suddenly making bombs and airplanes and materials for war, virtually over night. People rationed sugar and gasoline and turned their lights out at night. It was a massive national effort and it brought the entire country together in a display of patriotism wingnuts can only dream about today.

We can do this if we want to. Problem is, there's no want-to. There's too much money at stake. Too much greed. Too many Halliburtons profiting off of taxpayer-funded wars in the Middle East. Oil and coal get all sorts of federal concessions while solar and wind development get peanuts, so "free market" conservatives can then claim that alternative energy isn't developed enough to stand on its own. Yeah, well that's how it looks when you stack the deck and rig the books, isn't it?

The dirty little secret is that this country has been in an energy crisis for 50 years now. No one talks about it, but it's still there. We’ve had little shocks here and there, but we’ve always shaken them off. That was stupid, and short-sighted. It’s not foreign oil we need to wean ourselves from -- most of that comes from Canada, anyway. We need to get off the oil tit in general. God isn't making any more dinosaurs, the oil that's left in the ground is more difficult and more expensive to access.

If we’d learned the lessons of the very first Arab oil embargo we wouldn’t be in Iraq today, and we wouldn’t be worrying about Gulf Coast fisheries being wiped out for the next few years. If, after 9/11, George Bush had told us to get off the oil tit instead of telling us to go shopping, we'd be well ahead of the game.

Stupid Americans, we never learn, do we? It feels so much better to tell ourselves we can "drill here, drill now, pay less." When the truth is, oil refineries are cutting production or shutting down completely to keep prices high. It's the end of the oil road, a dying industry's last gasp.

Yes, our economy is dependent on oil, but it doesn’t have to be. Indeed, it won't be for much longer. There’s no reason in the world why every rooftop doesn’t have a solar panel, and why electric cars powered at solar charging stations aren’t widely available by now. If we could transition the country’s economy for war in a matter of weeks, then we can transition away from oil, too.

If we see this for the crisis it is, of course.

If we learn the lesson from this latest emergency, so close on the heels of the West Virginia coal mine disaster, itself right on the heels of Tennessee’s coal sludge disaster.

Is anybody listening?