Bob Higgins

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.

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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?

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