Nothing To Snark About

I can’t even come up with a clever headline:

The estimated amount of oil leaking from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to as much as 5,000 barrels a day — five times more than what was originally believed, a Coast Guard official said.

Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters late Wednesday that the increased estimate is based on analysis from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This is not an exact science when you estimate the amount of oil,” Landry said, noting there are a lot of variables in calculating the rate of the spill.

“However, NOAA is telling me now that they prefer we use the 5,000 barrels [210,000 gallons] a day as an estimate of what has actually leaked from this well and will continue to leak until BP secures the source.”

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons. If it takes weeks to cap this off at an estimated rate of 210 thousand gallons a day, on top of what has already spilled, we are looking at just another tremendous catastrophe.

And, of course, the poor bastards in Louisiana will be bearing the brunt of it again. It goes without saying that this will have horrifying consequences for the wildlife, fishing, and touring industries, and more than likely will devastate the ecology of the region for years to come. Unless I am mistaken, the brown pelican just came off the endangered species list, to name just one species that is probably at risk. And because of the nature of the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Delta, with all the estuaries that from above look like the earthen equivalent of a lung’s alveoli, the surface area that will be impacted by the spill is going to be extraordinarily large and remote and impossible to protect. This won’t just be a couple days of black oil on the beaches in front of Mississippi casinos that can be quickly (by comparison) attended to by concerned environmentalists and the government. This is going lay waste to a broad, broad swath of very remote areas, and there is going to be carnage and damage for decades to come.

And I’m probably understating the case.

138 replies
  1. 1
    ChrisWWW says:

    I demand snark! I don’t come here for reasonable reactions…

  2. 2
    John Quixote says:

    Somehow, someway, this is good news for conservatives. I got rid of my cable, so is this getting any play on the news channels?

  3. 3
    Rhoda says:

    They’re talking about doing a “controlled burn” now. Wow. This just gets worst sounding every day.

    Adm Landry said the Coast Guard was considering a “controlled burn” of the petroleum trapped by special containment booms on the surface.

    Environmental experts warn that animals nearby might be affected by toxic fumes, but perhaps not as much as if they were coated in oil.

    “We fully understand there are benefits and tradeoffs,” Adm Landry said.

    But she noted that with the spill moving toward land, the impact on Louisiana’s coastline, which contains some 40% of the nation’s wetlands and spawning grounds for countless fish and birds, had to be considered.

    Controlled burns had been done and tested before, and had been shown to be “effective in burning 50 to 95% of oil collected in a fire boom”, she said.

    The downside was a “black plume” of smoke, she added.

    The slick is now about 20 miles (32km) off the coast of Louisiana, but wind projections indicate it will not reach land before Saturday.

  4. 4
    bkny says:

    but, but, it’s the consistency and color of tea. move along you hippie enviro commie atheists…

  5. 5
    Owen says:

    In hopes of injecting a little snark, I’d point out: aren’t a lung’s alveoli nature’s equivalent of a lung’s alveoli?

    Unless I’ve got some sort of awful robotic air-sacs in my chest…

  6. 6
    flukebucket says:

    I still don’t understand why there was no emergency shut off valve of some kind. The guy from BP said this morning that all regulations had been followed but damn. Why does it have to be spelled out that you need a friggin’ shut off valve? Seems like a shut off valve would be in your own personal best interest and would therefore meet the rigorous demands of free market capitalism.

  7. 7
    Ahasuerus says:

    John – just a nitpick, but the quote says 210k gallons/day, and your commentary has 210k barrels/day.

  8. 8
    Face says:

    five times more than what was originally believed, a Coast Guard official said.

    Wait……it appears BP lied/obfuscated about the true nature of the disaster and the environmental effects thereof? No….way…..

  9. 9
    mellowjohn says:

    how ’bout, “how’s that drill-y, now-y workin’ out for ya”?

  10. 10
    Punchy says:

    the brown pelican just came off the endangered species list

    Yeah, but that was simple. All they had to do was move him out of Arizona.

  11. 11
    JSpencer says:

    We are such incredible fucking idiots. What other species would take a beautiful, lush planet and just trash the living bejesus out of it over and over and over again – apparently learning nothing? Pearls before swine.

  12. 12
    WereBear says:

    @flukebucket: I think the shut off valves(s) were blown up, too.

  13. 13
    donnah says:

    I think Sarah Palin should come down to La and talk about how this country can’t LIVE without drilling.

    It’s heartbreaking, horrifying and infuriating all at once. It couldn’t happen in a more fragile place, where the damage from Katrina still haunts the region.

  14. 14

    @Punchy: Heh. OK, I’m going to hell for laughing, but laugh I did. (I’m going there, anyway!).

    Wow. Just…wow. That’s a hell of a price to pay for a convenient method of fuel.

  15. 15
    EdTheRed says:


    how ‘bout, “how’s that drill-y, now-y workin’ out for ya”?


    Also, too.

  16. 16
    Robert says:

    What’s to worry about? As Rush says, “the sea eats oil”. Nature will clean it up “faster than we ever could”.

  17. 17
    Cat Lady says:

    Which would you rather have – oil rigs or wind turbines? I think the kvetchers here should probably just all sit down and shut up now.

  18. 18
    Sarcastro says:

    @flukebucket: There was a cutoff valve but it failed to operate. I’d hazard to guess it broke one day and they expected the invisible hand to eventually fix it.

  19. 19
    slippy says:

    @flukebucket: As I understand it, there WAS. It was just so poorly designed that it didn’t work at all.

    But we should trust these folks because, after all, they’re the fucking experts at this. Just like the twatbrains at Massey Energy whose incompetence murdered 29 coal miners — we just have to get out of these folks’ way and let them do their jobs. They are the EXPERTS, after all.

  20. 20
    SpotWeld says:

    Is BP insured for this sort of thing?
    I’m worried that to cover the huge expense of this there will be some cost cutting at the other rigs they run in the area (presumibly they’re all part of the same operational unit)…

    ..which would risk a lot of small (and therefore non-newsworthy) spills that would just make the situation worse up and down the coast.

  21. 21
    Gregory says:


    I still don’t understand why there was no emergency shut off valve of some kind.

    My understanding of the engineering isn’t perfect, but I believe there *was*; it’s just that the sinking rig destroyed it.

  22. 22
    slippy says:

    @Robert: What Limbaugh knows about the environment, oil spills, or in fact anything of any use whatsoever could fit into a thimble.

    After said thimble is flattened by leaving it on a railroad track.

    And melted down.

  23. 23
    SpotWeld says:

    Will there be an NTSB investigation of this?
    If this was an overland pipeline I know there would be…

  24. 24
    John Cole says:

    @Cat Lady: Am I the only one who thinks the wind turbines will look pretty off in the distance?

  25. 25
    Svensker says:

    Drill, baby, drill. What could go wrong?

    Some of the Freeper commenters are speculating that this is an Obama/envirowacko operation to further the soshulist agenda.

    Some days it is hard not to despair.

  26. 26
    Punchy says:

    What’s to worry about? As Rush says, “the sea eats oil”.

    And when it comes to eating, clearly Limbaugh is an expert.

  27. 27
    ricky says:

    I thought the owners of this well were beyond petroleum.
    I notice they did not do this in their own back yard in the North Sea.

  28. 28
    fucen tarmal says:

    “rear admiral mary” heh heh…sorry, really deeply sorry, i just couldn’t not.

    yeah, this one isn’t being covered as the disaster it is, i guess because in the eyes of the media its still “out there”

  29. 29
    SpotWeld says:

    @John Cole: @Cat Lady: Am I the only one who thinks the wind turbines will look pretty off in the distance?


    In Holland, MI they’ve put up approximations of historic windmills as a tourist attraction. I don’t get why a community can’t embrace these as iconic landmarks.

    We have any number of midwestern towns that use the local watertower as a symbol for town seals, etc..

  30. 30
    Gregory says:

    at Massey Energy whose incompetence murdered 29 coal miners

    It wasn’t Massey’s incompetence that led to the miner’s deaths; it was the result — the inevitable result — of deliberate policy. The mine wasn’t a deathtrap because Massey didn’t know how to make it safe; it was because Massey chose not to make it so, in order to pad its profit margin and have enough extra cash on hand to buy a few more judges.

  31. 31
    chopper says:

    the Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons.

    still not as big as the one in greenpoint up the way. worse for wildlife tho.

  32. 32
    soonergrunt says:

    @Face: That doesn’t appear to be the case. The 1000 bbl/day rate was something that USCG, EPA, and BP were all working from together.
    BP has been about as forthright as they could be in this situation, which is almost always the best policy. Lies get caught eventually.

  33. 33

    @SpotWeld: In honor of their fore-country, Holland, I am assuming?

    @Rhoda: I saw on Rachel last night that they’re not even sure it will work, that the burn might make it worse than it is now. Great.

  34. 34

    @John Cole: Wind turbines look pretty neat up close, too.

    And they don’t smell like oil wells do up close.

  35. 35
    Rex says:

    What are the odds of a mine (WVa), a refinery (Anacortes, WA), and an offshore drilling platform all blowing up within 2 weeks of one another? OSHA is going to be pretty busy. There is also some serious political hay that could be made of this.

  36. 36
    flukebucket says:

    It is the safeguard device that was being discussed this morning on television.

    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.

    Seems like to me it would have been better to have had it and not needed it than to have needed it and not had it.

  37. 37
    scarpy says:

    I wonder if someone can do a cost-benefit analysis of the tradeoffs on getting x% of our oil from the gulf vs. ruining an entire fucking ecosystem and the dependent economies.

  38. 38
    eyepaddle says:


    Acch, I forgot to type in my name and email and have lost my detailed comment to eternity…..

    So here’s the short version, the shut off valve is called a blow-out preventer–or more often the B.O.P. and in this case it as sited on the sea floor. I don’t know if the blow out destroyed it, or if the blow-out merley destroyed the controls and power source on the rig. I had heard that they were attempting to reconnect the BOP with a remote operated sub, but I am not sure if that failed or is still being tried.

    As a disclosure I spent a few years in the late 90s working offshore as a flunkie geologist.

  39. 39
    fucen tarmal says:


    i’d guess they treated it like a palin treats a torn rubber, just take it off and cross your fingers this once…because it would cost them down time to remedy the situation/end gratuitous palin cheapshot…

    and if the rig isn’t producing for any reason, quotas aren’t met, no one ever got promoted being safe<-lied

  40. 40
    Teri says:

    @flukebucket: a valve sold by Halliburton is the one that broke….wonder if the saudi’s had anything to do with that? Can’t have an energy independent addict not buying from the main supplier now can we?

  41. 41
    Gregory says:


    What are the odds of a mine (WVa), a refinery (Anacortes, WA), and an offshore drilling platform all blowing up within 2 weeks of one another?

    After eight years of Republican governance? Pretty darn high, obviously.

  42. 42

    @flukebucket: Except, it would have cost them money, so, you know. Free market, it is the bitch.

    No stray hyphens, people! Word Press hates them. FYWP!

  43. 43
    Bnut says:

    Alabama has no casinos. Wish they did. They lose a lot of money to Mississippi from it. Also, can the states sue BP if that oil starts to wash up on beaches during the height of summer tourist season? Beautiful beaches ‘Bama does have, and my step-mothers house is right next to the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge. Gonna be ‘interesting’….

  44. 44
    Montysano says:

    More nitpicking: Mississippi has coastal casinos; Alabama does not.

  45. 45
    John Cole says:

    Multiple fixes for the anal retentive commentariat, who seem to have missed the entire point of the post in the pursuit of wikipedia like perfection.

    Although thanks for pointing out the errors.

  46. 46
    Dork says:

    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.

    Translation: The Bush Era executive branch for anything would have agreed to any company’s demands for anything.

    I think I remember reading somewhere that along with the Federal Air Marshall program, the Interior Dept, and specifically this MMS, was the most corrupt federal agency in the entire govt.

  47. 47
    Rosalita says:


    I was going to throw out the obligatory “drill baby drill” but this works

  48. 48
    Mudge says:

    It would seem two questions were not asked about wells in the Gulf. How could the well be stopped from flowing if the primary shut-off failed and what must we do to protect the environment and citizens if the well flows uncontrollably. BP seems to have had a series of ad hoc comments on how to stop the flow and the Coast Guard has advanced a seat of the pants solution to burn the oil slick.

    I guess disaster planning of this sort played little part in the offshore oil business.

  49. 49
    Dr.BDH says:

    I’m sure Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Penn Gillette will find a way to say that massive oil leaks aren’t man-made, if they even happen at all.

  50. 50

    @John Cole: Am I the only one seeing the nesting comments? Google Chrome.

  51. 51
    Peter J says:

    @John Cole:

    Am I the only one who thinks the wind turbines will look pretty off in the distance?

    Luckily, Jason Jones, did the heavy reporting on that subject back in 2007.

  52. 52
    Surly Duff says:

    And guess who gets to pay for a significant portion of the clean-up?

  53. 53
    Perfect Tommy says:

    @Rhoda: These controlled burns look pointless. They are reportedly using a 500 ft fire boom to contain the oil for burning. With a perfectly circular deployment, the maximum surface area contained in a 500ft boom is less than 1/2 of an acre. About the size of a typical suburban back yard. And it takes hours to do this each time. I can see trying this at the mouth of a sensitive estuary to keep oil from encroaching, but on the open sea, with a spill of this magnitude, it seems like wasted effort.

  54. 54
    Cat Lady says:

    @John Cole:

    No you’re not. The wind farm in the valley outside of Palm Springs is awesome. Everyone is just going to have to redefine their idea of beauty. There were probably Dutch elites who didn’t want to despoil the beauty of their fertile plains with those god awful spinning things everywhere.

  55. 55
    South of I-10 says:

    Louisiana just opened a “special” shrimp season so the shrimpers can try to get some catch in before the slick hits, but the shrimpers and oyster fishermen are screwed. This is just fucking tragic. So many organizations and people have spent so much time trying to make our coast healthy and beautiful again. Healthy marsh slows down hurricanes. So much for that.

  56. 56
    russell says:

    Which would you rather have – oil rigs or wind turbines?

    Wind turbines, and thanks for asking.

    Can I keep kvetching now?

  57. 57
    someguy says:

    Before you get all high on wind power, consider the manner in which wind dynamos kill birds. They’re basically like a salad spinner that spews out blood instead of lettuce. That’s why Sierra club wins their lawsuits against them.

  58. 58
    slippy says:

    @Gregory: That’s a good point. I kind of liken it to wilful ignorance — it doesn’t matter how people get to be that stupid, it just matters that that level of stupidity is a choice.

    Just as the level of ineptitude displayed by our energy industry is a choice — a choice which murders our citizens, ravages our environment, and by the way wastes our national resources.

  59. 59
    AhabTRuler says:

    Who is to say that a remote operated BOP would have functioned, anyway? The deadman cutoff failed, & efforts to operate the BOP by ROV have failed. The problem is that in a disaster ASDs are often destroyed or rendered inoperable by the damage thazt took out the primary systems, if not by previous neglect.

  60. 60
    eyepaddle says:


    Back when I was flying over the gulf on the way to whichever rig I was going to be working on I would look down at the dozens, or hundreds of oil production structures already out there. I wondered if anybody had ever thought of putting wind turbines on them once their wells were dried out. Clearly the people of Louisiana aren’t going to bitch about the aesthetics of the views being spoiled. I also thought it would be good for the local economy–clearly people who are good with tools are required for both oil and turbines, so the skills should be fairly transferable. It was also pretty windy in the Gulf most of the time.

    I still wonder if anybody has thought of that.

  61. 61
    daveNYC says:

    There were probably Dutch elites who didn’t want to despoil the beauty of their fertile plains with those god awful spinning things everywhere.

    Maybe, but considering that the plains wouldn’t have existed if not for the spinning things, I suspect that wasn’t the case.

  62. 62
    Wayne says:

    Eventually the oil will begin to discharge from the Gulf flow down around Key West and up the east coast via the Gulf Stream. It could affect the entire eastern seaboard and fisheries.

  63. 63
    slippy says:

    @someguy: Oh, really?.

    I mean, googling “sierra club lawsuits windmills” should have taken me to a series of articles about how the Sierra Club successfully shut down wind farms.

    Instead, I think if you bother to read anything on the subject whatsoever you may be mildly surprised.

    Is this another imbecilic right-wing talking point or WHAT? And Jesus, are people so lazy that they can’t use Google these days?

  64. 64

    “And in the short term, as we transition to cleaner energy sources, we’ve still got to make some tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development in ways that protect communities and protect coastlines

    So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources,/b>. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration.
    We’ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.

    That’s why my administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic.”

    Is it hope yet?

  65. 65
    Cat Lady says:


    I’m willing to bet that there were a few Dutch NIMBY’s back then too.

  66. 66

    gahh, pardon the sloppy tags. At work, not quite awake yet.

  67. 67
    Wayne says:

    Oh, and hurricane season is coming. Imagine what will happen when this stuff gets airborne. It could go as far as West Virginia. Enjoy.

  68. 68
    Julia Grey says:

    Don’t birds learn to steer clear of the turbines?

    I don’t know anything, mind you, but I’m curious.

  69. 69
    Downpuppy says:

    The Gulf is warmer than the Arctic, so the oil will spread thinner & break down a lot faster .

    There are also a lot more people there, so comparing this to Valdez is pretty pointless.

    The real surprise is that this happened in April. In August or September this year, with the heat of the Atlantic & Carribean, you have to expect a lot of rig damage. We’ve had a couple mild hurricane seasons. The setup this year looks like 2005, only hotter.

  70. 70
    P-Dog says:

    Gulf Oil Spill: Well, finally an 80’s remake that’s bigger and better than the original!

  71. 71
    slippy says:

    @Mudge: The only question I want to know is: will BP be held financially accountable for this mess?

    Because, doing so (I mean, every dime of every hour of every salary of every individual involved in the cleanup should be charged to BP, due immediately, no exceptions) would guarantee the next cocksuckers who erect an oil drilling rig make DAMN sure it is failsafe and foolproof.

    Edited to add: also, BP should reimburse the expected earnings of every fisherman impacted and every lost tourist dollar to the states of the Gulf because seriously, who wants to see a hurricane-wrecked oil-slicked mess when they can go to some other coast?

    Us regular schulbs have to deal with the consequences when WE make a big mess and screw up. Why not the oil companies? I would imagine a true accounting of the catastrophe’s cost would eat every dime of BP’s profits. An attention-getting measure, to be sure.

  72. 72
    South of I-10 says:

    @eyepaddle: This is an old article from 2006, but it has been discussed many times. Last I heard, they are still trying to put this together.

  73. 73

    @Wayne: And hurricanes, too.

    Phooey. Double phooey. Yuck.

  74. 74
    colleeniem says:

    Coastie here. In-situ burning has been used before, and I hate to hear people think this is a seat of the pants operation–there are teams there right now whose entire job is just this type of response. They are doing this because it is the last best hope.
    But I understand the sentiment–burning is a bad option on a list of only somewhat effective tools, particularly when the spill starts to spread. The best thing is for the spill not to happen in the first place. Chalk one up for the “liberal” media when high level politicians saying how little oil has been spilled from coastal rigs in the past ten years. Any Coastie worth his salt could tell you that was bullshit. Hell, it’s all over the interwebs.
    I don’t think it was a coincidence that this branch of service gave more campaign contributions to democratic vs. republican politians in 2008.

  75. 75
    BarneyG2000 says:

    How long before Beck accuses the Obama regime of blowing-up the oil rig to further their socialist energy plan?

  76. 76
    Gus says:

    @slippy: That’s because regular shlubs can’t afford to spend millions on lawyers to keep the lawsuits in the courts for decades. Not sure what happened and too busy (or lazy) to look, but it seems to me that Exxon managed to get the Valdez spill judgment reduced to a couple months profit.

  77. 77
    kindness says:

    Living in out here in California we’ve had leaks. Nothing like this one, thank god, but close. These last few years the oil industry has spent a great deal of time telling us how far the technology of underwater wells & drilling have come. I figure that the technology has improved.

    I understand an emergency shut off valve operating at a mile depth needs to be different than one at the surface but I don’t understand why the shut off valve didn’t work. What I guess this all means is that either A) the oil industry is blowing smoke up our asses, B) the oil industry may indeed have fabulous technology available to them but will insist on buying the WalMart knock off to save money, or C) all of the above.

    I’m going to go with C. The only entertaining thing about this (morbid humor, I know) is now being able to watch all these ‘red state’ conservatives declare how they now won’t allow drilling off their pristine coasts.

  78. 78
    Mudge says:

    @colleeniem There are far too many uncertain statements coming from the Coast Gurd regarding the burn. But, all things considered, the following from the NYT:

    Controlled burns have been done and tested before, Admiral Landry said, and had been shown to be “effective in burning 50 to 95 percent of oil collected in a fire boom.” The downside, she said, was a “black plume” of smoke that would put soot and other particulates into the air.

    The consideration of burning was raised as the spill seemed to enter a direr phase. Short-term fixes have been unsuccessful, and political reaction has intensified.

    This is not the series of responses by an agency prepared to deal with this sort of emergency. We are now burning because all other fixes have failed. That is a standard “what next” response.

  79. 79
    grandpajohn says:

    This probably accounts for the the fact that all those repubs in Florida who are in the” drill baby drill” mode also insist that the actual drilling be done in someone else’s back yard

  80. 80
    Jay C says:


    How about “SPILL, BABY, SPILL!!”

    Can’t believe this hasn’t been done already….

  81. 81
    artem1s says:


    well, since it blew up, I doubt the shut off valve still exists.

    Also, why is there no media attention on the 11 riggers who died. Coal mining deaths are better press? I don’t get it.

  82. 82
    Foxhunter says:

    @Jay C: I’m assuming you are filling in for the missing ‘snarkiness’ here, so for those that aren’t daily….

    See the title of this post on the 26th.

    LOL. or not.

  83. 83
    Dork says:

    but the shrimpers and oyster fishermen are screwed

    And I bet damn near every one of them voted Republican, home of the Drill Baby Drill Diva and forever preaching de-regulation for all industries.

    Karma’s a bitch.

  84. 84
  85. 85
    some other guy says:

    Funny that the “liberal” media leads with the measure (barrels) that provides the smaller number even though most readers probably don’t know how to convert it to a more familiar measure, and then sticks the more common (gallon) measurement 8 grafs below.

  86. 86
    The Moar You Know says:

    It will be interesting to see how many times we hear “drill, baby, drill” in the next several months, while this leak destroys the pricey shoreline communities of six southern states.

  87. 87
    Foxhunter says:

    @artem1s: The shutoff valve does exist and has been located by a remote operated vehicle. Unfortunately, the ROV could not get the shutoff to engage (manufactured by Cameron International)

  88. 88
    James Hare says:

    You know the timing of Obama’s announcement to expand coastal drilling and this disaster were a coincidence, right? From some of the commentary here you’d think this rig was operating in waters he opened for drilling. That is not the case. Whether Obama made his announcement or not, this rig would have been in place. The accident likely would still have occurred.

    The incident is a tragedy and as a Virginian it makes me very concerned about expansion of drilling off our coasts. If you’re truly opposed to expanding coastal drilling, this tragedy will help to illustrate your concerns. It is a terrible price to pay, but one we had already decided we would pay.

  89. 89
    Foxhunter says:

    @The Moar You Know: while this leak destroys the pricey shoreline communities of six southern states.

    And further destroys the economy of Louisiana…being the largest seafood producer in the lower 48.

  90. 90
    Egypt Steve says:

    Drill here, Drill now, Drill, baby, Drill!

  91. 91
    IronyAbounds says:

    @John Cole: The birdies might not appreciate a close up view.

  92. 92
    AhabTRuler says:

    Controlled burns have been in the oil-spill toolkits for quite some time, along with skimming, dispersants, and oil-eating microbes. Technology ain’t magic, and as long as we have an oil-based economy, this shit is gonna happen.
    As for the Coasties,they do a shit-ton of work w/o the glamour or budget of the main service arms, so cut them some slack.

  93. 93
    IronyAbounds says:


    Also, why is there no media attention on the 11 riggers who died.

    They weren’t killed by brown people.

  94. 94
    eyepaddle says:

    @South of I-10:

    Cool, thanks for the link–that’s pretty much what I had in mind! I would also potentially add that for the structures too far out to make transmitting the elctricity feasible I envisioned using the power to manufacture hydrogen and either ship it in using the existing pipelines or collect vis tankers.

    Of course I never ran any numbers about the energy yield of hydrogen and cost vs price, but I figured it would be a good way to start developing the technology.

  95. 95
    numbskull says:

    @John Cole: Yeah, but when they’re in the distance for you, they are in the backyard for someone else. Sometimes.

    I don’t know, that’s one of the complaints I keep hearing – they are very loud when you get anywhere near them. I’ve never been close enough to hear.

    Having grown up in oil fields, and having visited various hydroturbine sites, about the only quiet energy sources I can think of are nuclear or solar.

  96. 96
    kormgar says:


    Drill baby Drill!

    Also, too.

  97. 97
    Ryan says:

    But wait, I thought we were Beyond Petrolium®.

  98. 98
    kormgar says:

    @Cat Lady:

    As an individual living in an area with one of the world’s biggest wind farms, let me just say, More Please.

    Wind farms are far from perfect, and they do kill birds. But the are a damn sight better than most of the alternatives from an ecological point of view.

  99. 99
    colleeniem says:

    @Mudge: Mudge: I guess what you expect is a 100% solution to a significant catastrophe that is still ongoing? I understand the frustration, but this is what happens when oil spills occur—you fight it with the methodology you’ve got, and some options have different consequences-which can change with environmental factors. Burning causes significant other affects which is why it isn’t used initially, and might not have been feasible. Believe me, the command center and operational folks are constantly weighing actions and consequences. That is what they do.
    I think we both agree this is a bad situation, I just am a little surprised that you would be critical of the response already. At least acknowledge their decision making process and how it can change minute by minute.

  100. 100
    debbie says:

    This is the same kind of scenario that scares so many people about nuclear power: We don’t have anywhere near the kind of technology that’s needed to safely operate either. Once again, greed supercedes ability.

    I hope BP gets screwed to the wall for this. Not only did they refuse to even acknowledge there was a leak until several days after the accident; now, they’re bickering with NOAA about whether the leak is as large as NOAA claims.

    I heard this morning that their plans to set up another drill to relieve the pressure on this broken rig will take months. Months!!!! And by the way, Exxon still hasn’t paid their fines. When will the oil industry get the same kind of scrutiny that Wall Street’s now subject to?

  101. 101
    Leo says:

    [T]he pursuit of wikipedia like perfection.


  102. 102
    some other guy says:


    But wait, I thought we were Beyond Petrolium®.

    No, you’re thinking of Thunderdome.

  103. 103
    LanceThruster says:

    Those wind turbines off of Cape Cod that were voted down don’t look so horrible in comparison.

  104. 104
    AhabTRuler says:

    debbie@99: Search wikipedia for Davis-Besse NPP.

  105. 105
    DBrown says:

    Lets not forget eleven workers are dead – maybe died by slow burning. This spill is unfogivable for both the lost of life and vast oil spilling into the gulf/coast (soon.)

  106. 106
    DBrown says:

    @eyepaddle: Storage (on site) is nearly impossible in a cost effective manner and of course, piping gas is more expensive than just using cable for electric – can’t win unless you let kilowatt/hour rates go up a good bit (but still a low cost when you add in atmospheric harm and land (coal), or oil spill in water.)

  107. 107
    Elie says:

    @South of I-10:

    I just grieve…grieve….

    For so long, our nation has behaved as though there is no price to pay for our way of life and our conceits. I am not hypocritical enough to say that I don’t use oil or other noxious substances — but I want to heavily regulate its uses — unlike many…

    We are killing this planet and ourselves

  108. 108
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Cat Lady:

    Well except that wind turbines won’t provide fuel for your car, for the plane you take, or for the ships, trains, or trucks that deliver your goods. Or the plastic for the keyboard you typed this on, for that matter.

  109. 109
    eyepaddle says:


    Will the hydrogen just wander out of the tanks? Oh yeah, since this is the internet I want to say that I am not being a wise-ass in this case, I am not familiar with the engineering challenges of storing gaseous H2. Even back then when I was just daydreaming while waiting for the helicopter flight to end I was pretty sure that it would take heavy subsidies, but figured that it could be a useful place to develop the techniques.

    I am curious as to how much harder it is to move H2 than natural gas, because that’s what most of those rigs are out their for so I was thinking about using the existing piping and tank infrastructure, albeit at a much lower number of cubic feet per day, so it would have to be pumped intermittently….hmm.

    Pure geek confession, I really always wanted to be an energy analyst, but I always had to take more mundane jobs to pay off those student loans….

  110. 110
    ksmiami says:

    Exhibit A) as to why we have to price gasoline at its true cost (like $12.00 per gallon based on endless war in the M.E. and environmental degradation

  111. 111
    lushboi says:


  112. 112
    Sinister eyebrow says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time fishing in those marshes down by Delacroix, Venice, Bayou Black, Des Allemandes. This isn’t going to be like the cleanup for the Valdez spill where rubber-clad do gooders and Exxon employees walked around scrubbing rocks and otters. It’s a marsh–there are no rocks. Not much solid ground either. Once that shit gets to the marsh there will be no cleaning it up, getting it out, or doing anything at all except watching the destruction of the animal and plant life continue day after day for years.

    The sportfishing, oyster and commercial fishing industries that depend on that marshland will most likely be utterly ruined for the foreseeable future. That is a huge, huge part of the economy of southeast LA, outside New Orleans tourism. The rest of the economy down there is oil and gas. Go figure.

  113. 113
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    Yes, they were trying from day one to activate the BOP. There are several theories out there for the failure of the BOP or the deadman switch to activate…some of the best discussion I have seen on the topic (and on the situation generally) is at this professional mariner forum:

    gCaptain forum

  114. 114
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    Thank you for saying that. As I mentioned before, my son knew six of those men.

  115. 115
    eyepaddle says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    Thank you for the link.

    This situation was something that I’d think about fairly often when I was out there–especially when they had us get in the lifeboat for an abandon ship drill.

  116. 116
    trollhattan says:

    @Julia Grey:

    Not really. Turbine design plays a role in avian (and bat) mortality but preventing it begins with not placing them in flyways and breeding areas, something the early California turbines did to very bad results. Birds simply won’t adjust their migration patterns–they’re too hardwired to them.

    I’ve worked on some wind farm permitting documents and the science is much better today, with the result that farms can be sited where they do the least harm. The utilities (at least in California) must also perform avian mortality surveys at their operating facilities.

    Like solar, wind isn’t a panacea but does comprise a necessary and desirable portion of our future energy portfolio. Our distribution network needs a whole lot of upgrading as part of the package, which leads to a lot of other fights.

  117. 117
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    I hope BP gets screwed to the wall for this. Not only did they refuse to even acknowledge there was a leak until several days after the accident

    It was the Coast Guard, not BP, that originally said there were no leaks. The leaks were not discovered until several days later.

  118. 118
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    My son worked on the Deepwater Horizon for nearly five years. I have pictures of him helping run those lifeboat drills. They were incredibly safety conscious, and I think the fact that 115 escaped in less than five minutes is testimony to their training.

    BTW, they outran Katrina in that rig.

  119. 119
    ET says:

    So all those states that want off-shore drilling – take note. While you might pull in some revenues but you will also have to deal with with this shit and the negative economic and environmental consequences of a spill. Bad comes with good. As long as you are willing to live with it OK, but here is an abject lesson in what can go wrong so be prepared for that not with the windfall of money you think you are going to get.

  120. 120
    eyepaddle says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    I am pretty sure that the Horizon wasn’t built until AFTER I bailed on that line of work, but I did do a few jobs on Transocean rigs–in fact my first job was on the Transocean DF 96. That was kind of an oddball, I think it was a first gen. semi-submersible and was not built like a giant pontoon boat (which is the standard for people who are unfamiliar with this topic) and was built on five buoy like pillars. I did work two jobs in that area of the gulf though I remember being blown away that we could drill in 4800 feet of water. I think that was the Ocean Diamond, but I may be wrong about that–it’s been awhile.

    Again, thank you for that link, it would seem that the technology and capability has adavanced a fair bit in the last ten years.

  121. 121
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    Yes, the DWH was built in 2001. My son ran the dynamic positioning system (among other things), which is a pretty amazing bit of technology.

    I always thought of the helicopter ride out there as being the most dangerous part of the job, but of course the whole business is risky.

  122. 122
    JohnR says:

    @Julia Grey:

    You don’t learn when you’re dead. I don’t know what the accurate fatality rate is, but a great deal of the time a migrating bird hits a solid object it’s done for, either immediately or lingeringly due to severe damage. Most birds aren’t that sturdy, due to flight constraints. Natural selection will probably take care of the problem eventually, in the sense that birds which don’t pass through the wind vane areas will survive better than those which do, but a lot of migratory birds are already hammered as it is. 20 years ago I used to see kettles of hawks migrating from work; haven’t seen one in about a decade. Warbler migration is way down in my area, etc. Most people just don’t notice the changes happening under their noses, although some people occasionally notice when things aren’t there any more. Incidentally, a number of small migrants cross the Gulf on their way from North to South America. Not that that will have any particular impact on policy choices – the normal pattern to a disaster like this is big uproar for a couple years, then back to business as usual, with a small surcharge on the costs of doing business to recoup the losses. And later on, a vague regret that something’s missing in your life (but that’s usually put down to the “old man’s nostalgia” effect).
    As to this:

    I’m probably understating the case

    Yup! Some interesting studies in the marshes of New Jersey over the past decade or so. These things just don’t go away on any human-generational scale. Maybe a couple thousand years or so to have things change enough to disperse some, if not most, of the muck. Life adapts, though. As far as killing the seas goes, this is really kind of small potatos. It may trash the Gulf fisheries, crabbing and shrimping for a few decades, but really, who cares about them, right? They’re too poor to be important in our modern America. Let them get retrained to hire on in the thriving ‘cake-eating’ field. Meanwhile, we’ll find more tasty alternatives to eat, like farm-raised Sea Cucumbers.

  123. 123
    Remember November says:


    I didn’t know Rush was an Oceanographer, in addition to being an expert on other things. Moslty pharmaceutical, and french brocade patterns for his Manhattan Apartment.

  124. 124
    Remember November says:


    Wasn’t there an oil spill ( a small one) that happened while McCain and Palin were going to speak near a refinery?

  125. 125
    Cantbelieveit says:

    This story absolutely SICKENS me since I am an environmentalist but the impression i got from the news stories I have read is that the when the rig sunk it essentially broke off the mechanisms that ‘capped’ the well the rig has I’m guessing the oil is just spewing out of the drilled well (much like in the Beverly Hillbillies show..)….?

    I completely agree that SOMEONE needs to be held accountable for the cost of this disaster (both economical impact to the people of Louisiana AND the huge environmental impact this will have).
    Really, with all the development in technology there is out there is there not a better way????
    Maybe this should be a kick in the a** for the Obama administration to REALLY push towards alternative energies for the future and stop the dependancy on oil.

  126. 126
    Catsy says:

    @Cat Lady: I actually though that article was satire when I was reading it.

  127. 127
    debbie says:


    I’m in central Ohio and painfully familiar with Davis-Besse NPP.

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    Sorry, you’re right. I was half-watching the Newshour, saw and heard a woman, and made the assumption. Shame on me.

  128. 128
    Pug says:

    The only question I want to know is: will BP be held financially accountable for this mess?

    Just so you understand a little about how the oil business works, BP was not responsible for drilling the well. The well was being drilled by Transocean, the biggest drilling company in the world, under contract with BP. BP merely hired Transocean to do a job for them.

    Not attacking or defending anyone, but this one really isn’t on BP. They owned the block where the drilling was being done by a contractor and they own the well when drilling is finished, but they don’t actually drill the well.

    Still, the answer to your question is yes, they will be held financially accountable. There are some insurance companies that have a real catastrophe on their hands. The rig that sank has to be worth multiple billions alone.

  129. 129
    scarshapedstar says:

    There are some insurance companies that have a real catastrophe on their hands. The rig that sank has to be worth multiple billions alone.

    Yeah, but they saved half a million bucks! (At least that’s the estimate I heard on a New Orleans news station):

    The Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded last week was not outfitted with a safety device that might have prevented the massive oil spill now nearing the U.S. Gulf Coast. The device, known as an acoustic switch, is a last-resort protection against underwater spills, and is required by regulators in Norway and Brazil. Unfortunately, the U.S. has no such regulation for oil wells operating off of its shores.

    According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, an acoustic switch is a remote control device that a crew can use in an attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down a well that’s damaged. The switch is meant as a last resort, as the primary shut-off systems almost always work on wells when they are out of control. It can be triggered from a lifeboat if an oil platform has to be evacuated.

    According to the Journal, U.S regulators did consider requiring the acoustic switch on offshore wells, but drilling companies resisted because of its cost, and questions about its effectiveness. To be fair, the switches have never been tested in real-world situations, only simulations. U.S. regulators also maintain they are prone to causing unnecessary shutdowns.”

    E. coli conservatism: the gift that just keeps on fucking giving, catastrophe after catastrophe. What I wouldn’t give for an ‘unnecessary shutdown’ right now.

  130. 130
    TA[X486 says:

    I wonder how long it took for the small gov’t/low tax/get gov’t off our back/free market teaparty loving govenors to get on the phone ask Obama for federal money. The states own the oil rights, they collect the taxes, let them pay forthe clean-up

  131. 131
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    Well since the BOP couldn’t even be activated by a mechanical arm turning the damn switch, it’s unlikely a remote device would do any better.

    And of course it wouldn’t have prevented the blowout in the first place.

    Makes for a fun soundbite though.

  132. 132
    Zuzu's Petals says:


    PS, another good link:

    DWH: A Failure in Well Control

  133. 133
    Schmegma says:

    Hey John Cole,

    Got a question for ya; considering all of the fervent hope and urgency the wingnutters have placed on “taking back their country” in November, what do you think will happen if they actually FAIL to take back either the House or the Senate??

    Do they go all McVey on us? Do we see ‘Peak-TeaBagging? Does their collective fat, white head explode ala ‘Scanners?’

    (sorry for posting 3 times)

  134. 134
    South of I-10 says:

    So now there is a delightful smell in the southeastern parishes, including New Orleans. That oughta be good for tourism.

  135. 135
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    are there any groups that will be working on clean up that we can donate to? this is awful.

  136. 136
    sparky says:

    not much talk here about mister Obama’s brilliant plan to have more drilling off the East Coast, i see. i can’t imagine why all of you who were yapping about what a brilliant idea it was are silent now.

  137. 137
    EZSmirkzz says:

    On the bright side, no nuclear devices have been detonated over population centers in decades.

  138. 138
    Pug says:

    The states own the oil rights, they collect the taxes, let them pay forthe clean-up

    That far offshore is Federal waters. The Minerals Management Service collects royalties on all production in Federal waters. The money goes to the Feds from deep water.

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