Sunday, May 23, 2010

Davy Jones Disturbed - One Month Later

This will be a short post – my schedule has suddenly become much busier. I will say, though, that I have some good interviews lined up, and hopefully you will be seeing them over the next two months. I also owe you all a transcript of my “post-Peak health care” interview with Holly Scholles of Birthingway College of Midwifery.

Today let's talk about the ongoing oil leak caused by the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. I want to list the lies that have been told so far by British Petroleum (BP) and its allies in the mainstream media:

  • Residents of Texas who discovered dead sea turtles washing up on their beaches soon after the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon and the resulting oil spill were told that there was no connection between the oil spill and the dead sea turtles on Texas shores. This assertion was heavily implied in coverage of the event by Fox News. However, the truth is that the numbers of dead sea turtles are triple the normal amount for this time of year. A more accurate picture of the environmental damage can be found at the Sea Turtle Restoration Project and similar sites.

  • Tar balls are now washing up on the beaches of Florida. The U.S. Coast Guard recently asserted that “lab tests show conclusively that the the Florida Keys tar balls are not linked to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.” The funny thing is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration requires that all water, tar or oil samples collected in the area affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill must be sent to TDI-Brooks International's B&B Laboratories, located in Texas. TDI-Brooks' biggest clients are multinational oil companies such as British Petroleum, owner of the Deepwater Horizon. Clearly, there is a conflict of interest here.

  • The “official” size of the leak has never lined up with reality. The official figure being bandied about is 5000 barrels per day. In the early aftermath of the disaster, that figure was far lower, as the official estimates of the severity of the leak were being published by...BP, of course! Estimates were revised upward from a mere 1000 barrels per day to the current 5000 as it became quickly obvious that BP's figures were unrealistic. Now some very respectable sources are saying that the 5000-barrel-per-day figure is also wildly optimistic. According to these sources, the figure should be closer to 70,000 barrels per day. (See “Daily Kos: Deepwater Horizon: The first 30 days” and “Gulf Oil Spill May Far Exceed Government, BP Estimates : NPR” for instance.) According to one estimate, the resulting oil slick now covers more area than the state of West Virginia.

  • Descriptions of BP's effectiveness in stopping, stemming or containing the leak have proven time and time again to be very exaggerated. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp outlets, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, have regularly and uncritically published BP's pronouncements that progress is being made in stemming the leak (see “ - British Petroleum Caps One of Three Gulf Oil Leaks”, and “Spill Fight Shows Progress -” for instance). Yet these statements are being regularly disproved. BP's recent statement that they were siphoning off 5000 barrels per day from the leak via a specially-equipped ship had to be revised downward, as reported here.

The situation is improving for people who want to get at the truth of the seriousness of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. There is now a live camera feed showing the leak in real time, via both satellite imagery and underwater cameras at the leak site. This live feed has been overloaded, showing just how many people are interested in learning the truth. There are also independent experts who are not friends of the oil industry, who can also provide insight into the magnitude of the disaster.

The truth that emerges is not a pretty picture. What is being seen is that BP who were incompetent in managing offshore oil drilling, are just as incompetent in managing the cleanup from an offshore well blowout. Either that, or they are unwilling to mount the sort of effort needed to stop the Gulf oil leak in a timely manner due to fear of reducing their profit margin. It is high time to bring in more competent agencies, even if this means we have to ask for help from foreign governments. This will of course tarnish the myth of American exceptionalism, as well as exposing BP to increased civil and criminal liability (for many more people will see the evidence of the magnitude of the mess BP have created). That's just too bad. Time is of the essence here. Otherwise, we face the prospect of 70,000 barrels of oil per day polluting our oceans for months on end, while BP dithers about and expends most of their energy protecting their stock value instead of taking responsibility for their mess.

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