Oil Spill Update – June 18

Latest news this am:

Obama’s spill recovery chief will be part-time.  Yesterday, I noted his lack of experience with long-term recovery from disaster and today we learn he will keep his existing, demanding job. This appointment does not make good sense, in my opinion.

President Barack Obama’s point man charting a new future for the oil-poisoned Gulf Coast  will do the job part-time. Some environmentalists said the job demands someone’s full attention.

His job is no less than rebuilding a region that was still suffering from Hurricane Katrina and beset by decades of environmental problems even before the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Why Living Wills Fail. NYT June 17.  In my view, this articles points out one more reason not to use template plans for emergency response.

At the Tuesday hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment,  the committee posted  the Gulf of Mexico spill-response plans of five companies (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell) “… that demonstrated striking, peculiar and disconcerting similarities.

… it turns out that all the plans were written by the same subcontractor. All contain some goofy details — including how to protect walruses, sea lions and seals, which don’t actually live in the Gulf. More worrying, given the apparent and complete failure of the BP response at Deepwater Horizon, it appears that none of the major oil companies are more (or less) prepared for such events. [The firm was identified as The Response Group.]

President Obama is now experiencing a form of backlash against years of regulatory capture — and against the pathetic nature of “living wills” for failed deepwater oil wells. If he is able to draw any more general lessons — and this remains far from clear — the president would be well advised to reflect on other activities that are simply so dangerous that our obvious and repeated regulatory weaknesses mean we would be better off simply prohibiting those activities (e.g., some kinds of drilling, or having big banks).

BP oil spill: MMS shortcomings include ‘dearth of regulations’. According to the Christian Science Monitor, June 17,  a new report got to the core of problems at the Minerals Management Agency.

The federal agency charged with overseeing the offshore oil and gas industry was ill-prepared to do its job because of a severe shortage of inspectors, a “dearth of regulations,” and a “completely backwards” approach to investigating spills and accidents.
Mary Kendall, acting inspector general for the Interior Department, shown in this May 26 photo, testifying about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing.

1 thought on “Oil Spill Update – June 18

  1. For once a Congressional hearing heard what its lack of oversight during the period 1994-2006 had created. No matter which party is in power it always is the function of the Congress to discern what actually is transpiring and let the government of the people, by the people, and for the people know what it is up to in reality.
    Now the potential loss of the economies of TEXAS, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, and FLORIDA should jolt the Congress into becoming the needed third part of the Constitutionally designed separation of powers system, specifically a legislative branch, and executive branch, and a judicial branch. The latter is now in complete turmoil since a relatively new Chief Justice has been unable and incompetent to lead the court to obtain more than 5-4 majorities in most instances. This continues to install the notion in the public that is all a political game and not the deadly serious business of survival of our Constitutional system. Unfortunately, Elena Kagan does not seem to understand the deep deep distress of our federal system or the current challenges to our democracy (republic) of the uncontrolled activities and expenditures of the national security state. Who is the countries biggest energy user–the military/industrial complex.

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