Bob Higgins

Vote For The Environment

Posted in Election 2010, Environment, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on October 29, 2010
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Please vote for the environment and urge your friends to do the same.

EnvironmentForward these 12 Environmental Facts to 5 friends.

Next Tuesday a schoolteacher from Connecticut, an organic farmer from California, and a biologist from Colorado will cast their ballots with at least one thing in common – they will have read this and they will be even more determined to vote to protect our planet.

At my polling station in Dayton, Ohio I will add my voice to theirs and cast my ballot for the environment.

And I will forward this to my friends and family to urge them to vote at least in part on how our candidates will treat our natural world.

Will you join us?

Please pledge to vote for the environment this Tuesday, November 2nd (more…)

In School Outreach, BP and NOAA “Dispel Myths” About Dispersants, Subsurface Oil

Posted in Environment, Marian Wang, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on October 4, 2010
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Snapper are filleted at Inland Seafood in New Orleans, La. According to reports, BP and the government are giving presentations at local schools showing that "oil floats" and Gulf seafood is safe. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 

[Pro Publica's Marian Wang reports on the spin being provided to middle school students by BP and the NOAA regarding the safety of Gulf Seafood and the contamination of the Guf with 206 million gallons of crude oil and a million gallons of dispersants.  Truthout gives a slightly different picture in Evidence Refutes BP's and Fed's Deceptions Bob Higgins]

By Marian Wang,  ProPublica
Even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls for more research into the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants BP used in the Gulf, representatives of BP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have reached out to local schools to “dispel myths” about dispersants and subsurface oil, according to recent reports in the Houma Courier and the Tri-Parish Times. (We first noticed the Tri-Parish Times piece via TreeHugger.) (more…)

Marian Wang: Despite Safety Concerns at Texas Refinery, U.S. Won’t Revoke BP Probation

Posted in Environment, Guest Columns, Marian Wang, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on September 28, 2010
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BP Texas City refinery exploded in 2005 killing 15 and injuring 170

[Editor's note: Until we eliminate the idea that corporations are people and have the rights of citizens under the law we will be forced to deal continually with criminal actors like BP. If John Gotti had had the same access to the legal and lobbying talent, as well as the influence in congress and money as BP, he would not have died in prison. Bob Higgins]

By Marian Wang ProPublica

The Justice Department has decided not to revoke probation that the government had imposed on BP as part of an agreement to address safety violations at the company’s Texas City refinery, site of a deadly 2005 explosion. The decision comes despite a government warning earlier this year that it might revoke the company’s probation if BP failed to address the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s continuing concerns about safety at the refinery.

Since a blast at the refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers, BP has faced both criminal and civil actions for violations identified in investigations after the accident. As part of its plea agreement to resolve the criminal charges it faced after the 2005 blast, BP was given three years’ probation. (more…)

Hey BP, Advertise This: Walk Across the Mississippi on BP’s Carpet of Dead Fish

Posted in Uncategorized by Bob Higgins on September 15, 2010
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BP is reportedly spending more than a million bucks a week on their friendly, sensitive Bubba next door ads in an attempt to repair their brand and convince the public that they are aware of the fact that they might have committed a bit of a faux pas in the Gulf of Mexico but they are doing everything humanly possible to make it right.

Here’s a statement for the tourist and travel brochures in hotel lobbies and airplane seat backs: Mississippi River Brimming with Dead Fish Near Gulf of Mexico. Follow the headline with pictures from Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana and you’ve got yourself a certified tourist magnet. (more…)

Scientists Discover Thick Layer of Oil Stretching for Miles on Gulf Sea Floor

Posted in Environment, Guest Columns, Marian Wang, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on September 13, 2010
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AP/Dave Martin - A wave polluted with crude from the Gulf oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Al

[Editor's note: The plot sickens as the Gulf thickens and the magically disappearing 206 million gallons of BP oil begins to reappear under the scrutiny of organizations like ProPublica.   Bob Higgins]

By Marian Wang ProPublica

Scientists conducting research in the Gulf have found a thick layer of oily sediment on the ocean floor stretching for miles.

“We have to [chemically] fingerprint it and link it to the Deepwater Horizon,” Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia, told NPR. “But the sheer coverage here is leading us all to come to the conclusion that it has to be sedimented oil from the oil spill, because it’s all over the place.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about oil being found on the sea floor. Last month, scientists from the University of South Florida had used UV lighting to detect what they believed to be oil spread across the sediment on the bottom of the Gulf. (more…)

Light Sweet Crude… and Cookies

Posted in Environment, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on August 10, 2010

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Light Sweet Crude Tastes Just Like These Cookies

I turned on the news this morning and instantly received my first commercial message of the day. You’ve probably seen it, it’s a pitch from Time Warner which offers up well scrubbed “employees” who spend thirty seconds or so reading a script designed to convince us that they are “Moms,” “Dads,” and regular working schleps, just like us… pardon that – just like me.

Not to single out Time Warner here, they are no better or worse than the average avaricious media giant or the other corrupt and abusive corporations that rule our lives and will soon take complete control of our public affairs following the infamous “Citizens United” case.

There is a lot of this, I guess it’s Astroturf marketing, the attempt to convince the rubes that “Citizens for Fair Taxes,” or “Patriots for Freedom,” (two fictional groups that I just made up) were created by, and are composed of, Ma and Pa Kettle “American Gothic” types rather than plutocrats and public relations land sharks with agendas and vested interests completely inimical to the facade created by their homey and benign sounding names, like… “Citizens United.” (more…)

Disappearing Oil and Gulf Seafood: Passing the Sniff Test

Posted in Environment, Labor Health and Safety, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on August 6, 2010

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For the last several days I’ve watched and read a steady stream of media coverage on the miraculous disappearance of more than a hundred million gallons of oil from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank on April 20 killing 11 workers the NOAA estimates that 206 million gallons of “light sweet crude” spewed  from BP’s Macondo well field, fouling the waters of the Gulf,  shutting down much of the commerce of the surrounding region and creating a giant toxic bouillabaisse in which now swim whatever critters managed to survive poisoning, suffocation,  or being roasted alive.

Click on the Image for Full Size and NOAA Report

The Feds now say, as reported by the NYT, that 76% of the mess has either been picked up on the beaches, skimmed from the surface, captured by the containment process or burned off.  (I suppose breathing this stuff in the air as particulates is “perfectly safe.”)

At the risk of seeming a “Chicken Little” I’d like to point out that even if the reports of this “great disappearing” are true what is left  is something on the order of 50 million gallons of crud in the Gulf or about the same as 5 Exxon Valdez spills.

So, while BP, the Government and our happy-go-lucky news media are fighting for places on the “where did all the oil go” bandwagon I see no cause for celebration.

I completely understand that everyone in the area wants to look out their windows and see people thronging to the beaches and fighting for restaurant reservations. They naturally “want their lives back, ” and deservedly so, but because I have long experience (due to my status as a “geezer”) listening to lies from government, lies from business and lies from the media, I’m not buying it just yet. (more…)

A Sickening in the Gulf Stream

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on June 27, 2010

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[Editor's note: This began as a comment this morning to "Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality" a Carl Hiaasen piece on the arrival of BP's poisonous gusher of crud on the shores of Pensacola.]

Carl,

You’re right; it is difficult for people living far from our coasts to feel the horrible weight of this disaster.

I live in Ohio but have lived on the coasts of California and North Carolina. I have also lived through and helped clean up an oil spill near San Francisco in 1970 or thereabouts. I have friends and family though who have never seen or at least never lived near the sea and had it become, as seems inevitable to me, a part of them.

If you sit on a hill overlooking your local harbor or coastal area (a fat dune will do) and watch the ebb and flow of the ocean, its cycle of life, through days and nights, its tides, the winds shifting from onshore to offshore, the ceaseless march of crabs and gulls of all the limitless life of the sea you will soon notice another ebb and flow.

(more…)

Get Used to Blackened Seafood, BP’s Spew May Continue For Years

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on June 19, 2010

AP/Dave Martin A wave polluted with crude from the Gulf oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., Saturday.

The Guardian reports that according to figures provided by BP ‘Weasel in Chief’ Tony Hayward, the Macondo field reservoir now emptying into the Gulf of Mexico contains enough oil to continue spewing at the current rate for more than two years.

Hayward told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the reservoir contains 50 million barrels of crud and is gushing at the rate of 60,000 barrels a day which would give it the capacity to continue for 833 days.

Using the government’s present flow estimates of up to 60,000 barrels a day, BP’s well could go on gushing for two to four years, unless it is stopped.

BP and the administration say they are containing a rising share of the oil from the well, and hope to plug the gusher completely by August, when two relief wells will be complete. BP said today that the relief wells were within 60 metres of the ruptured well.

The consequences of failure are enormous. The Guardian
(more…)

A Gusher of Light Sweet Terror / Updated

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on June 14, 2010

[Editor's note: Dan Casey a writer at the Roanoke Times linked to this piece yesterday and said some nice things while offering a bit of criticism.  I updated this post by responding to him at the bottom of this page. Bob Higgins]

“We need to be realistic about operating in a mile of water”

Tony Hayward, the cherubic little weasel who serves as the front man for British Petroleum, BP, Beyond Pathetic or whatever they are calling their ‘brand’ this week, made the statement above, on camera to reporters while standing on an oil fouled Louisiana beach a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier that day I had a fairly heated argument with an elderly acquaintance who recently became enraptured by the ‘Teabaggers.’ This giddy political infatuation has had the gruesome effect of making him more of a pain in the ass than he was previously.  At one point in the ‘discussion’ he asked me why BP was drilling at 5000 feet below the surface and I told him that most of the ‘easy oil’ has been used up and drilling is increasingly taking place in ever riskier and more technologically challenging sites.

(more…)

Now you don’t trust BP, but it’s too late

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on June 13, 2010

By Carl Hiaasen The Miami Herald

"You fucked up, you trusted us" Otter

Every time a BP executive appears on television, I think of the garage scene from the movie Animal House.

An expensive car belonging to Flounder’s brother has just been trashed on a drunken road trip, and the smooth-talking Otter comforts the distraught Delta pledge with these cheery words:

“You f—– up! You trusted us! Hey, make the best of it.”

If only the BP guys were half as honest.

Incredibly, almost eight weeks after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the company that caused the disaster remains the primary source of information about it.

Predictably, much of that information has been stupendously, tragically wrong, starting with the low-ball estimates of how much crude was leaking into the sea.

BP didn’t know the answer when the rig went down, and it doesn’t know the answer now. Nobody does.

Every day we see streaming underwater video of that mile-deep gout of oil, billowing and unstaunched. The image is only slightly less sickening than the pictures of dead sea turtles and gagging pelicans.

Read more at The Miami Herald

Contact Carl Hiassen: chiaasen@MiamiHerald.com

Spill, Baby, Spill

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on April 29, 2010

The oil spill that began when one of oil giant “BP’s”  offshore oil rigs exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last week was initially reported as leaking at the rate of 1000 barrels per day. Last night the Coast Guard upped the estimated leak rate to 5000 barrels per day.

I assume that they are talking about the typical 42 gallon “barrel” the standard measurement for the toxic fluid now gushing from a pipe drilled in a hole in the sea floor. If so, that’s 210,000 gallons of toxic, flammable, carcinogenic, fish, fowl and coral killing sludge every day.

When asked how long it might take to drill a relief well to cut the flow and shut this monster down a BP “spokesperson” responded, “It’ll take a while,” a unit of measurement which is difficult to use as a multiplier. If a “barrel” of oil is in fact 42 gallons and “awhile” is what BP “estimates ” as 90 days then we will have an environmental disaster nearly three times the scale of the Exxon Valdez nightmare around the time we start grilling steaks for “Independence Day.”

Those who have taken more than a cursory look at government, big business and the media in the last decade will recognize that these “estimates” are probably on the low side and the problem is likely being understated. After all, just a day or so after the rig exploded, killing 11 workers, the company said that it was “unlikely” that the behemoth would sink; I have long been “unlikely” to place much trust in corporate estimation.

Along with many thousands of others I cringed last month when Obama caved in to oil interests and politicians corrupted by oil revenue and moved to expand offshore drilling along the Eastern seaboard. This would be, I was certain, an invitation to environmental disaster and a step in precisely the wrong direction for a sane energy policy.

Everyone knows the reasons for Obama’s capitulation, government and business don’t necessarily have to be transparent to be … “transparent.” The reasons all involve a commodity that has become as toxic to our civil affairs as oil is to our environment. Money, great gobs of it, flows to an industry often shown to have little regard for the planet, or for the people who must live on it.

This contaminated cash flows in lesser, but significant wads to the campaign chests of every more or less significant elected and appointed whore from the top, all the way down to our familiarly venal local officials. You’ve seen them, smiling, back slapping, cheese in their teeth and larceny in their hearts; they’re found everywhere campaign funds are traded for favor.

Who will pay for the cleanup? Exxon has been appealing and fighting against the damage awards in the “Valdez” case for over twenty years so I expect that the cost to the taxpayer of this recent debacle will be substantial.

Meanwhile, as hundreds of thousand of gallons of poisonous goop or “light sweet crude” issue from a pipe a mile beneath the surface of a body of water which provides much of the living space, the food, recreation and livelihood for millions, BP and the Coast Guard announced this morning that they are considering burning off large patches of the mess before it reaches … the beaches.

I know that must sound like an impressively high tech solution dreamed up by the wizards, technocrats and geniuses of Big Oil well in advance while planning for “any and all contingencies.” How far downwind should one be to avoid breathing this death fog?

(more…)

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