If the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina failed to top the barriers that were built to protect the City of New Orleans, chances are you would not even remember much about the Category 5 storm that actually missed making a direct hit on “NOLA”.
But the storm surge did take out New Orleans and with it went, fairly or unfairly, any remaining public confidence in the administration of George W. Bush.
Today another disaster in the Gulf–this one entering its second month—may be going through its own “storm surge” event, that being the very late admission coming slowly from BP and your federal government that this oil spill may be 12 times larger than they’ve admitted.
Yes, team BP/Obama is getting much closer to admitting a spill of 70,000 barrels per day; not the 5,000 figure they both got away with using for almost a month.
What they said for a month was that BP could not be bothered by making and sharing an estimate on how much oil is coming out of this hole in the ocean. Washington’s tag-team of figureheads on disaster duty all basically have said federal agencies do not have that expertise.
BP’s prosperity is due to its ability to tell how much oil emerges from holes around the world. The federal government’s scientific and technical expertise also runs deep, once you get past its many political levels.
They know, they both know.
Gulf seafood industry representatives we’ve been speaking with since this began have expressed concerns about the chemical dispersants BP has used to break up the oil in the water.
During a mid-week telephone conference with the media, the top people with NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service said the dispersant being used–Corexit–was moderately toxic and would probably cause skin rashes.
After that conference, however, we noticed EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson was saying Corexit was a “non toxin.” Then some fishermen came in with symptoms like those the fish and wildlife experts predicted could occur.
Next, Congress got into it. Nalco Holdings, which has a former BP executive on its board, makes Corexit. Is that why BP went with the product over less toxic, more effective choices?
All within 48 hours, EPA’s Jackson went from calling Corexit “nontoxic” to demanding it be replaced with something “less toxic.”
You can get whiplash if you keep your eyes on this.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Colorado’s former Attorney General and U.S. Senator who is probably now wishing he had not passed on a chance to be Governor, is a key tag-team member.
It’s delicious to see his decision to break-up the Minerals Management Service (MMS) for its failure to prevent the Deepwater Horizon from blowing up. It’s an agency long charged by Congress with both promoting and regulating the energy industry, annually returning $13 billion to the general fund.
Giving the same department of government the tasks of marketing and regulating an industry might sound familiar. Can you spell USDA? Anyway, Minerals Management Service “conflicts” have long existed and are well known. Denver’s Minerals Management Service office enjoyed oil and gas-funded booze and sex for years until a whistleblower spoiled all the fun.
But the only thought I could have when Salazar was announcing his Minerals Management Service reorganization plan during the worst oil spill in U.S. history was how well he might have done with the deck chairs on the Titanic.