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TomDispatch: Michael T. Klare: BP-Style Extreme Energy Nightmares to Come, Four Scenarios for the Next Energy Mega-Disaster
From TomDispatch this afternoon: In our extreme energy era, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn't a one-shot disaster but an arrow pointing to a nightmarish future -- Michael T. Klare, "BP-Style Extreme Energy Nightmares to Come, Four Scenarios for the Next Energy Mega-Disaster."
If you think the catastrophe in the Gulf is some kind of anomalous event (needing only better safety regulations), think again. "The only question is," writes energy expert and TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, "What will the next Deepwater Horizon disaster look like (other than another Deepwater Horizon disaster)?"
In his latest post, Klare offers four striking scenarios for future energy catastrophies in a world desperate for ever tougher-to-find, tougher-to-extract fossil fuels in ever more geologically, environmentally, and politically unsafe areas. A giant oil platform off Newfoundland is destroyed by an iceberg in a fierce north Atlantic winter storm in 2018. ("As a result, one of the world’s most prolific fishing grounds -- the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Cape Cod -- is thoroughly poisoned.") The U.S. finds itself in a literal quagmire oil war in Nigeria in 2013. A rare cyclone hits Brazil's "pre-salt" oil rigs, drilling for energy a mile and half under the water and from beneath two-and-a-half miles of shifting sand and salt, in 2020. ("In a matter of weeks, parts of Brazil’s coastal waters have become a 'dead ocean.'”) In 2022, China and Japan launch a resource war over disputed natural gas fields in the East China Sea amid environmental disaster.
None of these particular catastrophes is guaranteed to happen -- though all are based scrupulously on what's known today -- but what's guaranteed is an era of "extreme energy nightmares."
Another great post from Klare. This is must-read stuff.
"Let Them Eat Oil"
By Cindy Sheehan
I am now on an airplane heading home (for two days) after my very profound and moving experience in the Gulf Region.
Monday, June 21st, a few dozen activists, scientists, environmentalists and concerned citizens gathered in front of the Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command Center to present our list of demands to the office that houses BP and 14 Federal Agencies (the FBI also has offices in the building).
We pulled this protest together in two days and I was gratified at the turnout (one woman, Cyndie, came up from Florida) and especially with the turnout from the media. Usually the corporate media presents some hostility, but not today. After my interviews, many of them said words to this affect: "Thank you for being here to help us call attention to this disaster." Wow! Even the jaded press realizes what an enormous tragedy this is!
A U.S. judge Tuesday ruled against the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill. The White House, which had hoped the ban would provide time to ensure other wells are operating safely, immediately said it planned to appeal.
The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by drilling companies to reverse the ban imposed by the Department of Interior, which halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.
District Judge Martin Feldman said the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning and that the moratorium seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs countered that "continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense and ... potentially puts the safety of those on the rigs and the safety of the environment in the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now."
During a two-hour hearing Monday, plaintiffs' attorney Carl Rosenblum had argued that the suspension could prove more economically devastating than the spill itself. "This is an unprecedented industrywide shutdown. Never before has the government done this," Rosenblum said.
Interior countered that while 33 deepwater drilling sites were affected, there are still 3,600 oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf. Read more.
June 21, 2010 4:13 PM
Katie Couric flies into the front line of the Gulf disaster to get a first-hand look at the complicated operation to recover and burn off millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf every day.
"Gasland" Premieres on HBO Tonight, Monday, June 21st. Download House Party Guide. Click here for the latest information and resources.
This first is a cut of one I just posted, elsewhere, to show at least a little of what has been going on. But as to this agency I have added just a few, and there's plenty more, links to how the previous administration as well as the republican controlled congresses nearly gutted OSHA, but it isn't only OSHA as we've seen as to regulations and the countries well being, they had eight plus years to nearly destroy everything about this once envied country and it's innovations, workforce and research etc.!
BP enlists Kevin Costner to clean up spill
Energy giant buys 32 machines manufactured by the actor's company to fight oil spill in Gulf of Mexico
Three centrifugal oil-water separating machines manufactured by a company founded by Hollywood actor Kevin Costner are on their way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Energy giant BP PLC has purchased 32 of the machines from the Costner's Ocean Therapy Solutions to fight the oil spill in the Gulf caused by a broken well head leaking up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day.
The 2,000-kilogram machines will be deployed along 193 kilometres of the oil-scarred Louisiana shoreline over the next 60 days, according to Ocean officials, and three are headed there this weekend.
Costner said the machines can separate oil and water at a rate of 757 litres a minute without the use of chemical agents.Read more.
BP CEO Tony Hayward says the reservoir that feeds the gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico probably still holds about 2 billion gallons of oil.
Appearing before a House subcommittee, Hayward estimated that the reservoir tapped by the out-of-control well holds at least 50 million barrels of oil. At 42 gallons per barrel, that's 2.1 billion gallons. Read more.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident – it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism
Everyone gathered for the town hall meeting had been repeatedly instructed to show civility to the gentlemen from BP and the federal government. These fine folks had made time in their busy schedules to come to a high school gymnasium on a Tuesday night in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, one of many coastal communities where brown poison was slithering through the marshes, part of what has come to be described as the largest environmental disaster in US history.
"Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to," the chair of the meeting pleaded one last time before opening the floor for questions.
And for a while the crowd, mostly made up of fishing families, showed remarkable restraint. They listened patiently to Larry Thomas, a genial BP public relations flack, as he told them that he was committed to "doing better" to process their claims for lost revenue – then passed all the details off to a markedly less friendly subcontractor. They heard out the suit from the Environmental Protection Agency as he informed them that, contrary to what they have read about the lack of testing and the product being banned in Britain, the chemical dispersant being sprayed on the oil in massive quantities was really perfectly safe.
But patience started running out by the third time Ed Stanton, a coast guard captain, took to the podium to reassure them that "the coast guard intends to make sure that BP cleans it up".
"Put it in writing!" someone shouted out. By now the air conditioning had shut itself off and the coolers of Budweiser were running low. A shrimper named Matt O'Brien approached the mic. "We don't need to hear this anymore," he declared, hands on hips. It didn't matter what assurances they were offered because, he explained, "we just don't trust you guys!" And with that, such a loud cheer rose up from the floor you'd have thought the Oilers (the unfortunately named school football team) had scored a touchdown. Read more.
Failure of Rig’s Last Line of Defense Tied to Myriad Factors
By David Barstow, Laura Dodd, James Glanz, Stephanie Saul and Ian Urbina | NY Times
Excerpt: An examination by The New York Times highlights the chasm between the oil industry’s assertions about the reliability of its blowout preventers and a more complex reality. It reveals that the federal agency charged with regulating offshore drilling, the Minerals Management Service, repeatedly declined to act on advice from its own experts on how it could minimize the risk of a blind shear ram failure.
It also shows that the Obama administration failed to grapple with either the well-known weaknesses of blowout preventers or the sufficiency of the nation’s drilling regulations even as it made plans this spring to expand offshore oil exploration.
“What happened to all the stakeholders — Congress, environmental groups, industry, the government — all stakeholders involved were lulled into a sense of what has turned out to be false security,” David J. Hayes, the deputy interior secretary, said in an interview.
Even in one significant instance where the Minerals Management Service did act, it appears to have neglected to enforce a rule that required oil companies to submit proof that their blind shear rams would in fact work.
As it turns out, records and interviews show, blind shear rams can be surprisingly vulnerable. There are many ways for them to fail, some unavoidable, some exacerbated by the stunning water depths at which oil companies have begun to explore. Read more, watch video.
Local power: tapping distributed energy in 21st-century cities
By David Roberts | Grist
Residents of Hammarby Sjöstad, a district on the south side of Stockholm, Sweden, don't let their waste go to waste. Every building in the district boasts an array of pneumatic tubes, like larger versions of the ones that whooshed checks from cars to bank tellers back in the day. One tube carries combustible waste to a plant where it is burned to make heat and electricity. Another zips food waste and other biomatter away to be composted and made into fertilizer. Yet another takes recyclables to a sorting facility.
Meanwhile, wastewater is taken to a treatment plant, from whence it emerges as biosolids for more compost, biogas for heat and transportation fuel, and pure water to cool a power plant, which also runs on biofuels grown with the biosolids. Looking at a chart of all this is enough to induce dizziness. "In terms of what you can do at the local level for energy efficiency and renewable energy, it's incredible. It's just amazing," says Joan Fitzgerald, author of Emerald Cities (Oxford University Press, 2010).
After they are done, district authorities hope Hammarby Sjöstad will produce about half its power independently, a task made easier by the fact that residents, thanks to a broad range of efficiency and conservation measures, will consume half the energy of the average Swede (who already consumes only about 75 percent as much as the average American). These intrepid Swedish urbanites are pushing the envelope on a phenomenon catching on in cities across the developed world: "distributed energy."
Appalachia mine permit system suspended; coal miners angry
By Steve James | Reuters
Federal authorities suspended the mine permitting process in six states on Thursday, prompting the coal industry to charge the Obama administration was targeting surface mining and that the change would hurt the economies of the poor Appalachian region.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency that issues permits relating to waterways, said it is suspending the NWP 21 permit system that covers dumping of earth and rocks in rivers and streams.
The system is in effect nationwide, but will be suspended in parts of traditional mining states of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
Companies proposing surface mines in that region that discharge dredged or fill material into waterways will now have to obtain an individual permit from the Department of the Army under the Clean Water Act, it said. That will prolong an already long and costly process, mining experts said. Read more.
Estimates from at least two sources have determined the cost of cleanup for the BP oil disaster at up to $100 billion, while Moody’s on Friday lowered BP’s credit rating amidst concerns that the initial $20 billon escrow account to be funded by BP would only be a fraction of what is needed for the cleanup. Standard and Poor’s lowered BP’s credit rating on Thursday citing numerous “challenges and uncertainties.”
Reuters reported on Thursday that Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy stated that the total cost of the oil spill could be anywhere from $40 billion to $100 billion. Read more.
Big Oil - First Nigeria then the World
Big oil in Nigeria - executions, pollution and suffering (Image)
By Michael Collins | Election Fraud News
The big oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is not the first to threaten a people's way of life.
Just ask the Ogoni people from Nigeria's oil rich central Niger Delta. Their experience over decades offers a model of things to come without serious changes in consumption and regulation.
Since the early 1960's, oil spilled from Shell pipelines has fouled their region. Food and fresh water sources vanished. Their economy collapsed. While Shell and the Nigerian elite reap their rewards, the people in the polluted oil regions live with steadily declining jobs, incomes, and living standards.
The amount of oil spilled in just this region during the 1970's far exceeds that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. The problem has been continuous since then. Most of it is still sitting there
In some critical ways, oil exploration, pollution, and the reaction of Shell and the Nigerian government parallel the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe.
I was sent an article yesterday that presented a worst case scenario in the BP Gulf oil spill which described a possibility that sounded too horrifying to be true. The report said the BP drill site is directly over a massive underground reservoir of methane that could result in a huge explosion that would create “a supersonic tsunami” that “would literally sweep away everything from Miami to the panhandle in a matter of minutes. Loss of human life would be virtually instantaneous and measured in the millions.”
Sounded like exaggerated fear mongering to me, until I saw this report from AP today: Read more.
AIR DATE: June 18, 2010
We're bicycling from San Francisco to Washington, DC between 24-July and 22-Sept, 2010, without motorized support. Cynthia McKinney, six term Member of Congress and 2008 Green Party nominee for President, is riding. The ride will demonstrate the bicycle as a transformational tool to solve the problems of Climate Change, Oil Wars, the Health Crisis, and the Economic Crunch. Along the way, riders will facilitate community discussions around the question "How can we support each other to live true to our best values?"
We're now learning more people plan to converge with us in Washington, DC, for World Car-Free Day. Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground will be riding up with a group from New Orleans and Atlanta. Others will ride from Seattle/Portland, Boston/New York, and Toronto/Detroit/Boston. Lots of folks will ride in from Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware or bring their bike by mass transit to meet at the Capitol 10:00 AM on Wed-22-Sept,2010.
Our route, schedule, and discussion group are open to anybody with a free Google account. Please join us. If you would like to bicycle all or part of the route, plan a convergence ride, or host riders passing through your community, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please forward this and re-post to others who might be interested.
Since taking office, Obama proved himself a machine politician, not a man of the people, an earlier article explaining it this way:
He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.
At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides being free to operate recklessly in a regulatory-free environment. Little wonder that a disaster now threatens to become the greatest ecological one ever, gushing oil that's potentially unstoppably from multiple sea floor ruptures, worsened apparently by BP fix attempts done as PR stunts, the company and administration knowing they wouldn't work but used them anyway as a charade to fool the public.
In addition, for nearly two months, company officials:
How Halliburton is profiting from the Gulf oil spill
By Matt Rocheleau | CSM
Shortly before the Deepwater Horizon blowout, Halliburton bought an oil spill prevention firm. The oil-services industry is consolidating, which is not necessarily good news for quality, experts say.
Eleven days prior to the April 20 Deepwater Horizon blowout, Halliburton Co., the contractor in charge of cementing the rig's well, agreed to purchase a little-known company.
The firm, Boots and Coots, focuses on oil spill prevention and blowout response. Now, it is assisting with the relief well work – under contract to BP – to help stop the Gulf oil spill.
What appears to conspiracy theorists as more than a coincidence is nothing out of the ordinary, say oil-industry experts. Increasingly, oil-industry titans are buying up smaller companies that provide all manner of services.
But this trend is worrying in itself, the experts say. As companies grow and work both to drill wells and potentially clean up their own mistakes, the result can be unintentional, but riskier decisionmaking over time due to a lack of focus – particularly in an industry that is poorly regulated. Read more.
It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem.
The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.
That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.
"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said.
Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people's homes. Petroleum engineers typically burn off excess gas attached to crude before the oil is shipped off to the refinery. That's exactly what BP has done as it has captured more than 7.5 million gallons of crude from the breached well.
A BP spokesman said the company was burning about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from the source of the leak, adding up to about 450 million cubic feet since the containment effort started 15 days ago. That's enough gas to heat about 450,000 homes for four days.
But that figure does not account for gas that eluded containment efforts and wound up in the water, leaving behind huge amounts of methane. Read more.
Below are a few media reports from September 2009 discussing the BP Gulf of Mexico Tiber Oil Field find when it originally hit the newswires. This was the deepest oil and gas well in human history, going to a depth of 35,000 feet. Exploratory drilling began in March 2009. Deepwater Horizon did not commence until September 2009. Only the second story from Bloomberg hints at the "volatility" related to the find and the need for "caution."
This was a giant field and the third biggest find in the US after Prudhoe Bay, also a BP find and the older Spraberry Trend in West Texas. Ostensibly, quelling oil "volatility" ie reaping profits from oil price spikes is the impetus behind these kinds of risky projects. But, this field could not have been found or developed without the advent of deepwater drilling. BP used the Deepwater Horizon rig that was also used just months later for the deepwater drilling in nearby Macondo Prospect in Mississippi Canyon where tragedy struck. Read more.
An Exclusive (Somewhat Apocryphal) Interview With Stephen Hawking on the British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Event - Deepwater Horizon
An Exclusive (Somewhat Apocryphal) Interview With Stephen Hawking on the British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Event - Deepwater Horizon
By Gary Corseri
All this nambypambyism about the Gulf Oil Spill has got me down, so I figured I’d go to the smartest guy on the planet to get his what’s what.
I met Stephen Hawking at his perch at the Mt. Palomar observatory. It took me a few moments to get used to his computer-generated voice, but once I did, it was the only voice I could imagine being attached to that kind of cerebrum.
“I like to look at the stars,” he told me. “It puts our little mortal lives into high relief.”
“I would have thought they would shrink our little lives.”
“That, too. … It’s all a matter of perspective.”