As I was doing my morning sweep of the news yesterday I ran across several articles that once again distilled the extent to which Louisiana’s citizens have been let down by both their elected officials and at times the local media, which is peddling a message that is not playing outside of Louisiana.
Now that it appears that BP’s Macondo blowout has been killed once and for all national media outlets are beginning to reassess the events and ask some harder questions including at the Whitehouse. I personally think this second looksie will not treat the politicians kindly.
Let’s begin by spotlighting Louisiana’s own Mary Landrieu, who bashes BP in public while continuing to push for limiting the liability of the oil industry when they pollute. Bruce Alpert has the skinny for the Times Picayune:
But it’s clear that Reid also had problems with some Democrats, including Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.
She raised issues with the Reid bill’s unlimited cap on oil company liability for future spills, a proposal she said could prevent small and mid-size companies from competing for off-shore drilling permits.
I want a liability shield too Mary. Wait, I’m just a small business schmuck that has to buy insurance to cover the business risk I face so I’m sorry for asking. I wonder if Mary belongs to Women of the Oil? (Hat Tip Editilla) One thing is for sure, Landrieu’s service to the oil industry is exceeded only by fellow Senator David Vitter who also pushed to limit BP’s liability for the spill.
Next up the Times Picayune’s David Hammer who wrote an interesting story for yesterday’s paper. Even as the local coastal ecosystems were being destroyed the T-P editorially was against any timeout from drilling. With that in mind let’s take a peeksie at Hammer’s story:
In the wake of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, stark battle lines were drawn, with both sides taking up simplistic talking points to hijack the complex debate about the future of deepwater oil drilling.
Supporters of President Barack Obama’s six-month drilling moratorium were generally shocked to find out that most residents of coastal Louisiana — the people most devastated by BP’s disastrous handling of an exploration well 50 miles from Venice — appeared more angry at Obama for shuttering rigs than they were at BP.
I don’t know what Hammer is generally talking about because it is no secret Obama was roundly hated in the south before the spill and I wasn’t shocked. Slabbed however has done reams of posts on the spill trying to educate the public on why a deep water moratorium was needed as we continue:
The rigs haven’t left the Gulf en masse, as initially predicted by the International Association of Drilling Contractors. Industry insiders and local political leaders such as U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, are still worried, however, citing a report in the Houston Chronicle that oil-field services company Baker Hughes would move 300 Gulf Coast employees overseas in reaction to the moratorium.
But no mass layoffs have been announced by rig operators or their contractors. And a year ago, without a moratorium, Baker Hughes and other offshore energy companies did let thousands of employees go because of simple market forces, such as falling oil prices.
It also now seems the anti-drilling drumbeat in the initial weeks after the accident didn’t take deep root in the rest of the country: A Bloomberg poll last month showed overwhelming opposition to the moratorium nationwide, and there are emerging signs the administration could be willing to relax the ban before the six months are up.
The only problem here is that Blooomberg poll Hammer cites in his story did not address the moratorium in its questions, a fact that both the Bloomberg reporter which wrote the story and Hammer evidently both missed (along with the WaPo story which debunked same). An ABC poll which did ask a specific question on the topic did show the majority of respondents were in favor of the drilling timeout and for good reason IMHO. Normally the local press gets a local story right but Hammer gets an F for that poorly researched story.
Finally my favorite link is from yesterday’s T-P Op Ed page and their editorial calling for yet more gold mining in BP’s deep pockets so it is there we stop next.
…..how soon those families regain their economic footing depends greatly on when the nation regains its confidence that Gulf seafood is safe.
That’s why BP needs to stop paying lip service to how it wants to help fishers recover. Instead, the company should finance the seafood testing and certification program Louisiana officials and business leaders are proposing.
Gov. Bobby Jindal first asked BP to pay for a $457 million, 20-year testing program seven weeks ago. The plan called for extensive sampling of seafood and a long-term campaign to educate consumers on the program and reassert Louisiana’s brand.
BP has not even responded to the request.
Considering that Jindal just pissed away over $300 million of BP’s petro dollars on those useless sand berms one can certainly understand BP’s reluctance to reply, especially since they are now gearing up for coming the litigation on the spill. I wonder how the editorial board at the T-P justifies their promotion of Jindal repeatedly shaking down BP with their unqualified support of Women of the Oil? Give me a break.
Still the editorial brings up a good point in the safety of eating gulf seafood, a food group I well know and unconditionally love. We need testing, lots of it in fact. But should we be promoting local Gulf Seafood when the vast majority of the local populace won’t eat it? We don’t eat it right now for good reason too. WLOX well reports the reason why:
Some Hancock County crabbers say their recent catch may be contaminated by oil. Monday, they pulled up dozens of crabs. When they cracked their shells, they found a shocking sight, they can’t explain. The gills were tainted black.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Scott Tartavoulle. “There is oil on the bottom out there. The crab is a bottom feeder.”
Tartavoulle said he and his friend pulled six crab traps out of the water just north of the Bay St. Louis Bridge, and all the crabs looked the same.
“We think DMR should do a significant amount of testing.”
The Department of Environmental Quality has been testing, and though Mississippi waters are now open to fin fishing and shrimping, catching crabs and oysters remains off limits.
Tartavoulle knows that, but doesn’t understand it.
“How can one species of shellfish be safe and the other one not? What’s the answer to that? Has a biologist looked at it?” Tartavoulle asked.
How indeed Scott?
Speaking of oysters did Bobby Jindal destroy Louisiana oyster reefs in order to save them? You betcha he did as the national media tackled this subject a few weeks back. (H/T Russell). Let’s go green and visit with the New York Times Green Blog:
In late April, just days into what has turned out to be the largest oil spill in American history, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, with the support of local parish officials, ordered the opening of giant valves on the Mississippi River, releasing torrents of freshwater that they hoped would push oil back out to sea.
Now, reports indicate that the freshwater diversions have had a catastrophic impact on southeastern Louisiana’s oyster beds that is far in excess of the damage done by oil from the spill.
The Associated Press broke the story of the oyster deaths last week, and local news outlets along the coast are following it as well. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal chimed in with its own in-depth report.
Oysters require saltwater to live, and major infusions of freshwater can quickly kill them. Once dead, the beds can take two to five years to become commercially viable again……
Heavy damage to the oyster beds from the freshwater diversions could prove embarrassing to the Jindal administration, which already finds itself under scrutiny for its ambitious plans to build large sand and rock structures along the coast to block the oil. Both the sand and rock barriers drew criticism from scientists and federal officials that they would have negative environmental consequences that outweighed their potential benefit in stemming the flow of oil.
Such criticisms doomed a plan by the governor to build rock dikes across tidal inlets leading into Barataria Bay but did not stand in the way of the construction of large sand barriers, a project that is still under way in the gulf.
The Jindal administration may already be preparing to deflect criticism over the oyster deaths.
In its article, The Wall Street Journal quotes an unnamed spokesman with the state’s coastal protection authority saying that “rain and the natural flow of the river” were also factors in the decrease in salinity. Attributing specific numbers of oyster deaths to the freshwater diversions would be “difficult,” the spokesman said.
Yet oyster fisheries in nearby Mississippi appear to have been unscathed. “We are finding no major mortalities,” an official with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources recently told The A.P.
In statements to The A.P. and The Journal, Garrett Graves, chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and a lead official in the state’s oil spill response, indicated that BP would be held responsible for the damage to the oyster beds caused by the freshwater releases.
I wonder under what legal theory Graves uses to justify his assertion that BP will pay for Jindal’s massive fuck ups? Our readers may remember one of our criticisms of Jiundal’s sand berm boondoggle is that BP will use it to muddy the waters on what damage the oil did to the ecosystem. Unlike the State of Louisiana which excluded coastal scientists, BP has scientists all over them sand berms and I guarantee the verdict will not reflect well on Boy Bobby who has a penchant for politicizing science.
Speaking of coastal scientists Russell sent me a link this morning to his favorite local paper the Raleigh News and Observer that illustrates the point and it is there with reporter Eric Ferreri we conclude:
As he cares for oil-slicked sea turtles fished out of the Gulf of Mexico this week, N.C. State University veterinarian Craig Harms will take the usual blood, tissue and oil samples.
But he won’t be able to analyze them anytime soon.
Harms is temporarily part of a four-member NCSU oil spill recovery team funded by a grant from BP, the oil company responsible for the giant spill. And BP has made clear that Harms can’t analyze the research materials at this point because they may be relevant during legal proceedings.
“We’ve collected some valuable samples, but everything we collect is considered evidence. So we don’t have the usual academic freedom. We feel a bit stifled,” said Harms, speaking this week from Gulfport, Miss. He is on his second trip to the Gulf Coast since the April 20 oil spill.
Harms’ relationship with BP illustrates the ethical dilemma facing scientists with expertise in areas of the environment, animal care, the sciences and even public policy who have headed to the Gulf this summer.
Generally, scientists are free to publish the findings of their research. But the oil spill, a sort of privately owned natural disaster, is unusual enough that the rules are being rewritten on the fly.
How many different ways has the public been sold out by pols like Bobby Jindal on the oil spill? Slabbed counts the ways and unfortunately the snookering is complete IMHO.