Bob Higgins

Fracking for Treasure in Trinidad and Tobago

Posted in Environment, Politics by Bob Higgins on February 9, 2012
Trinidad and Tobago Fish Kills

Trinidad and Tobago Fish Kills

Cross posted at Film Annex

“Chevron oil rig on fire in Niger Delta,” “BP’s Deepwater Horizon sinks in Gulf of Mexico,” “Shell confirms oil leak in North Sea,” “Massive fish kill in Trinidad and Tobago.” The headlines have become as familiar as announcements of freeway pile ups and severe thunderstorms.

From Nigeria to the North Sea, from the icy chill of Alaska’s Beaufort Sea to the azure bathwater of the Southern Caribbean the scripts are eerily similar.  They tell stories of thousands of oil or gas rigs, tens, hundreds of thousand of abandoned wells and the extraction of fossil fuels from the earth. Tales of pirates hunting treasure, not cargoes of gold on sunken galleons but poisonous black sludge buried millions of years ago under thousands of feet of rock, under miles of ocean.

The stories begin in sweat and toil, hard labor and mind numbing tedium, stories of men drilling holes in the Earth. Then the special effects begin and the drama unfolds.

Read more at Film Annex

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More Oil From Macondo?

Posted in Environment, Politics by Bob Higgins on September 12, 2011
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Oil Spill From BP's Deepwater Horizon Macondo Field Disaster

Oil Spill From BP's Deepwater Horizon Macondo Field Disaster

The Macondo Prospect, where British Petroleum’s ill fated offshore drill rig exploded and sank last year killing eleven men is a reservoir of oil in the Mississippi Canyon area of the northern Gulf of Mexico about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The rig was actually owned by Transocean, built by South Korean giant Hyundai and under lease to BP at the time of its catastrophic demise. In the high stakes world of oil poker, details of ownership and registry are kept deliberately muddied and overly complex, the better to avoid taxes, laws and other liability and responsibilities.

The prospect which BP bid on in 2008 was estimated to contain 50 million barrels of oil which sounds like quite a lot. Sold at current prices that amount of oil would bring bring in gross revenue of 5 billion dollars and that’s just the cost of the crude. Major oil companies also own the pipelines, refineries and the gas pumps where we go to fill our tanks and pick up a six pack so in addition to the profits at the well they make great chunks of money all the way downstream to our front door and beyond.

50 million barrels of oil is about what we use in this country every 60 hours. That’s right, we use about twenty million barrels every day. The eleven dead, the despoliation of 500 miles of the Gulf’s coast, the crippling of the fishing and tourist industries, the physical destruction of people and wildlife, the damage to their lives and their future well being was all about keeping us cruising the roads and cursing at bubble packaging for a long weekend.

A year ago the NOAA, the Coast Guard, the administration and, of course, BP was telling us that the oil was 70% gone and they were working very hard to make things right. I don’t have to crawl very far out on the limb to say that they were lying then and they continue to lie today.

In the world of business, they’ve grown so accustomed to lying that the truth is no longer necessary.

The oil, BP’s crude gate crasher, appears to be back. In addition to the continual beaching of tarballs from the missing oil at the roiled bottom of the Gulf, expected with the onset of another season of warming waters, tropical storms, and hurricane activity it appears that something is leaking large in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon well.

According to an article in Al Jazeera “The return of the BP disaster? “on Thursday, reporting on animal rescue organization Wings of Care and in another piece this morning “Oil Still Gushing From BP Well In Gulf,” September, the most active month of hurricane season is likely to begin uncovering the ugly truth.

It is entirely possible that the coalition of irresponsible and incompetent corporations who gave us the tragic deaths of eleven men and the worst oil spill in our history are no more capable of safely capping a well than they are of safely drilling one, transporting its products, or refining them. They are after all, to be found spilling, gushing, leaking, spraying and otherwise carelessly spewing crude oil all over the Earth.

The reports come at us every month, from the Gulf, Alaska, the North Sea, small towns in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania and from the Yellowstone River. There is no place on earth that these greaseheads will not despoil and are not actively and zealously engaged in destroying. Make a note that these are only the events that get reported or otherwise discovered.

Following the reports linked above, BP is already making noises about “natural oil seeps,” the expression being a large part of the literature that comprises their canned media response.

It’s likely that 60-70 percent of the oil from last year’s spill, rather than conveniently disappearing is laying on the bottom of the Northern Gulf mixed with toxic Corexit. Just laying in wait for a direct hit by something on the scale of last month’s Irene, to spread its filthy fingers all over the southern coast.

As for the current leaks being from natural seeps, I don’t know, but I don’t buy it. There are 4000 active oil and gas platforms in the Gulf and 27,000 that have been plugged and abandoned by actors like BP.

In addition to BP’s giant screw up in the Macondo prospect, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that’s a lot of unnatural holes.

Bob Higgins

Originally posted at Clean Technica: More Oil From Macondo?

Photo: Courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response Team[see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

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…)

Threatened With Arrest For Attempt to Build Sand Castle [Updated]

Posted in Environment, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on September 21, 2010
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You, Back away from that Sand Castle

State and federal authorities have become a bit paranoid in Florida. They seem to be afraid that someone may find and expose some portion of the 206 million gallons of British Petroleum’s missing crude oil which spewed from their recent gusher in the Gulf.

A reporter, Dan Thomas and his crew from WEAR/TV in Pensacola were threatened with arrest for taking a small shovel to a public beach and scratching around for oil. If you watch the short video you may become suspicious (as I did) that the first thug is probably a BP employee or contractor and the second ostensibly a federal employee is acting on instructions directly from BP.

I guess the beaches around Pensacola, Florida are soon to be declared a secret petroleum storage area and off limits to beach goers who might disturb this pristine public reservoir of BP’s crude.

Meanwhile BP continues to spend a million plus weekly on ads declaring that they will be there until they “make it right.”

I’m sure, as are many others, that they will make it right… for BP.

[Update] PENSACOLA BEACH – The head of the Gulf Islands National Seashore wants to set the record straight about whether you can bring a shovel and pail to the beach. Update and video here.

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…)

Rats! “il Vinaio” No Longer Serves Lion Burgers

Posted in Environment, News by Bob Higgins on June 29, 2010

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I read a brief story yesterday from the AP about a restaurant in Phoenix, Mesa actually, .. that’s in Arizona … an upscale Mediterranean eatery, that in celebration of, or as a tribute to the Wold Cup of Football … that’s soccer… began serving Lion Burgers on their Mediterranean menu.

You read it right … Lion Burgers, the friggin’ “King of Beasts” on a friggin’ bun.

Cameron Selogie, the owner of “il Vinaio” (that means “The Wine Seller,” I had to look it up) reported that he couldn’t fry these babies up fast enough and had a waiting list of 100 eager customers licking their chops in anticipation of a taste of Leo.

Like many others around the globe who were aghast at loin of lion for lunch I expressed my outrage in an email and last night I received the following reply:

We do not serve lion at il Vinaio any longer.
Thank you for your time. We do respect your opinion and apologize for offending you.

This was a polite and measured response to my email which, I admit, was penned (with my trademark subtlety) after a few beers:

I hope that your “lion burgers” kill several customers and you sick bastards are sued out of existence. Bob Higgins

Mr. Selogie probably didn’t expect the international disdain, the pickets outside his establishment, the hundreds of emails (some of them from sober people) and the death threats that ensued as a result of his exotic entrée. (more…)

Tony and ‘Bob’: Sailing, Not Skimming around the Isle of Wight

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on June 20, 2010

BP’s ‘Prince of Public Relations’ Tony Hayward left his reluctant witness chair in Washington and headed (by private jet I assume) for the Isle of Wight for a typical family weekend of … yachting or more correctly ‘yacht racing.’

Tony's Excellent Yacht - A 52' Farr

Hayward’s yacht, a 52 foot Farr named ‘Bob’ was one of nearly 1700 entries in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. The race, which is being held this year for the 79th time is a 50 mile trip around the Isle of Wight and attracts some 16,000 sailors from around the world.

It is unknown how many shrimpers and skimmers from the Gulf coast entered this year.

‘Bob’ a grey hulled Farr 52 built in 2000 is listed among the race entries as entered in the IRC Division ‘0’ by Rob Gray, Sam Laidlaw, and Tony Hayward. Bob placed 4th in it’s class which was won by ‘Velsheda, a ‘J’ class yacht built in 1933 and skippered by Oliver Tizzard.’

Among the many thrilling moments in the race was the saga of Mike Slade whose ICAP Leopard was impeded by a lobster pot until being freed by a diver; ‘Sadly there was nothing in it’ said Slade. (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…)

BP Hires “Talon Security” to Block Press from Beaches, Intimidate Workers

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on June 15, 2010

Here you see, in embryonic form, the future of privatized “corporate law enforcement.”

I’m not faulting the reporter for his prudence but I think I would have walked past these gaily dressed rent-a-goons and forced them to physically stop me. I’d like to take that one to court.

The beach bouncers in the video are employed by Talon Security of Sacramento, California.  Talon Security is a firm headed by Donald Bacchi, billed on their site as  having retired from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department after thirty years with the rank of Sergeant. Hmm… after thirty years one might expect a loftier rank.

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.

(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…)