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The Spill, The Scandal and the President
The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years – and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder
By Tim Dickinson | Rolling Stone | June 24, 2010
On May 27th, more than a month into the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, Barack Obama strode to the podium in the East Room of the White House. For weeks, the administration had been insisting that BP alone was to blame for the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf – and the ongoing failure to stop the massive leak. "They have the technical expertise to plug the hole," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had said only six days earlier. "It is their responsibility." The president, Gibbs added, lacked the authority to play anything more than a supervisory role – a curious line of argument from an administration that has reserved the right to assassinate American citizens abroad and has nationalized much of the auto industry. "If BP is not accomplishing the task, can you just federalize it?" a reporter asked. "No," Gibbs replied.
Now, however, the president was suddenly standing up to take command of the cleanup effort. "In case you were wondering who's responsible," Obama told the nation, "I take responsibility." Sounding chastened, he acknowledged that his administration had failed to adequately reform the Minerals Management Service, the scandal-ridden federal agency that for years had essentially allowed the oil industry to self-regulate. "There wasn't sufficient urgency," the president said. "Absolutely I take responsibility for that." He also admitted that he had been too credulous of the oil giants: "I was wrong in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios." He unveiled a presidential commission to investigate the disaster, discussed the resignation of the head of MMS, and extended a moratorium on new deepwater drilling. "The buck," he reiterated the next day on the sullied Louisiana coastline, "stops with me." Read more.
This added Corporate Incompetence is going to take much more than resilience as to the Gulf Waters, the Gulf Coast and the Gulf People, directly affected! This will affect the whole country, especially the Eastern States, as the other Industries and Corporations already have, and this will be felt in many ways as well! Seafood stocks as well as other food sources, weather and the moisture of that comes out of the Gulf and covers Florida as well as the Eastern States, and many other issues way to many to list.
At 2:40 in the video clip, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida says there are now reports of oil coming through the sea floor.
B.P, Halliburton and Transocean have unleashed Armageddon and now there is no stopping it. Senator Bill Nelson has told us how bad it is.
This is our worst nightmare. The oil industry has killed the Gulf of Mexico.
My worst fears have been realized. If this link is true and the oil is coming through the sea floor, they have either blown out the formation or blown out the cement (which we know they did anyway to get the blowout to occur). I am beginning to realize why they have not wanted to close the valves on the cap. The more they close it, the more oil is going to come up through the sea floor, next to the well casing. I listed 12 points in my attached article. The really big concern here is that their directional wells are now pointless. They are GUARANTEED to fail because you can not pump mud or cement into a blown out well. It just does not set with oil and gas roaring past.
The next biggest concern is that they have to get 8 new wells in immediately to relieve the background oil and gas pressure. The oil is going to start coming up at an ever increasing rate along the casing and the blowout preventer.The oil and gas is going to act as a high pressure washer and erode away all the sandstone and mudstone. There is nothing they can do about it.
This is also the end of B.P. The claims will go on forever.
What these guys do not understand is that it is much worse than they think. Here is the reason why. Read more.
They showed this last night, you might want to watch the video report. This is one issue nobody has really been touching on, while as much as can be should be burned off so it doesn't reach the shore line, these 'burn offs' are creating possible other unknown problems for much of the country. They're creating huge plumes of toxic substances being spread in the air. Many of the moisture laden storms hitting FL as well as the East Coast come out of the Gulf, some even traveling the whole Eastern U.S.. The contaminants are within these storms and dropping with the rains wherever they hit, i.e. acid rain!!
Study: Well most likely spewing more than 1M gallons of oil a day
By Joel Achenbach, Juliet Eilperin and David Fahrenthold | Washington Post
The Deepwater Horizon well has most likely spewed 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day, more than previously estimated, according to one of several teams of scientists appointed by the federal government to study the flow from the dark geyser at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
If the team's estimate is correct, and the flow has been more or less consistent, approximately 1.3 million to 1.5 million barrels, or 53.6 million to 64.3 million gallons, of oil have emerged from the well since the April 20 blowout. That is roughly five to six times the amount spilled in Alaskan waters in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez.
These new numbers hardly close the books on the size of the spill. The "plume team," which has examined video of the leaking well, is just one of four teams studying the flow rate. Another team, which analyzed satellite images and tried to correct for oil skimmed, burned and dispersed, has also refined its earlier estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. The team has now concluded that the flow is about 12,600 to 21,500 barrels a day.
Much of the oil flowing into the gulf has been skimmed, burned, or dispersed with chemicals, and the well is now capped and partially contained, with 15,800 barrels siphoned to a ship at the surface on Wednesday. But the new figures, obtained Thursday by The Washington Post and soon to be made public in a progress report from national incident commander Adm. Thad Allen, indicate that early estimates of the flow rate by the federal government and oil giant BP were not even close to the mark. Read more.
The government and university researchers confirmed Tuesday that plumes of dispersed oil were spreading far below the ocean surface from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising fresh concern about the potential impact of the spill on sea life.
The tests, the first detailed chemical analyses of water from the deep sea, show that some of the most toxic components of the oil are not necessarily rising to the surface where they can evaporate, as would be expected in a shallow oil leak. Instead, they are drifting through deep water in plumes or layers that stretch as far as 50 miles from the leaking well.
As a rule, the toxic compounds are present at exceedingly low concentrations, the tests found, as would be expected given that they are being diluted in an immense volume of seawater.
“It’s pretty clear that the oil that has been released is becoming more and more dilute,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in an interview. “That does not mean it’s unimportant — far from it. The total amount of oil out there is likely very large, and we have yet to understand the full impact of all that hydrocarbon on the gulf ecosystem.” Read more.
Fifty-one days after oil began gushing out of the ocean floor and into the Gulf of Mexico, Congress has extended a request that, in political parlance, is more of a demand: that Tony Hayward, the much maligned CEO of British Petroleum (BP), play question-and-answer before the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee June 17 on Capitol Hill.
The request is a terse, three-paragraph letter addressed to Hayward and signed by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-California) and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), who chair the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The invitation is relatively opaque, providing the time and location of the hearing and advising Hayward that the committee may have some questions of a technical nature.
This seemingly rote invitation dovetails with a similar request from the chairmen - also dated June 8 - to John Bresland, chairman of the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the group that investigated two previous BP incidents: a 2006 leak in a BP pipeline which poured about 200,000 gallons of oil into Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, and an explosion at the Texas City Oil Refinery in 2005, also owned by BP, in which 15 workers were killed.
Unlike the letter to Hayward, the note to the CSB's Bresland gets down to brass tacks. Among Waxman and Stupak's questions: Did BP put money before safety? Was the company invested in its safety culture? Did BP provided adequate contractor oversight? Read more.
Protesting Senator Murkowski's Refusal to Make BP Pay
Diane Wilson, a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf, poured oil on herself at today’s Senate Energy Committee hearing to protest Senator Lisa Murkowski's refusal to make BP pay for the disaster that has devastating Wilson's shrimping community. Republican Lisa Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, blocked the bill that would have lifted the oil companies' liability cap (the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act). Wilson was removed from the hearing and arrested.
In the wake of yet another possible oil spill in the Gulf region, the United States Coast Guard has decided to launch an investigation into the dark waters surrounding Taylor Energy Corporation's Ocean Saratoga rig, resting only 40 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon rig.
Though the rig has been leaking since at least April 30, the rig's owner, Taylor Energy Corporation, and operator, Diamond Offshore Drilling, are both declining to comment. Taylor's spokesperson Denise Fields told Huffington Post that the company would be issuing a press release this afternoon.
Mobile, Alabama's Press Register reported that a 10-mile long slick emanating from the rig is visible from space.
Earlier today, Mother Jones's Kate Sheppard reported that John Amos of West Virginia-based nonprofit SkyTruth, was the first to notice the spill, observing an oil slick eleven miles off the coast of Louisiana. After viewing satellite images of the reported second spill, Amos concluded that the Deep Water Horizon and the Saratoga spills are independent of one another, meaning the Gulf cleanup situation may be getting worse before it gets better. Read more.
The BP oil spill is still dominating headlines, 50 days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. But how much oil leaks into the Gulf on any other day of the year? Satillite images and photographs from the region indicate that there may be two other offshore drilling units leaking oil into the ocean. Read more.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on June 6, meeting with President Ilham Aliyev on that day and on the following with Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiyev.
Gates was the first cabinet-level American official to visit the strategically positioned nation - located in the South Caucasus with Russia to its north, Iran to its south and the Caspian Sea to its east - in five years and the first U.S. defense chief to visit since Donald Rumsfeld did in 2005.
When Gates' predecessor was last in Azerbaijan his mission centered on "the transportation of Caspian oil and the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline" as the chief element of U.S. trans-Eurasian oil and natural gas plans "which [are] directly connected with Mr Rumsfeld's department"  to bring Caspian Sea hydrocarbons into Europe while bypassing Russia and Iran, both of which adjoin Azerbaijan.
Rumsfeld's visit of five years ago also focused on a related initiative, the Caspian Guard project the Pentagon launched in 2003. "Guaranteeing security to the pipeline...will be the prime goal of the Caspian Guard. The Caspian Guard will represent a network of police detachments and special military units in the Caspian region." 
At the time Rumsfeld's Defense Department planned to allot over $100 million for the Caspian Guard to operate at both ends of the inland sea - Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan - and to be based in Stuttgart, Germany where the Pentagon's new Africa Command is now based. In fact U.S. European Command was simultaneously elaborating plans for the Caspian Guard and a complementary Gulf of Guinea Guard in oil-rich western Africa to secure control over the 21st century's main new sources of energy supplies. 
Gates arrived in Azerbaijan the day after the ninth annual Asian security summit organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore and before his attendance at the NATO defense chiefs meeting in Brussels on the 9th.
He had intended to visit Beijing following the conference in Singapore, but his overtures in that direction were rebuffed by the Chinese government, presumably because of Washington's confirmation this January of plans to complete a $6.5 billion arms transaction with Taiwan, one whose latest installment includes 200 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missiles.
That Baku replaced Beijing on the Pentagon chief's way to the NATO meeting indicates the importance that the comparatively small nation - with a population of under nine million while China's is over 1.3 billion - has in American global geostrategic plans.
Oil Spill Expert: BP Is 'Groping In the Dark'
Dr. Ian McDonald Says BP Could Be Sucking Up Spill More Quickly Now If It Had Allowed More Accurate Estimates Of The Spill Rate,br /> By Matthew Mosk, Avni Patel and Brian Ross | ABC News
A leading scientist following the BP oil spill said Monday that if the company or the government had made realistic estimates about the amounts flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, they could have had sufficient tanker space ready on the surface to hold the crude being pumped up through a make-shift collection device.
Instead, BP officials have acknowledged they may be constrained from pumping oil up too quickly because the surface ships there now can only receive only 15,000 barrels daily. Read more.
Apocalypse in the Gulf Now (Oil) & Next (Nukes)
By Harvey Wasserman
As BP's ghastly gusher assaults the Gulf of Mexico and so much more, a tornado has forced shut the Fermi2 atomic reactor at the site of a 1966 melt-down that nearly irradiated the entire Great Lakes region.
If the White House has a reliable plan for deploying and funding a credible response to a disaster at a reactor that's superior to the one we've seen at the Deepwater Horizon, we’d sure like to see it.
Meanwhile it wants us to fund two more reactors on the Gulf and another one 40 miles from Washington DC. And that’s just for starters.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has warned that at least one new design proposed for federal funding cannot withstand tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes.
But the administration has slipped $9 billion for nuclear loan guarantees into an emergency military funding bill, in addition to the $8.33 it’s already approved for two new nukes in Georgia.
TomDispatch: Bill McKibben, "If There Was Ever A Moment To Seize, Will Obama Stand Up to Big Energy In Deeds As Well As Words?"
From TomDispatch this Sunday: A major environmental writer asks the biggest question of all: Can the president act to change our world in the midst of a historic eco-disaster? -- Bill McKibben, "If There Was Ever A Moment to Seize, Will Obama Stand Up to Big Energy in Deeds as Well as Words?"
The President's words on BP's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are ever so slowly growing stronger. Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, now asks the tough question. Will deeds follow? Can this president step up to the moment or will he more typically nibble at the edges of our energy crisis, letting the American system fiddle while the Gulf burns?
In his latest TomDispatch post, McKibben brilliantly compares Barack Obama's BP moment to the moment when John F. Kennedy committed the U.S. to land a man on the moon -- to point out how deeds can truly follow words. He adds: "The challenge [Obama] faces is so much tougher. The Apollo mission was technically complex, but in a sense the very opposite of our energy challenge: a moon shot meant focusing all our energy on three guys and a rocket, while an energy revolution would mean, in essence, landing all of us on a different planet, one where we no longer need the fossil fuels that are currently the engine for our economy."
Still, as we lose our Heat War on a globally warming planet, he suggests just how Barack Obama could begin "turning history" in a new direction: "Obama’s barely broken a sweat on climate change: a few paragraphs in a few speeches. Now, the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf offers him the best chance he’s ever going to get to go to work. The president could stand on the Louisiana shore and say: 'Bad as this is, it’s only a small and visible symbol of the greater damage we do each day simply by burning coal and gas and oil. If that black gunk now washing up here had ended up safely in the gas tanks of our cars, it would nonetheless have done great damage. It’s all dirty, every last drop and lump.'”
This piece is a stirring call for an American president to rise to a moment that must not be missed. McKibben ends this way: "To have a chance we need a leader. We need someone to stand up and tell it the way it is, and in language so compelling and dramatic it sets us on a new path. On this planet of nearly seven billion, at this moment in history, there’s exactly one person who could play that role. And so far he hasn't decided."
Don't miss this one. It's McKibben at his best!
Many news reports about the Gulf oil catastrophe refer to it as a "spill." Wrong. A spill is a minor "oops" — one accidentally spills milks, for example, and from childhood, we're taught the old aphorism: "Don't cry over spilt milk." What's in the Gulf isn't milk and it wasn't spilt. The explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon well was the inevitable result of deliberate decisions made by avaricious corporate executives, laissez faire politicians and obsequious regulators.
As the ruinous gulf oil blowout spreads onto land, over wildlife, across the ocean floor and into people's lives, it raises a fundamental question for all of us Americans: Who the hell's in charge here? What we're witnessing is not merely a human and environmental horror, but also an appalling deterioration in our nation's governance. Just as we saw in Wall Street's devastating economic disaster and in Massey Energy's murderous explosion inside its Upper Big Branch coal mine, the nastiness in the gulf is baring an ugly truth that We the People must finally face: We are living under de facto corporate rule that has rendered our government impotent.
Thirty years of laissez-faire, ideological nonsense (pushed upon us with a vengeance in the past decade) has transformed government into a subsidiary of corporate power. Wall Street, Massey, BP and its partners — all were allowed to become their own "regulators" and officially encouraged to put their short-term profit interests over the public interest.
Let's not forget that on April 2, barely two weeks before Deepwater Horizon blew and 11 people perished on the spot, the public's No. 1 official, Barack Obama, trumpeted his support for more deepwater oil drilling, blithely regurgitating Big Oil's big lie: "Oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." He and his advisors had not bothered to check the truth of that — they simply took the industry's word. That's not governing, it's aiding and abetting profiteers, and it's a pathetic performance. Read more.
BP Buys 'Oil' Search Terms to Redirect Users to Official Company Website
BP Spokesman Acknowledges Purchase 'To Make It Easier for People to Find Out More About Our Efforts in the Gulf' and Other Ways to Help
By Emily Friedman | ABC News
Be careful where you click, especially if you're looking for news on the BP oil spill.
BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company's official website.
A simple Google search of "oil spill" turns up several thousand news results, but the first link, highlighted at the very top of the page, is from BP. "Learn more about how BP is helping," the link's tagline reads.
A spokesman for the company confirmed to ABC News that it had, in fact, bought these search terms to make information on the spill more accessible to the public.
"We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf and make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer," BP spokesman Toby Odone told ABC News. Read more.
BP said today it will be sending a second advance payment during June to individuals and businesses along the Gulf Coast to compensate for the loss of income or net profit due to the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon Incident in the Gulf of Mexico.
With the second advance payments, BP estimates it will have spent about $84 million for loss of income or net profit through June, based on the claims it has received to date. This number will grow as additional claims are filed.
“We deeply regret the impact the oil spill has had on individuals and businesses, and understand the need for quick and reasonable compensation,” said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer, BP Exploration and Production. “We hope these payments will assist individuals, businesses and the communities impacted.”
About 14,000 individuals and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have received an initial advance payment for loss of income or net profit to date. Read more.
This proves that Cheney was willing to make the bottom 99% unwitting pawns to his desire of increasing profits for the top 1%! Also that he deserves to be put in jail for his crimes.
The article "As 'top kill' effort fails, BP must fall back on oil spill containment strategy" relating to Cheney's Energy Task Force Ruined the Gulf states "BP's three-day effort to throttle the leaking gulf oil well with multiple blasts of heavy mud has failed. The attempted "top kill" of the well was abandoned late Saturday afternoon, leaving the huge Macondo field deep beneath the sea floor once again free to pump at least half a million gallons of crude a day into the gulf...
"There's no silver bullet to stop this leak," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.
We are being held captive to this catastrophe as a mediocre containment strategy is all that will be currently utilized as the article states "After that, the company could place another blowout preventer on top of the existing one. Meanwhile two drilling rigs at the surface continue to drill relief wells. That's a long-term strategy that requires engineers to hit a seven-inch target, the bottom of the leaking well, 3 1/2 miles below the surface of the gulf. The first of the two relief wells to hit the target will send a massive dose of cement to seal the leaking well. Read more.
Lawsuit Seeks Full Disclosure of Dispersant Impacts on Gulf’s Endangered Wildlife
By Center for Biological Diversity | Common Dreams
The Center for Biological Diversity today filed an official notice of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for authorizing the use of toxic dispersants without ensuring that these chemicals would not harm endangered species and their habitats. The letter requests that the agency, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, immediately study the effects of dispersants on species such as sea turtles, sperm whales, piping plovers, and corals and incorporate this knowledge into oil-spill response efforts.
"The Gulf of Mexico has become Frankenstein's laboratory for BP's enormous, uncontrolled experiment in flooding the ocean with toxic chemicals," said Andrea Treece, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The fact that no one in the federal government ever required that these chemicals be proven safe for this sort of use before they were set loose on the environment is inexcusable."
Dispersants are chemicals used to break oil spills into tiny droplets. In theory, this allows the oil to be eaten by microorganisms and become diluted faster than it would otherwise. However, the effects of using large quantities of dispersants and injecting them into very deep water, as BP has done in the Gulf of Mexico, have never been studied. Researchers suspect that underwater oil plumes, measuring as much as 20 miles long and extending dozens of miles from the leaking rig, are the result of dispersants keeping the oil below the surface.
On May 24, EPA Administrator Jackson expressed concern over the environmental unknowns of dispersants, which include the long-term effects on aquatic life. Nonetheless, the federal government has allowed BP to pump nearly 1 million gallons of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico. Read more.
Feds Move to Block Transocean's Bid To Cap Damages For Gulf Oil Spill
'This It Cannot Do,' Says Justice Department, And Compares Transocean To Titanic's Owners
By Jason Ryan | ABC News
"Suffice it to say, eleven crewmembers lost their lives in the immediate disaster stemming from the explosion and fire aboard the vessel. As for the oil spill, we shall forego a cascade of words like 'catastrophic' and 'cataclysmic' as they simply do not do justice to the magnitude of economic, health, and environmental devastation wrought upon the nation's waters, across a swath of States, and upon entire communities."
Hours after Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed ongoing criminal and civil probes related to the Gulf oil spill , the Justice Department has filed motions to block Transocean from seeking to limit their liability in the unfolding disaster. The documents were filed late Tuesday night in federal court in Houston, Texas.
The motion filed by the Justice Department follows Transocean's May 13 motion to seek limited liability of just $26.7 million. The Justice Department initially signaled to Transocean that it would oppose this in a May 24 letter to Transocean's counsel. Transocean has asked for limited liability under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, the same act invoked by the owners of the RMS Titanic when they awarded a paltry $95,000 to the survivors of the Titanic tragedy.
The May 24 letter said, "It is simply unconscionable, in the circumstances of this case, that Transocean is attempting to use this same shield of liability potentially leaving thousands of people who have been damaged by your clients' actions with no remedy."
Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, the mobile offshore drilling platform that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. The explosion triggered the ongoing oil spill that has become the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
In the Tuesday filing, the Justice Department said, "Transocean seeks to absolve ('exonerate') itself from liability concerning the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill, or, alternatively, limit its liability to approximately $27 million. This it cannot do." Read more.
By Nikolas Kozloff
Judging from the oily history of the last ten years, reining in BP could prove politically daunting. A company with incredible economic might, BP has enjoyed privileged access to the inner rungs of Washington power. Only by ridding the political system of insider money can we hope to avert future oil disasters like the devastating spill which hit the Gulf of Mexico last week.
The perversion of U.S. democracy to serve oil interests like BP went into high gear under former Vice President Dick Cheney. Dallas-based Halliburton, where Cheney worked prior to the 2000 election, made equipment and chemicals used in oil drilling, and sold to producers including BP.
BP has hired Dick Cheney's former press flack, Anne Womack Kolton, to serve as the new "head of U.S. media relations" as the company deals with the PR disaster of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Kolton was Cheney's press secretary during the 2004 campaign, and then moved to a job in public affairs at the Department of Energy.
One of her tasks in her previous job was defending the administration's secret meetings with energy officials, even as courts were telling the White House to turn over documents about the task force: "We are ready to defend our principles in court. This goes to the heart of the presidency and to the ability of the president and vice president to receive candid, discreet advice."
Not a lot is known about the task force, since the administration succeeded in shielding it from the public. But it is known that BP officials were among the oil chiefs involved in the secret meetings. Read more.