A DbC Apology

oiled bird I apologize to DbC readers. At the height of the Macondo Prospect blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, I said the following about the idea that President Zerobama would start listening to sanity about energy and ecology. “Nothing,” I then predicted, “could be more threatening to the continuance of corporate capitalism. There will be much hand-wringing, a few monkey trials, and another toughening of the regulations. Then deep-water drilling will resume in full. Nothing else is possible, barring a major social upheaval.”

Mea culpa: There have been neither monkey trials nor major new rules. And the partial pause lasted 15, not 6, months. Until yesterday, when the pre-Horizon Deepwater course was re-adopted:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its proposed five-year plan for offshore oil drilling, which calls for opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

MSNBC reports:

The sales off Alaska, where native groups and environmentalists have objected to drilling, would be the first since 2008. And they would [include the] Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, which Interior officials called a “frontier” for drilling.

In the western and central Gulf,…the proposal puts all unleased acreage up for sale.

By the way, the semi-major social upheaval going on has been essentially silent about energy and ecology.

Today’s Lesson on the “Green Cars” Oxymoron

buick city

Today, we get news of the latest Obama bailout of corporate capitalists. Today, it comes in this form:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has reached a deal on a $773 million environmental trust, the largest of its kind in U.S. history, to clean up dozens of former General Motors sites spread over 14 states, officials said Wednesday.

The funds will target automotive sites containing hazardous waste that were left shuttered by the auto giant’s bankruptcy last year. About half of the 89 sites covered by the trust are in Michigan and others are in Indiana, New York and Ohio.

At GM’s abandoned Massena, New York complex, the pool of PCBs is so deep it has not yet been (and possible could never be) even measured, despite decades of controversy.

One effect of this toxic lake? “[New York] State-conducted studies have found PCBs in the breast milk of nursing Mohawk mothers and in their infants.”

All this and more (dig the name of the bankrupt corporate shell of the “old GM” — Motors Liquidation Company (MLC) — where’d the “General” and the “GM” go, boys?) is interesting in its own sordid Obamian right.

But permit me to enlarge: The more general point is that manufacturing automobiles is inherently energy-, materials-, and toxics-intensive. “Green car” is an oxymoron, whatever motor ones stick in.

Car Materials

Oilmageddon

oilmageddon If you’ve paid attention, you know that, every step of the way, British Petroleum, the commercial media, and the disastrous and fraudulent Obama Administration have been understating the scale of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

So, one natural question is what might they be covering up?  How bad might this all really be?

One knowledgeable person with the handle “dougr” has posted an answer at The Oil Drum:

What is likely to happen now?

Well…none of what is likely to happen is good, in fact…it’s about as bad as it gets. I am convinced the erosion and compromising of the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well, the blow out preventer and surrounding strata holding it all up and together. This is evidenced by the tilt of the blow out preventer and the erosion which has exposed the well head connection. What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. I suspect they will run those supports as cables tied to anchors very soon, if they don’t, they are inviting disaster that much sooner.

Eventually even that will be futile as 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. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.

If the structural situation is what dougr fears and dougr is also right that “Our Gov’t must be well aware too, they just are not telling us,” then Tony Hayward certainly isn’t the only one who deserves the stony lonesome.  Might we see consecutive Dimbot prezzes impeached?

Correction: Hayward Likely a Criminal

guilty tony hayward Yesterday, I called Tony Hayward a mere git.  And, until today, I have been skeptical about calls for criminal charges against BP.  I had seen that as a way to isolate BP and treat it as a mere bad apple, all in an effort to deny that great ecological danger is inherent in deep-water oil drilling and the cars-first transportation schemes that make it necessary.

Well, while that will almost certainly still be the end result, it turns out that Tony Hayward probably is in fact a major corporate criminal, a personage who knowingly exceeded the legally permissible bounds of businesslike destruction-for-money.

Turns out Hayward cashed in a big chunk of his BP stock in late March of this year, and used the proceeds to pay off the mortgage on his mansion in Kent.

The Tory broadsheet that broke this story interjects, of course, that “There is no suggestion that he acted improperly or had prior knowledge that the company was to face the biggest setback in its history.”

Well, ahem, let me suggest exactly that:

Reporting its analysis of internal BP documents it obtained from “a Congressional investigator,” The New York Times said this on May 29:

Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon rig far earlier than those the company described to Congress last week.

On June 22 [of 2009], for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal casing the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP, warned in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.”

The company went ahead with the casing, but only after getting special permission from BP colleagues because it violated the company’s safety policies and design standards. The internal reports do not explain why the company allowed for an exception. BP documents released last week to The Times revealed that company officials knew the casing was the riskier of two options.

And here’s the probable smoking gun:

The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.”

The Times story doesn’t say when “in March” this struggle was on BP’s agenda.

But a criminal prosecutor might find a lead worth exploring there, no?

No wonder old Tony has been acting so squirrely and blurting about “wanting his life back.”  Methinks the git doth protest too much.

Who’d Have Guessed?

Apparently, actual study reveals that “the leak from the broken undersea well [is] substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.”

captain renaultCaptain Renault, he of the automotive surname, is once again shocked, shocked to discover that while the government of the market-worshipping Barack Obama has been basing its estimates solely on the pathetic gesture of looking at satellite photos, British Petroleum, finalist for the now-postponed 2010 Safety Award for Excellence from the U.S. Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service, has been actively blocking scientists’ efforts to look under the water and see what’s there:

BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

“The answer is no to that,” said Daddy to the toddlers, the Emperor to the miscreant peasants who wanted to photograph His Holiness’s Exalted Suit of Clothes.

And what do the photos the peasants took anyway demonstrate?  That the scale of the spill is now somewhere between 5 and 16 NINETEEN times larger than the government and BP admit:

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

Par, absolute par for the course.

The Free Market in Action

oil waves

Now questions are sure to be raised about a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas.

Will this be Obama’s Katrina? Should the federal and state governments have done more, and earlier? Did they learn the lessons of the devastating hurricane?

CBS News

Golly, I wonder…

We believe in capitalism; we believe in people getting rich.” — Barack Obama

ROFLMAO.  The lessons at hand are of no interest to Zerobama and everybody else in our bought and sold, election-by-dollars political system.

Cars Driving Climate Change

smog NASA researchers confirm that automobiles are the planet’s #1 source of emissions of substances suspected of causing anthropogenic global warming:

In a paper published online on Feb. 3 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Unger and colleagues described how they used a climate model to estimate the impact of 13 sectors of the economy from 2000 to 2100. They based their calculations on real-world inventories of emissions collected by scientists around the world, and they assumed that those emissions would stay relatively constant in the future.

In their analysis, motor vehicles emerged as the greatest contributor to atmospheric warming now and in the near term. Cars, buses, and trucks release pollutants and greenhouse gases that promote warming, while emitting few aerosols that counteract it.

The NASA scientists say, correctly, that conventional reports on climate change focus on chemicals, rather than the sources of the chemicals in actual economic sectors. Only by focusing on the latter, they argue, can we “identify effective opportunities for rapid mitigation of anthropogenic radiative forcing.”

So, if cars are the #1 source of anthropogenic global warming, what do you imagine might be the #1 policy requirement for rapid mitigation of the problem? Rather obvious, but utterly unmentionable…