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On the Oil Spill Front…

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BP Tees Up Asset Sales to Pay For Spill

LONDON (Reuters) – A day after BP said it would sell $30 billion in assets to pay for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the focus shifted to what is for sale, while lawyers prepared to tackle a mountain of claims for damages.
Just 24 hours after gaffe-prone Chief Executive Tony Hayward’s head rolled from the chopping block, candidates for the auction block hit the headlines, as BP aims to slim down to recover from the thumping losses racked up in the 100 days since the start of the environmental disaster.
Sources with direct knowledge of the matter said BP was in talks with India’s Reliance Industries and Essar to sell retail assets in Africa with an estimated price tag of $500 million.
Investment bankers said the assets BP could sell include its stake in Alaska’s huge Prudhoe Bay oil field and its interest in Pan American Energy in Argentina, as well as smaller assets in Vietnam, Pakistan and Colombia.
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Is $30 Billion enough? Certainly 4-5 months of destruction comes in at more than that.

Cartoon of the Week

Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star:

One can only hope that the Skunks will be around long enough to pay for the mess.

The Text of President Obama’s Oval Office Speech Tonite

Here it is:

Oval Office Remarks of President Obama
Address to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

As Prepared for Delivery–

Good evening.  As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges.  At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American.  Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists.  And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about forty miles off the coast of Louisiana.  Eleven workers lost their lives.  Seventeen others were injured.  And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water.

Because there has never been a leak of this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology.  That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge – a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy.  Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology.  In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well.  This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.

Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.  And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days.  The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.

But make no mistake:  we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes.  We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused.  And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.

Tonight I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward:  what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.

First, the cleanup.  From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history – an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost forty years of experience responding to disasters.  We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and cleanup the oil.  Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf.  And I have authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast.  These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, clean beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims – and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming, and other collection methods.  Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil.  We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we are working with Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.

As the clean up continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need.  Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise.  I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip.  So if something isn’t working, we want to hear about it.  If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.

But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife.  And sadly, no matter how effective our response becomes, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.  That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.

You know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water.  That living is now in jeopardy.  I’ve talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don’t know how they’re going to support their families this year.  I’ve seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers – even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected.  I’ve talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists will start to come back.  The sadness and anger they feel is not just about the money they’ve lost.  It’s about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.

I refuse to let that happen.  Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness.  And this fund will not be controlled by BP.  In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party.

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 has 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.

I make that commitment tonight.  Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, a former governor of Mississippi, and a son of the Gulf, 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 third part of our response plan is the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again.  A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe – that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.

That was obviously not the case on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why.  The American people deserve to know why.  The families I met with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion – these families deserve to know why.  And so I have established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place.  Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.  I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue.  And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.

One place we have already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service.  Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.  At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight.  Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency.  But it’s now clear that the problems there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow.  And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency – Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General.  His charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog – not its partner.

One of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling.  But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk.  After all, oil is a finite resource.  We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves.  And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered.  For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels.  And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.  Time and again, the path forward has been blocked – not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight.  Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America.  Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil.  And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future.  The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.  Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America.  The transition away from fossil fuels will take some time, but over the last year and a half, we have already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry.  As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels.  Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient.  Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that will someday lead to entire new industries.

Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us.  As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of good, middle-class jobs – but only if we accelerate that transition.  Only if we seize the moment.  And only if we rally together and act as one nation – workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors.

When I was a candidate for this office, I laid out a set of principles that would move our country towards energy independence.  Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill – a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.

Now, there are costs associated with this transition.  And some believe we can’t afford those costs right now.  I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy – because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party – as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels.  Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks.  Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power.  Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development – and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fear hearing in the months ahead.  But the one approach I will not accept is inaction.  The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet.  You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II.  The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon.  And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom.  Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny – our determination to fight for the America we want for our children.  Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like.  Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there.  We know we’ll get there.

It is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people.  It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe.  It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea – some for weeks at a time.

The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad.  It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago – at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed.  For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers.  The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “…even in the midst of the storm.”

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face.  This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again.  What sees us through – what has always seen us through – is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.  Tonight, we pray for that courage.  We pray for the people of the Gulf.  And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.


A Quote for the Day… as BP’s credit rating drops from AA to BBB:

“Unless or until BP’s shareholders are forced by law to part with their assets to ensure the safety of the American public, shareholder interests will come first in the Gulf. Not the wildlife. Not the citizens.”

– Robert Reich

With the dropping of BP’s credit rating making the news, almost as a more important item than the mess they have caused, it looks like Reich is right.

Great Morning Laugh from the Upright Citizens Brigade… BP Spills The Coffee

Funny, of course, because it is so close to the truth.

A few items here and there…

At a local Food CoOp meeting last night there was a pile of information revealed. First of all, there is in existence a Jefferson County (WV) Food CoOp, has been for around 25 years, but it has been shrinking and is all but invisible (down to a couple of dozen members). The Shepherdstown group looks like they are willing to buy into it (membership is $25.00 a year and they order food from a National CoOp supplier once a month).

Ruth Robertas got the Shepherdstown bunch together for meetings and is keeping minutes on the meeting, which are expected by e-mail.

At some point I hope to write an update on this venture… I’d give anything to have it turn into a real ongoing shopping area, like the Frederick Common Market which I go down to at least one Wednesday a month (on Wednesdays there is a 5% discount for folks over 60, which usually covers my gas and my lunch) and which sells the best organic and natural stuff and is especially full of products appealing to Vegans like us. That, however, is a long way away and would require a REAL organization.


Yesterday at the Farmer’s Market in Shepherdstown, I saw this good looking woman and her family shopping and she was covered in intricate tattoos. It made me stop and think about how many people you see these days that have turned their bodies into artworks…

While watching one of the Top Chef shows on Bravo I noticed that 2/3 of the contestant chefs, both male and female, were more than decorated with tattoos. They were never commented on or apparently even noticed by anyone (I mean, no one said “gee, what a great design” or anything like that), but were simply accepted as part of the current mode of expression.

And then, of course, I thought of Janeane Garafolo, who is even more tattooed every time she appears on television. Certainly this effects her ability to be cast in films. Or maybe not.

So I started thinking about what I would decorate myself with if I were to go for tattoos. My big problem is that I would tire of an image or a pattern relatively quickly and I don’t imagine removal is an easy thing (although I’ve heard of it being done.) The upshot is that I don’t want to find out how my skin would change as I got older. I don’t think I’ll ever get a tattoo.


The word on the BP oil leak this morning is that the cap that was put on the broken pipe is sucking in 11,000 barrels a day, but that may be only 10% or 20% of what is going directly into gulf waters.

At the government’s press update this morning they seemed to be trying to put an optimistic face on all this, but the bottom line was that there is no real solution until the relief wells are finished in August… and even then there is still a strong possibility that the problem could go on.

Somebody made the statement that there would be months of cleanup after the leak was stopped , but everyone knows that they are still cleaning up much less pollution from the Exxon Valdez spill 10 YEARS AGO!

BP’s cleanup price tag so far is 1.25 Billion Bucks and climbing.This doesn’t count any of the lawsuits which are being brought by destroyed businesses along the coastlines or by amounts that are being claimed by individual states who will lose tourist industry income. No one is questioning whether BP will survive, but if they go bankrupt, who will pay for all this. You and I both know the answer to that one (keep your hand on your wallet and wait for the tax increases.)

Quote of the Day – Colin Powell on Military Solution to Gulf Oil Problem

When asked what the military could do if brought in to manage the Gulf mess:

“What we would do in my time, we would assign it to one of our army commanders, a second army would go in on Hurricane Andrew and take charge of things. But whether that’s the right combination of assets now I’ll have to leave to others to decide.

First we have to figure out what do we need? Do we need people to clean the beaches or put out skimmers? We have lots of fishermen and others down there who are available who want the work and know the water a lot better than an army unit coming in, but whether it’s army, coast guard, local forces, it is time for a comprehensive total attack on this problem.”

-Colin Powell, former Secretary of State

Gulf Oil Spill: 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted To Know

This is from a piece by Beth Buczynski in Care2:

Here are 10 of the most horrifying facts about the Gulf oil spill. Read them and let their gravity weigh heavy on your hearts and minds. Let them motivate you to take action so our planet never experiences this kind of manmade disaster ever again.

1. New estimates show the undersea well has spilled between 17 and 39 million gallons. These estimates dwarf those of BP, who claimed the spill had only released 11 million gallons to date, and mean that the Gulf leak is far bigger than Exxon Valdez, making it the worst spill in American history.

2. The National Wildlife Federation reports that already more than 150 threatened or endangered sea turtles are dead. And 316 sea birds, mostly brown pelicans and northern gannets, have been found dead along the Gulf Coast as a result of the spreading oil.

3. The Minerals Management Service, directly under the supervision of the Interior Department failed to impose a full review of potential environmental impacts of the BP drilling operation because preliminary reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was “unlikely.”

4. The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report indicating that at one Gulf Coast office of MMS, agency officials attended sporting events on the dime of oil companies, stored porn on company computers, used cocaine and crystal meth, falsified inspection reports, and accepted “gifts” from “good friends in the oil industry.”

5. A significant amount of the oil slick is being drawn well to the south in the east-central Gulf of Mexico, meaning that it has been captured by the Loop Current. Oil in the loop is a hazard to the Florida Keys, (and entire East Coast) as well as areas of the west coast of Florida. Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico could also be at risk of exposure to the oil, which also could be drawn into the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits, and perhaps northward to part of the Atlantic Seaboard.

6. As much as we’d like to forget it, the Gulf Coast is prime hurricane country, and if a storm blows in, the result could be devastating. The presence of oil could lead to a more powerful hurricane because crude accumulating at the surface could be raising the temperature of the surrounding water.

7. Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP, has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. Because of past experience with Gulf Oil spills, Transocean decided to insure the Deepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the disaster.

8. Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable “Oil Spill Response Plan” which is, in fact, no plan at all. Besides mentioning the protection of Arctic wildlife (probably lifted directly from the Exxon Valdez plan), the plan does not include any disease-preventing measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no directions for how to deal with another deep-water explosion in the future.

9. A large number of fishermen are becoming seriously ill – and many of them believe that the chemicals that BP is using in the Gulf are to blame. Local shrimpers in Louisiana are already predicting that it will be seven years before they can set to sea again.

10. Gambling websites are now placing odds on what species will be first to become extinct as a result of the oil belching from BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Whole article and links HERE.

Meaningless Quote of the Day?

“It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking, and we will not relent until this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and until the people unjustly victimized by this manmade disaster are made whole.”

– President Barack Obama on the Failure of Top Kill, BP’s last effort at stopping the leak.

So what are they going to do now? And who is going to do it? And who really KNOWS what to do? Certainly not BP who has contributed more to the world’s pollution level than any other company.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – still in the Oil Spill Crisis

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald Leader:

…I don’t think they are saying enough!

– and –

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Is this $25 million they could be spending to stop the spill?

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Change has to come from us… it won’t be from BP!

Is Britt Hume Brain Dead?

Or does he think the Gulf Oil Spill is just another natural occurrence?

This was on yesterday’s Chris Wallace Fox News Sunday:

Cartoon(s) of the Week … for an Oily Saturday

Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle:

The Culture and Tradition of the Lone Star State…

– and –

Tom Toles in The Washington Post:

…or they are just giving us the finger.

Quote of the Day for you BP Fans…

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

– BP CEO Tony Hayward


You Drill, You Spill

Here’s the opening clip of a Truthout Op Ed that was put out today by Alexander Cockburn.

Go in and read the whole thing… I recommend it. BT.

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Sobering, is it not, to realize that the possible survival of a huge oil company, of several billion shrimp, assorted species of fish and birds, not to mention avoidance of a near lethal lurch in the fortunes of Louisiana’s fishing and ocean rec industries and the future of offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast could depend on a feat as tricky as rolling a condom on the end of a string onto the penis of a man at street level by remote control from the top of the Empire State building.
So-called accidents in oil extraction invariably produce numbers as whimsical and liable to sudden change as the currents that will menace British Petroleum’s gigantic steel cap, a telephone booth four stories high, scheduled to be lowered onto the leaking oil pipe on the ocean floor 5,000 feat down, putting out maybe 10,000 barrels of crude a day.
The central fraud here is perpetrated by the word “accident,” which should properly be defined as normalcy…
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You know, BP is really making a much bigger mess…

This is a clip from an article in Salon… go in and read the whole thing if you want the facts. It’s not pretty.
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Is BP’s remedy for the spill only making it worse?

The chemical dispersants BP is dumping in the Gulf of Mexico are a cosmetic solution only. And they’re toxic

Last Thursday, BP began putting more than 100,000 gallons of chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico to disperse some of the hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of gallons of petroleum its undersea volcano of oil has gushed so far.
Chemically dispersing oil spills “solves the political problem of visible oil but not the environmental problem,” Robert Brulle, a 20-year Coast Guard veteran and an affiliate professor of public health at Drexel University, told me. These dispersants “do not actually reduce the total amount of oil entering the environment,” as a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report on the subject put it.
In short: out of sight, out of mind. But not out of the body of marine life.
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Cartoon(s) of the Week – The Spill Situation

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press;
So much for the Louisiana fishing industry…

– and –

J. D. Crowe in the Mobile Press-Register

…and someone, somewhere assumes that this mess can be handled.

– and –

I’ve saved the best for last…John Sherffius in the Boulder Daily Camera:

…and did I hear that the Kennedy Compound residents were trying to keep windmills away from the Cape? When you compare them to the oil mess, they are sculptural and beautiful!