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Anatomy of an Oil Rig Disaster

What happened in the Gulf of Mexico? What does it mean for offshore drilling? Plus, the latest on the Senate energy bill.

Fire boat response crews battle the remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana last Wednesday (AP/US Coast Guard)

There were funerals this week for the coal miners dead in West Virginia. But the active energy disaster this week is not underground, but offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

On April 20, the gigantic offshore drilling rig the “Deepwater Horizon” – bigger than a football field, insured for half a billion dollars – exploded in a wild firestorm and sank in waters a mile deep.

Now, the tangled pipes from its ocean floor wellhead are leaking a thousand barrels of crude a day. And an oil slick of 1800 square miles is threatening the Gulf Coast.

This Hour, On Point: anatomy of an offshore drilling disaster.

Guests:

Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the NOAA Emergency Response Division. He’s analyzing the environmental impact of oil leaking from the sunken rig.

Aaron Viles, campaign director at the Gulf Restoration Network. He advocates for sustainable fisheries and habitat protection in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matteo Batista, a former lead field engineer with Weatherford International, an oil-drilling firm. He just finished a three-year tour, mostly on an offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and is about to leave for his next assignment in Pennsylvania.

Bruce Tate, instructor at the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He’s worked as a drilling manager for over 30 years, in 18 countries, both on and off shore and in deep water.

Later this hour:

We speak with Juliet Eilperin, national environmental reporter for the Washington Post, about the next steps for the stalled Senate climate/energy bill. You can read her latest article on Democrats’ behind-the-scenes moves to salvage that piece of legislation, following Sen. Lindsey Graham’s decision to withdraw his support for it.

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  • Nick

    The first reports on leakage from the NPR and other USA news outlets was that miraculously there was no leakage while the BBC was reporting wide spread leaking – which of course was the truth.

    Who spread the initial mistruths and was this an attempt at covering up another oil industry disaster?
    And why would they try to cover up a ‘disaster’? It wasn’t because of negligence. It only breeds mistrust.

    Nick

  • Gary

    @Nick

    I am not surprised, and I have been hearing the same reports. Not one drop of oil has been leaking out of this spill. In the US media it is repeated again and again that no oil is spilling from this rig.

    I guess all that fire is the pain and leftover doughnuts that were on the rig. The only conclusion I can draw is that the oil companies are paying the media to spread a lie. I wonder what it costs to buy a media lie, or do they do it on their own to protect their own corporate investments?

  • Gary

    In a report I heard yesterday, it was stated that: “only about five barrels of oil have been spilled from this accident.”

  • Petr

    Who spread the initial mistruths and was this an attempt at covering up another oil industry disaster?

    Let us be careful here and use logic. There was no initial ‘leak’: There was a fire that burned for three days and it was not until the rig actually sunk, thus finally extinguishing the fire, that the slick was seen. So, the initial reports of no oil being seen (cause it was fueling the fire), were correct and not attempts at ‘mistruth’. Once the rig sunk the automatic valves that are supposed to prevent the continued pumping of the crude failed and that is the source of the leak. although if they may have known they failed since the fire was fueled…

    For my part, I no longer read nor watch any journalism that bears the term ‘breaking news’, because it is so often wrong, contradictory or specious in particulars and in general. Given the sheer amount of news at my fingertips, it is often more fruitful to wait a day or two as the facts shake themselves out of the grasp of the incompetents reading the news…

  • Jason

    The US doesn’t need rebuilt, it needs Restored!

    The problem with rebuilding is that allows the US to be covertly changed to Europe, which my ancestors risked their life to escape.

  • Gary

    Where is Sarah Palin and McCain now? http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0425/devastating-amount-oil-leaking-rig-louisiana-coast/

    If you’re for “drill baby drill”, then you also have to acknowledge the spill baby spill. When a east coast fishery is destroyed by a similar accident, the return on investment will still be worth it for the oligarchy.

  • cory

    Jason,

    What the hell are you talking about?

    By the way, Europe has probably changed since your “ancestors” left. (Two world wars, etc) I don’t think puritans or Huguenots face much prosecution across the pond anymore.

  • Eben Markowski

    Giulianni and Palin should have been shouting spill here spill now, spill baby spill. Disasters like this should be no surprise. It is yet another inevitable byproduct of our immoral rate of consumption.

  • Jake

    On a yearly basis approx .87 million barrels of oil are spilled in North America during offshore oil drilling, this represents 3% of all manmade oil pollution in the oceans in North America. However 47 million barrels are leaked through natural processes into the waters surrounding the continent. So in honestly you are focusing on the peas and not the steak. The numbers are from the National Research Council by the way. Finally ask Matteo if I know what I am talking about I worked as his night hand in Kenedy TX for a Conoco Phillips job.

  • jeffe

    If we as a nation want to build oil rigs on off our shores we had better be prepared to deal with the death of fishing grounds, tourism and the livelihoods that go with them.

    Are the people of Florida willing to trade in the cash cow of tourism for oil rigs?

    I know we need oil, but we have also been negligent in since the 80′s in doing anything to conserve, and to develop more sources of renewable energy.

  • Chris

    WAS THIS POSSIBLY SABOTAGE TO MAKE AN ENVIRONMENTAL POINT?

    I don’t usually distrust environmentalists at all, but the timing of this event so soon after President Obama’s announcement about off-shore drilling raises the question about radical environmentalism.

    Thanks!

  • Edith

    We are doomed. How will this affect sealife and eventually mankind? I love seafood, but how safe can it be to eat it with all that we are dumping in our oceans? This saddens me greatly. Why only worry about this reaching the coast? One way or another, this kind of thing will get back to us.

  • Steve V

    People are concerned about off-shore wind farms. Thankfully this wasn’t a wind turbine.

  • Tori Smith

    I don’t know what to make of this but it’s interesting that the focus in your coverage of the coal mine accident was on the workers, but with the oil rig the fate of the workers seem to be a footnote. I think this reflects how we romanticize coal miners. Also, the the environmental disaster from oil rig is immediate and horrible, but coal continually causes terrible damage. Here’s a question: which work is actually the most dangerous – coal mining or off shore oil rigs (and this should include the hazards of getting to the rig which I know in Canada has been dangerous.)
    Tori Smith
    Toronto

  • jeffe

    What about the fact that BP and TransOcean fought safety regulations. This is not an accident of chance one would suspect.

    http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/04/anatomy-of-an-oil-rig#comments

  • Gary

    Tom,

    Ask your guests who is going to pay the cost of the cleanup of this?

    My guess that it will be the US taxpayer as usual. With corporations controlling the US government, I suppose the usual Privatize the gains and socialize the losses will be in full force.

  • Adrienne

    How can we volunteer to help with the wildlife clean-up once it starts to come ashore?

    This is horrific and should no longer happen. We really need to end out dependence on cruse oil and stop letting the oil companies run our lives and ruin our world?

  • Jason

    Eco-Terrorist are the most likely suspect for the oil rig fire. They have attacked several companies in the past, but never anything this big.

  • http://WBUR Guy

    Has anyone heard from the from the small government people decrying the involvement of NOAA, The US Coast Guard, and all kinds of state and local entities? No.
    And can we expect BP and TransOcean to reimburse these government agencies for expenses incurred? No.
    Another brazen, but obscured instance where the profits from an enterprise are private and subject to minimal risk, since so much of that cost is borne by the public–socialized so to speak.

  • Steven

    Tom,

    The NY Times is reporting that 42,000 gallons per day is leaking http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/us/27rig.html?scp=1&sq=oil%20well&st=cse.

  • jeffe

    Jason give it rest please.

  • Adrienne

    How can we volunteer to help with the wildlife clean-up once the spill beings to come ashore?

    This is horrific and should no longer happen. We really need to end our dependence on crude oil and stop letting the oil companies run our lives and ruin our world?

    **edited as my i accidentally hit “submit” prior to editing. apologies.**

  • Neil Vigliotta

    In the CNN video, you can see oil in the water as the fire burns. And I don’t know how we can say Drill baby Drill and then be outraged when this kind of thing occurs. I feel for the people of FL who are ready to accept rigs off their coast.

  • petr

    @Neil Vigliotta: In the CNN video, you can see oil in the water as the fire burns.

    Most likely diesel fuel and/or excess oil from the rig, thrown off from the explosion… esplosions iz messy things…

  • George in Palmer

    Isn’t it just a matter of time before the right wing blogosphere starts accusing President Obama of sabotaging this oil rig so he can get out of his recent change of policy on drilling off the east coast?

  • Greg

    To date, how many oil rigs have caught fire and sank?

  • petr

    @Gary: “Ask your guests who is going to pay the cost of the cleanup of this?

    My guess that it will be the US taxpayer as usual. With corporations controlling the US government, I suppose the usual Privatize the gains and socialize the losses will be in full force.

    By law, oil companies, in this instance BP, are responsible for the cost of the cleanup. It’s been in several articles in the NYTimes and elswhere, covering this incident.

  • Cliff

    You should ask about business continuity planning and disaster recovery plans. Clearly, they did NOT have a plan for this type of problem and it should have been obvious that this is a possible problem that could occur.

  • petr

    Isn’t it just a matter of time before the right wing blogosphere starts accusing President Obama of sabotaging this oil rig so he can get out of his recent change of policy on drilling off the east coast?

    I suppose I could be persuaded to despise the right wing blogosphere, if I were inclined to give it any thought whatsoever…

  • jeffe

    Relief wells can take months to cap this.
    The bottom line is this a huge environmental disaster, period.

    If we want oil we have to deal with this. I don’t like it but as a nation we have waited and waited and put off dealing with our energy needs.

    Jimmy Carter tried to get the nation to move towards alternative energy sources over 30 years ago. It was killed by Reagen. Had we done what Carter wanted to do were would we be today? Who knows. It’s pretty clear that this event puts a lens on the absurdity of how we as a nation is dealing with energy.

  • R. Sokol

    While the impact of “Drill Baby Drill” is washing ashore, here’s what’s happening in the North Sea:

    http://www.spiegel.de/video/video-1062347.html

  • Petr

    @Steven: “The NY Times is reporting that 42,000 gallons per day is leaking

    Units. 42,000 GALLONS is (very) roughly 1,000 BARRELS. All numbers are approximate.

  • bruce erickson

    of all of the problems facing us, be it healthcare, war, education, poverty,etc, etc….this is the one that makes my blood boil and reminds me of how ignorant we really are.
    who will be held accounatble for this tragic spill??
    i think that the parents, children, and pets of the CEO and board members of the compamnies invilved should be forced to swim in the spill and eat food affected by it.

  • Dan in Essex, CT

    After the Valdez disaster in Alaska and Exxon’s reprehensible follow through, I have done everything in my power to avoid buying their gas. Now with the new BP spill I’m running out of choices to fill my car! Help!

  • Slick

    Why was Bruce Tate given so much air time? I appreciate NPR’s impartiality, but he clearly represented Big Oil.

    Sounds like the riggers were working overtime at night?

  • Jason

    As an engineer that formarly worked for NASA, I know that this tragedy could have only happened if multiple fail safes failed and given the $ and environment involved the fail safes would be required to be 99.9% effective. Since the worst happened we are either dealing with a very rare freak of nature accident that is less likely than the average person getting killed in a car accident driving to work or their was an evil person that planed an attack to specifically cause multiple failures of the designed system. The later is more likely considering the eco-terrorism that has occurred in US over the last 10 years.

  • jeffe

    Drilling in the water off of Alaska would be a huge mistake. There is a billion dollar seafood industry in this area. Drilling in this area is a HUGE mistake.

  • John Salisz

    1)If the owner of this well thought this to be so safe that he got the president to sign off on it… why did he then insure it for over 1/2 billion dollars?
    2)Why haven’t we heard from the owner of the well and what his reaction is and how he is planning to fix this mess? He should be on the interview and explain his reaction.

  • Gary

    I get it now. The industry is perfectly safe UNTIL there is an accident, and then it is rife with risk.

    Toyota gets crucified in congress, and BP’s cost cutting will be…what?

    http://www.oilwatchdog.org/articles/?storyId=10939

  • Melissa F

    Why don’t we STOP these dangerous energy collections? A blown up coal mine.. A spilling Oil Rig?? What does our government NOT understand? We need a better way of controlling our energy uses.. We do NOT need an alternative we need a source.. Should we build more oil drills? Or Nuclear plants? There is a simple solution that all these big wig energy companies can jump into to rid us of dangerous, dirty and ugly energy problems and costs. If DuPont, BP or any other OIL,COAL,NUCLEAR companies can change and also make there profits with. It is called HEMP OIL – Has anyone ever heard of this? It can replace natural gas, petroleum and many many other sources of energy, or even for other industrial uses such as linens, paper, clothing etc.. Less dirty, less dangerous, and healthy source for energy. I understand these oil companies have a big run in our government but, there NEEDS to be a change. Our government outlawed a plant that does not have any problems – except it LOOKS like one people get high on! Many other large companies use this plant for building houses, cleaner oil for heating and cars, clothing, and even a food source. COME ON Obama get your head straight – NO NEW OIL DRILLING, and get RID of COAL – these are OLD- dirty and dangerous sources of energy.. NEW SOURCES NEED TO BE USED ! HEMP,WIND AND SUN!!! BP-EXXON- DUPONT ETC.. Get on the band wagon for better choices of our energy and our environment! YOU CAN STILL MAKE YOUR PROFITS!

    Thank you,
    Mel

  • Kerry

    The fact that leases for drilling is a tax revenue paid by those oil companies is a half truth. These are profit making companies and any costs will be passed onto us by way of the cost of oil.

  • josef

    All those courages poeple who are doing this work for us to be able live confortably, it is done for us for cheap living, we are reponsable for the destruction of our world, like the space race accidents will happen.

  • Chris

    Also…is there the possibility of poor workmanship, caused by greed and allowed by bribes??? (As with my previous comment, this is a question, not a statement.)

    This I do know: the people of New Orleans and the other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina do NOT need this to possibly adversely affect their economic re-birth!

  • Susanna L

    I would be interested to know:

    1) has the type of “fail-safe” device that didn’t work (the heavy well capa that ought to have dropped into place) been shown to work in a previous COMPARABLE situation?
    2) are there risks that are related to economies of scale? Can things be done in a smaller format, perhaps more expensive, but safer (using tried and true technologies)
    3) do the people who assess risks provide these assessments along with a precise definition of those risks involving parameters for which NO precedent exists?
    4) and unrelated, is there a possibility that sabotage was involved?

    just curious and sad

  • Sascha Hubbard

    It’s the environment stupid! The economy means nothing if we kill ourselves.

  • sixerjman

    “I get it now. The industry is perfectly safe UNTIL there is an accident, and then it is rife with risk.”

    Precisely. Corporate speak has now eclipsed that of Milo Minderbender and Minderbender Enterprises from ‘Catch 22′. The more colossal the failure, the more contortions the flak catchers go through to emphasize the success of…well, of the thing that JUST FAILED.

    “What about those fail safes? From all evidence, they FAILED. What do you have to say about that?”
    “Tom, I’d like to point out the tremendous emphasis on safety that we at Cluster**** Enterprises build into our daily blah, blah, blah”

  • Donna D. Lombardi

    Please remember the 11 lives that were lost! They were someone’s son, father, husband or brother. The men and women that work for Transocean risk their lives everyday so America can keep going. Maybe try working in their boots one day. The wife of a rig worker
    RIP DEEPWATER HORIZON

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    Mr. Batista your intellectual giantism is simply amazing. “Accidents will happen” in a complex industry,” etc., etc., etc. (But by all means let’s keep going full speed ahead with our petroleum based economy.)

    So very few seem to get it: when some of us say, “end oil,” we mean END OIL! … and now! It’s all about the powerful in industry, in Congress, and now in the White House.

    The solutions to oil are within our grasp and all it would take is investment in the future. By all means, let’s invest trillions in unnecessary wars, but cut loose from our “buddies” in the oil industry? … what, are you kidding?

    The problem is that members of Congress are aware of the fact that the investment required will not bear returns until they are dead and gone. The benefit will be for their children and grandchildren, but they’re completely ready to let future generations fend for themselves.

  • Melissa F

    Hello- I Just wanted to comment on Sascha’s post – I agree with you 1000000% But, hasn’t anyone realized that unless these companies – BP, EXXON, DuPont etc.. Jump into cleaner sources for energy we will never have a change.. From what I am listening to now… it could take months to clean this spill up.. I agree if we don’t change we won’t have a planet to worry about! I actually have a friend that believes there is no pollution, global warming etc.. HOW scary this is that people do not understand how these companies run our government- DuPont is probably one of the largest companies that have stakes in our economy which in turn ruin our environment- toxic plastics and other petroleum products have made our lives much easier but- what will we do when people are dying for their jobs? Or When our planet keeps dying? Coal mining, oil drilling etc.. How many more catastrophes will need to happen before these big companies will change their ways?
    The reason I mentioned the money and their profits – is because they ARE a business – which means they will NOT change until they can keep profits up and costs down… With their priorities last in caring about the environment! It again, is sad and upsetting but, petroleum, oil, or energy companies are the second or third largest businesses in our government – behind health-care/prescription companies, and BANKS …
    Until someone can figure out a way that these companies can make the same amount of money for a low cost (industrial Hemp)- they will NOT change and we will deal with these dirty/dangerous energy sources!
    Please check this link out- it is funny but truly inspiring:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB9rNhwofvI
    and:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxlj6fgQ-ZU

    TIME FOR A GREAT CHANGE!

    Thank you!
    Mel

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    Remember these Off Shore Workers will save us from Armaggedon soon.

  • Jim in Omaha

    The bottom line is that we demand the production of petroleum products and show no indication of significantly inconveniencing ourselves by conserving or demanding more efficient cars, homes, etc. And the experts seem to indicate that, despite all of the industry efforts, this type of incident will occur on occasion. So, as Gary, Guy, and others have stated, the only real issue is how will the damages be paid and by whom. Will this wipe out BP’s profits for the year or some future period? Destroy the company? Affect other hugely profitable oil companies profits or their execs’ pay? Will some highly paid execs have their “compensation package” reduced to zero to help pay for or atone for this disaster? I expect none of these people or companies will pay much of a price and the costs will be borne by taxpayers and petroleum consumers.

  • Susanna L.

    The inescapable: Oil is necessary in order to manufacture the machinery to build an alternative energy industry so that it can replace oil. There isn’t any way around this. None

    Jeffe is right in saying (if I read him right) that the buck stops at the consumer. How fast alternative sources replace oil depends on our demand. How can it be made more appealing to people to scale back and ease the inevitable transition?

    I wish someone would publish a non-preachy “calorie counter” for energy users to help us make decisions

    How much do I use when I vacuum instead of sweeping up?
    Should I run a full dishwasher or do it by hand? (which uses more energy in heating the water, & which kind of soap takes more to manufacture per load?)

    What’s worse, leaving a light on, or my computer running?

    Is it bad to microwave a precooked meal that was made in a big batch and packaged and shipped to my grocery store or can I really truly save energy if I account for all the energy consumed in making the same meal from the same ingredients from scratch?.

    How many years would you have to use a fake Christmas tree before it is more energy saving than getting a real one each year?

    How many energy equivalents do I save per mile if I decide to buy a cola based upon how local the distributor is (if any)?

    If there were a movement to buy things shipped by boat or rail, would this make a difference?

    I think of people like Donna who have loved ones on rigs. It is we who can remove the pressure on the companies to venture ever further into the unknown in terms of remote, technologically challenging drilling. Don’t expect oil companies to do for us what we should do for ourselves. We are driving this disaster and all like them.

  • Rob

    There is no question that these oil spills damage our environment, but we also need to be honest withourselves as there is really no quick way for the US (or any nation) to “replace” its dependence on oil in the short term. I agree that reducing our dependence on oil needs to be the clear objective of any rational long term energy policy. The US’ current dependence on oil poses not only huge environment challenges, but also a huge risk to our national security and our long term economic prosperity. The bottom line is that many of the major global oil producers are state owned companies from nations that are openly hostile to the US/West and there is also a permanent increase in demand coming from China, India, Brazil, and other nations that do not have large (or any) oil resources.

    Here is a link to a site that has some good information on this issue.

    http://www.secureenergy.org/site/page.php?node=358

    While I am not necessarily opposed to increased drilling in the Artic (do not necessarily favor it either), I agree that the amount of oil generated will not be close enough to impact the long term trajectory of the global price of oil.

    My question to liberals is why are many of you so adamantly opposed to nuclear power? Technology has improved since Three Mile Island. France generates approximately 80% of its power from nuclear. The US Navy has been safely using nuclear for generations. While I also favor increased investment in alternatives (including drilling for natural gas), solar, wind, and other alernatives, we are kidding ourselves if we think they reduce the US reliance on oil in any meaningful way during the intermediate term. Even after tripling the most optomistic five and ten industry forecasts for solar, wind, and other renewables, the US would still get less than 10% of our power needs from these sources. Based on current technology, the best current alternative available might be using natural gas as a transportation fuel and running more power plants using nuclear technology.

  • Scratch

    I started my career 30 years ago working on offshore rigs in the Gulf as a petroleum geologist (I now work for an alternative energy company).

    To those who think ecoterrorists did this – nonsense. The blow out preventer system that failed was 5000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The possibility that this system was sabotaged in place is remote to say the least.

    These rigs are complex and the possibility of an unforeseen chain of events leading to this disaster are high, so I doubt it was nefarious activity that lead to this. I am more inclined to believe that it was negligence or a missed inpsection. The vast majority of industrial accidents can be traced to human error somewhere along the line.

    What is amazing to me, as it is to other commentors, is that we are still pursuing and subsidizing fossil fuels when China is pouring $11 billion a year (yes, that is billion) into alternative energy. In this country – its nothing. Our nascent solar power industry is being swept away by Chinese manufacturers who are producing panels below cost to get market share.

    Instead, we shrug off deaths of oil rig workers and miners, pollute our shorelines, and shear off mountain tops. Our first attempt at comprehensive climate legislation is now stalled, and probably dead, in congress. Its a sad commentary on us as a nation.

  • Rob

    Strach noted:

    “What is amazing to me, as it is to other commentors, is that we are still pursuing and subsidizing fossil fuels when China is pouring $11 billion a year (yes, that is billion) into alternative energy. In this country – its nothing. Our nascent solar power industry is being swept away by Chinese manufacturers who are producing panels below cost to get market share.”

    I totally agree regarding investment in solar and hydroeletric plans, but a complete analysis of energy policy would also note that China has the most agressive nuclear technology program in the world. China currently has 9,100 megawatts of nuclear capacity and has approved the construction of additional reactors to increase output to 25,400 megawatts. The country is expected to build around 22 reactors in the five years ending 2010 and projected to build 132 units after and has the most aggressive nuclear power expansion program in the world.

  • luigi

    Nick:

    NPR is rarely known for “breaking” news. Unless they can reach an arm’s-length from their desk jobs in DC, they don’t seem to have much interest in “news”. The BBC does a better job without the gimmicks employed by NPR “news” hosts (i.e. All Things Considered (NOT), Morning Edition, etc.).

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    First of All China has 2 Billion in population and not counting the Chinese all over the world.

    China needs this Energy and Power to sustain their people and China. Do not blame the country that trying to SUSTAIN ITSELF.

    Whatever the arguement United States of America is still the number one user of Fossil Fuel.

    2 to 4 cars of each American Family compared to a chinese family probably doesn’t have a car just a Bike

    They making a lot of Factories to produces Goods for the American people and the world. if you have big factories like China does. You need more power

    Simple Explanation for Simple Problem. But in the future China will over take United States in Energy use but before it will happen the world has already changed in Energy consumption.

    I hope.

  • Don in Spokane

    As I listen to your guest defend BP and the owner of the rig, I’m reminded of the words of Buck Turgidson to President Muffley in Dr. Strangelove as World War Three is being begun by a crazy wing commander.

    Muffley:

    (anger rising) General Turgidson, when you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring.

    Turgidson:

    “Well I don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip up sir.”

  • steven

    Having worked over 30 years in the oil and gas industry both offshore Gulf of Mexico and offshore California and onshore. Oil and gas exploration, production and development is not without risk. The question is, does the public accept this type of risk to the environment and the shoreline? Great timing—occurred on Earth Day. Would have been better to occur when President Obama announced more offshore drilling. Oil drilling has a lead time of 10-20 or more years to explore and bring the product to market.

    The oil and gas industry does not want disasters (too costly to them) yet they will find any way they can to cut costs including cutting corners on safety. It happens all the time. See MMS’ listing of infractions by oil companies every single day.

    There is a large tent-like structure offshore California capturing natural seeps for the sea floor.

    Your guest is a real fool, Tom. The cost to the environment does not equal the cost to society for the product. We’ve heard this before. Exxon et al make billions of dollars yet paid no taxes to the USA last year.

    Blowout preventers usually fail in the closed position…so something odd occurred. The leak may not even be a “blowout” thru the drilling pipeline but an accelerated seep such as we saw in the infamous 69 Santa Barbara spill where the drilling of the well provided a path for the oil to breach the seafloor by means of a fault or split in the ocean floor.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    We should learn from the Chinese people how to conserve energy. They intend to use less energy than the Americans.

    The problem is not the Oil Rigs or the company who built them. The Big Problems are the Users of those fuel.

    How many Cell Phones did you ever buy in your life time?
    How many cars do you have?
    How many bottled waters do you use everyday?
    How many Left Overs of food that you throw away everyday?
    How many Television sets do you have in your house?
    How many pair of shoes do you have?

    How many times did you ever waste?

    The How many times question is the million dollar question.

    Now we rarely buy CDs to listen to a good music.
    Now we can downloand them and pay only cents or a dollar Burn them. One good example to save the environtment and our future

    You and Me should change.

  • Scratch

    Akilez -

    I am not blaming China for anything. I contrast their policy with ours. They are aggressively investing in non-fossil fuel energy programs. We still aggressively support our oil and coal industries. Our energy efficiency programs are still in their infancy. The current administration is saying all the right things but the policy follow through is not there.

    With 3% of the world’s population and over 20% of its energy consumption we have a long way to go.

    Gasoline is heading back to $3 a gallon. If we cannot get our act together, we will be the ones on bicycles.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    Sorry Scratch,I didn’t point my fingers at you.

    One thing more We send all our Junks to China to be recycled but are they really being recyled.

    Yes they are being recycled in a Primitive way. They burn Micro chips, computer monitors,lap tops,key boards,mouse,mouse pads etc etc etc.
    And Again Do not blame the Chinese blame the people who uses these products and majority of them Are From United States of America.

    We complain about environmental disaster and we point our fingers to the Chinese people. Did China ever had a Oil Disaster like what had happened in America for the past 3 decades or the one that happened recently. The answer is No. Only in America.

  • Rob

    Akilez,
    I am not blaming China for anything. To the contrary, I believe the Chinese government has a far more rational long term energy policy than the United States. While the US debates drilling in the Artic reserves using these idiotic slogans of “Drill, Baby Drill” and hopes some new technology will suddenly emerge that solves our problems , the Chinese government is dealing with reality by actively taking steps to reduce the impact of high oil prices on its economy. They are making massive investments in building nuclear power plants and also in alternative energy sources, including solar and hydroelectric power. China is also securing long term oil supply deals directly with OPEC nations (as also they have no real domestic supply).

    In my opinion, nuclear, natural gas, solar, wind, hydrolectric, clean coal,other sources, and conservation all need to be part of any long term solution.

  • Oh Yeah

    “DESTROY, BABY, DESTROY!”

    Who needs fishing, aquaculture, and aquatic industries, tourism, sport fishing, and clean beaches, and healthy ocean environments anyway?!!!!

    … just make sure the oil industries get theirs!

  • Rob

    China also has does not have any large spils or oil disasters because they are not an oil producing nation. They do not have any real domestic oil supply and need to import close to 100% of the oil they use. The largest three global oil producers are Saudi Arabia (+- 13 million barrels per day), Russia (+-10 millon barrels per day), and the United States (+-8 million barrels per day). However, the US uses roughly 20 million barrels per day (and increasing) and reached what some emergy experts refer to as Hubbert’s Peak (or peak oil producing capacity) in the early 1970s. Given the increasing pressure on global demand, we need to prepare for a future when the maximum global oil pruducing capacity has been reached (and prices move much higher) by making significant investments in all available alternatives.

  • Scratch

    Absolutely agree with you there.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    The sad part is that if we already exhausted the world’s oil reserve. there is still one material that can kill us all.

    And that is Plastic.

    Actually China is number 4 and United States is number 3
    in countries that produces Oil and the Philippines is number 72.

    They still import oil And Again Because of thousands of factories in China.

    They need more energy to consume to run those factories.
    A entire City can be a factory.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    Daqing Field (simplified Chinese: 大庆油田; traditional Chinese: 大慶油田; pinyin: Dàqìng Yóutián), formerly called “Taching”[1][2], is the largest oil field in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), located between the Songhua river and Nunjiang river in Heilongjiang province.

    Discovered in 1959 by Li Siguang. Wang Jinxi (known as ‘Iron man’ Wang, who led No. 1205 drilling team) worked on this oilfield. This field has produced over 10 billion barrels (1.6 km³) of oil since production started in 1960. Daqing contained 16 billion barrels (2.5 km³) or 2.2 billion tons in the beginning; the remaining recoverable reserves are about 3.6 billion barrels (572,000,000 m³) or 500 million tons. The current production rate is about 1 million barrels (160,000 m³) per day, making it the fourth most productive oil field in the world.[citation needed] It is reputed[citation needed] that during the first two decades of the life of the field, as much as 90% of the oil was wasted[citation needed].

    When the Chinese government began to use to pinyin Western characters for Romanization, the field’s name became known as Daqing.

    Daqing Oilfield Company Limited, based in Daqing, is the operator of exploration and development of Daqing Oilfield. From 2004, the company plans to cut its crude oil output by an annual 7% for the next seven years to extend the life of Daqing.[3]

  • Matteo

    I think is is fantastic that this level of conversation is being had, and applaud NPR for allowing us a forum for the exchange of ideas. Many of the above comments brought up great points. I would however like to respond to one in particular, he of the “intellectual giantism” remark.

    Mr. Bracy,
    Do not confuse my honesty for anything but that. The oil industry is fundamentally focused on safety, and the avoidance of incidents such as that in the gulf coast, because it is in their financial interest to do so. As someone who worked in the industry over the last few years, nothing was more emphasized then the importance of safety, and the prevention of accidents.

    I am making no excuses for what happened; whenever something of this magnitude occurs, and human lives are forfeit, it is a tragedy beyond words. “Accidents happen” is not a cop-out, but rather the admittance that despite the best intentions and technologies the chance for misfortune, however minute, can not be completely eliminated. The possibility and existence of risk should not be a reason to avoid endeavors, but rather such endeavors must be closely analyzed, and the risks assessed to provide us with the best methods possible to avoid them. The day after the explosion on Deepwater Horizon, a luxury train carrying foreign tourists in South Africa derailed, killing 2 (including a pregnant woman) and injuring several others. Again, a horrific accident, but should we stop using trains because such a thing is possible? 43,443 deaths in 2005 were a result of car accidents, perhaps we should no longer drive? As you can see, this sort of response when applied to other arenas soon delves into the ridiculous.

    To say that we must “end oil now” is to display a disturbing loose grasp of reality as it stands. Fossil fuels provide 84% of the US energy demand (According to the US Energy Information Administration). That demand is not going anywhere, and while we ramp of efforts to allow alternative energy sources to shoulder more of this burden (A stragety I whole-heartedly endorse: I worked in the fuel-cell industry and have great hope for it in the future) we can’t afford to forsake the fuels that presently allow you to drive to work, heat your home and enjoy your life. And if we all strive to lessen our demand on energy thru conservation in our own lives, it will make the transition that much easier.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    Sad to say Oil will still be with us until We USED every drop of oil in the world.

    It will never go away until we use them all. As for the Oil Rig disaster I think the oil companies are not CHEAP not make those rig durable. Accident can happen any time at any day. For a few millions dollar to make those Rigs safe proof is impossible.

    You are the best driver in the world but another stupid driver can make you the worst driver in the world.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    The Best Documentary Filmed ever produced was the

    PBS “The Prize” Learn and how we really dependent on oil from the economy to wars.

    Knowledge is Power.

  • Rob

    I agree that the PBS documentary “The Prize” is worth watching. It is largely based on Daniel Yergin’s 1990 book (same name), which is an excellent read.

    I would only add that one major change since 1990 is that the overwhelming majority of the world’s proven oil reserves are now under the direct control of state owned companies, many of which are either unstable governments or nations that are openly hostile to the United States. BP Amoco (17), Exxon Mobil (14), Shell (20) are barely in the top 20 global energy companies when ranked by proven oil and natural gas reserves. The remainder of this list is comprised of foreign state owned/controlled companies. Here are a couple of interesting quotes from energy executives:

    “ All the easy oil and gas in the world has pretty much been found. Now comes the harder work in finding and producing oil from more challenging environments and work areas. ” — William J. Cummings, Exxon-Mobil company spokesman, December 2005

    “ It is pretty clear that there is not much chance of finding any significant quantity of new cheap oil. Any new or unconventional oil is going to be expensive. ” Lord Ron Oxburgh, a former chairman of Shell, October 2008

    To the extent companies are forced to drill for oil in more remote places, I would presume that the risk of accidents and spills will increase as well.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com akilez

    “ It is pretty clear that there is not much chance of finding any significant quantity of new cheap oil. Any new or unconventional oil is going to be expensive. ” Lord Ron Oxburgh, a former chairman of Shell, October 2008

    That’s why he is the former chairman of Shell.

    I mean Oil is Oil. How can you Distinguish cheap oil to good oil. Are they all the same color, they all come from same place, underground.

    If the oil was from a fossil of a T-Rex and the other one was made from Crocodile but how can you distinguished them from each other they all slippery and smelly.

  • Liz B.

    A viable answer to decrease oil dependence is to decrease our military engagements all over the world. The military complex needs a great deal of energy and fuel from oil to function.
    Did anyone calculate the military’s carbon footprint??

  • Brett

    “Remember these Off Shore Workers will save us from Armaggedon soon.”-akilez

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; first comes the Rapture, THEN comes Armageddon. Besides, if those off-shore workers have been born again, they won’t be around for Armageddon, silly goose! ;-)

  • Rob

    Although I am not an expert on the actual process of drilling for oil, my basic understanding is that there are differing grades/qualities of oil with some being more difficult and costly to refine into usable consumer products, such as gasoline, heating oil, etc.. He was stating that most of the recent crude oil reserve discoveries were lower quality crude (and thus more costly to refine into end products).

    Although it may not have been their intent, the statements of these two executives actually support peak production theories, such as Hubbert’s peak, and the necessity of finding alternative energy sources.

  • Gary

    More than you want to know (peak oil): http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

  • cory

    Any energy paradigm will have hazards associated with it, down to migratory birds being threatened by wind power. And accidents will happen.

    Others have mentioned the big question. Can Americans learn to live with a lower rate of consumption in their lives? Can we significantly reduce our use of electricity? Flip off the main breaker to your home after dark one night and look around you. I don’t think we can voluntarily do it. Either market forces or our government will have to force us to do it. Either way, it will be UGLY.

  • justanother

    ****i think that the parents, children, and pets of the CEO and board members of the compamnies invilved should be forced to swim in the spill and eat food affected by it.****

    Well, that’s a little harsh to punish other relatives, but I’m all for it, to throw the CEO’s and the policy makers in the pool of oil, good and practical justice.

  • justanother

    I was reading some comments from Yahoo, very knowledgeable and informative. In general, they say this kind of gas leak explosion are mostly operator’s error. Most of U.S. rig utility are old and outdated, which is not equipped to back human error. Doesn’t it sound like our old and worn infrastructure here in U.S. Things are getting old here, but no money to upgrade or fix them, this invites disasters.

  • justanother

    I haven’t listened to the show yet. I wonder if they talk about how much carbon being burn to release into air? No matter where you look at it, pollution! pollution!

  • Bush’s fault

    What happened? an industrial accident. Sure, families will mourn the tragic loss of relatives as they do on occasion in every hazardous occupation. But there will also be cleanup and repair, and the industry will progress as always. But I find solace in some aspects of this disaster. No liberal weenie crybaby environmentalist who has complained or raged on this comment board or called in will park his or her car, turn off the lights, shut down the furnace or leave a job which depends on petroleum consumption in any manner. Pure hypocrisy from them as usual. And while I don’t eat shrimp or crab, it’s no secret our waters are over fished, and this might be the break our seafood source may need to recover.

  • Ellen LaVan

    Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/26/big-oil-fought-off-new-sa_n_552575.html

    “The Minerals and Management Service of the Interior Department proposed taking a more proactive stance by requiring operators to have their safety program audited at least once every three years — previously, the industry’s self-managed safety program was voluntary for operators. The agency estimated that the proposed rule, which has yet to take effect, would cost operators about $4.59 million in startup costs and $8 million in annual recurring costs.

    The industry has launched a coordinated campaign to attack those regulations, with over 100 letters objecting to the regulations — in a September 14, 2009 letter to MMS, BP vice president for Gulf of Mexico production, Richard Morrison, wrote that “we are not supportive of the extensive, prescriptive regulations as proposed in this rule,” arguing that the voluntary programs “have been and continue to be very successful,” along with a list of very specific objections to the wording of the proposed regulations.”

    Click here for the proposed rule from the Interior Department’s MMS

    Click here for the letter from BP objecting to the proposed rule

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    Well, Mr. Batista, I appreciate the response and frankly I’m surprised that people read these Internet responses as though they were actually using their brains. If I’d had a bit more space and time, I’d have been more clear.

    I’m not naive enough to think that we could end oil today or tomorrow or even next decade, necessarily. Let me “cap” this argument for you.

    Inventors entrepreneurs have invented and reinvented super-efficient carburetors for internal combustion engines — going back to the ’50s — that would have allowed cars and trucks to be getting 70, 80 and 90 miles per gallon without changing anything in the energy mix! We could be operating on petroleum today and there would still be plenty for tomorrow!

    But that didn’t happen, did it. No. There was pushback and greed on the part of the oil companies, wasn’t there.

    Big Oil thought it would lose money, didn’t it. The inventors ran off to Europe thinking they’d set up shop there and what happened? … they got run off the farm, didn’t they.

    So where is Big Oil today? The Big Oil boys are now looking at the prospect of being run off the farm themselves, are they not?

    So while we’re not going to see the end of oil maybe in the lifetimes of some of us, the point is that we wasted decades worth of progress simply by protecting the petroleum industry and its special interest agenda. Ain’t short-sightedness grand?

    Here’s my final point, Mr. Batista. This time we’re not going to let special interests get the best of us. This time will be different. Chew on this ~ HYDROGEN is coming. Stand up for your oil just as those with the tight fitting corporatist hats have always done. Oil is finished. This is why I used the analogy which I see upset you, and for that I apologize. But remember that you read it here ~ HYDROGEN power is coming, and specifically, solar hydrogen.

    You are aware, are you not, that when Jimmy Carter “walked” down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration day, the car he was to ride in was hydrogen powered. Buses in Europe have been hydrogen powered ever since the ’60s. I know. I served with the U.S. Army in Europe for most of that decade and fully expected to see buses in America following suit. Well it’s half a century later and Big Oil is still having its way with us.

    If I were you, sir, I’d start swallowing a little of the denial you’re in. We’ve had 50 years of “accidents” that didn’t need to happen. I hope this clears things up for you. Thanks for the interest.

  • justanother

    Bush’s fault,

    You may need to do some catching up here. Lots of liberals are doing all the things you were criticizing them of already, don’t need to wait until the oil spill. Your goal here is to bash liberals, even they do what you expect them to do, you will strike back with different tone anyway. You are not interested in discussing the cause, you are more interested in cherry picking and nagging.

  • Bush’s fault

    Nonsense, justanother…but thanks for trying…have a good night.

  • justanother

    Sure, Bush’s fault, now you know what “Nonsense” sounds like in your ears!

  • Karsten Petersen

    I worked on the Deepwater Horizon for 7 years. It is just imposible to understand how it happened. Without knowing the details I guess that at least 4 levels protection were breached. Had it happened on land the first thought would have been same kind of terroism, which I’m sure not is the case onboard the DWH.

  • Obama happens

    Offshore oil will continue to be a vital American resource.

  • Albert

    It’s amazing to see how deep they can drill these days.

  • jeffe

    Our current use of oil and cars was done by design Google “National City Lines”.

    This is an interesting read:

    The General Motors Conspiracy

    by

    Ed O’Rourke

    Our automobile dominant society did not become that way by open market forces. The General Motors Corporation led a conspiracy to make this happen. GM set up a shell company, the National City Lines that endeavored to convert cities’ transit systems from electricity driven street cars to petroleum driven vehicles and give the conspiring companies an exclusive market over their competition in the gasoline, tire and bus business.

    An excerpt from an October 2, 1946 letter of the Department of Justice to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, describes the illegal activity:

    “Investigation of the complaints disclosed the probable existence of a systematic campaign by National City Lines, acting with its manufacturing shareholders, to secure control over local transportation systems in various cities. As soon as the control is secured, the local transportation company is directed to buy buses, petroleum products and tires form the manufacturing shareholders of National City Lines in accordance with the contracts between the manufacturers and National City Lines. The purpose of the plan is to set up an integrated scheme of control whereby manufacturing stockholders furnish supplies of buses, tires and petroleum products to local transportation companies on terms agreed upon by the National City Lines and manufacturers….It appears that Nationals City Lines and its manufacturing associates have entered into a plan to secure control over local transportation systems in important cities in the United States….One result of the plan for integrated control over local transportation has been the elimination of electric railway cars in city transportation controlled by these companies.”

    On April 9, 1947, a federal grand jury unsealed two counts of criminal conspiracy against: General Motors Corporation, the National City Lines, Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, Phillips Petroleum Company, Mack Manufacturing Corporation, Standard Oil Company of California and others. The defendants hired some of the best defense lawyers in the county in the most complex and precedent-setting conspiracy trials in memory.

    On March 12, 1949, the jury delivered its decision:

    Count 1: Conspiracy to secure control of transit systems. Not guilty.

    Count 2: Conspiracy to monopolize the transit business for their own oil, tires and buses. Guilty as charged.

    The defendants appealed all the way to the Supreme Court but the convictions from the second count stood.

    Back in 1936, GM formed a holding company, National City Lines (NCL), for the express purpose of acquiring local transit systems throughout the country, mostly in medium-sized cities. In later years, other members of the conspiracy joined. One of the benefits was that National City Lines would buy their products almost exclusively. NCL did buy some products from non-participants to give the appearance of competitive purchasing.

    NCL’s procedure was to acquire trolley lines, let them deteriorate, institute unpopular bus lines and eventually cutting their routes leaving automobiles as the only remaining desirable alternative.

    Streetcars were popular but the people running the transit companies were often greedy, stupid and corrupt.

    The public liked the smooth riding, quiet, spacious trolleys. They were a welcome alternative to filthy, cinder-spewing, coal burning railroads. They were cheap to ride and operate. Sometimes they were social centers. Trolleys inspired movies and songs, with possibly the known “The Trolley Car Song” sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie Meet Me In St. Louis.

    The demise of the streetcar was brought on by the short-sightedness, greed and corruption of their owners. In many of the larger cities, transit companies were municipal agencies. In most cities and towns, transit companies were privately owned enterprises often controlled by the local utility but too often engaged in “theft, bribery, embezzlement and public deception.”

    What made NCL’s effort easier was that buses were the most economical choice in the short run. They cost between $3,500 and $8,000 while a streetcar would cost two to three times as much. Buses could run on the streets for free while trolleys had to build and maintain the expensive track and overhead wires.

    Those cheaper buses could run only six or eight years, while a streetcar could run for two or three decades. Streetcars were the better investment in the long run.

    When Dwight Eisenhower became president, he chose Charles Wilson, GM’s president from 1941 to 1952 to be his first Defense Secretary. Driven by his military experience, Eisenhower wanted an Interstate Highway System that would speed up the movement of troops and supplies in an emergency. This was the same Charles Wilson who in 1952 had famously declared “What is good for America is good for General Motors, and vice versa.”

    Instead, what Charles Wilson gave us was something akin to “securing” for the automobile, truck, petroleum, and tire industries not only the transit system, but virtually the entire transportation system of the United States. This was no longer restricted to the 1936 cabal, as competitors in the field were co-opted. By the mid-1960s, one out of six business enterprises was directly dependent on the motor vehicle industry There was never any serious consideration for subsidizing mass transit in the cities or railroads between cities. Today, efficient urban transit systems are scarce, while intercity/interstate mass transit is almost non-existent outside of most populous of the original 13 states and the District of Columbia, along with the area surrounding and supporting Chicago.

    Above and beyond altering the means by which people move about, this takeover ultimately led to disastrous environmental effects and health costs. Indeed, this conversion to an automobile-based society – to an oil-addicted society — may be seen to have engendered some of our more extreme geopolitical crises, the cost of supporting close to 750 military instillations on foreign soil, and our most tragic military costs, of which we read daily reports.

    Ed O’Rourke is an environmental accountant in Houston.

    Main source:

    Edwin Black, Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives, St. Martin’s Press, 2006, 408 pages.

    Some help:

    http://www.wikipedia.com, entries, “National City Lines” and “Great American Streetcar Scandal.”

  • jade

    Re: Karsten Petersen, 9:43 PM 4/27, who has worked on the rig & doesn’t understand how the accident could have happened -

    and Re: Jason, 10:26 am 4/27, who thinks eco-terrorism was the cause -

    You may have missed these 3 commenters (these are small excerpts, but you can find them easily by the time of their comments):

    Steven 12:42 pm 4/27:
    Have worked over 30 years in the oil and gas industry offshore Gulf of Mexico … The oil and gas industry will find any way they can to cut costs including cutting corners on safety. It happens all the time. See MMS’ listing of infractions by oil companies every single day.

    Scratch, 12:03 pm 4/27:
    I started my career 30 years ago working on offshore rigs in the Gulf as a petroleum geologist. To those who think eco-terrorists did this – nonsense. The blow-out preventer system that failed was 5000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The possibility that this system was sabotaged is remote to say the least. These rigs are complex and the possibility of an unforeseen chain of events leading to this disaster are high… I am more inclined to believe that it was negligence or a missed inspection. The vast majority of industrial accidents can be traced to human error somewhere along the line.

    Ellen LaVan, 7:52 pm 4/27:
    Big Oil (including BP) Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion — previously, the industry’s self-managed safety program was VOLUNTARY for operators. The industry has launched a coordinated campaign to attack these new regulations (which have not yet taken effect)…

    And now for my bit:

    I think it’s obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to how our corporatized America works, that the accident was a combination of human error &/or a natural event, greatly exacerbated by multiple, frequent SAFETY SHORTCUTS taken to SAVE MONEY for GREATER CORPORATE PROFITS.

    Not only are their safety programs voluntary, but they are under-monitored, as all regulatory agencies are greatly under-staffed and under-resourced (extreme cuts to already underserved agencies happened in the Bush years). And, many of these regulatory agencies are headed by cronies of the big corp’s they are supposed to be monitoring – an unacceptable situation; legislative reform is greatly needed.

    This is not OK, but it IS business as usual.

    Just like in the coal mines, where once the inspector leaves, the overseer takes the respiratory safety/monitoring equipment off the miners and hangs it at the mine entrance so he’ll get good readings for the daily records. And if a miner complains about this, he is told he doesn’t need to come back to work. (this reported by a miner)

    ONLY WE can change this business-as-usual. Three ways I think of, maybe there are more:

    Pressure our supposed “representatives,” most of whose political campaigns were paid for by big business. When they get thousands of emails/letters/phone calls, they freak out and they act. Same with demonstrating in front of or in their office. They notice.

    Demonstrate in the street, in front of corporate offices, etc. Get creative and theatrical to get the media’s interest. There are some wonderful examples of this that got tremendous media coverage for an ignored story, just because of their creative “angle.” This type of action both disturbs/wakes up the corporates (they care about their image), and it educates the public on the issue.

    Participate in intelligent, strategic and well-designed economic boycotts. Done wrong, boycotts are useless, but if done right, they are very powerful, and have changed the practices of many big corporations.

    Use the Internet! For educating the public, for coordinating support, for getting lawmakers’ attention, for networking … it’s a powerful tool.

    Remember that we have NOT only been addicted to oil for transportation. Plastics are made of oil, as are many of the chemicals in common household products – cleaners, fertilizers, car polishes, paints, bodycare products… (also remember that 100 years ago, people lived all right without any of these things).

    Alternatives are available — they cost more because they don’t get the govt subsidy support that Big Oil gets. Yup, Exxon et al who pay no taxes, get huge govt subsidies, our tax dollars, so we think oil is cheaper than it is. If we paid the actual prices, no subsidies and tax exemptions, all these products would cost 2-3 times as much. So how can the alternative technologies compete when they get NO subsidies and DO pay taxes?

    And yes, YES, we must change our over-consumptive habits. It is way past time for us to grow up and live within our means. That means consuming only our fair share of the Earth’s resources, and paying for the environmental damage we are inflicting on the rest of the world. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable, change often is, but also, sometimes making changes will surprise and delight us; and it is empowering to find we don’t need what we thought we needed, and that we are more resourceful than we knew, and to feel we are becoming responsible global citizens.

    Spend a day playing outside! (for free, not at a golf course) instead of driving, flying, shopping, buying entertainment, consuming.

    Make and enjoy dinner at home with friends (using locally-grown food), instead of driving to eat out, or buying packaged foods with all their Big Oil and Big Chemical costs.

    Tune up that bike and start using it! Walk that errand. Walking is enjoyable (the sights, the smells, the sounds, the physical activity) and extends your health and your life. Leave the earbuds at home! The birds are singing, the bees are humming, kids are playing.. You miss the auditory beauty of the world when you fill up your space with a soundtrack all the time.

    Been meaning for years to plant a garden? DO IT NOW! You will enjoy and learn so much, and you will be consuming less un-fresh food that has been shipped thousands of miles.

    Think creatively about how you can reduce and re-use.
    And – don’t trash it, donate it ! Thrift shops, poorer people, can use most of what you’re done with.

    And very important — STOP WATCHING COMMERCIALS. Commercials are how corporations control and brainwash us into believing we need what they’re selling. Do you REALLY need that new, slightly altered or improved one? Is there REALLY something wrong with you that needs their drug? Less stuff = less work hours, which means less stress & more free time to enjoy your life, and means less raping the Earth for resources to make more stuff.

    And it’s not only stuff – they convince you something’s wrong with you, so you’ll buy their product to “fix” the “problem.” Convince women they need bigger boobs, a drug to make them skinnier, or an operation to alter their face. Convince men they need to be “bigger” or “perform” better. Convince us our kids’ childhood angst needs a drug, when maybe they just need less sugar-loaded foods sold to us on TV. Convince us that every little symptom needs an expensive drug or operation, most of which actually do harm – when most of these symptoms would disappear with a change in our eating or lifestyle habits. And did you know the drug companies PAY your doctor to push their newest drug?

    Then they sell us wars that give us back damaged-for-life young ones, wars to steal what we can’t afford to buy, to support our consumption Habit.

    And they sell us the idea that we are powerless to effect change, to make a difference. This is a falsehood that greatly serves the corporate powers-that-be and allows our suicidal status quo to continue. The idea of an enlightened, empowered public making necessary changes, terrifies them.

    So here’s just a few avenues for changing our lives, reducing our dependence on Oil, taking back our power and our wallet, and preserving our Earth in the process.

    Bless You all. May we all wake up, take personal responsibility, push our “representatives” to represent US instead of Big Money, and embrace Change.

  • Juan

    I admire the Americans and their ability to solve difficult problems. They will fix this problem.

  • Joshua

    The environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinking into the Gulf of Mexico will be felt for years to come. The financial impact is already being felt.

    As it sunk, the rig began spilling tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the water per day. Nearly a half-million gallons have already spilled and the toll could be worse than that of the Valdez accident.

    Fears are that oil from the well on the sea floor will begin making its way to the surface. Just 41 miles from the coast, the rig is situated so that this incident has brought a lot of business to a halt on the seas, and for those who depend on the Gulf along the shores. As the slick spreads across the Gulf, more and more business is impacted each day. This delay is likely to total in the millions of dollars until the site is cleaned.

    And clearly, the impact of sea life in the Gulf is immediate and could be felt for years. Those waters serve as home to numerous fish species and shellfish like shrimp, mussels and oysters we find at markets. Not only is it next to impossible to farm these animals under such conditions, the water quality is sure to be jeopardized by the massive oil spill.

    Please read this site for more information on the environmental and economic damages this explosion, fire and spill have caused: http://www.oil-rig-explosions.com/

  • Brian M

    For some reason, this episode does not seem to have been posted on the podcast. Oversight or technical glitch?

  • Oh Yeah

    Now, Friday, BP finally admits as much as 5000 BARRELS A DAY!!!!! are leaking into the Gulf!!!!

    Big surprise they were lying through their teeth about the early “estimates.”

    No doubt they were hoping the deep ocean would mask the spill.

    Destroy, Baby, Destroy!

  • Matt

    Looks like this is just a blip.

    The AP reports that this spill might get to 4.2 million
    gallons.

    EPA said in 2004 that 8 million barrels a year are
    spilled into U.S. waters on average:

    http://www.epa.gov/oem/docs/oil/fss/fss04/etkin_04.pdf

    CBC reports:
    “But Environment Canada says there are about 12 reported spills of 4,000 litres of more of oil every day in this country.” That’s 4.6 million gallons.

    We are pretty filthy creatures.

  • ThiNG

    This is moot point, Natural oil sepage occurs daily. I know it makes a mess if it reaches the shores. But Mother nature will take care of it naturally. The Environmental wacks use this for propaganda, nothing more.

  • joshua

    to blame environmentalists is so pathetic. Blame the oil industry.

    The best comment above the truth of it is–like the bailout and health insurance–we privatize the gains and socialize the losses. The American people are being swindled. Bunch of suckers.

    End the reign of fossil fuels! End the reign of the corporate-aristocracy. You are nothing more than a peasant.

    Use less electricity! “We can not live without the oil industry,” he says–shut up! Life begins when you stop using electricity.

  • joshua

    Environmentalists do not have money for propaganda. Organizations like Sierra club and Greenpeace rely on meager donations.

    While, the multi-billion dollar industry of oil–responsible for war and death and the destruction of the planet has all the money in the world and spends billions on propaganda smart guy. If you believe in the oil industry you are the one under the spell of propaganda. Why don’t you consider the safety violations smart boy–industrialists faithfully violate safety regulations. The death of these men are the responsibility of the company. Blame them for that as well. But don’t blame un-organized voiceless voices in the wilderness concerned about clean air and water and health of human beings–or even the economy of the gulf. You people that bash so-called environmentalists are disgusting human beings. Why don’t you go take a swim in the spillage? No, I didn’t think so.

  • jade

    “Mother Nature will take care of it naturally” is a pathetic excuse for not taking responsibility. Like Mother Nature took care of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hiroshima, or Chernobyl, or our Viet Nam vets whose kids all had birth defects from the Agent Orange their dads were exposed to…

    Mother Nature will SURVIVE and will adjust — but will we ? Will other species? Likely not. (We have already caused the extinction of thousands of species, unnecessary if we were living responsibly.) One of the few survivor species in catastrophic times, is the cockroach. We humans are not nearly so resilient, so adaptable, or so tough.

    Some wise ones say that if we as a species continue to behave in a way that is so destructive to the planet — like a CANCER — that our species will be swatted off the planet like you would thump a mosquito off your arm.

    Of course it will look different than that to us — it will look like: epidemic diseases that are antibiotic-resistant, weather catastrophes, the die-off of our food supplies. If we keep this up, we will destroy the balance of environmental systems that we need to survive, on the friendliest, most hospitable planet in the whole neighborhood.

    The arrogant among us, believe they cannot be evicted, believe they are in charge. Wrong. These arrogant ones are the ones who hike out into the desert without water provisions because they don’t believe that THEY could get lost! They get out there, they get lost, they are dead in a day. Stupid arrogance, not respecting one’s environment, not understanding one’s small place in the universe, one’s limitations, and not taking responsibility for one’s actions, spells death sooner than later.

    This planet is a beautiful home. Let’s wake up and stop destroying it so we don’t have to be evicted.

  • jade

    Re: ” a mess if it reaches the shores… Mother nature will take care of it naturally… propaganda, nothing more.”

    Thing,-

    propaganda, nothing more?

    I dare you to go down there and tell that to all the people who have made a living their whole lives fishing for shrimp, oysters, etc all along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. Today is their last day to fish because of the approaching spill, which is expected to dwarf the Valdez spill. (was that one just propaganda too? 20 years later, the salmon and other fisheries are only 10-20% of what they were before the spill. Directly after the spill, they were NOTHING. ZILCH. for years.)

    So the fishermen are all out there collecting all the fish and seafood they can today and into the night, because by tomorrow the spill will hit shore and there will be NO MORE FISHERIES FOR YEARS. Decades actually. That’s billions of dollars a year of real people’s livelihoods, wiped out.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it adds a whole percentage point to our national unemployment rate, it is hundreds of thousands of people. Unless we can employ them in spill cleanup.

  • Lauren

    Those who say this is just propaganda, may they lose their jobs and become homeless as will some of the thousands of fishermen who are losing their lifelong careers because of this spill.

    It’s not that I am wishing harm on “Thing.” I am wishing for him to wake up, and sometimes we have to experience the difficulties we are laughing at, in order to wake up. Especially when we are disdainful of other people’s difficulties that are caused by our own actions (and this may be an alien concept to Thing, but we are ALL responsible for the spill because we ALL consume OIL products, even if we don’t have a car – we all use plastics, household chemicals, etc). So none of us has a right to be flippant about the ruined lives of the people down there who are affected by the spill.

  • jeffe

    This is moot point, Natural oil sepage occurs daily. I know it makes a mess if it reaches the shores. But Mother nature will take care of it naturally. The Environmental wacks use this for propaganda, nothing more.

    I dare you to stand on any dock in the Gulf and repeat this. Is this your answer to the $1.2 billion fishing business in Louisiana?

    This is a very irresponsible comment.

  • Kevin

    Give me a break. I have worked on numerous oil spills including the large spill off Galveston in the 1980s. Oil creates an acute mess but is not persistent in the environment. Yes many animals and birds die, and fishing may be impacted for a while. In the grand scheme of things (i.e., compared to the huge amount of oil that naturally leaks into the oceans from fissures and seeps), this little mess is insignificant in comparison.

    As an engineer, that was no accident. Someone needs to start a criminal investigation immediately before the evidence is destroyed.

  • http://kimgallant.com Kim

    I have never been a “conspiricy theory” person……BUT, my gut is screaming that it just cannot be a coincidence that we have the worst coal mining explosion in decades and the worst oil rig explosion (possibly in history) as we approach cap and trade legislation and just after Obama begrudgingly “caves” toward drilling. Is anyone looking into this? Am I living in the twighlight zone?

  • Nick

    This is really weird. I was doing a search for a new domain name and typing in names to try. I had the news on tv – gulf disaster. This prompted a creative thought “black gulf” Typed in “blackgulf”. BLACKGULF COM was registered on 11 March 2010. Going to the site it is a forum and seems to be religious but not looked at it further. All comments started in March this year.

  • Wayne

    One thing i have really growen to hate from learning all ive learnt
    *That is GOVTS And MONEY!!!
    *BOTH WE DONT NEED
    *And both turn us from being forward thinking and a advancing race of beings into monkeys that do the same pointless repetative backwards things every day…. See More
    And as a race of beings we dont progress
    *Because of money and govts
    *Sorry i really do hate em tho they are spose to be our leaders taking us forward with the best advice the world of people has to offer.
    And they use that power turn it into control therefore denying us the experiences a real life has to offer.
    *Like serriously right now right this sec
    *THE WORLD SHOULD SAY “THATS IT FULLSTOP
    *STUFF THE OIL AND BACKWARDS THINKING,
    *NO MORE OIL RIGS … NO MORE OIL
    *NO SUCH THING ANYMORE””
    *You as people of the world
    *you will all hate this
    *BUT
    *Learn to like this
    *Because if we arnt smart enough to have found a more efficient ,pollution free way of powering that car with some *kind of conversion kit
    *you arnt thinking
    *cause we as humans can do it
    *you can run cars from salt water
    *28 times more powerfullt then petrol
    * The govt knows about THIS and so do many people
    *H2O
    water
    hydrogen
    oxygen
    And thats with out even knowing anything about much!!! But have seen em run
    What about this one .. “DePalma N Machine “” Produces 5 times more power then it uses ! YES YOU READ IT GO DO SOME HOME WORK WORLD!!!! And wake up like i think the guy who wrote this artical is trying to explain ! How much longer do we let govts destroy this world in the name of their PAY PACKETS..TAXS & TRICKERY
    I say..
    Any politcal Leader that Approved any part of this (weapon) oil rigg of mass destruction. Should face same fate as same punishment as the other leaders have in the past for not even pocessing such a item!!!

  • Mike

    with all the talent in our country, with all the might of our abilities economically. With all the need for new jobs, economy, and future growth. With the need and really a requirement to steward our lands/seas and wildlife. With the need to keep our country strong and independant. You would THINK we would have a massive “national” emergency mind set that we move to renewable/clean energies AND work with all vigor and capability to develop new energy sources. This is a disaster that need not happen, and really we need not have happen in the future.

  • Black Knight

    I love all of the speculation. How this has happened, who is at fault. Only now do we find out that BP was not even running the rig. A third party company called Transocean was operating the the rig. The accident was not because BP did anything, but apparently the company that was runing the rig did not properly use Bow out devices or circumvented them.

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After a summer of deadly clashes between Gaza and Israel, we talk to Jews on the left and right about the future of liberal Zionism. Some say it’s over.

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