Disperse This


The Obama administration is being consumed by the Gulf Oil Disaster.

A new story in Rolling Stone reports that at the beginning of the gusher, when the government was publicly announcing a 1,000 barrel a day problem, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration was already aware that it was much bigger.

Hours after BP’s rig sank on April 22nd, a white board in NOAA’s “war room” in Seattle displays the administration’s initial, worst-case estimate of the spill — 64,000 to 110,000 barrels a day.

The magazine reports that despite warning signs going back to the Clinton years, the Obama administration ignored the dangers of deep water drilling.

Even though he had scrapped the Bush plan, Salazar put 53 million offshore acres up for lease in the Gulf in his first year alone – an all-time high.

Nearly two months after the April 20 blowout, meanwhile, the government has finally figured out how much oil was spewing before the partial capping last week.

The new calculation suggested that an amount of oil equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could have been flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days. This assessment, based on measurements taken before BP cut the riser pipe of the leaking well on June 3 to cap some of the flow, showed that approximately 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil could have been gushing into the Gulf each day. That is far above the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.

Although some believe the flow of oil may actually have increased as a result of the capping. And finally, the president has decided to meet with the management of BP.

President Barack Obama and senior administration officials will meet BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg next Wednesday, the White House announced on Thursday.

People ask what more competent political leadership might have offered when it is BP that has the technological and practical knowledge to deal with the mess. Consider the choice of whether to use dispersants, and which ones to use.

A mysterious “disease” has caused widespread damage to plants from weeds to farmed organic and conventionally grown crops. There is very strong suspicion that ocean winds have blown Corexit aerosol plumes or droplets and that dispersants have caused the unexplained widespread damage or “disease”.

Also, a more engaged White House would have been in a position to make a better calculation regarding just how badly we were being spun by BP.

From the beginning of the disaster, BP has provided estimates that were vastly lower than reality.

And there’s anger in Britain over the president’s attacks on BP, which plays a vital role in the retirement plans there.

BP’s share price, even after recovering some ground in New York trading on Thursday, has fallen more than 40 percent since the environmental catastrophe in April, and some analysts say the crisis could lead to the takeover or even the bankruptcy of one of Britain’s most valuable and iconic companies.

All in all, a big mess for the White House, which erred by treating the BP tragedy as a political matter, not a policy crisis.

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