Alarums and excursions 0

The Oil Pollution Act 1990 makes the President wholly responsible for cleaning up an oil spill.

Jim Campbell at Canada Free Press tells us more about what the law says:

Amended Section 311 of the federal Clean Water Act. Section 311 now provides in part that:

(A) If a discharge, or a substantial threat of a discharge, of oil or a hazardous substance from a vessel, offshore facility, or onshore facility is of such a size or character as to be a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States (including but not limited to fish, shellfish, wildlife, other natural resources, and the public and private beaches and shorelines of the United States), the President shall direct all Federal, State, and private actions to remove the discharge or to mitigate or prevent the threat of the discharge.

(B) In carrying out this paragraph, the President may, without regard to any other provision of law governing contracting procedures or employment of personnel by the Federal Government–

(i) remove or arrange for the removal of the discharge, or mitigate or prevent the substantial threat of the discharge; and

(ii) remove and, if necessary, destroy a vessel discharging, or threatening to discharge, by whatever means are available.

For a picture of the sheer panic now gripping the White House  –  comic  in contrast to the appallingly serious consequences of the oil spill itself – read this account in the Washington Post. Of course that newspaper doesn’t intend its report to be funny. It intends to show how hard the administration is trying to cope with the crisis, and suggest that it’s really tough on the poor [actually plain incompetent and managerially inexperienced] president. But it’s irresistibly Keystone Kops laughable all the same.

Examples:

The administration is now scrambling to reclaim control, the appearance and the reality of it, over a situation that defies both.

It has been a hasty and somewhat chaotic mobilization of a wide array of disparate government resources — including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the military

The new normal at the Obama White House has required that a whole new schedule be laid on top of the old one. There is a daily oil-spill conference call for Cabinet officers, one for their deputies, yet another with the governors of affected states, and sometimes as many as three briefings a day that include the president himself. …

Though every day is jammed with interagency conference calls and a river of e-mails in between, some officials complain that at times they still feel like they are talking past each other. …

Signals get crossed. On Wednesday, the Minerals Management Service approved two shallow-water drilling permits, only to reverse both the next day, along with those for three other shallow-water operations. Some officials in the Gulf Coast region have complained that they can’t figure out what the administration’s drilling policy really is these days. …

In his radio address Saturday, Obama enumerated the scope of his endeavor to contain the damage, including 17,500 National Guard troops; 20,000 personnel protecting the waters and coasts; 1,900 vessels; 4.3 million feet of boom.

Obama has also called in some of the many scientists on the federal payroll …

The president has pressured other oil companies to step up… [expecting] the entire petroleum industry to dedicate its engineering talent to fixing the spill and preventing others. …

But Obama and his team are still feeling their way, and it is not at all clear what this vast marshaling of resources will accomplish. …

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has launched criminal and civil investigations …

The administration is sending as its emissaries officials who have ties to the region ..

White House officials complain, with some justification, that they are caught between contradictory narratives about their handling of the crisis: that the president is not engaged enough in the details of the response, or that he is getting bogged down in them; that he should spend more time in the gulf making common cause with its residents, or that his repeated trips down there are merely publicity stunts.

And there remains the question of whether, for all its efforts, the administration can really gain control, or even the illusion of it. …

The fragility of civilization 2

Hugh Hewitt and Mark Steyn survey an eventful day – yesterday, May 6, 2010 – and cover a lot of ground in their discussion of it. Here’s an extract, ending on a hopeful note as they look forward to the November elections:

HH: What a day, Mark Steyn. The markets went crazy. The Dow dropped at one point a thousand points. It finished off, you know, it was a bad day, but it wasn’t a horrific day. In reaction to what I think is a glimpse of our future, I think that the Greek debacle is simply, you know, the Christmas Future, showing … what’s going to happen to this country if we do not change. Your thoughts?

MS: Yes, I think what it illustrates, as I understand it, it might just have been as simple as one trader typing a B instead of an M for million, typing a B for billion, and it wipes off a thousand points off the stock market, as opposed to being a reaction to what’s happening in Greece, where real people are being killed in what are essentially riots over keeping unsustainable, featherbedded, government jobs. And in a way, what happened in Greece and what happened in New York, I think, both illustrate the kind of fragility of the global economy, and in a broader sense, of civilization …

HH: I think there will be defaults, a rolling series of defaults, … and that people had better look at Greece right now to see what’s coming. But Mark Steyn, that may not be the most important act of violence by a long shot. We had another successful terrorist penetration in the United States. But for their incompetence, a second massacre within four months of Detroit, the fourth under President Obama, counting the Arkansas and Fort Hood terrorist attacks, and still, it does not seem that they can get past the idea of when do we give them their Miranda rights.

MS: Yes, and this idea that it’s a criminal matter involving a few isolated extremists, or whatever the president said in reaction to the panty bomber at Christmas time. The most absurd commentary, I thought, was from the Washington Post, which speculated it was because the guy hadn’t been able to keep up payments on his home in Connecticut, so that this was in fact something to do with actually the Greek story, it’s to do with the global economy, it’s to do with subprime mortgages, that this is somehow an act of subprime terrorism and not Islamic terrorism. This is ridiculous. The guy spent five months in Pakistan, so clearly when a guy is spending five months in Pakistan, we don’t know what he was doing there, that’s the pretty obvious reason for why he isn’t able to keep up payments on his home in Connecticut. It’s because his job in Connecticut, and his house in Connecticut, are not what’s important to him, and are not what he sees as his primary identity. And the stupidity, the persistent stupidity in trying to look for anything other than what is really driving this activity is becoming beyond parody now.

HH: Mark Steyn, today’s profile of him in the New York Times, I don’t know if you had a chance to read it yet, but it’s very much the same. It’s the lonely, Mr. Lonely Hearts. He’s sitting on couches not drinking…and it makes it sounds like he’s depressed, so he became a jihadist.

MS: Yes, and that was the same thing that was said about the panty bomber just before Christmas time. In fact, they’re very similar, they’ve very similar types in a way. They’re not poor people. This idea that we heard after September 11th, poverty breeds terrorism, these are middle class people leading middle class lives. This guy had an MBA and some other super duper degree. He could be holding down a big time six figure salary anywhere on the planet. And instead, he decides that’s not what he wants to do, and instead he wants to blow up Times Square. And at some point, we have to confront the reality of that. And our unwillingness to, you know, when the enemy, which is what they are, by the way, when the enemy read the New York Times and the Washington Post, they draw their conclusions from that kind of coverage.

HH: Mark Steyn, the incompetence displayed in the Gulf after the explosion, and now the gaps in our security system, add the hat trick for the president. We’ve got ideological extremism, plus a hyper-partisan approach to politics, and now incompetence thrown in. That’s a heavy burden for Democrats. I think it’s why David Obey quit yesterday. Do you think the president can escape this, and his party can escape this by November?

MS: No, I think in a way, he’s lucky, he’s as lucky as he’s going to be, because if this had been a Republican in the White House, we would be getting the full Katrina on what’s going on in the Gulf. Instead, he’s got friends at these dying publications like Newsweek that are willing to protect him almost to absurd degrees. But the hyper-partisanship, with the perceived softness on national security, and the willingness to abase himself before thugs and dictators, plus, plus the incompetence issue in the Gulf, I think is just a lethal combination for Democrats this November.

We hope he’s right about November. They say “a week is a long time in politics”, so six months is an age. A lot more harm can be done to civilization by the Democrats in that stretch of time. And if the Republicans return to power in Congress in November, will they, can they, save civilization?

Saving it again 0

Spreading menace 1

As we’ve said before and will say again, whatever  government does, it does badly.

Which is one of the reasons why the less any government is allowed to do, the better for the country.

Case in point: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting from the Horizon rig’s explosion and sinking, might have been stopped from spreading if the coast guard had had the equipment that the government had known for years would be needed for just such a contingency.

A good plan was made, but the equipment to carry it out was not obtained.

Read about it here. We quote:

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

Made of flame-retardant fabric, each boom has two pumps that push water through its 500-foot length. Two boats tow the U-shaped boom through an oil slick, gathering up about 75,000 gallons of oil at a time. That oil is dragged away from the larger spill, ignited and burns within an hour …

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

The “In-Situ Burn” plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine shipped the only boom it had in stock

At federal officials’ behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days …

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour …  That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn.

At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet — who helped craft the 1994 plan — told the [Alabama] Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. “The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away.”

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well. …

Meanwhile the oil goes on spreading, and so does the government.

Disaster and suspicion 6

One of the deplorable things about the vast and still spreading oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is that it gives the “green energy”  fanatics an argument against domestic drilling in the United States and off its shores. They are the only ones who have anything to gain by the disaster.

Jim O’Neill has “worked as a commercial diver in off-shore oilfields around the world (including the Gulf of Mexico)” and so, he says, “I have some idea of the difficulties involved with operations in 5,000 feet of water, (around 155 atmospheres of pressure).”

He has a suspicion that the explosion which sank Transocean’s deepwater semi-submersible rig “Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22, leaking 5,000 barrels of oil per day, may have been caused deliberately.

He does not make a strong case, but as we are suspicious on Socratean principle (though not easily convinced of conspiracies), we are interested in hearing what he has to say.

He writes:

“The Horizon” was a new floating exploratory rig, recently contracted by BP (British Petroleum) to drill its Macondo prospect in the Gulf. It had finished an exploratory drill hole to around 18,000 feet, and was in the process of capping off the well, prior to moving on, when the rig caught fire on April 20. The capping procedure was reputedly undertaken by oil industry giant Halliburton.

As you might imagine, such an occurrence is an oil company’s worst nightmare, and there are fail-safe measures like you would not believe, to ensure that such a thing as what happened, never happens. There are “deadman switches,” down-hole safety valves, “panic buttons.” and Blow Out Preventers (BOPs).

And yet obviously, something did happen. What—and was it sabotage? How could so many time-tested automatic back-ups fail, all at the same time? What are the odds?

Sabotage is not outside the realm of possibility when trillions of dollars are at stake. The question to ask is: With “climate-gate” throwing a wrench in the works of Cap and Trade, and the (potentially) extremely lucrative carbon-credit market about to go down the drain, were drastic measures taken?

Are there any “movers and shakers” connected with Chicago’s CCX scam, who also happen to be connected to Halliburton, BP, or…well you get the idea. Just asking.

The oil spill after one week covers approximately 130 by 70 miles. What is it going to cover after several months—with thousands of barrels of oil being added each day?

First coal, now oil—I suggest you folks at the nuclear power plants be on your toes.