Levees Not War
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Posts Tagged ‘Gulf of Mexico oil drilling’

New Oil Explosion, Fire, off Louisiana Coast

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Long, Hot Summer

[ Update: Think Progress’s Ben Armbruster reports, “One day before its gulf oil rig exploded, Mariner Energy said ‘Obama is trying to break us’ with the deepwater drilling moratorium,” even though the platform that exploded today was not affected by the moratorium. Think Progress says the Associated Press is now reporting that, contrary to earlier statements (echoed below), the Vermilion Oil Rig 360 was in production at the time of the explosion. The New York Times now reports that “Mariner said that during the last week of August, the platform had produced about 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas a day and 1,400 barrels of oil and condensate.” ]

[ Original post begins here: ] The Times-Picayune and New York Times report that at about 9:30 a.m. today an oil platform (not a rig) exploded off the coast of Louisiana, 80 to 90 miles south of Vermilion Bay, and 13 workers abandoned the rig and are in the water, wearing protective immersion suits to prevent hypothermia. The U.S. Coast Guard is responding with helicopters to rescue the workers. The workers will be taken to Terrebone General Medical Center in Houma.

Bob Warren of the Times-Picayune writes:

Coast Guard Petty Officer Casey Ranel said the rig is around 90 miles south of Vermilion Bay and that a helicopter earlier today reported that it was in fire “and that there was smoke and there were people in the water.”

The Vermilion Oil Platform 380 is owned by Mariner Energy in water about 340 feet deep (thus it is not affected by the Obama administration’s moratorium, which applies to projects more than 500 feet deep). Texas-based Mariner, one of the largest independent oil and gas firms in the Gulf of Mexico, currently has 195 active drilling leases. The platform is apparently in exploration mode and not producing oil and gas, according to the Department of Homeland Security. [This appears to be in question, as noted above.] The rig is on fire. One worker is injured, but all workers are accounted for. No leak is known of at this time (12:45 EST). The platform is about 200 miles west of BP’s Macondo site where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. (Three months after that explosion, in late July, a barge hit an abandoned well in Mud Lake, part of Barataria Bay about 10 miles by water from Golden Meadow, Louisiana, releasing a gushing of oil and natural gas that took days to seal.)

Click here for video of reports by MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer and Anne Thompson with brief comments from Coast Guard chief John Edwards and an update on an investigation of the blowout preventer on the BP Macondo well. At the same time, Hurricane Earl is churning up the Atlantic, projected to be about parallel with the North Carolina / Virginia border by 8:00 a.m. Friday.

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[ Click here for LNW’s coverage of the BP oil spill. ]

AP photo above; MSNBC map below. ]

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Stop BP from Hurting Cleanup Workers:
Join the “BP Makes Me Sick” Coalition

Monday, July 12th, 2010

We cannot let the denial of protective gear that hurt so many 9/11 cleanup workers happen again with the Gulf cleanup workers.

BP Refuses Respirator Masks for Cleanup Workers

Levees Not War has joined the “BP Makes Me Sick” Coalition of Gulf Coast fishermen, environmental groups, and some 60,000 Americans to press the White House and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to force BP to provide the workers cleaning up BP’s toxic mess to wear protective gear. BP has refused to allow protection because photographs of workers with air filter masks would be bad for the oil giant’s image.

20 percent of offshore workers have been exposed to 2-butoxyethanol, a chemical used in the dispersant Corexit 9527 that has been linked to health concerns. —“Where Are the Respirators?” (Mother Jones)

Click here to tell the White House and OSHA to protect workers (script provided).

Phone the White House (comment line 202-456-1111) and OSHA (202-693-2000 or 800-321-6742). • Also fax the White House (202-456-2461) and OSHA Asst. Secretary Dr. David Michaels at 202-693-1659.

“President Obama and the federal government must demand that BP allow every cleanup worker who wants to wear respiratory protective equipment to do so—and ensure that workers get the equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely.”

The Coalition is organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and backed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, and supported by some 35 environmental and public health and fishermen’s groups, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Louisiana Shrimp Association, United Commercial Fishermen, and members of Congress including Reps. Alan Grayson, Kendrick Meek, and Carolyn Maloney (see signatories list here).

See the Mother Jones article “Where Are the Respirators?” below the fold, Elana Schor’s “Petition Urges Obama Admin to Protect Gulf Spill Cleanup Workers” in the New York Times, and Keith Olbermann’s interview with MaryLee Orr of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network on the screen below.

And then click here and here to UNF––K THE GULF.

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Smoke on the Water: Alabama Conservationist’s Gripping Video of Death at Sea

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

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On MSNBC’s Countdown on June 30 Keith Olbermann spoke to John L. Wathen, an Alabama conservationist with Hurricane Creekkeeper (Waterkeeper Alliance) who has flown over the Gulf of Mexico to film the BP oil flood, the dead and dying dolphins and whales, the fires burning on the sea’s surface, and the fires that are pouring immeasurable toxins into the air. (See more videos at bpoilslick.blogspot.com and click here for a “photobucket” of images from the aerial survey.)

In the YouTube video above of which clips were shown on Countdown, Wathen narrates in a sad Alabama drawl:

Will the Gulf ever be the same again? As we headed out toward Louisiana, it was mile after mile of rainbow, heavy, heavy slick oil, and then a circle appeared. Could there possibly be life under all of this? . . . As we looked closer, we saw this pod of dolphins obviously struggling just to breathe [36 dolphins in this pod; 18 dolphins in another]. . . . Then we found this guy, a sperm whale swimming in the oil, had just breached . . . along his back, we could see red patches of crude as if he’d been basted for broiling. Then there was this pod of dolphins found later, some already dead, some in their death throes. It seemed to be that they were raising their heads, looking at the fires, wondering, Why is my world burning down around me? Why would humans do this to me? . . .

The scope of this is beyond belief. It will take years at this rate to gather up even a portion of the oil that is on the surface today. Some of it looks more like bruised internal organs of the human body than the surface of the ocean. . . . First time I came out and saw a fire there was only one; today when we got here there were four. Within a couple of passes there were seven. From the size of these fires it seems as though we’re not only trying to kill everything in the Gulf of Mexico but everything that flies over it as well. . . .

From 1.2 miles from the shores of Gulf Shores, Alabama, to the Ground Zero site some 90 miles away, we haven’t flown over a single square inch of clear water. Imagine how many fires it will take to burn that much oil. There has to be something better than putting all this toxic smoke into the atmosphere. Why are there not large ships here with suction devices that can go down and pull this stuff closer to the source and put it on ships and recycle it somehow? . . .

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Click here for Waterkeeper.org and here for a list of Waterkeeper groups working to protect the Gulf and other waters. Click here for the Blue Frontier Campaign (and see David Helvarg’s article below the fold.)

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“The Oysters Never Had It So Good.”

Friday, June 18th, 2010

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For anyone who might be concerned about the effects of BP oil on Louisiana seafood and needs reassurance that “oil will be well,” you just need to sit back, relax, and watch this 1960 newsreel of “progress at work” titled Lifeline to an Oyster, “presented as a public information service by the American Petroleum Institute.” (Note that “the trouble” is said to have started when the oystermen “claimed” that the oysters were being killed off by oil production. No complaints = no trouble?)

“The trouble started down in Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico when the Louisiana oyster fishermen claimed that oil production was killing off the local oyster population. The oil companies didn’t agree, but they agreed to look into the matter. . . .

“In the research laboratory, every type of condition is created for the ‘oyster patients.’ A blanket of crude oil is poured directly on the water. Water is jetted through oil for six months. Oil-drilling mud was emptied into the water. . . .

“Every possibility was explored. After years of study and progress, the results were in: The test oysters showed no ill effects from oil, even under conditions which far exceeded those ever present in oil production. As a matter of fact, the test oysters were so happy they brought forth new generations to share their luck. They never had it so good.”

Well then, if this wasn’t killing the oysters, what was?

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From the Oval Office, Promises for Gulf Coast Restoration, MMS Rehab

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

We’ll look at the energy aspects of President Obama’s Tuesday Oval Office address “in the coming days” (as he might say). Meanwhile, we want to focus on two of the most promising elements of the president’s remarks (text here). First, about three minutes in, he pledged to appoint former Mississippi governor and now navy secretary Ray Mabus (a Democrat) to develop a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. [emphasis added]

I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.

The president recognizes that the land and the people of the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the ravages of Katrina and Rita (among other hurricanes) and that the oil industry has wrought damages in the delicate Louisiana marshlands over many decades. We are pleased to hear that a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan will be forthcoming—Obama himself outlined a recovery plan for New Orleans when he was running for president, though not in as fine a detail as John Edwards’s plan—but we want serious follow-up, close monitoring by the White House. To whom does Secretary Mabus report? When is the plan due? Obama says that the plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other Gulf residents.” We’d like to see conservationists closer to the front of that advisory panel, up there with “tribes, fishermen.”

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Fake President Rachel Maddow’s Oval-Office-in-Her-Own-Head Address

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Getting Real with a Fake President

Superb, every word of it, except maybe the part at the very end about the White Sox and the Red Sox.

Click here for the full text, and click the photo above or here for the video. Read it and share it. Watch it and weep for joy. Serious energy policy and disaster response could be built on this—much more serious than what has taken place in the past two months.

I’m here to announce three major developments in the response to the BP Oil Disaster that continues, right now, to ravage the beloved Gulf Coast of the United States of America.

. . . the first development in this disaster that I am announcing tonight: Never again, will any company, anyone, be allowed to drill in a location where they are incapable of dealing with the potential consequences of that drilling. . . . That will never happen again, as long as I am Fake President.

. . . tonight, as Fake President, I’m announcing a new federal command specifically for containment and cleanup of oil that has already entered the Gulf of Mexico, with a priority on protecting shoreline that can still be saved; shoreline that is vulnerable to oil that has not yet been hit. I have asked the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to assist me in the diplomatic side of this—in soliciting, greenlighting and expediting all international offers of help from experts in booming and skimming from all over the world. We will bring in the best experts and the best equipment from anywhere on Earth, to dramatically increase our efforts to get the oil out of the water, and off of the coast.

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Welcome Back, Mr. President, to Louisiana, the Dark Underside of the Nation’s Guilty Conscience

Friday, June 4th, 2010

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[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

Take a good look around. Our state bird, only recently removed from the Endangered Species list, now so soaked with crude oil it can’t lift its wings or even breathe. Our hearts are breaking for the dying pelicans and all that they represent, including the 11 dead oil rig workers and the idled shrimpers, oystermen, and fishermen.

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It is probably a good thing that you have appointed former senator Bob Graham and former EPA administrator William K. Reilly as co-chairs of a BP Oil Spill Commission—though we hope they won’t be a blue-ribbon panel that serves only to justify further deep-sea drilling and oil addiction. We definitely do not want a return to oil business as usual. We are pleased that Attorney General Eric Holder has announced criminal investigations in the BP calamity. We like your call to roll back “billions of dollars in tax breaks” for oil companies to use the money for clean energy research and development—it’s about time. And it is good that Secretary Salazar is intent on cleaning house and reorganizing the Minerals Management Service by separating the regulation and enforcement functions from the oil exploration promotion and royalty collection part. But there’s more: We want your full backing of Senator Landrieu’s proposed Accelerated Revenue Sharing (see the Times-Picayune’s editorial “Louisiana Needs Its Share of Offshore Oil Revenue Now, Mr. President”). Louisiana has gone too long without its fair share of offshore oil and gas revenue royalties. We need that money now, not in 2017.

Large-Scale Action, and Action Now

. . . the time has come to aggressively accelerate that transition [to a clean energy economy]. The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future.

Your remarks on the economy this week at Carnegie Mellon University were admirable in their breadth and priorities, but this vision is still not bold enough. We want you to Go Big—to push Congress to go big—for a full-blown energy reform movement. Administration officials’ insistence that “from day one” the federal government has been in charge of the oil spill response are meaningless and not reassuring. Actions speak louder.

Now is the time, Mr. President. Give us some audacity of hope, audacity of bold action, unmistakable action. Something equal to the U.S. war mobilization in World War II. (“Be Bold, Obama.” “Spend, Obama, Spend.”)

You have often spoken of the critical need to develop alternative, sustainable energy, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “Stimulus”) gave a strong injection of billions of dollars as “down payments.” Further, you and Vice President Biden have been vocal supporters of rail and public transportation and have allocated considerable federal funding, as with your announcement in January of $8 billion in funding for high-speed rail projects. But again, as you acknowledged at the time, this is only a down payment. We can’t—and we shouldn’t—wait any longer.

Mr. President, a major, massive, fully committed national shift toward alternative energy must begin now. (Talking to you, too, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Jeff Bingaman, Mary Landrieu, David Vitter . . .) As your chief of staff says, let no crisis go to waste. Give us Energy Reform—change we can believe in. Push for Energy Reform on the scale of the Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, the TVA, or the Apollo mission—or all of these combined.

Awaken the Green Giant

In addition to your full-throated, insistent support for the best elements of the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act and the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (passed in May 2009) and the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act—press Congress to pass them ASAP—what America needs immediately in massive doses is funding for an Energy Independence Act (or some catchy name—call it “Green Giant” if it makes people happy). Just do it. The public will be with you in great numbers. But you have to mean it. Take your health care reform passion and quadruple it. A New York Times editorial (“While the Senate Fiddles”) said it well last month:

. . . the [Kerry-Lieberman] bill has no chance unless President Obama steps up. Mr. Obama pledged to “engage” with the Senate to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill “this year.” This was one of those ticket-punching statements that isn’t going to change any minds. What he should have said is that he is going to hammer on the Senate until it does what this country needs. [emphasis added]

Push now, push hard, push soon—we’ll push with you—and then we as a nation won’t feel so damned, pathetically helpless. The time is right. The timing has never been better. It is the politically astute thing to do and it is the morally right thing to do. We know you care. Now put your empathy into action.

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“Our Kinship Will Not Be Washed Away”

Monday, May 31st, 2010

We always hate to miss a good protest, so we really wish we could have been in Jackson Square yesterday for the big SAVE THE GULF rally (organized, at least in part, by Murdered Gulf). In her HuffPo blog Karen Dalton-Beninato brings us an account of the strong lineup of speakers, including Phyllis Montana-Leblanc and Dr. John, with a rain-damp but spirited crowd that included Spike Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Tim Robbins. (See photos posted by Derek Bridges @ Flickr and below; Editor B @ Flickr [with cool panorama]; Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Ladder; and NewOrleans.com.)

Probably the hottest and most articulate rant—worthy of Treme’s Creighton Bernette, or New Orleans’s late, beloved Ashley Morris—was given by activist Ian Hoch, who focused the crowd’s attention on the damage to the fishermen along the Gulf, on corporate malfeasance that is not limited to BP, and on the need to turn this oil slick crime into the moment when America shifts gears toward alternative energy sources. (See Gore, Kerry, Sanders at “In the News,” right.) Speaking through a bullhorn, Hoch aroused raucous cheers as he called for action and support of fellow Louisianians:

“Help the men and women in the coastal parishes yourself. Go visit St. Bernard, go visit Terrebone and Lafourche and Plaquemines. Eat at their restaurants and drink at their bars. I haven’t been fishing since I was 10 years old—I don’t even know if I like fishing—but I know that I would take immense pleasure in supporting a charter boat captain whose livelihood is endangered by BP’s corporate malfeasance. [applause] If everybody here today got together with a couple of their friends and booked a charter fishing trip I know we’d make a difference. And if everybody here asked the waiter every time they visit a restaurant, ‘Are you serving Louisiana seafood?’ I know we would make a difference. . . . I’m not going to stay here in town enjoying the current renaissance of New Orleans while our brothers and sisters are out on the water twisting in the wind.

“Let’s boycott BP, and let’s use less gasoline and reduce our carbon footprint. Thomas Friedman says “Change your leaders, not your lightbulbs.” So keep your anger focused on the politicians. Corporations will be corporations, and politicians will be politicians. But BP doesn’t answer to you. But Mary Landrieu and Bobby Jindal and David Vitter and Joseph Cao and Barack Obama do answer to you. [applause] Self-serving politicans enable the bad guys, and we enable the self-serving politicians. So call your congressmen and tell them they must not allow this disaster to corrode the social fabric of the coastal parishes. Tell them you want to be sure that BP doesn’t get to pick an oil-industry affiliated judge in Houston. . . .

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