offshore drilling

The Ticking Time Bombs In The Gulf of Mexico

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49 weeks have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in millions of barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf, and yet the same fatal flaws that doomed that rig are still present in most offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The reason that BP’s Macondo well managed to leak oil into the Gulf was because the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig malfunctioned, meaning that the preventer could not blow up and seal off the well. But the Deepwater Horizon is not the only rig that contained a malfunctioning blowout preventer. According to new reports, blowout preventers on rigs throughout the Gulf have not been properly inspected or maintained, meaning that another rig explosion could result in more oil in the Gulf.

Experts Blame BP For Ignoring Warning Signs That Led To Gulf Disaster

An independent panel of technical experts released its interim report today, finding that BP and its contractors ignored clear warning signs foretelling the disaster at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.  The report, compiled by a scientific committee of the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, criticized BP for an “insufficient consideration of risk” in light of “several indications of potential hazard.”

Convened at the behest of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the committee was instructed to carry out an independent and science-based investigation into the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion which killed 11 workers on April 20, 2010.

The experts note that BP and the other companies failed to learn from “near misses” in the past, and none of the companies or regulators flagged the flawed decisions that contributed to the well blowout.

While the U.S. government continues to allow offshore oil and gas operations following a brief deepwater drilling moratorium, the facts uncovered in independent analyses of the BP blowout point to a systemic industry problem with carelessness and a disregard for safety.  It seems cost-shaving and profit potential are the industry’s key concerns, not the safety of America’s ecologically sensitive coastal environments, and certainly not the safety of workers and affected communities.

Wetlands Front Group Funded By Big Oil Wants To Ensure Taxpayers Foot The Bill For BP's Gulf Destruction

UPDATE: Sandra Bullock has issued a statement through her publicist saying that,

“Ms. Bullock was originally contacted through her attorney to be a part of the PSA in order to promote awareness of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At no time was she made aware that any organization, oil company or otherwise had influence over Women of the Storm or its message. We have immediately asked for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined. Her commitment to the Gulf region has been apparent for many years and she will continue to pursue opportunities that will bring awareness and support to the plight of the Gulf region.”

A group of oil companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chevron and other polluters are using a front group called “America’s WETLAND Foundation” and a Louisiana women’s group called Women of the Storm to spread the message that U.S. taxpayers should pay for the damage caused by BP to Gulf Coast wetlands, and that the reckless offshore oil industry should continue drilling for the “wholesale sustainability” of the region.

Using the age-old PR trick of featuring celebrity messengers to attract public attention, America’s Wetland Foundation is spreading a petition accompanied by a video starring Sandra Bullock, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Emeril Lagassi, John Goodman, Harry Shearer, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and others.

The video urges petition signers to “Be The One” to demand the government devise and fully fund a plan to restore the Gulf. There is no mention that BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron, or any other oil industry player “be the one” to pay for the damage done to the Gulf. Why call on the government to once again foot the bill for this dirty industry’s reckless behavior?

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Former Friend of Climate Legislation, Now Foe, and Acting Denier-ish

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has told reporters that he will vote against the climate bill that he helped to craft along with remaining co-sponsors Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).  According to CongressDaily (sub. req’d), Graham says he doesn’t like “new changes [to the bill] that further restrict offshore oil and gas drilling and the bill’s impact on the transportation sector.”

As David Roberts at Grist writes:
“Yes, you read that right: He says he’s bailing from the bill because, in the wake of one of the greatest offshore oil drilling disasters of all time, a bill devoted to reducing climate pollution does not expand offshore oil drilling enough. Such is the Bizarro World of the U.S. Senate.”

Graham previously yanked his name off the bill out of anger surrounding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) decision to prioritize immigration reform over climate and energy.  While some still hoped that Graham would suck it up and vote for whatever eventually became of the bill he helped create, he dashed all hopes of that happening today.

Offshore Drilling Industry Has Its Own 'Conservation Organization'

One surefire way for conservation groups not to criticize the largest offshore drilling company in the world in the wake of a huge spill is for that company to sponsor and support its own conservation organization.

In this 2005 image, GMF President John LaRue accepts a check from BP’s Hugh Depland (left) at a recent reception.

Unfortunately, the deep connections between the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and Transocean Limited, (owners of the disastrous Deepwater Horizon rig) were omitted by the New York Times this week, which wrote a surprisingly positive front-page story about how the drilling disaster ‘wasn’t that bad’.  NYTimes reporters Tom Zeller Jr. and John M. Broder spend the first half of the article on quotes from Edward Overton of LSU and Quenton Dokken of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation.

Newt Gingrich’s “Solutions” for America’s Energy Woes: Drill, Baby, Drill!

If anybody deserves credit for almost single-handedly revitalizing the once defunct movement for offshore oil drilling, it’s former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

After spending a few years wandering the political desert, salvaging his tarnished reputation and peddling his views on various conservative outlets, Gingrich made a political comeback of sorts when he founded American Solutions for Winning the Future, a supposedly non-partisan (or, in his words, “tri-partisan”) 527 group, in late 2007.

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