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The Gulf: Long on Oil, Short on Expertise

7 Jun

“The uncertainty surrounding the future of drilling is no small concern in a region so heavily dependent on the oil industry.” -The Washington Post, June 6, 2010

Seth: Few things are certain about the disaster (#1) that occurred at Deepwater Horizon. There was an explosion (#2), 11 workers were killed (#3), the oil rig sank with 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board (#4), and there is oil leaking from the well, about a mile underwater (#5). What caused the explosion and how much oil is leaking are important unanswered questions that pale in comparison to the question of the solution. Not much is known about drilling for oil at such depths; you can say BP is among the pioneers in the field. By the grace of God, disasters comparable to Deepwater Horizon are rare. However, as we all know, this blessing is the central reason BP has not been able to implement a solution thus far.  The latest attempt, a containment cap (think of an inverted funnel) is capturing about 10,000 barrels (420,000 gallons) of oil daily, which is estimated to be between forty and eighty per cent of the leak. The obvious problem with that estimate notwithstanding, the sheer numbers involved in this disaster are hard to wrap my head around. Take these official government numbers, as of June 5:

  • More than 20,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines. 
  • More than 2,600 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Approximately 15.2 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • 125 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 3.2 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.

Considering this enormous response, and the fact the that oil is still getting the best of us should shed light on the vast problem we face. Consensus is, that our best chance for a fix won’t come until August, when two relief wells should be able to plug the leak with cement. Truthfully, I didn’t get a real perspective on the leak until I saw the following pictures:

You can find more pictures here

You can find the government’s timeline of its own response here

This diagram from the Wall Street Journal breaks down the efforts to stop the leak:

There has also been controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to halt all offshore drilling. This six month moratorium was put in place amid public protest concerning lax regulation from the Minerals Management Service, the government branch overseeing offshore drilling. Since that time, others have been clamoring for the moratorium to be lifted, as the oil industry supports more than 40,000 workers in the gulf area. Tomorrow’s edition of the Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama and the Department of the Interior will be releasing new safety regulations to allow for offshore drilling and exploration in shallow water. The moratorium on deepwater activity is not being reconsidered, even with the public’s outcry.

At the end of the day, this is an unbelievable situation that no one was prepared for. The more educated about this I become, the less hopeful I am for a positive resolution. This disaster will forever change the environmental and quality-of-life conditions for those living or working in the Gulf region, and beyond. The federal government truly seems to be responding as quickly and intelligently as possible; I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. However the magnitude of what they are dealing with far outweighs the available expertise.

Going forward, this should be a tremendous learning experience. Hopefully, progressive legislation concerning energy policy is on the horizon. That’s truly the best result we can hope from this mess.

The BP Oil Spill Shows America’s True Enemy

30 May

Ray: By now, everyone in the world is aware of the mega-disaster oil spill caused by British Petroleum in the gulf of Mexico. United States President Barack Obama has had his hands tied trying to deal with the problem. All of the technology in the world and all of the brightest engineers can’t seem to figure out how to stop an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day (according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) from being pumped into the gulf.

This oil spill will prove to have an extremely negative impact on the environment for decades and possibly for generations to come. In other words, this is nothing to dismiss as just another thing in the news. Compound the ecological ramifications of this oil spill with the fact that BP has not been forthcoming with information and the United States government had been corrupt in its dealings with big oil companies and you will easily ascertain that big oil companies are designed to destroy humanity. I would take it a step further and argue that the existence of big business in general means death and despair for the human race.

What has become clear over the past few centuries is that corporate entities exists with the sole purpose of keeping themselves alive. To do that, they will conduct business practices that are detrimental to everyone, including the humans who run these companies. For this reason, I am unsure as to why the founders of this great nation chose to treat corporations as individuals when they instinctively act in a way to destroy real people. This should be considered one of the many original flaws of the constitution and should be changed to reflect the true nature of corporations.

Further evidence of big business acting contrary the best interest of real people can also be seen in the financial sector where large banks chose to underwrite risky investments which ultimately lead to millions of people losing their homes, jobs, and any chance at providing a secure future for their children. Big business literally took away people’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Instead, many are left angry, confused, and have lost trust that their federal government can and will look out for their best interests. I would argue that because of the way governments treat corporations, there’s no way they can look out for the best interests of real people. This can be best summed in the Bible where Jesus explains that “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” It is obvious who our government loves and who it despises.

If my position sounds anti-free market, then I would like to question your definition of “free market”. Is a free market one in which big companies pay lawyers millions of dollars to lobby elected officials for beneficial laws, tax breaks, and rights to conduct business when and where they probably shouldn’t? Is a free market one in which large banks which are entrusted by the public to protect savings are allowed to gamble the publics money away and then charge the federal government for the bill? Is a free market one in which big business pays off  countries around the world for the ability to unmercifully pollute the environment while creating products?  That is not the free market at all. That is corruption. Our federal government has failed us at every level from protecting us from out biggest enemy; big business.

The war on terrorism should come second to the war on big business. If we as a nation don’t do more to protect ourselves from corporate interests, then you can expect more disasters that will quickly destroy out environment. You can expect more financial system failures in which millions lose their retirement savings, homes, and jobs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of exchanging currency for goods and services. I believe that business run correctly will be rewarded with customers. What I hope to see changed is how the federal government allows business to bully its citizens and rape us of our land and treasure.

I urge President Obama to take a stance and defend us from big business. Bin Laden didn’t raise unemployment to extraordinarily high levels. Bin Laden didn’t leave middle America on the brink of financial ruin. Bin laden didn’t dump millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying millions of animals as it spreads. Please recognize who our real enemies are and change the rules that allow them to hurt us.

Hank Johnson, You’re an Idiot. Please Step Down.

2 Apr

Ray: I usually don’t blatantly disrespect our honorable members of Congress, but when a Congressman does or says something this stupid, it becomes my civic duty to call it out. See Hank Johnson, Representative of the 4th District of the Georgia. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE VOTING FOR??????

This fool is worried about GUAM CAPSIZING. Nuff said. Get him outta there before he proposes/votes on any more important legislation.

Barack Obama Get’s Serious at Unity ’08

28 Jul

Ray: Barack Obama is asked many questions in which he gives substantive responses concerning his proposed policy. This was one of the better conversations I’ve seen him have with journalists. For all those who say that Barack Obama does not have concrete views on anything, or for those who wish to have a better understanding of his political philosophy, please watch these clips:

Who’s Repping You?

16 Jul

Seth: 53% of Americans over 30 vote, yet only 25% of those are 18-25. I can’t be sure, but I think a great deal of this blog’s readers fall in the 18-25 age range. With that in mind, Ray and I are continuing our quest (a la the Temple Factor) to increase participation in our political process and are issuing The Challenge to End Apathy. The first step to ending this apathy and lack of participation is to know who’s on the ballot and who’s in public office.

The news media would have us believe that in this particular year, there is an excitement about the political process that has not existed for a few generations. I can say that more people I talk to seem interested in what’s going on than before, but I don’t know if this is true across the board. In any case, I am more certain that interest in the presidential election may not also move “down-ballot,” that is to the local contests.

Democratic party officials are excited about Barack Obama because it is assumed that he will help these down-ballot candidates win. That’s because generally a voter unfamiliar with other races will vote for the full party slate. A less popular candidate might bring out less voters to help these local contests.

Step 1: Visit the website of your representatives in Congress. If you are unsure who your House member is, go to www.house.gov and either select the “Search by Zip Code” option at the top left or by name/state under the white search box in the middle of the top banner. For your Senators, visit www.senate.gov and use the “Find Your Senator” tool at the top right of the home page. Peruse their sites, learn what they’re working on and what they’ve done. Contact information is provided, so if you’re really bold and committed, take a trip to their local office in your area, or even in Washington. Check back soon for Step 2.

More from Michelle Obama

15 Jul

Ray: After all that Fox News stuff, I thought I’d post this….

Fox News Attacks Michelle Obama

9 Jul

Ray: Self Explanatory. I just think it’s interesting how an entire news corporation can blatantly and unfairly attack someone like this. Imagine the countless amount of people that have had their character assassinated in ways similar to this…