Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On the Surface..

Sometime early next week, BP will begin pumping mud down into the well in the Gulf of Mexico. This is supposedly intended to help plug the hole once and for all in conjunction wit the relief wells being drilled. This operation is dubiously named "static kill." I suspect the intent is to kill any potential of getting an accurate measurement of the oil that has already flowed into the gulf and thus mitigating the fine.

As a quick aside, for some inexplicable reason the relief wells were renamed relief tunnels last week. This makes little or no sense. They are mot tunnels. They are wells. I guess to some PR flack working for BP or Thad Allen, tunnels sounded cooler.

While the preparations for "static kill" are ongoing, retired admiral Thad Allen proudly declared that there is little oil on the surface as if that was the end of the problem. Of course, he fails to mention that he authorized the use of epic amounts of toxic chemicals to keep the oil from rising to the surface in the first place. Just like his new pals at BP, he was all about the imagery and not the reality.

In case anyone has forgotten, the stated reason for the use of over 2 million gallons of dispersant underwater was to keep the oil from the surface. And the only reason to do that was to prevent the images of millions of gallons of oil hitting every beach in the Gulf region. It was never about keeping the oil out of the ecosystem.

Last week, when Tropical Storm Bonnie was approaching, the ever inaccurate Jim Cantore at the Weather Channel came up with the analogy that the wave action created by the storm would have the same effect on the oil as shaking a bottle of vinaigrette. The oil emulsifies with the rest of the ingredients. Up to that point, Cantore was actually right. However, he then implied, as does Thad Allen, that the oil then magically disappears. It does not. Taking Cantore's bottle of salad dressing analogy, the oil is still there. It ends up on your salad.

The same applies to the Gulf. The oil is still there, no matter how badly Thad Allen and his real masters at BP want us to think otherwise. No matter how much the administration wishes, the oil will not simply go away just because we cannot see it. In fact, it is a bigger problem because we cannot see it and cannot collect it like we can surface oil.

That was BP's plan all along. Hide the oil. Hide the true depth of this disaster. Avoid the ugly photos and avoid paying for the damage they have really done. By keeping the oil hidden, they can create the illusion that the crisis is over once they plug the well. And the Obama team of failed bureaucrats led by Thad Allen can declare victory and run home.

Ask any Gulf fisherman. He will tell you that the problem is in the water and on the bottom. Yes, some of the toxic compounds in the oil dissipate and yes, some biological entities eat some of the oil. But none of that accounts for the level of toxic dispersant or the sheer volume of oil present in the water column. That same fisherman will tell you that he is concerned about next year's catch, if there is to be any. He is worried about the edibility of that catch, given the chemistry experiment that BP conducted in the Gulf with Obama's permission.

Plugging the hole is not the beginning of the end as so many media types are fond of saying. It is barely the end of the beginning. It will be years before the mess is cleared. Years for the Gulf to recover form the reckless and unchecked chemical pollution intentionally added. Years for the mess that the administration authorized to be cleaned up. EPA allowed the dispersant at Allen's insistence. NOAA continues to hedge on the amount or concentration of oil and dispersant. Obama's team continues to go with quick visuals during overflights of the are and BP is happy to go with all of that.

Here is an easy way to know it is bad - if BP and Thad Allen like it, it is probably bad for everyone else. This has been the way through this entire disaster. BP acts in its own interests and Thad Allen, on behalf of Obama, endorses it. Every time.

Once that well is plugged, they are all going home. Allen, BP, the media. All of them. And those who depend on the Gulf for a living will just have to figure it out. Because destroyed lives don't make good video and ruined family businesses don't make for dramatic headlines.

This will be Obama's "Mission Accomplished" moment. He will declare victory while the enemy - in this case the oil - remains out there. His administration and the rest of our government will walk away feeling good. Sadly, the folks that live there will still be fighting and pushing. They will know that the mission is barely started.

Get that "Mission Accomplished" banner ready now. It will make a much better visual than the truth.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

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