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June 16, 2010 11:42 AM   Subscribe

BP agrees to set aside $20 billion for spill claims. In a much anticipated deal brokered with the heads of the disgraced oil industry giant following on the heels of last night's speech from the Oval Office, President Obama has received a commitment from BP to establish a $20 billion dollar escrow account to pay for economic damages related to the Deepwater Horizon's now estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrel a day oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico (also previously here, here, and here on the blue). Does this development render moot the politically perilous issue of retroactively lifting the $75 million dollar cap on oil company liabilities, which the DOJ recently declared legal? Some are asking for more details. NY Times asks: How much will BP really pay? Darling of the far-right fringe Michelle Balkin cautions BP: "Don't be chumps! This is redistribution of wealth." And fellow right-of-centrist Sarah Palin wants to call in the Dutch.
posted by saulgoodman (213 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Don't be chumps! This is redistribution of wealth."

*oil-soaked facepalm*
posted by joe lisboa at 11:46 AM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


fellow right-of-centrist

Oh, that's what they have in common.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:46 AM on June 16, 2010


Michelle Balkin = Michelle Bachmann + Vladimir Putin?
posted by DU at 11:47 AM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's actually Michelle Bachmann who said the deal makes BP "chumps" (was Balkin a mutant hybrid of the two Michelles Bachmann and Malkin? -- yikes!).
posted by aught at 11:48 AM on June 16, 2010


BP just cancelled their dividend
posted by pravit at 11:49 AM on June 16, 2010


Michelle Balkin = Michelle Bachmann + Vladimir Putin?

Michelle Bakunin?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:49 AM on June 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, once again we see that the rightwing quickly accuses someone else of what they themselves actually believe and do.

What they really want: Privatize the profit, socialize the risk.
What they call attempts to privatize the risk: redistribution of wealth
posted by DU at 11:49 AM on June 16, 2010 [24 favorites]


Michelle Balkin --> Michelle Bachmann

oopsy. yeah. that's what i meant.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:50 AM on June 16, 2010


pravit: "BP just cancelled their dividend"

And the stock is now down just under 50% from its April peak. About $100,000,000,000 in market value gone.
posted by Perplexity at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Say what you like about her politics, but Belkin makes a hell of a router.
posted by Bromius at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2010 [19 favorites]


FWIW, I think "Balkin" was actually some kind of semi-conscious jumbling up of "Palin" and "Bachmann." They occupy a very similar mental space for me.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, this explains the Balkanization of Minnesota's 6 congressional district, which consists, seemingly, of either lunatic right wingers who will elect a useless madwoman to congress, or prisoners.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I think "Balkin" was actually some kind of semi-conscious jumbling up of "Palin" and "Bachmann." They occupy a very similar mental space for me.

I read it as Michelle Malkin. :)
posted by zarq at 11:54 AM on June 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would like Sarah to explain more about how (Dutch style) dikes will fix the oil spill.
posted by bearwife at 11:55 AM on June 16, 2010


$20 billion? That's it?
posted by stormpooper at 11:56 AM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


The obvious solution is to plug the leak with BP itself.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on June 16, 2010


$20 billion? That's it?

Doesn't include criminal or civil fines and penalties, as I understand it, though that may not be fully clear at this point. This is just $20B for economic damage claims, I believe.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:58 AM on June 16, 2010


Whoa, Palin says accept the help of foreign countries?! Does she want UN Shock Troops taking over?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:58 AM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


there're quite a few BP threads open now; why not extend the chain of causality a few steps back and take a hard look at US oil consumption as a potential root cause of the disaster?
Higher oil prices and growing global demand have pushed energy companies to recover oil in riskier locations, such as the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill has raised questions about expanding drilling and led to calls to reduce the demand for oil.

Reducing US Oil Consumption (CFR)
although...the feeling i get from the CFR article is that no achievable reduction in US oil consumption will reduce the need for offshore oil drilling. or maybe not:
The other perspective: It's time to actually get serious about reducing our oil demand. With a 9% reduction in national daily gasoline consumption, we could eliminate our need for offshore oil. At 22.4 miles per gallon, that's just 4.2 fewer miles of driving, per person, per day.

Oil spill - Here's what you can do to help (BB)
posted by asymptotic at 11:58 AM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


What about Anadarko & Mitsui & Halliburton? Shouldn't their shareholders be responsible as well?
posted by sswiller at 11:59 AM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Accountability" is for women, minorities, and poors, apparently.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:59 AM on June 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


There's still an ongoing criminal investigation, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2010


What about Anadarko & Mitsui & Halliburton? Shouldn't their shareholders be responsible as well?

Rest assured that BP's litigators are working on this.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why exactly am I still hearing Sarah Palin's opinions on politics? She's no longer a national or even a state-level political figure, and, last I heard, she's set to have a reality show on cable. And yet I hear far more about her political opinions than I do Snookie's.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


...Sarah Palin wants to call in the Dutch.


See, there it is. They whine about it, but when they need something they want to call in them socialist.
posted by Some1 at 12:03 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of talk about what BP might allot to this "escrow" fund, but little, if anything, about what will ever get paid out, assuming the fund ever gets set up. ExxonMobil still has not paid out for the damage it caused in Alaska, and the victims have been in court for a couple decades, now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's Michele Bachmann. With one "L" in Michele. And one brain cell in her head.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:05 PM on June 16, 2010


I was cheered to hear Obama's Oval Office speech include:

So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party...

That open-mindedness had such good results when he brought it to health insurance reform.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:06 PM on June 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


I agree. Obama should be more close-minded.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


An open mind is important, but not so open that your brain falls out.
posted by wuwei at 12:10 PM on June 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


You forgot the second part of that, Joe: "as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels."

He did that with health care as well. He'd say, I'm open to serious ideas. And they'd say TORT REFORM. And he's shake his head and say, okay, when you're ready to actually come to me with a serious plan, my door is open.

Complain about Obama all you like, I always enjoy when he does that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:11 PM on June 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


ExxonMobil still has not paid out for the damage it caused in Alaska, and the victims have been in court for a couple decades, now.

Exxon paid real damages of about $500 million. The ongoing fight was over putative damages, which the Supreme Court capped at a value equal to the real damages in a 2008 decision.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:12 PM on June 16, 2010


Punitive, not putative.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2010


Why exactly am I still hearing Sarah Palin's opinions on politics?

Palin is unfortunately quite influential currently among the most energized political group, tea partiers. She is also a potential 2012 nominee, although I will truly believe I live in an alternate universe if that happens.

The thing is, this particular comment is on the level of her claim to know about Putin's plans because Alaska is closer to Russia than most of the U.S. I am hoping that it helps to doom Palin's ambitions.

Here's the link for the video (via Huff Post.) Enjoy.
posted by bearwife at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2010




Palin's "Hey, Obama, why don't you give me a call and I'll tell you how to figure this out" has me thinking she is actually starting to actively campaign against him for the next election. I wouldn't be surprised. Her incompetence is only matched by her ambition, and she still tends to come in second or third in polls or Republicans, even without having done any active campaigning.

God, I hope she does. I honestly think it would destroy the Republican party. She's her very own poison pill.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


What about Anadarko & Mitsui & Halliburton? Shouldn't their shareholders be responsible as well?

Anadarko will likely have some share in liability since they are partners. IANAL, but Halliburton and other involved vendors typically have mutual hold harmless clauses in their contracts that limit their liability to the maximum cost of their services. This is pretty much industry practice in all countries I've worked in. Of course, this won't stop a bunch of lawyers paying for their next house on the back of the litigation that will ensue from this over the next couple of decades.
posted by arcticseal at 12:19 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


If they're willing to drop 20 billion that means the actual costs BP has estimated will be more like a trillion or more.
posted by yeloson at 12:20 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of talk about what BP might allot to this "escrow" fund, but little, if anything, about what will ever get paid out...

BP is currently paying out claims... They've paid out about $70 million to claimants so far.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:20 PM on June 16, 2010


take a hard look at US oil consumption as a potential root cause of the disaster?

Um, what? It is becoming fairly clear that BP took cost cutting measures where ever it could while expediting the schedule. This stuff happens all the time in large companies but the consequences usually don't result in the destruction of an ecosystem. Had BP not tried to shave $40million off this well we'd not be talking about this right now (which is the perverse incentive system, I guarantee you a VP or middle manager would have gotten praises if this had been completed, but they don't share in the liabilities, this is exactly where regulation needs to step in and put some forced constraints).

BP was also overly-optimistic that the early attempts would be successful, and I would not be surprised if it is later revealed they outright lied to try and prevent this from becoming a big event (and I'm talking within the first several days when it was not clear how bad the situation was).

I think Obama has managed a poor PR campaign, but does anyone think Bush or the GOP would have forced BP to open this escrow account? Courts can and will take years to sort this out, but this provides at least some assistance to the people of the gulf who do not have the liquidity to wait for courts to settle this. I mean the last several days have seen BP shaking up the British media to try to paint this as an attack on British culture, brought up the image of old ladies getting smaller pension checks and doing anything they could to try to wiggle out of responsibility ... all the while running an ad campaign saying how committed they were to the spill. Having your cake and eating it too, now BP's learning a thing or two from us Yanks.
posted by geoff. at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like Sarah to explain more about how (Dutch style) dikes will fix the oil spill.

Uh, I think that's pretty obvious. Here, I found some diagrams of Palin's proposed plan. I swear, you liberals always do things the hard way. That woman is a realist.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2010 [10 favorites]




Of course, this won't stop a bunch of lawyers paying for their next house on the back of the litigation that will ensue from this over the next couple of decades.

Indeed.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:26 PM on June 16, 2010


$20 billion. Same as in town.
posted by ericb at 12:27 PM on June 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table? She isn't even an elected official anymore. As to, "she's a potential 2012 nominee", well why don't we throw in T-Paw's, Mitten's and Bobby's opinions on the matter as well? Why not? because Pa;in is the shrillest one of the bunch and we can't ignore an attention-whore can we?

(note: the terms shrill and attention-whore are intended to be non-gender specific)
posted by edgeways at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2010


Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table?

Because Palin is a stupid puppet for corporate interests (Murdoch, et al.) and 47% of the country was already just stupid enough to vote for a stupid puppet. So it is in the interests of those interests to keep her in the media spotlight for 2012.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:37 PM on June 16, 2010


Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table?

Honestly there's a touch of genius in Palin. She's managed to figure out exactly how to say things in just such a way to enrage liberals every time she opens her mouth, and she's learned from observing folks like Limbaugh, Coulter and Malkin (not to mention GWB) that liberals love a good rage-on. This coupled with the fact that, in the current extremely polarized political climate, conservatives will love anyone who pisses off liberals (and vice-versa), means that once she figures out how to hit the liberal-rage sweet-spot she can basically write her own ticket. Now every other one of her Facebook status updates gets written up on dozens of blogs, including pretty big ones like HuffPo and Politico and etc.

Truly, the only way to make her go away is to ignore her.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:38 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Palin] is also a potential 2012 nominee, although I will truly believe I live in an alternate universe if that happens.

Bizarro world.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:41 PM on June 16, 2010


aw, I like to know what Palin's up to. it's the whole, 'keep your friends and your enemies closer' thing. And some people in some parts of the country mind-bogglingly believe she's wonderful, so /shrug
posted by angrycat at 12:41 PM on June 16, 2010


Palin is unfortunately quite influential currently among the most energized political group, tea partiers

It's odd that the most energized political group only ends up resulting in 2% of the public donating money to their organizations, 5% attending any of the group's rallies or meetings, and 7% doing anything (online or in person) to support their cause (source). It's almost as if the whole Tea Party Movement is just an astroturfing operation by rich right-wingers who know how to exploit the media's fixation on conflict.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:42 PM on June 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


geoff. I take exception to your view. BP perfectly mirrors society's desire for cheap, endless petroleum. They are our Avatars, doing our dirty work for us. To suddenly claim they are petroterrorists (my word, not yours but maybe it fits) is to blame the dealer for the market's demands. Destroy the market and the dealer terrorizing the neighborhood will evaporate.

Are you proposing that a well-regulated, well-behaved enough oil company would solve the problem we have?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:46 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know who else is known for dikes?

Bechdel is a Dutch name, right?

Also, the Dutch could help ease our pain with their prostitutes and hashish. I'm sure that's what Caribou Barbie meant.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:53 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you proposing that a well-regulated, well-behaved enough oil company would solve the problem we have?

It might not end out dependence on oil, but it might, just might, prevent oil spills from devastating ecosystems.

Damnit, this isn't about our dependence on oil. To claim it is obfuscates the issue. It's about a company who cut costs in building and maintaining an oil rig, which ultimately failed.
posted by jmd82 at 12:54 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, burnmp3s, I'd be reassured by the tea party's statistical passivity except that they do seem to be turning out and voting -- for nuts. If none of their candidates (e.g. Brown, Paul) won elections, I'd care less about the tea party. As it is, I like to do the liberty preservation thing and maintain eternal vigilance.

I'm wondering why Palin's latest display of sheer idiocy is getting such a pass from the mainstream media, though.
posted by bearwife at 12:56 PM on June 16, 2010


Wait, there's confusion about Michelle Malkin and Michelle Bachman over which one said some ass crazy conservative thing?

How could that have ever happened?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:58 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table? She isn't even an elected official anymore. As to, "she's a potential 2012 nominee", well why don't we throw in T-Paw's, Mitten's and Bobby's opinions on the matter as well? Why not? because Pa;in is the shrillest one of the bunch and we can't ignore an attention-whore can we?

Because fox news is all over her. And look, she makes money for them. People like her. Whether or not a bunch of liberals on the intertubes pay attention to her isn't really going to have much of an impact on her impact.
posted by delmoi at 12:59 PM on June 16, 2010


take a hard look at US oil consumption as a potential root cause of the disaster?

And

Um, what? It is becoming fairly clear that BP took cost cutting measures where ever it could while expediting the schedule.

Two separate problems, but then again, not really. The cause of this disaster is, without question, the short-sighted cost-cutting measures employed in the face of engineers warning them it would be a disaster. Anyone suggesting otherwise isn't particularly well-informed.

But the root cause of the disaster is the fact that we demand so much oil for our consumption, directly and indirectly, thus promoting the kind of cutthroat business practices that occur in our capitalistic society when multiple businesses all complete to sell consumers the same product. Competitive advantage (and thus profits) go to the quick and the clever, and so short-sighted cost-cutting measured abound.

So in the short term, yes, the leak must be plugged, the damage repaired, the people made whole. But in the long term, we would be equally short-sighted if we did not recognize that ultimately the problem is us.
posted by davejay at 12:59 PM on June 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, honestly, why would they care about these people? Why would they care about anyone? They're a huge multinational that isn't even based in the US, though I'm sure they "care" just as little about UK citizens. They're not in the business of caring about people. This blowjob just happened to inadvertently say what he actually meant at a press conference.

That having been said, this seems like a good thing. It doesn't constitute a settlement, so people could still potentially recover money for losses through litigation, though I wonder whether the existence of the fund would or could prejudice damage awards in such a situation.

Maybe this disaster will actually help demonstrate to people the importance of new energy technologies. Just like how the Bush administration masterminded 9/11 to get oil.
posted by clockzero at 12:59 PM on June 16, 2010


Are you proposing that a well-regulated, well-behaved enough oil company would solve the problem we have?

Well, yes. Look at the track record of the US Navy versus the Soviets on nuclear safety. Rickover setup a strict, safety first mentality in the Navy and we've had zero nuclear reactor accidents. Certainly drilling wells (even a mile deep!) at the very least matches the complexity of managing a nuclear fleet.

Certainly it can be done if safety preempts every other consideration in the decision making process.

Of course to do that with a public company you basically need to bully them at all levels, under the threat of fines and further regulation. Clearly that wasn't anywhere close to happening.
posted by geoff. at 12:59 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table?

Because also-rans are always afforded respect and a chance to air their views. Surely you recall how Fox was always interviewing Al Gore and John Kerry to get their input on how George W. Bush was running the country, just like John McCain's constantly been interviewed since President Obama took office.

"I think my job is, of course, to be a part of and hopefully exert some leadership in the loyal opposition. But I emphasize the word loyal." -- Senator McCain, Why McCain Could Break the Presidential-Loser Mold, December 2008.
/pours out 40 for soul of John McCain

posted by kirkaracha at 1:04 PM on June 16, 2010


It might not end out dependence on oil, but it might, just might, prevent oil spills from devastating ecosystems.

Yes good safe design is important and should be regulated to be so. But at the scale of extraction necessary to support our lifestyle I propose it is statistically impossible to avoid accidents.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:06 PM on June 16, 2010


Damnit, this isn't about our dependence on oil. To claim it is obfuscates the issue. It's about a company who cut costs in building and maintaining an oil rig, which ultimately failed.

I take it you didn't listen to Obama's speech where he uses the opportunity to speak to our "oil addiction". I think davejay explained it well. But it's so important I think it bears repeating.

In essence, capitalism motivates a race to the bottom, which leads to aggressive drilling and cost-cutting strategies such as not having in place guaranteed and immediate recovery efforts (a.k.a. a relief well). We the consumers motivate this by consuming fuck tons of oil like we do. The onus is on BP for this disaster, but the onus is also on us for being enablers.
posted by tybeet at 1:08 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I drive by a BP station right next to a Royal Farms where gas is actually 1 cent more expensive at the RoFo, and the BP is just as busy as ever.

I don't understand how there isn't a huge boycott campaign against them.
posted by codacorolla at 1:10 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I meant that gas is 1 cent more expensive at the BP than the RoFo, currently.
posted by codacorolla at 1:10 PM on June 16, 2010


And now I propose to find a new word to replace "propose".
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:12 PM on June 16, 2010


Jesus I want the title of this post on a bumper sticker right now.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how there isn't a huge boycott campaign against them.

Oh, there are boycotts organized, alright. But the end effect may not be what you want.
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd love to boycott BP. But it is really difficult. This article explains some of the problems. As for BP stations, they may be selling a lot less BP product -- in fact, pennies worth only -- than outlets that don't bear the BP name, as this article discusses.
posted by bearwife at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2010


Palin's Palin, but the Dutch really do have some expertise in this area. They've been helping out since late May. They offered that help a month prior.
posted by notyou at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]




Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table?

Because she knows how to exploit rage and bitterness with skill.

Because she is the only remotely exciting face that the GOP has. Who else does the GOP have? Haley Barbour? Mitt Romney? Tim Pawlenty?
posted by blucevalo at 1:22 PM on June 16, 2010


shakespeherian : Truly, the only way to make her go away is to ignore her.

Clearly you haven't seen the schematics for my bullshit-seeking rockets (for all of Fox's pundits) and my zombie revenge-seeking wolves (with anti-helicopter lasers) for Palin in particular.

We're still in the design phase, but I'm hoping to have a working prototype some time in the near future.
posted by quin at 1:23 PM on June 16, 2010


You are right, notyou, and you apparently know more about the subject than Palin, who began her remarks by saying, ""The Dutch and the Norwegians, they are known for dikes . . ."
posted by bearwife at 1:24 PM on June 16, 2010


"Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from. He makes them evil, and what we've got to ask ourselves is: Do we really want to be paying $9 for a gallon of gas? Because that could be the final result of this."--Bachmann

I think that gas prices are pretty much the most complex level of political nuance that a lot of people can understand.
posted by box at 1:27 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]




Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from.

Like how he demonized the Big 3 in Detroit before ... oh wait, he did the exact opposite of that (arsenal of democracy, etc.) and it was in fact largely southern Republicans who demonized domestic auto.

An idiot pandering to idiots, signifying nothing.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:38 PM on June 16, 2010


What kind of fool thinks for a second that a large multinational corporation needs to be reminded not to "be chumps"?
posted by creasy boy at 1:43 PM on June 16, 2010


Palin's "Hey, Obama, why don't you give me a call and I'll tell you how to figure this out" has me thinking she is actually starting to actively campaign against him for the next election. I wouldn't be surprised. Her incompetence is only matched by her ambition, and she still tends to come in second or third in polls or Republicans, even without having done any active campaigning.

Or debating or press conferencing or fact checking, all of which would be done to/with her if she actually ran, which is why she won't. I'm as disillusioned with American media as anyone in these days but even I'm not cynical to actually think you can become President of the United States 140 ghost written characters at a time.

Seriously, not trying to derail, but it's ludicrous to think she's actually going to run for president. She quit halfway through her term to do exactly what she wants to do right now- make shit tons of of money tossing red meat to conservatives who think she'll be their savior in 2012. "Give me a call, Obama" is exactly the Drudge-bait, winger blogger jerkoff-fodder that gets money in her PAC that doesn't actually give money to anyone.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:44 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course to do that with a public company you basically need to bully them at all levels, under the threat of fines and further regulation. Clearly that wasn't anywhere close to happening.

No, that's the thing about this and the Wallstreet meltdown. The scale of the activity and the degree of risk means that any normative regulatory regime is always going to fail in the face of extreme profit/risk.

It's just like any other crime: the US needs to make an example of BP so that the other oil companies know the actual risks of the enterprise. The only thing that would have changed my mind about what is going on is if Obama had announced wide-ranging federal criminal investigations. Personally, ever since (in the very beginning of this) Obama joined in with the "it doesn't matter how much oil is coming out, we are all doing everything we can" MOTD, it's been pretty clear that he wants to continue to position himself as a partner of big business in this disaster (just like the Wall Street disaster.)
posted by ennui.bz at 1:45 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from....

Ah, another gem from Minnesota's 6th District. I thought Jean Schmidt was supposed to be the next rising star for go-to GOP quotemonging, but Michele Bachmann has long since left her in the dust.
posted by blucevalo at 1:48 PM on June 16, 2010


BP Chairman: We Care About The 'Small People'.

The 'small people' ask, 'WTF?'
posted by ericb at 1:50 PM on June 16, 2010


C'mon, bearwife. Pointing out Palin's misstatements isn't very sporting. She followed that bit up with something about water cleanup, afterall.

And besides, Louisiana authorities have been clamoring for the authority to construct dikes ("berms" if you like) to keep the oil at sea for weeks and had contacted several Netherlander firms about getting it done. As of last week, BP has agreed to pay for 45 miles of sand berm.

Obviously, Palin's trying to score some political points. But the Dutch and the dike comments don't show that she's out of touch with reality.
posted by notyou at 1:50 PM on June 16, 2010


Pointing out Palin's misstatements isn't very sporting.

Why not?
posted by blucevalo at 1:53 PM on June 16, 2010


Seriously why are people giving Palin a seat at the table?

Because this isn't about corporate malfeasance poisoning an entire ecosystem, this is Reality TVTM. It's about personalities: Soccer Mom vs. the Tall Serious Black Dude.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:53 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is just $20B for economic damage claims, I believe.

Yep.
"President Barack Obama, after meeting with top BP officials in the White House, stressed that the $20 billion was 'not a cap'on BP's liability."
In his daily briefing this afternoon White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the $20 billion is neither the 'floor' nor the 'ceiling' on BP's liability for the disaster.
posted by ericb at 1:58 PM on June 16, 2010


As a thought excercise, imagine that dike. I don't mean that in as an inane innuendo: A goddamn wall, holding back the ocean a mile deep, Texas to the tip of Florida, 1,200 miles across. You say Palin has no understanding. I say you have no vision.
posted by boo_radley at 1:58 PM on June 16, 2010


For the same reason hunting wolves from helicopters isn't sporting, blucevalo. Too easy to be interesting.
posted by notyou at 2:00 PM on June 16, 2010


Michelle Balkin = Michelle Bachmann + Vladimir Putin?

That doesn't seem to work, intelligence-wise at least; when you superimpose a trough with a peak you get a flatline.
posted by Twang at 2:00 PM on June 16, 2010



Well, yes. Look at the track record of the US Navy versus the Soviets on nuclear safety. Rickover setup a strict, safety first mentality in the Navy and we've had zero nuclear reactor accidents. Certainly drilling wells (even a mile deep!) at the very least matches the complexity of managing a nuclear fleet.

The only problem is that nuclear engineering is probably the best understood engineering field on the planet. Drilling for oil is far more complex then designing nuclear plants. There are very few failure modes in nuclear engineering and largely anyone with a bit of physics experience can understand them. Compare that to oil wells where there are all sorts of failure modes that depend on invisible inputs, and it is likely there are a good deal of failure modes that we don't even know about yet. This isn't to say we don't need more regulation but we are not going to be able to regulate and study away risk in the oil drilling business.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2010


I'm pointing it out, notyou, because Palin asserts she knows all about the subject of oil, drilling, energy, etc. And as usual, what she said suggests she knows virtually nothing. For example, she didn't mention the Dutch expertise with water sweepers, which would have been true, well informed, and pertinent.

I do agree that berming is a topic relevant to the BP spill -- but Palin didn't demonstrate she knows that, and I don't know that the Dutch have offered to help with that or claimed special expertise with it.

Two major reasons I fear Palin and hence keep an eye on her is 1) she is so intellectually lazy and 2) her ambition and willingness to claim knowledge and competence know no bounds.
posted by bearwife at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Damnit, this isn't about our dependence on oil. To claim it is obfuscates the issue. It's about a company who cut costs in building and maintaining an oil rig, which ultimately failed.

A company? You mean like one bad apple? Like BP's some cost-cutting outlier? Like the rest of the industry doesn't cut every corner it can get away with when it comes to oversight and safety?

Just maybe that's true. Maybe BP is uniquely greedy, short-sighted and avaricious. On the other hand, Ed Markey's got a pile of identical "response plans" to show you. . .
Like BP, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years.

Two other plans are such dead ringers for BP's that they list a phone number for the same expert - a man who has been dead since 2005.
Do scroll down to the next chart, which notes that the industry-wide safety and accident response budget is about one one-thousandth of the exploration budget. A fraction of a penny for every dollar spent on searching and drilling. Maybe I'm being unfair, maybe I'm missing something, but none of this would suggest that the balance of the oil industry deserves our confidence and trust any more than BP does.
posted by gompa at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Estimates of the total cost of cleaning up the spill and paying damage claims have run as high as $70 billion. But until the flow of oil can be stopped, the final cost is unknowable."*
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on June 16, 2010


How Much Will BP Really Pay?
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on June 16, 2010


Well, bearwife, here's what the Dutch have to say about their offer of sweepers and dikes.
posted by notyou at 2:11 PM on June 16, 2010


As a thought excercise, imagine that dike. I don't mean that in as an inane innuendo: A goddamn wall, holding back the ocean a mile deep, Texas to the tip of Florida, 1,200 miles across. You say Palin has no understanding. I say you have no vision.

Why stop there? Let's extend overland it from Texas to California, holding back the Mexicans a mile high. Think big!
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 2:16 PM on June 16, 2010


Jones Act. USA Screwed by protectionism ?
posted by adamvasco at 2:21 PM on June 16, 2010


Oh, there are boycotts organized, alright. But the end effect may not be what you want.

Too damned bad. How do we know that claim isn't just more of BP's PR campaign? If it says BP outside the station, that's their lookout. They *could* take the sign down and switch sources.

BP has been a known fuck-up for years. They made their bed, let them sleep in it. Same goes for Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, Wild Bean Cafe and Safeway gas.
posted by Twang at 2:23 PM on June 16, 2010




there're quite a few BP threads open now; why not extend the chain of causality a few steps back and take a hard look at US oil consumption as a potential root cause of the disaster?

That's critical, but right now we need money to cover the damages. The people affected by the spill can't sue themselves.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:25 PM on June 16, 2010


Too damned bad. How do we know that claim isn't just more of BP's PR campaign?

Last night there was an interview with a professor/economist who pointed out what that article points out, primarily that BP-branded stations are franchises and owned by local business people, (2) oil is brokered from various sources and doesn't really mean that the refined product is coming from just BP; it's a mix. The analyst pointed out that in the end a boycott would be hurting the local businessperson -- and, in the end, at this point it's in everyone's best interest for BP to remain financially viable, so as to pay for this mess.
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


*an interview on CNN*
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on June 16, 2010


This is all very depressing.
posted by anniecat at 2:33 PM on June 16, 2010


I wish the President would just shut them both up. I know he could, if he wanted to. Just take them both on. Shut them up. Listening to them makes me feel sick.
posted by anniecat at 2:36 PM on June 16, 2010


Always fun to trash mis-speaking of those we hate, but was she wrong? Apparently the government did reject offers of help from Holland. For technical legal reasons, but still - they did say no. And if it's my beach getting black softballs, I might be a little impatient with those technical legal reasons. Just sayin'.

Since then, BP at least has said yes to Norway and Mexico.

(As to the money - shouldn't it be the insurance companies quaking in their financial boots? Or is BP self insured? Or is there legislation crafted to guarantee that BP takes the hit personally?)
posted by IndigoJones at 2:38 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


shouldn't it be the insurance companies quaking in their financial boots? Or is BP self insured?

I believe BP has insurance, but I could be wrong about that. Not sure if it covers this sort of thing. Anyway, if they do the insurance company very likely has big hedges on their oil service clients, so they don't get wiped out if they have to pay a large claim on a ruined oil rig and the resulting damages.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:45 PM on June 16, 2010


fourcheesemac: "It's Michele Bachmann. With one "L" in Michele. And one brain cell in her head."

To parody The Beatles:

"Michele, Dumb Belle...
Don't love you... don't need to ... don't want you..."

I saw the clip of Palin on O'Reilly on Reddit earlier, and my brain literally hurt. Nausea. Seriously. WTF.
posted by symbioid at 2:49 PM on June 16, 2010


Sorry to be a pest, notyou, but since Palin didn't say, and the linked articles don't say, how are/have the Dutch offered to assist us by using their expertise in dike management?
posted by bearwife at 2:56 PM on June 16, 2010


Gompa
A company? You mean like one bad apple? Like BP's some cost-cutting outlier? Like the rest of the industry doesn't cut every corner it can get away with when it comes to oversight and safety?

Just maybe that's true. Maybe BP is uniquely greedy, short-sighted and avaricious...


Well, anecdotally, over the last months I have heard from almost everyone who's worked with BP in some capacity (generally in joint venture type ops) that they have, at the minimum, a unique corporate culture. Their record -- leaving aside even major disasters like the Texas refinery fire -- puts them in a class apart. For instance, it was recently reported that, over the last few years, BP had accumulated 760 OSHA violations, as compared to everyone's former favorite corporate bogeyman Exxon's 1.

As to the contention that all operators cut every corner they can get away with, I think this is quite off. Having experienced both Exxon and Chevron's safety cultures, far from cutting every corner, my impression is that large amounts of time and money are spent overdesigning, overprotecting and, indeed, padding those corners. So, my impression is that, yes, BP is an outlier amongst the supermajors (no idea how the NOC's or juniors stack up; probably badly). Nevertheless, since its clear that even the best run and managed IOCs are involved in spills, accidents and casualties, it might just be true that oil extraction is intriniscally hazardous. That we can't just adjust practices and engineering. That this sort of thing is the inevitably result of our unquenched thirst for hydrocarbons.
posted by bumpkin at 3:06 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Print-and-play: 'Operation BP: Bullshit Plug'
posted by gman at 3:25 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Evidently, our thirst for hydrocarbons will be quenched, but not quite in the way we had envisioned.

So sad.
posted by effluvia at 3:29 PM on June 16, 2010


BP I dub thee "Oil Can Harry"

.
posted by effluvia at 3:30 PM on June 16, 2010


You bet its redistribution of wealth. From those who caused the harm to those who were harmed. Also known as a tort.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:32 PM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]




Michelle Malkin, Michelle Bachman, and Sarah Palin.

I could weep for that naive young woman I used to be who sincerely believed that more woman in government would only lead to better government.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:30 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


That open-mindedness had such good results when he brought it to health insurance reform.

I know I'd stand up and cheer if it happened, but did you really expect the President of the United States to go on live TV and say "And I welcome suggestions--from liberals only, of course. Conservatives are a bunch of evil cretins who can go fuck themselves. Boo-yah!"
posted by EarBucket at 4:34 PM on June 16, 2010


bumpkin, I'll concede the point about worker safety, since that wasn't what quite what I meant. (And while we're speaking anecdotally, a good friend who's done a ton of contract work for Shell talks often with a mix of awe and mild ridicule about their occupational safety culture, wherein a single cell phone call taken or placed while behind the wheel of any vehicle on the job for Shell warrants an automatic dismissal.)

What I meant was environmental safety, where both empirical and anecdotal evidence gathered from the Niger Delta to the jungle of Bolivia to Fort Chipewayan just up north a piece indicates the standard approach is pretty close to whatever we can get away with.

Anecdotally speaking, I've had numerous hushed, repentant, off-the-record chats with non-BP oil company employees appalled by their employers' behaviour on this front. (One European gent damn near burst into tears recounting what he'd seen during his years working rigs in the Amazon.)

it might just be true that oil extraction is intriniscally hazardous. That we can't just adjust practices and engineering. That this sort of thing is the inevitably result of our unquenched thirst for hydrocarbons.

Absolutely. That's why I advocate bringing the full cost of the fuel to market as fast as possible, so as to price it where it should be and ignite the R&D and investment explosion needed to end the age of fossil fuels in my lifetime (or in the lifetime of my children at the very least).
posted by gompa at 4:34 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think we should adopt Putin's model. Throw the corrupt oil And industrial titans who muddle in politics in jail and nationalize their companies. We cannot let the petrobarrons run the world anymore. We should never have broken up standard oil we should have taken it then and there. It is the only way to get ourselves off of the stuff.
posted by humanfont at 5:09 PM on June 16, 2010


Sorry to contribute to the derail and to Big G this thread, but those who think that they can safely ignore Palin are ignoring other historical trajectories that didn't work out so well for the good guys.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:28 PM on June 16, 2010


From the second link, bearwife:
Mr Visser thinks Dutch experience with water management and dyke construction may have played a role in the change in US attitude. “They evidently realised that the Netherlands has superior equipment that can work quickly and efficiently.”

The US also initially turned down another Dutch proposal. The Dutch knowledge institute Deltares and dredging company Van Oord put forward a plan to build a sand dyke stretching for dozens of kilometres within three weeks. And here too, Washington came round in the end.
Mr Visser is the Dutch consul in Houston, Texas. The source is Radio Netherlands Worldwide, which appears to be the BBC of the Netherlands. Van Oord is a Dutch dredging company. They are the people building all those man-made islands in Dubai.

Dredging and berming have been approved, and are underway, but Van Oord hasn't won a contract. Another Dutch company, Boskalis, has.
posted by notyou at 5:52 PM on June 16, 2010


My guess is she got the dike reference from Consul Visser, whose offer of help was declined. He said (and it's quoted all over the place):

“If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands.'"

Enter Ms Palin. You know how it is. You're on tv, you're psyched up, you've prepared as best you can, you've got a bunch of ideas and images and words jumbled in your mind, some pop out in ways that are less than Churchillian. And let's be fair, this failure to accept the offer of help was not widely publicized, and should have been accepted. We are, after all, talking about letting lose a liquid fart in international water, other countries do have a legitimate interest.

By the way, according to today's WSJ, the president could have could issued a full waiver of the Jones Act. Any lawyers in the audience? Is that true? Certainly it would be in the tradition of Lincoln.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:05 PM on June 16, 2010


Michelle Malkin and Sarah Palin should be forced to live the life of a shrimp boater in Louisiana, for a year, with no prospects for other work. Let's see what tune they sing, then. We're emotional animals, with fear a large, driving force. It's easy to tweak fear; it's profitable too. Ask Palin and Malkin; ask Fox. All those who operate that way - on left or right - just for personal profit, make me sick (and angry) to the core.

America is going to go through a very difficult adaptive phase that will probably take up much of the next 1-2 decades, now that we are no longer the King Kahuna. It's going to be painful and gut wrenching. Who needs media whores like Michelle and Sarah whipping up a frenzy? Call them what they are - profit-taking whores that savor the taste of the emotional frenzy that they stimulate, as they wipe their greasy lips on the sleeve of social cohesion.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:11 PM on June 16, 2010


And let's be fair, this failure to accept the offer of help was not widely publicized, and should have been accepted.

Hindsight is 20/20, but there appears to have been an unwillingness or an inability to recognize the scope of the problem early on, which influenced decisions about the resources needed to contain it.
posted by notyou at 6:23 PM on June 16, 2010


Interesting perspective (and overlooked in all the GRAR!) from a TPM reader:
The 20 billion fund should be viewed as a huge accomplishment for Obama. He had no actual power to compel that aside from moral suasion and the threat of having an unhappy president. Legally, BP could have just waited for the lawsuits and drawn the whole thing out for years. As a lawyer, I find it a unique and mind-boggling accomplishment.

It reminds me a little of something that happened during the Hurrican Rita evacuation. It was going to slowly and endangering the evacuees. Houston Mayor Bill White got on the phone to the Texas Department of Highways. He said, "make all the lanes of I.H. 45 one way north for the first hundred miles from the coast--the southbound traffic can find another route." He had no power to order that. But the officials just complied. He acted like a man in charge.

So, Obama comes along, says "set up a 20 billion fund, have an independent administrator in charge, and start paying damages." He had no power to order that. But BP said, "yes, sir." And it was done.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:37 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, for those illiterates out there. There was a young Danish lad who, just with his thumb, plugged up a massive leak in a dike that was set to destroy the country. Certainly, he could stop an oil leak.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:42 PM on June 16, 2010


quin, notyou: Every time I hear about Palin hunting wolves from a helicopter I hope that her next hunting trip goes as well for her as it did for the Norwegians in The Thing.
posted by MarchHare at 6:47 PM on June 16, 2010


I could weep for that naive young woman I used to be who sincerely believed that more woman in government would only lead to better government.

No, don't give up hope. More women in government will include better women than those you named, and that will result in better government.
posted by lord_wolf at 6:54 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This frightening "worst-case scenario" comment at The Oil Drum is causing a stir right now; I have no relevant ability to judge the science involved but here's a quote:

...the well casings cannot support the weight of the massive system above with out the cement bond to the earth and that bond is being eroded away. When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? ...it won't be too long after that the entire system fails. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov't must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.

All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of "the worst things you can think of" The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out...as I said...all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn't any "cap dome" or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?....is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

It's a race now...a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it's last gasp in a horrific crescendo.

We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates...Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can "get there first"...us or the well.

We can only hope the race against that eventuality is one we can win, but my assessment I am sad to say is that we will not. The system will collapse or fail substantially before we reach the finish line ahead of the well and the worst is yet to come.


At least one later comment offers a significant correction on one point, but again, I'm not sure what that means for the general scenario the first person sketches.
posted by mediareport at 7:22 PM on June 16, 2010


Just adding that the Oil Drum is doing a fantastic, effective job at moderating comments and keeping the signal-to-noise ratio as high as it can given the massive influx of users it's just seen.
posted by mediareport at 7:24 PM on June 16, 2010


As we know (reminder):
Proper Fucking Booming.
posted by ovvl at 7:33 PM on June 16, 2010


A Tepid Plea for Unspecified Change - Post Carbon Institute's response to Obama's speech.
posted by mediareport at 7:34 PM on June 16, 2010


Sorry, corrected Post Carbon Institute link.
posted by mediareport at 7:35 PM on June 16, 2010


Haven't read the comments yet, but is there a reason the NYT refers to President Obama as "President Obama" once in the lead story here, and "Mr. Obama" nine other times?

He is still the President, right?
posted by fyrebelley at 7:38 PM on June 16, 2010


Usually, I would be perfectly happy to read a gut-full of anti-Palin snark, but the stopped clock is right twice a day.

Seeing that the U.S.A. and BP are so fucking brilliant at stopping fucking oil rig spills so far, maybe they should take Palin's advice, and accept more of the assistance offered by the Dutch.
posted by ovvl at 7:39 PM on June 16, 2010


But here’s the kicker: the preliminary terms of Obama’s agreement with BP “would give BP several years to deposit the full amount into the fund so it could better manage cash flow, maintain its financial viability and not scare off investors.”

So BP is allowed to live while the Gulf dies.

The tragedy is that the people on the front lines of this battle don’t need money and resources in a month, or six months, or in “several” years. They need the resources now.

National Wildlife Foundation Flyover - Oil in Marshes
posted by kimyo at 7:51 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Haven't read the comments yet, but is there a reason the NYT refers to President Obama as "President Obama" once in the lead story here, and "Mr. Obama" nine other times?

He is still the President, right?


That is their policy. They refer to pretty much everyone in articles that way.

Also:

June 14, 2010 After delays, U.S. begins to tap foreign aid for gulf oil spill

"In late May, the administration accepted Mexico's offer of two skimmers and 13,779 feet of boom; a Dutch offer of three sets of Koseq sweeping arms, which attach to the sides of ships and gather oil; and eight skimming systems offered by Norway."
posted by girlmightlive at 8:06 PM on June 16, 2010




When contacted by Yahoo! News for comment on these incidents, BP spokesman Mark Proegler told us that "there have been restrictions placed on photography in the wildlife area because we've been told that it could do harm" to the animals.

Yeah, riiiight. The last line of homunculus' "no authority" link nails it:

At any rate, it would be really terrific if some important public official could give a primetime speech on television that included the specific instruction that the media should not...be blocked from covering the story.

I think it's very clear Obama is as much behind the media blackout policy as BP. Does anybody really believe Rahm Emanuel wants people to see close-up photos of dead fish, dolphins, bird, etc? Does anyone really *not* believe the reason we're not seeing those photos is because of the blackout policy? If we had a press corps worth a shit, this "we have no authority" garbage would be laid at Robert Gibbs' feet every time he shows his face. The press needs to be sending camera crews into spill areas and showing the results (i.e., BP "contractors" denying them access) every night until we get regular flights over all areas with a press pool aboard.

Remember (and sorry for repeating this from a recent AskMe thread), there are also accusations that BP is quietly collecting and disposing of dead animal bodies in areas BP and the US government are not allowing media to enter:

With oil undisputedly hitting the beaches and the number of dead wildlife mounting, BP is switching tactics. In Orange Beach, people told me BP wouldn't let them collect carcasses. Instead, the company was raking up carcasses of oiled seabirds. "The heads separate from the bodies," one upset resident told me. "There's no way those birds are going to be autopsied. BP is destroying evidence!"

The body count of affected wildlife is crucial to prove the harm caused by the spill, and also serves as an invaluable tool to evaluate damages to public property - the dolphins, sea turtles, whales, sea birds, fish, and more, that are owned by the American public. Disappeared body counts means disappeared damages - and disappeared liability for BP. BP should not be collecting carcasses. The job should be given to NOAA, a federal agency, and volunteers, as was done during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

NOAA should also be conducting carcass drift studies. Only one percent of the dead sea birds made landfall in the Gulf of Alaska, for example. That means for every one bird that was found, another 99 were carried out to sea by currents. Further, NOAA should be conducting aerial surveys to look for carcasses in the offshore rips where the currents converge. That's where the carcasses will pile up--a fact we learned during the Exxon Valdez spill. Maybe that's another reason for BP's "no camera" policy and the flight restrictions.

posted by mediareport at 8:49 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are some excellent photos of crude moving into marshland past multiple oil booms in kimyo's National Wildlife Foundation Flyover - Oil in Marshes link.
posted by mediareport at 8:53 PM on June 16, 2010


Haven't read the comments yet, but is there a reason the NYT refers to President Obama as "President Obama" once in the lead story here, and "Mr. Obama" nine other times? ... He is still the President, right? ... That is their policy. They refer to pretty much everyone in articles that way.

Yep.
"One rule I would not change is the way The Times refers to presidents, even though it causes a small but steady stream of objections from readers like Russell Kidner of Phoenix, who said The Times should always call President Obama by his title. The newspaper’s style is to introduce 'President Obama' but to allow references thereafter to 'Mr. Obama.' 'Very disrespectful,' Kidner said. A few readers suspect The Times of showing disapproval of the president, but it has been Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Reagan and so on, for a long time."
posted by ericb at 9:00 PM on June 16, 2010


There was a young Danish lad who, just with his thumb, plugged up a massive leak in a dike...

Um, he was actually Dutch.
posted by ericb at 9:08 PM on June 16, 2010


Usually, I would be perfectly happy to read a gut-full of anti-Palin snark, but the stopped clock is right twice a day.

Seeing that the U.S.A. and BP are so fucking brilliant at stopping fucking oil rig spills so far, maybe they should take Palin's advice, and accept more of the assistance offered by the Dutch.


Cool, they can start by building a time machine and going back to four weeks ago when they already did this.

You know what stopped clocks are a lot more than right? Behind.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:21 PM on June 16, 2010


Haven't read the comments yet, but is there a reason the NYT refers to President Obama as "President Obama" once in the lead story here, and "Mr. Obama" nine other times?

The NYT style guide refers to everyone as Mr. or Ms., regardless of who it is. (This was especially delightful when I read a story about the Sex Pistols in the NYT, as I cannot get enough of conservative and austere prose discussing Mr. Rotten and Mr. Vicious.)
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR, of course Palin's being her usual opportunistic jerk self, but it's worth emphasizing that Obama ignored the Dutch offer for weeks during the crucial early period (see notyou's link above to this article, if you haven't already: Dutch consul slams US foot-dragging on oil spill). That delay looks like clear political bungling right now - bungling I'm sure Republicans will be exploiting the hell out of in 2011.
posted by mediareport at 10:21 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]




Haven't read the comments yet, but is there a reason the NYT refers to President Obama as "President Obama" once in the lead story here, and "Mr. Obama" nine other times?

NYT style, as I recall. Title the first time you mention the person, and a generic Mr / Ms every other time, assuming the title isn't military or academic.
posted by the cydonian at 10:57 PM on June 16, 2010


I know I'd stand up and cheer if it happened, but did you really expect the President of the United States to go on live TV and say "And I welcome suggestions--from liberals only, of course. Conservatives are a bunch of evil cretins who can go fuck themselves. Boo-yah!"

Well, we had eight years of this in the reverse direction and this strategy seemed to be very popular for Bush...

There's this weird idea that Americans like conciliatory, agreeable leaders. Haven't you seen any American TV or movies?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:20 PM on June 16, 2010


Seeing past the BP spill:
Leaving aside entirely the fact that this particular spill itself appears to be the result of unethical and possibly criminal leadership within BP, the simple fact is that we continue to use so much oil largely because Big Oil, the car companies, the road-building lobby and sprawl developers have engaged in one of the largest sustained political efforts in history to keep us using as much oil as possible by blocking climate legislation and gas taxes, fighting smart growth laws and new public transportation investments, stalling higher mileage standards in new cars, channeling trillions of dollars into new roads and auto infrastructure, gutting water- and air-quality laws, even (arguably) getting a former oil man (George W.) elected, which resulted in a war for oil and general atmosphere of climate denialism. We burn oil in such astonishing quantities because those who profit from selling and using oil have all but run the American political system for the last ten years, and exerted decades of dominant influence before that.

In that light, our personal behaviors are essentially meaningless, especially if they aren't part of a larger effort to identify ways of changing our cities, transportation, agriculture and energy systems to function much more sustainably. If we want to change our impacts, we need to change our systems, on a scope we almost never talk about, stretching through essentially every aspect of our society.
posted by harriet vane at 4:19 AM on June 17, 2010


I would disagree that our personal behaviors are meaningless. Americans have chosen to buy gas guzzlers for the last thirty years, knowing full well the implications for the environment. Even people who think of themselves as environmentally aware went straight out and bought a black SUV as a fashion statement. Los Angeles is full of morons driving the freeways in SUVs solo and thinking of themselves as enlightened.
posted by effluvia at 5:58 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]




But here’s the kicker: the preliminary terms of Obama’s agreement with BP “would give BP several years to deposit the full amount into the fund so it could better manage cash flow, maintain its financial viability and not scare off investors.”

Actually, the full terms of the agreement have been published now, and the terms aren't nearly as vague as your "several years" language suggests.

In fact, it's a pretty sweet deal. It provides that all criminal and civil fines will be paid separately, and that this agreement doesn't limit BP's liability in any way.

Specifically, the terms are:
Agreement was reached to create a $20bn claims fund over the next three and a half years on the following basis:

BP will initially make payments of $3bn in Q3 of 2010 and $2bn in Q4 of 2010. These will be followed by a payment of $1.25bn per quarter until a total of $20bn has been paid in.
• While the fund is building, BP's commitments will be assured by the setting aside of U.S. assets with a value of $20bn. The intention is that this level of assets will decline as cash contributions are made to the fund.
• The fund will be available to satisfy legitimate claims including natural resource damages and state and local response costs. Fines and penalties will be excluded from the fund and paid separately. Payments from the fund will be made as they are adjudicated, whether by the Independent Claims Facility (ICF) referred to below, or by a court, or as agreed by BP.
• The ICF will be administered by Ken Feinberg. The ICF will adjudicate on all Oil Pollution Act and tort claims excluding all federal and state claims.
• Any money left in the fund once all legitimate claims have been resolved and paid will revert to BP.

The fund does not represent a cap on BP liabilities, but will be available to satisfy legitimate claims. Further and more detailed terms regarding the establishment and operation of the claims fund and the ICF will be finalized and announced as soon as possible.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:54 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gompa:bumpkin, I'll concede the point about worker safety, since that wasn't what quite what I meant ...
What I meant was environmental safety,...


Not sure about BP, but it is my experience that oil companies and contractors don't see a hard line or distinction between the two. For instance, Exxon's ops procedures treat a worker accident or a spill as evidence of the same thing: a breakdown of operational integrity. In the case of the BP Macondo blowout, there are at least three examples of operational breakdown or negligence that I can think of the top of my head (not circulating bottoms-up prior to placing the plug, not running a cement log, ignoring the huge volume increase in the mudtanks that was a giant waving red flag that gas was coming into the well bore), that either directly or indirectly led to the deaths of 11 and the worst acute environmental disaster in the US.

I will grant that there is too high a tolerance for environmental impact (particularly in the midstream and downstream). I would like to see the same kind of far-beyond-the-realm-of-reasonable-and-prudent focus on worker safety applied to environmental management and impact. Its nowhere near there yet, since there's still a culture that remains hostile and defensive when confronted with environmental factors. Indeed, I've noticed a common reaction to the BP disaster (especially among older geos and engineers) is dismay that the human cost (11 deaths) is "downplayed" compared to the environmental impact (which registers only insofar as it impacts human economic activity: the livelihoods of fishermen, etc).

Finally -- and a bit of an aside -- you bring up the impacts of eg. slowly leaking tailings lakes in the Athabasca oil sands. Here I see a big issue in terms of human psychology and media attention in that the spectacular, large impact, but exceedingly rare events (think a terrorist attack or a plane crash) command attention and reaction disproportionate to their actual impact relative to the lower impact but higher frequency or just chronic effects (compare fatalities from personal vehicle use). I was talking with my brother who does advocacy work related to mining work in Latin America. Just like the impact of the oil sands (carbon emissions, air pollution, low level constant water pollution), he's noticed that people tend to worry too much about the large, very infrequent impacts of mining (something like a cyanide heap leach pad getting breached) while not paying enough attention to impacts like acid rock drainage, which can destroy a watershed effectively in perpetuity.

The silver lining, perhaps in all of this, is that big disasters (particularly ones like this which just keep going and going and going) might help just bring people to start paying a bit more attention to even the low level, distant and chronic impacts of things like oil sands mining. Or, at the very least, provide a counter current to the slow dilution of regulatory standards and "simplification" that are justified in terms of economic benefit and removal of that bogeyman "big government".
posted by bumpkin at 6:55 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


House Conservatives Call Escrow Account 'Chicago Style Shakedown': The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative members of the House, released a statement today calling the $20 billion BP escrow account a "Chicago-style political shakedown."
posted by saulgoodman at 7:09 AM on June 17, 2010


There was a young [Dutch] lad who, just with his thumb, plugged up a massive leak in a dike...

Calling all Dutchmen! Is this story known to you? I ask because I know at least one well educated Hollander who had never heard of it.

By the way, a letter in today's Financial Times claims that BP is self insured and has been for twenty years, dating from a time when they were in serious financial trouble and thought it the cheaper way out. Writer notes that this kind insurance also gets you outside risk analysis, which probably would have been a good thing in this case....
posted by IndigoJones at 7:18 AM on June 17, 2010


I think it's very clear Obama is as much behind the media blackout policy as BP. Does anybody really believe Rahm Emanuel wants people to see close-up photos of dead fish, dolphins, bird, etc? Does anyone really *not* believe the reason we're not seeing those photos is because of the blackout policy?

I disagree.

I think local officials, and particularly Republicans like Governor Bobby Jindal in Lousiana have played the biggest role in any attempted media blackout. The administration has already issued a statement clarifying its desire not to impede media access, but there have been numerous reports of local officials--including partisan-warrior Bobby Jindal, who's been using every opportunity he can to try to score political points throughout this crisis--blocking media access, in some cases apparently with the involvement of BP personnel.

I'd point out, the Federal government can't always control the actions of state and local officials. Our government in the US is not monolithic--it has many layers, and each of these layers of government has its own specific domain of authority and not even the Federal government can sidestep that fact.

A lot of people in the Gulf area, especially in the areas whose economies most depend on tourism, don't want too many photos of oily beaches getting out. And local officials in particular may feel they have a duty to look out for their community's economic interests (and perhaps their own business interests) by inhibiting the outward flow of bad news. You see that kind of thing all the time here in Florida, at least.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:23 AM on June 17, 2010


God, I hope she does. I honestly think it would destroy the Republican party.

I keep hearing this, and thinking the people that say it are hopeless romantics.
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:57 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe Barton apologizes to BP for the "shakedown."

I really hope the Republicans keep this up. It'll be hilarious to see them actually lose seats in the fall.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:11 AM on June 17, 2010


The best thing about 'shakedown' being the new Republican talking point is that it makes me think of Beverly Hills Cop II.
posted by box at 8:34 AM on June 17, 2010


House Conservatives Call Escrow Account 'Chicago Style Shakedown': The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative members of the House, released a statement today calling the $20 billion BP escrow account a "Chicago-style political shakedown."

This Kenyan Muslim is too meek and doesn't show any passion and is scaring multi-billion dollar companies into coughing up protection money by acting like the Chicago gangster he is. Do I have that story straight?
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:45 AM on June 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Governor of Mississippi, also a Republican, has this to say about the deal:

Haley Barbour Is Concerned That Escrow Account Will Cut Into BP’s Profits: ‘It Bothers Me’
posted by saulgoodman at 9:01 AM on June 17, 2010


Joe Barton apologizes to BP for the "shakedown."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
"What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a 'tragedy', but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments."
posted by ericb at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2010


Joe Barton has received $1.4 million from the oil and gas industry, including $27,350 from BP.
posted by ericb at 9:30 AM on June 17, 2010


There certainly are restrictions on what information is being released to the media on the Federal government side and from BP. In particular, note that the majority of comments on measurements of mass balance and oil fate are coming from university scientists. This is standard procedure during any spill.

Government scientists (as well as those working for BP) are under strong confidentiality restrictions because of the civil and now criminal investigations that are underway. I'm certain that this limited disclosure of flowrates and sea floor videos. Just as police forensic scientists are not allowed to talk about crime scene evidence, so too the environmental scientists are prohibited from disclosing what is or isn't known about the incident. Most government science is published a couple of years after the court cases conclude.

In fact, what the whitehouse has done is require disclosure of information that would otherwise be held in confidence, as potential evidence. The flowrate TG results and the ROV cams are two examples. The formulation of Corexit is another. That's been a trade secret for more than twenty years.

There's lots of information, particularly montoring data, that has not been disclosed. This will be part of the NRDA claims and part of any criminal prosecution as well. In terms of other spills I've worked, however, the level of disclosure of both govenment data and the data that BP has been required to release has been quite high. They always have to balance what they require with what they need for court and NRDA assessments though.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 9:32 AM on June 17, 2010


For the current election cycle, which includes 2009 and 2010, the top House recipients of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry are:
1. Dan Boren, D-Okla.--$139,700

2. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.--$133,100

3. Chet Edwards, D-Tex.--$123,630

4. Mike Conway, R-Tex.--$116,950

5. Joe Barton, R-Tex.--$100,470
In the Senate, the top recipients are:
1. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.--$286,400

2. David Vitter, R-La.--$242,600

3. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak.--$209,826

4. Robert Bennett, R-Utah--$138,400

5. John Cornyn, R-Tex.--$130,525 *
posted by ericb at 9:35 AM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]




"I'd point out, the Federal government can't always control the actions of state and local officials."

We're back to the endless "Obama is powerless" meme - and yet the President is in fact the most powerful individual in the entire world. Can't you see the paradox here?

Let's take this specific example, where not just police officers but private security guards are threatening reporters exercising their legal rights with violence (because let's call a spade a spade, that's what it is. People are quite free to ask reporters not to take pictures, and reporters are equally free to ignore those requests, unless violence is involved...)

Mr. Obama could fix this in a second. First, a bunch of these videos we've seen are rent-a-cops - people who have no right in the world whatsoever to offer unprovoked violence to any private citizen.

There are numerous Federal crimes being committed. There is literally no reason in the world that Mr. Obama, if he cared to, couldn't call the head of the FBI and say, "Find these people and arrest them." The head of the FBI serves at Mr. Obama's pleasure, he's directly under Mr. Obama's command, 30 seconds on the phone, bang.

But basically the same argument applies entirely to lower-level government individuals. While actually arresting them might be out of the question, having the FBI question them in detail would be just as effective, and would require no commitment at all. The government wouldn't have to accuse or charge them with anything - a day of getting grilled by FBI agents alone would discourage nearly anyone from repeating their illegal actions.

And, you know, just threatening to do these things would almost certainly be completely effective. If Mr. Obama simply mentioned in an interview, "You know, we've seen many cases where police officers or security guards are preventing the media from accurately covering this story, and I can tell you that the FBI is looking into this actively - sunlight is the best disinfectant and America needs a strong media to keep us informed" then, I assure you, the word would go down, "Fuck with a reporter, you might lose your job or go to jail."

This is muscle that Mr. Obama legitimately has and can use. Both sides would respect him if he showed a little teeth.

I just don't get this guy. :-(

When Mr. Clinton was elected, I was under no illusions that he was going to be some sort of Leftist - but he wasn't Bush, and he seemed competent, and so he was.

I knew I had my political differences with Obama. I ended up being very disappointed with how militarist and capitalist he turned out to be, but I wasn't that surprised.

But it doesn't even seem like he's particularly competent. Every time he talks, he seems smart and concerned and says the right things - but he always seems to do the wrong thing.

Let's take disasters. Mr. Clinton campaigned in part based on Bush I's poor response to hurricane Andrew. And Mr. Clinton took this seriously once he was in office; he built up FEMA to be the top such agency in the world; and when a hurricane threatened New Orleans, for example, he diverted the world's two largest mobile pumps, which are independently powered and live on Navy vessels, to its harbor. There is no question in my mind that if Bush II had followed Mr. Clinton's example that we would not have lost New Orleans.

And let's look at the Gulf Spill. Mr. Obama knew that MMS was dysfunctional; he mentioned it in his campaign; he mentioned it after he was elected.

And yet he appointed an oil industry stooge to run it; he ignored multiple complaints by eniment third parties that nothing had changed; Mr. Obama allowed MMS to issue the largest number of Gulf drilling permits ever; and just a few weeks before the spill, he gave a speech in favor of drilling in the Gulf.

This is incompetent.

You can't excuse this with "the President's powerless to act" - because he could have acted at any point.

I refer to a certain class of risky activities as "writing lottery tickets". If I just go into the lottery business and sell lottery tickets for a small chance at a huge jackpot to people and pocket the money then nearly all the time I'll be fine. This encourages me to think I'm getting free money, and then to sell the lottery tickets at far less than their true economic value. But at some point, one of the tickets I've sold wins and then I'm broke.

I whine, "How was I to know that that ticket would win?" but in fact I've sold so many tickets that one of them had to win sooner or later.

Let's work backwards. Giving a speech identifying himself with Gulf drilling was writing a lottery ticket - Mr Obama gets a tiny gain (in his own head anyway) right now, but in the off-chance that there's a disaster this blows up in his face.

Putting a political hack into MMS is writing a lottery ticket. He scores a little with his political friends right now, but there's the off-chance that will come back to bite him. Ignoring complaints is writing a lottery ticket.

And in fact, each step of the way you see Mr. Obama assuming unnecessary and unevaluated risk for the sake of marginal gains - back to mentioning MMS in his campaign, where he's getting a campaign benefit at the time, but is assuming a liability of fixing that problem when he gets in, or if he doesn't fix it and in the off-chance that there's some disaster, he can't say, "I didn't know."

And this goes on through all of his decisions. For example, if there's some terrible disaster in Afghanistan, well, Mr. Obama owns it now.

Let's go to the longest-term lottery ticket, the Bagram/Guantanamo fiasco. Here, Mr. Obama is gambling his position in the history books on the hope that future generations continue to be pro-torture and anti-rule-of law.

I believe it is a surety that he is wrong here. Oh, I think there's a good chance we won't snap out of it and will continue our merry slide to Hell, but simply don't think there will be history books in that case.

But I like to think that we will eventually develop a conscience as a nation again, and start to go back to a rule of law - and in which case, Mr. Obama will go down in history as "one of the torture presidents".

And it's again his desire to go for the assured small payout with the big invisible risk rather than taking the visible risk for the possible large gain.

Imagine if Mr. Obama had done as he implied, come in and said, "We are the good guys again. No more torture, no more camps, everyone gets a trial."

He goes on TV. "In Guantanamo, we thought we had a camp full of bad people - but we did some digging. Lots of these people are here because we simply got the names wrong. In many cases, local officials got bribed to turn in innocent people. There are some real bad guys here - but the last Administration just put a bunch of guilty and innocent people together without bothering to look."

Now, this is some pretty serious work for him - a lot of people will tell him no. A characteristic of Mr. Obama's Administration so far is that he always picks the easiest solution.

Perhaps he might have failed to achieve his goal. I actually think he would have easily been able to do this - most of the voters on both right and left expected him to do this - the Republicans would have howled but they howl at everything, haven't you noticed?

But he could have made the attempt.

This would have been "buying a lottery ticket". Actual lottery tickets always pay off at a rate less than their face value, but in the real world, the expected value of venture opportunities like this are often greater than your investment - it's the "risk/reward" profile, and your rational investor is getting a better return in exchange for their willingness to (rationally) accept risk.

"Selling lottery tickets", whether it's getting into pointless wars or creating derivative securities based on illusionary assets, was a hallmark of the 00s and it's very sad that Mr. Obama appears to have learned nothing from those catastrophic years.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]






Belated thanks to notyou and IndigoJones for all the information Palin didn't provide, and I didn't know about. Having said that, I read with interest the following from the Washington Post article XQUZYPHYR linked to above:

In some cases, the administration rejected offers because they failed to meet U.S. specifications: The private consortium that serves as Norway's spill-response team uses a chemical dispersant that the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved.

In other cases, domestic politics are at play. Dutch authorities have worked in Louisiana since Katrina hit and were among the first to offer to help. After some hesitation, BP has obtained the state-of-the-art Dutch skimmers, two of which are in operation. Meanwhile, a massive sand-dredging operation is moving slowly.

A plan by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) to create sand berms to keep oil from reaching the coastline originally came from the marine contractor Van Oord and the research institute Deltares, both in the Netherlands. BP pledged $360 million for the plan, but U.S. dredging companies -- which have less than one-fifth of the capacity of Dutch dredging firms -- have objected to foreign companies' participation.

Garret Graves, who chairs Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, wrote in an e-mail that state officials "have made it clear to our contractors from the beginning that we want to use American dredges to complete this sand berm as quickly as possible . . . Ultimately, any effort to expedite these berms will be fully considered, but we remain committed to our American companies."

posted by bearwife at 11:00 AM on June 17, 2010


We're back to the endless "Obama is powerless" meme - and yet the President is in fact the most powerful individual in the entire world. Can't you see the paradox here?

No, BS. It's that he has exactly the power he actually has, no more and no less. That's what I'm claiming.

What do you really think the president does have approval authority over every decision made in a county law enforcement agency or in a city council meeting or in a state legislative process?

All I'm saying is you don't do any service to any cause by failing to acknowledge and appreciate the subtle realities of how political power is exercised in the US.

As for the rest of your comment, sorry, but tl;dr.

You've got your preferred understanding of political reality, and I've got mine. Mine is informed by my own firsthand experience of how political processes actually work in reality, after nearly a decade of providing services to state governmental entities. I'm sure you've got personal experiences of your own that conveniently reinforce your own views.

But you'll get nowhere asking me to accept any simplified version of political reality in which a lack of will, negligence or incompetence on the part of would-be political reformers like President Obama are the only factors--or for that matter, even serious factors--conspiring to prevent progressive reforms. No, at every level of government there are manifold interests aligned to actively prevent, undermine and subvert even the slightest efforts to govern according to progressive principles.

And on Guantanamo: Fuck this lazy cynical interpretation of events. I have been paying close attention. The president has tried repeatedly to force congress and the rest of the political establishment to support his efforts to close Guantanamo and at every stumbling block, those who've most vocally claimed to back these kinds of efforts have been the first to gloss over the share of blame belonging to any of the hundreds (or even thousands) of other political actors who wield significant political power, too, actively working to block the president's efforts. Why the hell don't you heap as much scorn on Bloomberg as you do on the president? The president doesn't have any authority to make policy for a sitting city mayor. Is it fair to criticize the administration for not having handled Bloomberg's betrayal more effectively? Maybe, but it's still a goddamn far cry from demonstrating the administration's sole or even primary responsibility for the failure.

Congress passed a law preventing the Gitmo detainees from being tried here, for chrissake. Spend at least a little time excoriating congress, as well as others like Bloomberg and Patterson, for the active and deliberate roles they've played in scuttling the administrations efforts in these areas.

Judging the administration's political failures so harshly while all but ignoring or side-tabling criticism of those political actors whose deliberate efforts directly brought about the bad results just gives those political actors exactly what they were hoping for: cheap, consequence-free political victories. Undermining popular support for anybody who proposes the policies they actively and publicly oppose is exactly what they hope to do when they throw up political roadblocks.

The more an opposition gets to reap political dividends from effectively utilizing obstructive tactics, the more powerful those tactics become, until before long, the Washington consensus becomes that certain policies are too politically risky to support, which makes it much easier for the legislators and other power brokers to withhold needed support or even actively oppose the policies.

We just don't see eye to eye on where the blame is most correctly or effectively placed, especially if the goal is to create the kind of political environment conducive to the kinds of policies I suspect you and I both would like to see pursued.

So there. I answered your tl;dr with one of my own.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


he appointed an oil industry stooge to run it;

You've made this claim a number of times now, and I'm honestly curious who are you talking about, and what's the basis for this characterization?

Do you mean Salazar? He wasn't in charge of MMS. Sure, he's over the Interior generally, to which MMS is subordinate, but the recently-resigned former head of MMS had specifically been brought in to make organizational changes and correct the systemic problems there.

I've still yet to see any argument offered to account for how she could be characterized as an oil industry stooge.

Here's a fact-check link that debunks a lot of these kinds of spurious claims made about Birnbaum.

From that link:

Not only had Ms. Birnbaum not worked anywhere near the oil industry, but that fact was even a point of criticism against her.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2010


In fact, it's a pretty sweet deal.
for bp, yes, this is a very sweet deal.

if the leak stopped today, then $20 billion might just about cover half of the losses.

i wonder if one bad hurricane could wipe out 50% of the florida citrus industry.

fresh squeezed florida oj, now full of sunshine and corexit 9527a.
posted by kimyo at 11:55 AM on June 17, 2010


if the leak stopped today, then $20 billion might just about cover half of the losses.

I think you're misunderstanding the terms of the deal, kimyo.

The $20 Billion in escrow is in addition to any fines and fees BP still has to pay (which could be as much as $4,000+ per barrel of oil spilled if there are criminal penalties), and this deal explicitly doesn't restrict any additional legal liabilities for BP.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:11 PM on June 17, 2010




my understanding of the deal: bp gets to pretend that it is viable for the next 3 years so the british pensioners don't freak out.

the region's economic losses alone (ie: just lost activity) must be $10 - $20 billion per month. (if you disagree, please propose and support a different number)

the nature of this oil is insidious, it is relentless. bp isn't bothering to clean beaches in louisiana because they know they can't. bp isn't bothering to properly fucking boom florida because they know they can't. bp is talking to bankruptcy lawyers because that's what corporations do.

in bankruptcy, we're probably going to find that their $1 trillion in assets has a hollow, enron-esque kind of sound.
posted by kimyo at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2010


the region's economic losses alone (ie: just lost activity) must be $10 - $20 billion per month. (if you disagree, please propose and support a different number)

Where does your number come from?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2010


I mean, just off the top of my head, I could say: BP has paid off about $70 million in claims so far, and has paid 50% of submitted claims, so we can expect the economic losses are about $140 million for every seven week period week period, or about $80 million / month....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:54 PM on June 17, 2010




my understanding of the deal: bp gets to pretend that it is viable for the next 3 years so the british pensioners don't freak out.

Well, no, not necessarily. The deal allows for them to deposit the full 20 billion into the account over the next three years or so, according to a specific deposit schedule. The deal doesn't rule out any additional expenses, and in fact, it requires BP to immediately put up 20 Billion in its American assets as security for the deal. That means that if BP goes bankrupt tomorrow, the government assumes ownership of $20 billion dollars worth of its American company assets. The deal doesn't protect BP in any way and gives us every guarantee we might want. That's what makes it such an accomplishment.

BP acknowledges it never followed blowout preventer law, blames MMS

Nola is reporting BP has already admitted to breaking at least one law in the lead-up to the accident. So there's already at least one largely uncontroversial basis (unless you buy the company's lame 'it was MMS fault for not enforcing' alibi, which has never been recognized as a legitimate defense under any legal theory I've heard of) for imposing the criminal fines of over $4000 a barrel.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:27 PM on June 17, 2010






Chairman: We Care About The 'Small People'.

BP Chairman Cuts Yacht Trip Short
"BP's elusive chairman Henric Svanberg faced public wrath Thursday as he finally abandoned his yachting vacation off the southern coast of Thailand in favor of the oil-soaked shores of the U.S. Gulf coast.

Sometimes called the 'Swedish Richard Branson,' Svanberg dropped in on the biggest environmental disaster in American history on his way back to Europe from Thailand - with his girlfriend, Swedish businesswoman Louise Julian, in tow."
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on June 17, 2010


- with his girlfriend, Swedish businesswoman Louise Julian, in tow.

Girlfriend? You do not want to go there, unh-uh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:47 PM on June 17, 2010


BP acknowledges it never followed blowout preventer law, blames MMS

Geez, I just robbed the bank 'cause no one was guarding it. Can you blame me?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:48 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


BP has paid off about $70 million in claims so far, and has paid 50% of submitted claims, so we can expect the economic losses are about $140 million for every seven week period week period

relying on bp for numbers? also, the first 3-4 weeks saw no oil hit shore, and little in the way of sport/commercial fishing bans.

i started with $2 trillion (reported as the (rough) percentage of annual gdp generated by the gulf coast states). a 10% hit is $16 billion/month. given hotel cancellation rates of 60% i think i'm being quite conservative.

you guys are approaching this as if we've seen the worst. this has barely begun. is the west coast florida booming going to be any more effective than that in louisiana? the east coast booming?
posted by kimyo at 3:25 PM on June 17, 2010




“we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies or greedy companies that don't care, but that is not the case at BP. We care about the small people.”

*attempts to use ‘care’ and $ .50 to purchase cup of coffee*
*fails*

House Conservatives Call Escrow Account 'Chicago Style Shakedown'
Y'know, I like arguing about how NY pizza sucks and Chicago pizza is great and blah blah blah and it's pretty much one of those goofy tongue in cheek sort of things that only assholes get mean spirited about it.
People like this guy love to talk about 'the heartland' when it suits, but hey, there's cheap political points to be had.I'd say it was a Georgia or Louisiana style lynching or something but the asshole's from Michigan.

Can't say I like too much government interference in the private sector. But we're not talking about some local Joe trying to open a paint store and having to grease the local code enforcement guy to get him to pass the right permit or having an overzealous commission worried about some abstract idea about how their commercial corridor should be beautified.

You don't have many individuals or small business owners that can devastate thousands of miles of coastline on accident.

Back in the day the worst the East India company could do was F up people's salt intake. Even then you had Adam Smith talking about shareholder corporations mess up liberties.

Companies as big as BP are empires unto themselves. Policy has to be set to account for and prevent damage to society at large. I'm not an economist and I know (albeit in a cursory manner) what "The Wealth of Nations" was about and the general realities involved.
Are these people that f'ing crazy?
I can't lend their arguments any real weight at all. As generally sympathetic as I am to the conservative idea that stability shouldn't be squandered or scattered to serve the shallow political agendas of whatever the latest trend is (Lysenkoism comes to mind in terms of science, but generally private property confiscation) - there's an absolute reality here that is being ignored.
Which is just as bad as the Stalinists and their collectivism, at least in implication. There haven't been widespread famines. At least yet.
But either way it's the same form of ideological and obviously, self-serving, rhetoric. Different style, sure.
What makes this different - because whether it's Joe Stalin ignoring reality or these stooges ignoring it, it doesn't much matter in how - is the scope.
Stalin & Co could kill people in the multi-millions.

But he was limited by his reach and the technology available.
It's short sighted to think this will be resolved by party advantage in the U.S. Hell, let the Dems win every seat and every office in the country. We'll still have some very substantial systemic flaws and there will still be opposition that drains political will and diverts, blocks or just plain refuses to expend the public resources to protect - the public.

We have to change how people see not only the environmental systems that support them, but also the political and economic systems that are used to manipulate and regulate those natural systems.
Or we die.
Maybe not next year or the next decade, but not in the Stalin - only a few million here and there way where the world just sort of carries on.
Might take some time.
But shit, I didn't have anything better to do planned for the rest of my life anyway.

Joe Barton apologizes to BP for the "shakedown."

Joe Barton was such a sycophant he once apologized to a man just for snorin’!

Barton now takes the lead from Harry Whittington, who apologized to then veep Dick Cheney, when Cheney shot him in the face, as the top bootlicking toady in the U.S.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:32 PM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]






from the link above:


posted by angrycat at 7:33 PM on June 17, 2010


The Loop Current circulates clockwise off the southwestern coast of Florida. About once or twice a year, it pinches off an eddy that either wanders around the gulf before dying out, or eventually reattaches with the main Loop Current.

The unusual thing about the Loop Current this year, Peacock says, is that it was located much more to the south and east than usual when it pinched off its new eddy. Eddies have popped off in this location twice before in recent years, she says. One of those times the eddy wandered to the west, toward Texas, before dissipating. The other time it reattached with the Loop.

Where the new eddy goes will strongly influence exactly where the oil ends up, she says. When it does reach the Atlantic, she notes, the oil will not necessarily wash ashore on beaches in a goopy mess. The oil might stay far out to sea, or be extremely diluted by the time it gets to the Atlantic.

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/06/oil-spill-in-atlantic-by-october/#ixzz0rATrih00


Sp is the takeaway here that there's this sort of random force, the eddy, and whether or not the atlantic coast will be devastated all depends on where the eddy sends the oil? And we don't really know what the eddy is going to do/where it is going to be?
posted by angrycat at 7:39 PM on June 17, 2010










BP Funds Front Group Claiming Oil Spill Jobs Are Better Than ‘Normal’ Ones

To be fair, oil blobs won't point a shotgun at you if you try to count them.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:28 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry for the mishmash, I somehow missed this thread previously.

An algorithmic dog wrote: "There are very few failure modes in nuclear engineering and largely anyone with a bit of physics experience can understand them."

That's not exactly true. There's a lot of chemistry and fluid dynamics involved, along with a bevy of mechanical engineering challenges. You were right in saying it's probably one of the best understood fields around, though. Oil ranks right up there, too. We've been drilling wells a long, long time. They're fundamentally pretty simple. Unfortunately, like many other fundamentally simple tasks, they can be fucked up royally when people don't give the task the attention it demands.

It's sort of like driving (but on a larger scale, obviously). It's fundamentally a pretty easy task for a human to do reasonably well. The price of carelessness can be quite high, even though mild carelessness usually doesn't result in a problem. We get used to the usual monotony and fail to prepare for the unusual circumstances that result in disaster if not prepared for.

mediareport wrote: "Just adding that the Oil Drum is doing a fantastic, effective job at moderating comments and keeping the signal-to-noise ratio as high as it can given the massive influx of users it's just seen."

Yeah, but they don't moderate polite hyperbole that is at least grounded in reality (as in is physically possible, no matter how unlikely), so you see a lot of "could the whole well implode?!!!#@$????", leaving it up to commenters to point out how exceedingly unlikely it is, which at this point most of them have gotten tired of doing. There's a lot of wheat there, but there's also a lot of chaff.

kimyo wrote: "So BP is allowed to live while the Gulf dies."

Do you really want the taxpayer burdened with even more of the cost of cleaning up this mess? That's exactly what we'll get if force BP into bankruptcy.

ericb wrote: " 1. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.--$286,400"

According to opensecrets, Lincoln is actually at $311,750 from oil and gas. If you look more closely, you'll note that it's almost all from Arkansas (or historically Arkansan, in the case of a couple who recently moved to Houston) companies/people. One must also keep in mind that she's raised about $10 million so far since 2005.
posted by wierdo at 8:36 PM on June 18, 2010




Magnitude of Gulf of Mexico oil spill fuels concerns that BP may be bankrupted

BP Finalizing 5-10 Year, $5 Billion Unsecured Bond Offering, 8-10% Yield
    BP better hope this is all the liquidity it will need, as the next bond offering will have to come at 10-15%, the third even wider, etc. By then, of course, there would be no equity value left.
Do you really want the taxpayer burdened with even more of the cost of cleaning up this mess?
it's not about what i want*. bp is facing bankruptcy because they were negligent.

anadarko, one of bp's partners in macando today claimed that they have no liability because bp was 'grossly negligent'. (anadarko also deserves compensation for lost productivity from macando!)

Anadarko blasts BP for 'reckless actions'
    Anadarko, which owns 25% of the Macondo well where the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling, signed a contract saying that it would pay a quarter of the costs associated with the well, unless BP is found guilty of gross negligence.......Estimates have ranged from as low as $11 billion to upwards of $100 billion depending on how much oil is flowing from the well, and whether BP is found guilty of gross negligence in court.
i wish bp could make this right. i wish it could be fixed with money, and that they had enough. the booms aren't working in louisiana, that's why they aren't allowing the press on the beaches, or to fly over at less than 3,000'.

Is The BP Media Blackout Campaign Endorsed By The White House?
    If journalists have concerns, Gibbs said, they can call to report their experiences with a joint information center run by the federal government and BP in Houma, La." (translation needed? that's gibbs saying 'fuck you')
the booms aren't going to work in alabama or mississippi or florida or texas or mexico. not with >4 foot waves. not during hurricane season.

if that wasn't enough, this methane release is getting to be a huge problem (causes anoxia, kills wide swathes of marine life.)
Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast.
    "A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable," said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.
*if it was about what i wanted, i'd never see another picture of a child swimming next to globs of crude and corexit.
posted by kimyo at 2:06 AM on June 19, 2010






Tony Hayward named his yacht Bob. Also, he's going to watch it in a race off the Isle of Wight.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:26 AM on June 19, 2010




Is it just me or are blog posts on this subject getting even more ranty, uninformed, and incoherent than they have been thus far? Or is it just an artifact of what has been selected to be posted here?
posted by wierdo at 11:48 AM on June 19, 2010




BP and the Axis of Evil via The Browser/World in a Window (looks like the content here has surfaced on MeFi previously, but here again in an article from yesterday).
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2010






BP's Downside Is Worse Than You Thought
    BP's stock dividend illustrates the point. If there is truly no threat of bankruptcy, as many analysts assert, then the dividend should not be an issue......
    This issue does not stop at American shores. The dividend creates a different problem in the U.K. If BP does not pay the dividend, BP's shareholders, which include thousands of U.K. pensioners, may quickly exit and dump BP's stock. In any event, changing dividend policy would cause BP's stock to sink.
    The dividend is only the beginning. Many analysts believe the company's equity creates an important support level for BP's stock. Last Friday, BP closed with a market cap of $106 billion against a reported equity of $104 billion; the stock has reached this critical support level.
    Unfortunately BP's equity is not as good as last reported. New calculations place the equity much lower, giving traders a new floor.
Mr. President, can BP arrest Our Journalists?
    Think we can't handle the truth, Mr. President? Think again. What we really can't handle is our own government's complicity in a coverup ordered by a foreign-owned corporation. Let the reporters in, let the photographers in, let Americans see what is happening to our land and waters, sir.
I am working the oil cleanup in Florida. (anonymous redditor)
    No. This is the biggest cluster fuck I've ever seen. I've been to war and worked in numerous foreign countries on major construction projects. I have never seen such incompetence. Never. And that includes the Iraqi Army and IPS. Unfortunately no one is in charge. Obama has abdicated responsibility to BP and BP is shrugging its shoulders.
wdsu barataria bay video - 'it's heartbreaking'

Oil Spill May Cause Methane Poisoning, Completely Wiping Out Life In Parts Of Gulf
    The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill. That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.
    Marine dead zones are caused when bacteria feed on a chemical, become overpopulated, and deplete the region -- permanently -- of oxygen.
plumes = dementors. saying 'massive marine die-off' = saying 'voldemort'. (reducing tonight's ranting to harry potter formulae, in deference to wierdo)
posted by kimyo at 10:33 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oxygen Levels Plummet Off Dauphin Island
    A Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) project funded by the National Science Foundation Rapid Response initiative has documented a dramatic decline in dissolved oxygen near the ocean bottom at both 12 and 25 miles south of Dauphin Island, AL. Dr. Monty Graham, Senior Marine Scientist, DISL, said “Oxygen is dropping out offshore. We got minimum dissolved oxygen values of 1.7 mg/L and the hypoxic layer is about 3 m thick.
    Dissolved oxygen levels below 2 parts per million are considered dangerous for almost everything, plant or animal, that depends on oxygen for normal living. The values reported are less than 20% of normal levels.
    There is growing concern within the scientific community that use of dispersants at depth may have trapped the toxic substances within the Gulf of Mexico where they threaten the existing populations and could pose a long-term issue for the food web upon which we sit at the top.
posted by kimyo at 10:37 AM on June 21, 2010


With $20 Billion Fund, BP Limiting Liability: Feinberg
    “Investors in BP should know that there’s now an alternative to the litigation system in place,” Kenneth Feinberg said in a telephone interview with CNBC Sunday afternoon. “I think that’s a really helpful sign if you’re an investor.”
    Feinberg, who was appointed last week as the independent administrator fund, said that recipients of emergency relief funds, which are being paid out in real time do not sign away their right to sue BP
    But, he said, those people who accept final settlements from the fund, will likely be required to give up their right to sue BP. “You’ll waive your right to sue,” Feinberg said. “That’s only fair.”
    “It’s a way for BP to avoid lawsuits in the end,” Feinberg said. “And it’s a way for a claimant voluntarily to get a check now.
CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) - A man says he found oil inside his oysters while eating at a restaurant located north of Charlotte this weekend.

Coast Guard seizes shrimp from two boats in closed fishing area
posted by kimyo at 1:10 AM on June 22, 2010




Is it just me or are blog posts on this subject getting even more ranty, uninformed, and incoherent than they have been thus far? Or is it just an artifact of what has been selected to be posted here?

weirdo, you've got lots of knowledge/technical experience, don't you? Maybe you could inform which of the blog posts are uninformed?

(not saying this to be snarky at all; I really value the contributions of you and Anon $5 Sockpuppet to the discussion)
posted by angrycat at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2010


THE British government is drawing up contingency plans for a possible collapse of BP. (the australian times)
    Speaking in Toronto at the G20 on June 25, Mr Cameron warned that BP faced potential destruction unless US authorities stepped in to prevent its compensation costs escalating out of control.
posted by kimyo at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2010


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