Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hate to say it, but... "told you so!"

A few weeks  back in the post "BP: "...very responsive and responsible spillers",  I wrote:
Soon we will learn the spill and its effects are far larger than stated ...then we'll learn the monetary costs of the clean...and it will be accepted that We, the people, will foot the financial and  environmental bill.
I wish I had been wrong!
But, I was not wrong.

It begins with  Bill S.3305, the "Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act" - a Senate bill "to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to require oil polluters to pay the full cost of oil spills, and for other purposes."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on the Energy Committee, managed to defeat Bill S.3305 that would cap BP's liability at $10 billion, even if damages from the gulf oil spill surpass that figure. The company already estimates that spill will cost $450 million to clean up.

A drill-baby-drill supporter, Murkowski, apparently, has received almost $300,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. She says she supports raising the cap but argues that the $10 billion figure would prohibit all but the biggest of oil companies from drilling oil offshore.

Meanwhile, local fisherwoman, Diane Wilson, traveled to Washington, DC  from Texas, where her livelihood and those of her fellow shrimpers has been ruined. Wilson describes herself as
...a high school–educated fisherwoman with a pile of kids and a broke-down truck....I am a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf. With this BP disaster, I am seeing the destruction of my community and I am outraged.
I am also seeing elected representatives like Senator Lisa Murkowski blocking BP from being legally responsible to pay for this catastrophe. She stopped the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act and wants to keep the liability cap at a pitiful $75 million. This is outrageous. How dare she side with big oil over the American people who have been so devastated by this manmade disaster....

Wilson writes,
There are approximately 4,000 oil and gas rigs out in the Gulf, but there are a sizable number in the bays, too. Seismologist teams sometimes use dynamite blasts to produce sound waves that pinpoint oil and gas deposits. Generally, dynamite charges aren't allowed near the reefs and they're not supposed to be so powerful that they blow up fish. That's the law, anyhow, but who's listening? I was trotlining for black drum and I had a string of lines near an oyster reef that black drum love to hang around. I picked up my line and there, hanging off the hooks, was a very long line of dynamite charges. Things really got messy when the dynamite blasts started rocking the fishermen's boats and blowing fish out of the water. To stop the obvious show of dead fish, the company brought in a three airboats. An airboat can generate decibels equivalent to a jet plane, so imagine three giant airplanes ripping and running up and down the bay to scare the fish out of the bay. Well, they accomplished their goal. All the fish ran out of the bay and there went our fish for the entire season. It was nothing but a bleep on an oil company's corporate work sheet, but for our family-based inshore fishermen, it was devastating.

That's not all. Just listen. The oil industry dumps over a billion pounds of mercury-contaminated drilling-mud wastes into the Gulf each year. Drilling muds are used to cool and lubricate drill bits as they bore into the earth while plumbing for oil and natural gas. The mercury is present in an element called barite, the main ingredient in the muds. In l996, the EPA limited the amount of mercury that could be present in the drilling muds to one part per million, which could still allow l,000 pounds of mercury to be dumped from the Gulf platforms each year. For 50 years prior to the EPA rule, there were no limits on mercury in barite. A report published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers suggested that, in the past, barite with mercury up to 30 parts per million could have been used. Looking at information supplied by the oil industry and the EPA, hundreds of thousands of pounds of mercury have been dumped in the Gulf via drilling muds since the l960s.

So it shouldn't be surprising at all that some oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are so contaminated by mercury that they could qualify for Superfund status. The mercury concentrations in many fish sampled near at least one rig were high enough to qualify the area as a contaminated fishery.
Read her full article.

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