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Oil FAIL: Question of the day


Why is the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill an Information Dead Zone?

It seems utterly implausible that BP does not have a well informed idea as to how much oil is coming out of its well. ... BP refuses to put measurement equipment near the leak, arguing it might interfere with remediation efforts. ... [T]he only reason for BP NOT to want to have this information is that:

1. Its remediation efforts to date have some reasonable odds of success only if the outflow is not that much above its 5000 barrel a day estimate

2. Higher outflows and pretty much zilch odds of success of current public-placating dorking around would lead to much greater pressure to Do Something Now.

3. The effective Do Something Now options (like the radical one of using a nuclear weapon to collapse the ocean floor into the leak) would likely also result in making it difficult for BP to ever get oil from that site

4. The BP strategy is thus very likely all about trying to maximize oil extraction by minimizing the appearance of damage and buying time while it drills a relief well.

Now let us get to part 2: why is Team Obama enabling this nonsense? I come up with two possibilities:

And a Pony isn't on the list, unfortunately:

1. Team Obama believes the BP BS

2. Obama does not want to look impotent. Revealing that the leak is really bad and not having a quick solution is an Obama PR disaster. Obama has to work through BP unless he can implement an action plan using only government resources or by working with another oil company with deep ocean expertise. Given the lead times for government contracting, this would take quite a while.

If the leak is as serious as I fear, this is environmental equivalent of the Iran hostage crisis. Team Obama recognizes this, and therefore wants to create the impression as long as possible that everything that could possibly be done is being done. Note that the Administration is behaving with BP exactly as it did vis as vis the banksters in early 2009: believing that the problem is too complex and scary for them to assert control, casting its lot in with the people who caused the problem in the first place (while calling them bad names often enough to create plausible deniability). And enabling BP’s coverup of how bad the leak means, as Obama did with the financial services industry, of having to support, or at least not undermine too much, its PR efforts.

It's the playbook, which also has sections for Katrina and Chernyobl.

Now of course, as information keeps surfacing (no pun intended) that the leak is probably much worse than the BP [and Versailles] party line.

I'm shocked.

Yves fucking nails it.

NOTE And speaking of information dead zones, nothing could show the newsgathering and analytical (and moral) bankruptcy of the party line access bloggers and the so-called "netroots" more clearly than the fact that you've got to go to an econoblogger to get this kind of old school coverage and analysis. Kos: Nada. FDL: Nada. OL: Nada. Eschaton: Nada. Sure, you've got posts on the spill, maybe some outrage on the dispersants, but as far as an evidence- and reason-based critique of the Administration's performance? Forget about it! It's like there's some kind of plan for planetary dieback, and nobody's noticing, let alone our "progressive" tribunes of the people.

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Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

From: Obama Positioned to Quickly Reverse Bush Actions -

Sunday, November 9, 2008:

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, . . . Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign . . .

"The kind of regulations they are looking at" are those imposed by Bush for "overtly political" reasons, in pursuit of what Democrats say was a partisan Republican agenda . . . the preelection transition team, comprising mainly lawyers, has positioned the incoming president to move fast on high-priority items . . .

May 20, 2010:

Now Barack Obama has been in office for sixteen months. we are facing of the largest ecological disaster in history:

With heavy oil washing ashore in fragile Louisiana wetlands, wildlife and environmental groups accused BP of holding back information on the real size and impact of the growing slick, and urged President Barack Obama to order a more direct federal government role in the spill response.

Salazar said the Obama administration had been aggressive in its response to the spill but had inherited a regulatory system "that essentially was rubber-stamping whatever it was the oil and gas industry wanted."

From: WRAPUP 3-US to check BP spill size, heavy oil comes ashore | Reuters

Submitted by jawbone on

the lack of information about the Gulf Gusher.

Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope.

Questions I've been seeing on the left and science blogs since, oh, Day Two or Three, iirc. Definitely since Week Two.

The scientists assert that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have been slow to investigate the magnitude of the spill and the damage it is causing in the deep ocean. They are especially concerned about getting a better handle on problems that may be occurring from large plumes of oil droplets that appear to be spreading beneath the ocean surface.

The scientists point out that in the month since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the government has failed to make public a single test result on water from the deep ocean. And the scientists say the administration has been too reluctant to demand an accurate analysis of how many gallons of oil are flowing into the sea from the gushing oil well.

“It seems baffling that we don’t know how much oil is being spilled,” Sylvia Earle, a famed oceanographer, said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “It seems baffling that we don’t know where the oil is in the water column.”

The administration acknowledges that its scientific resources are stretched by the disaster, but contends that it is moving to get better information, including a more complete picture of the underwater plumes.

I don't understand how BP has such control over what's being tested, what's being done about water measurements, quality, etc. Yes, they should control how they manage the wellhead, but what was with their using the Coast Guard officers to tell reporters they could be arrested for trying to document damange to the LA coastal marshes?

The big scientific question now is what is happening in deeper water. While it is clear that water samples have been taken, the results have not been made public.

Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, told Congress on Wednesday that she was pressing for the release of additional test results, including some samples taken by boats under contract to BP.


letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

It's apparent that this Administration is more and more like the Bush Administration. The obvious stylistic differences between Barack and W notwithstanding, the corporatist character of the Administration makes it equally ineffective in producing the changes we are seeking.

Yesterday, many of the progressive access bloggers were buying into the narrative that the elections were a victory for progressive opposition to corporatism. Unfortunately, victory, these days, has little to do with elections, and much to do with what happens in DC, thereafter. There's no indication, except their words, that any of the people elected, even if also elected in the general elections to come, will really side with the people against the corporations when it comes down to their actions in the Congress. We can but hope that they will, and if they don't, then throw them out too. But, if necessary, let's do that quickly, before they've done so many favors for the corporations that they count on getting lucrative lifetime jobs from the corps after we kick them to the curb.

Submitted by lambert on

I mean, that's what Sestak in, Spector out means. And that's the best we can do? Wait, don't answer that.

NOTE I've said for awhile that, just as it took the blogosphere 3 years (2003-2006) to discredit Bush (and seize control of at least a piece of the discourse) so it would take 3 years for the same to happen with Obama. So, counting from the Iowa primaries, when the primary wars started, that would put the next inflection point at some point in 2011. And it looks to me like Obama (and the "progressives," and the legacy parties) are right on track for FAIL, so I couldn't be more pleased. And how could FAIL be anything other than the outcome, given that nothing has changed but the numbers on the jerseys?

"FAIL" is the sense of retain legitimacy. Success, of course, for the banksters and the usual suspects. At least, and hopefully very, temporarily. Many drops make a tide...

Walter Wit Man's picture
Submitted by Walter Wit Man on

I welcome this silly and coordinated attack on the "libertarian" and tea party wings of the Republican party. I don't know what they're thinking in Kos' listserv. I guess they think it's a good way to shore up the left side of the Dem party as well as the right--try to prevent independents from crossing over to Republicans by marginalizing the tea partiers as "crazy" as well as cut off any sort of alliance between libertarians and lefties.

As many have noted, on an intuitive level, the libertarians and tea partiers share more in common with liberals than many Democrats do. So you can see why the Dems need to de-legitimize them.

At first I was disheartened by the progressive attack as a missed opportunity to achieve some liberal policy goals by reaching out to the other side. Bailing out Wall Street and imperial wars are two of the most important issues to lefties. And the Pauls share more in common with liberals on those issues than Obama. Why not say, "I welcome the fact the Republican party is realizing that it is patriotic to oppose war and that they are distancing themselves from the tactics of Dick Cheney et al."? Why focus on the areas of disagreement? And if the Dems are going to pick Republicans to be bipartisan with why not the libertarians? Why does Obama only pick the corporatist fascist Republicans to make bipartisan deals with? (that's a rhetorical question at this point)

But now I say bring it on. It will backfire on these "practical" Dem tools. These progressive pricks are all about shitting on people to shame them into voting for the Dems. They've been on a year long campaign of mocking lefties for not blindly accepting Obama's neoliberal house of horrors just because hacks like Digby polish Obama's turds and call them "progressive". And it hasn't been an honest debate about ideas in the party. No. It's lies, deception, and distraction. ("Obama really does support a public option and how dare you doubt his intentions and his heart. What, are you stupid? You should have known he was lying to you and was never a progressive. Look, Rand Paul is on the verge of kicking your door down with his Bubba Storm Troopers and instituting the gold standard and you don't want to be responsible for that, do you?").

Fuck them. Let's see how many independents they piss off now. I doubt independent Kentuckians are going to be mocked into voting for Obama by Kos and Digby.

Submitted by Anne on

what is happening - and not happening; it's making Bush's response to Katrina look good.

One thing: David Dayen (d-day) has been posting almost daily about the government's response to the spill, about the Senate hearings, and Obama's usual shifting positions and equivocation. Taken as a whole (click on the tags), and read one after the other, it is as damning a collection of posts as anyone is doing.

And it's all making my blood boil; I simply cannot get out of my head the picture of this laid-back president rousing himself from the Land of Cool for 10 minutes to express faux outrage at the oil executives - and then going back to business as usual.

What do they know, and when did they know it? What has been withheld, and why?

People should be losing their jobs over this.