Come August, BP will have dug the two wells they needed to dig to intercept the oil from the out of control gusher. They're drilling two because President Obama told them to, or they'd be doing their usual sub-standard job-- only one well, as they'd planned.
It's been said that the task is like drilling to intercept a dinner plate a mile away. That means the odds are not great that the plan will work at all. Hopefully it will and the oil gushing from the out-of-control wellhead will be shunted to the new well, which is properly set up to take the oil and move it through piping to ships on the surface. Hopefully. they'll be able to do the switch and shut off the flow to the other hole.
If BP's last ditch effort doesn't work, there will be two options--
1) Endless BleedoutPresident Obama should have used the underground nuke option just a few days or at least, weeks into this incident. He didn't for several possible reasons:
Let the well bleed out BILLIONS of gallons of crude oil over the course of several years, until either the reservoir empties or the pressure diminishes enough for current capping technology or new interventions become available.2)underground Nuke the well 1000 feet below the seafloor
Obama orders what I started thinking about days after the disaster started and finally put into writing about 30 days into the disaster-- Nuke The Well 1000 Feet Below the Sea-bed. Now, I've been very clear that this should not be done on the surface of the sea floor at the well head. It should be done 1000 feet below the sea floor, using one or both of the wells BP is now drilling, assuming they fail. At 1000 feet below the sea floor, a small nuclear explosion has a good chance of destroying the connection between the field of oil three miles further down. Underground nuclear explosions at a depth of 1000 feet below ground do not reach the surface. We know that.
-Believing that there might be other options that would work-- Maybe he thought that was true. Maybe all those advisors he's spent all that time taking advice from encouraged him to trust BP's efforts, a big mistake. Frank Rich commented on this in his June 6th column:There's another consideration my son Ben raised over dinner yesterday. If a nuke is used, will it be BP that uses it, on behalf of the US government? That would be the first corporate use of a nuclear bomb. Or, as I speculated, spinning off of Ben's thought, would it be the first time a nuclear weapon was used in response to a corporate crime?-Concern that a decision to use a nuke would be attacked by Fox News and other detractors on both sides of the ideological fence. That fear shapes too many decisions of Democratic leaders. It has been stated by some, but is always there.
Unlike his unflappable temperament, his lingering failings should and could be corrected. And they must be if his presidency is not just to rise above the 24/7 Spill-cam but to credibly seize the narrative that Americans have craved ever since he was elected during the most punishing economic downturn of our lifetime. We still want to believe that Obama is on our side, willing to fight those bad corporate actors who cut corners and gambled recklessly while regulators slept, Congress raked in contributions, and we got stuck with the wreckage and the bills. But his leadership style keeps sowing confusion about his loyalties, puncturing holes in the powerful tale he could tell.
His most conspicuous flaw is his unshakeable confidence in the collective management brilliance of the best and the brightest he selected for his White House team -- "his abiding faith in the judgment of experts," as Joshua Green of The Atlantic has put it. At his gulf-centric press conference 10 days ago, the president said he had "probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review." This was meant to be reassuring but it was not. The plugging of an uncontrollable oil leak, like the pacification of an intractable Afghanistan , may be beyond the reach of marathon brainstorming by brainiacs, even if the energy secretary is a Nobel laureate. Obama has yet to find a sensible middle course between blind faith in his own Ivy League kind and his predecessor's go-with-the-gut bravado.By now, he also should have learned that the best and the brightest can get it wrong -- and do.
-Lack of courage to take a step as strong as using a nuke. It WILL require a lot of courage to do it. There are risks. We're seeing the hundreds of thousands of people whose way of life has been destroyed, with so many more to join them-- because of the lack of courage to take quick action.
That raises another question. By August, will there have been any prosecutions of BP, Transocean or Haliburton by the impotent office of Attorney General Eric Holder, who doesn't look back, except to go after patriotic whistleblowers who challenge corrupt government practices?
By August, will Obama have taken on with any courage and toughness the Republicans who are using ridiculous excuses to protect oil companies from UNLIMITED liability for damages-- not the outrageous current $75 million limit or the $10 billion limit discussed, which is tantamount to corporate welfare for amounts over $10 billion or which puts the responsibility on the victims. Republicans-- mostly legislators paid for and owned by big oil-- claim that unlimited liability will keep smaller companies from doing deep water drilling and only foreign nations and companies will do it. Interesting point. Why can't the US government be the nation doing the drilling? The services which do the drilling and maintain the well could be privatized, so no jobs would be lost, but then, the US would reap the big profits and be able to run the operations and do them right.
By August, will Obama and congress have legislation PASSED which makes the USA's drilling regulations the safest in the world? Why should this take six months, as Obama mandated to a committee he delegated to study this. Get it done so the Republicans can't justly blame the Democrats for taking too long keeping gulf workers out of work. The legislation should require that drillers should use the back-up systems required by other major nations--
-drill a back-up well while drilling the first well. Make sure the back up well is properly working before taking the well live.By August, will government agencies start using the more realistic bigger estimates of the barrels per day of the gusher generated by independent scientists, rather than towing the BP line? Today BP's CEO claims it's latest inadeqate fix is picking up 10,000 barrels of oil a day. How can we possibly trust him? Is the US getting independent confirmation of that number, considering it was 1000 the day before? And if the independent scientists are right, that suspect 10,000 barrels a day may not even cover the increase in flow of 20 percent that BP stated the gusher might increase, after cutting the riser.
-use an acoustic coupler as part of the BOP on every well.
-regulations that require exercise of extreme caution in issuing approvals for changes from usual and customary safety steps and procedures-- the kinds of skipped steps that MMS permitted should not be allowed.
By August, if the estimates of gusher flow are correct, at 50,000 to 120,000 barrels a day, the damage to the gulf and beyond, caused by the oil and by the-- by then millions of gallons of toxic dispersant-- will still be just starting. There's some speculation that even rain from gulf waters could make America's farm fields toxic. And, there's speculation that oil slicks will decrease evaporation and dramatically decrease rain, creating a drought. BY August, who know how far up the east coast the red crude-- sea of blood of biblical proportions-- will extend-- perhaps even, via the gulf stream, to the United Kingdom.
By August, will Obama mobilize the army of people needed to clean the beaches and marshes and reef and waters. We watch video footage of pairs of workers, not armies as we should be seeing. There are millions of unemployed in this nation and a disaster that is being inadequately attended to. President Obama should hire a million or two of them to go to the states impacted by the gulf disaster. He should pay them, give them and their families medicare and negotiate with hotels and restaurants to put them up and feed them, by the month, to help support the locally impacted hotels and restaurants. Pay out of work shrimpers and fisherman to put them up in their homes.
It would probably cost maybe $40 a day to put up two workers in a hotel room and another $20 a day to feed each worker-- nothing fancy, but still room for some profit for restaurants. That'd work out to $1200 a month for food and housing, and another $2500 to pay them $30,000 a year. Add about $5,000 a year for medicare and you come up with $50,000 a year per worker. A million workers would cost $50 billion. And that money would go directly into the economies of the states impacted by the gulf disaster or back home to help support those workers families. It's a totally bottom up way of dealing with the disaster. BP should pay the gulf clean-up part of it. That's probably a more realistic estimate of the cost-- $50 billion plus.
Obama could take the mass hiring a step further and hire another two million workers to do conservation work-- like the conservation corps of the 1930's, that my late father participated in. BUt instead of building roads in national parks, they could help fix our deteriorating infrastructure and help to make our commercial buildings and private homes more energy efficient. Again, this bottom up investment would flow back to the american economy-- unlike the hundreds of billions that the TARP and Bank bailouts that went to cover the banksters or to help them get bigger through acquisitions. Right wingers will argue that this is all government hiring. So be it. These are the same hypocrites who are all taking state TARP funds and calling for government rescue in the gulf. A pox on their foolish, failed anti-government values/policies.
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