On July 4, I wrote:
From deliberately underestimating the volume oil and gas unleashed by the explosion of their Macondo well, to their deployment of a toxic dispersant COREXIT to aid in that task, to refusing reporters access to air, sea, and land to document the effects on wildlife, plant life, and human cleanup workers, BP has mounted a determined campaign to deceive.
Given the arrogance and power of modern transnational corporations, whose raison d’etre is profit at any cost, that amounts to nothing more or less than business as usual. But what may come as a surprise to the vast majority of US citizens, uninformed to just what extent corporatism has insinuated itself into the very fabric of their government, is the extent to which the Obama Administration has aided and abetted these corporate terrorists, with its chief agent, Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, taking point.
At which point I cited four different independent sources as substantiation, and then appended this comment by Glenzilla:
The very idea that government officials are acting as agents of BP (of all companies) in what clearly seem to be unconstitutional acts to intimidate and impede the media is infuriating. Obviously, the U.S. Government and BP share the same interest — preventing the public from knowing the magnitude of the spill and the inadequacy of the clean-up efforts — but this creepy police state behavior is intolerable.
Since then, the Macondo well has been capped from above via the so-called “static kill” procedure, which stopped the flow of oil from the broken riser pipe preparatory to a “final” shut down via one or two relief wells (delayed until sometime after Labor Day). This resulted in the Obama Administration’s much ballyhooed declaration a month later that some 75% of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of leaked oil had been skimmed, burned, or naturally degraded.
Hosannas rang throughout the land. The Obama family (sans Malia) made a highly publicized trip to Florida, eating yummy seafood and frolicking in the pristine Gulf waters. All that was missing was a Mission Accomplished banner hanging from the deck of a brightly festooned oil rig. The M$M lost interest, shifting their coverage to more important issues, like the manufactured controversy over the proposed Park 51 Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan.
Before we consider the present status of the Gulf ecosystem, however, first let’s get a sense of just how we are being played by BP, starting with the First Family’s brief visit. First, there was the highly symbolic swim by the Pres and his daughter Sasha. It supposedly took place in the Gulf off the bright white sands of Panama City Beach. But according to the AP:
The president’s swim happened out of sight of the news media. The White House released an official photo, but The Associated Press does not publish such handout images. According to the White House, the Obamas swam off Alligator Point, which is in Saint Andrews Bay, not the Gulf.
And as Alexander Higgins noted:
Saint Andrews Bay has been part of a water shed quality management plan for many years. First response status was given to the bay in event of a “spill”. Ongoing water quality testing is part of the project. Tributaries to the bay and polluters have been identified and corrective action in works or already done. Swimming there is probably safer than swimming in your tap water. It was a no-brainer choice for a photo opportunity to sell a pseudo-safe gulf to the public.
Why was the media kept in the dark about the dramatic swim, part of a highly orchestrated 27 hour PR blitz designed to signal to the world that the Gulf waters are safe and open for business? Supposedly because of the media hoopla that followed a photo of the shirtless President during a vacation in Hawaii last year! Yeah, right. Why does that remind me of the scene from Jaws where the Mayor of Amity announces the death of the Great White and that its beaches were open for business?
Methinks the government has been got caught with its swimming trunks down. HuffPo’s Dan Froomkin cites a number of independent scientific studies that blows apart the official narrative that has handed to us by the BP/White House duopoly:
One group organized by the Georgia Sea Grant this week calculated that 70 to 79 percent of the oil remains underwater, and concluded that “the media interpretation of the report’s findings has been largely inaccurate and misleading.”
Scientists from the University of South Florida have found oil deep on the Gulf seafloor that they say may be more toxic to marine microorganisms than previously believed.
And in a major, peer-reviewed article in Science magazine, scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Thursday described their discovery in June of a plume of hydrocarbons that is at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. That’s about the size of Manhattan.
Furthermore, the scientists found that contrary to the NOAA report, the oil was not “biodegrading quickly”– at least not at that depth.
Images taken during the descent of an underwater vehicle show oil droplets appearing at a depth of 1065-1300m.
Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images
None of which has escaped the notice of the House Energy Committee chaired by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MASS), as further reported by Mr. Froomkin:
Two congressmen on Thursday questioned why the Obama administration made a major announcement about what happened to the oil in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month without the science to back it up .
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey demanded that NOAA surrender the data and algorithms behind its increasingly controversial estimate, so that independent scientists could assess the credibility of its conclusion that the vast majority of the oil BP spilled in the Gulf is gone,
At a subcommittee hearing he chaired, Markey said the report was premature, has led to false confidence, and could be flat wrong…
Bill Lehr, a senior scientist at NOAA and one of the lead authors of the report, continued to defend its findings in his testimony at Markey’s congressional hearing. But Lehr also made clear that the report — called an “oil budget” — was put together in a hurry and that its purpose was to inform the emergency response, not the general public.
As a result, it focused on oil that could still potentially be recovered, he said, and it also had not yet been thoroughly documented or reviewed.
On Wednesday, Lehr held a conference call with congressional investigators. Contradictory reports have emerged about what exactly he said.
According to two congressional sources who were on the call, Lehr said the decision to release the oil budget to the media was made by the White House — not by administration scientists. Lehr reportedly also said that scientists had concerns about it being released.
But two other congressional sources who were on the call, and who also talked to the Huffington Post, said they did not recall Lehr making any such statements.
At Thursday’s hearing, Lehr didn’t specifically address who decided to make the report public. He refused to answer reporters’ questions as he left the hearing room. And NOAA public affairs officials declined to make him available afterwards.
Why so shy, Mr. Lehr? Is it because those pesky independent scientists are inclined to question authority? From The Guardian:
That report was not science,” said Ian MacDonald, an ocean scientist at Florida State University who has studied the Gulf for 30 years. He accused the White House of making “sweeping and largely unsupported” claims that three-quarters of the oil in the Gulf was gone.
“I believe this report is misleading,” he said. “The imprint will be there in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of my life. It is not gone and it will not go away quickly.”
MacDonald went on to warn of a tipping point from which the wildlife and ecosystem in the Gulf could not recover.
One of George W. Bush‘s enduring legacies is how he and his FEMA Director, “Hecka Of A Job Brownie,” totally mis-handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But that could pale in comparison to how history will treat the Obama Administration for its handling of the death of the one’s world’s richest ecosystems if the worst fears of independent scientists come to pass.
Oh, and as for that yummy seafood? Stephen Colbert asks Tulane University Professor Michael Blum about that, and about the likelihood of a speedy Gulf recovery, noting that “Miracles happen.”
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|All’s Well That Ends Oil Well – Michael Blum|