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View Diary: Oil offshore Texas & on Florida Shelf - EPA's Big Error (242 comments)

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  •  Remember, Obama noted the OPA flaw that put (5+ / 0-)

    us here. OPA requires the company have contracts in place and ready to do clean up. Those are activated on an "incident" and the relationships are governed by contract law. No federal responsibility and then we have contract law in action so that any attempt to tinker gets into "sacred" contract matters. That is very probably a part of the damn knot that has to be cut to bring real force of the feds into this.

    OPA pretty much set this mess up in order to get the feds off the hook and into almost bystander status. It was like a ticking bomb waiting to blow up in our faces with a "big one" like this.

    I am not sure how this knot will be cut. I suspect the mounting disaster will force the sword out sometime soon--and too late for much of the Gulf and Atlantic as the loop feeds the Gulf Stream with this stuff.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Sat May 29, 2010 at 06:06:54 PM PDT

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    •  enlighten me: (0+ / 0-)

      what is "the real force of the feds" that will enter when the knot is cut?

      The Addington perpwalk is the trailhead for accountability in this wound on our national psyche. [...you know: Dick Cheney's "top" lawyer.] --Sachem

      by greenbird on Sat May 29, 2010 at 06:36:29 PM PDT

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      •  Ok. As I see this in light of decades as a "fed" (0+ / 0-)

        the OPA clearly shifted the burden for all aspects of fixing a well and cleanup to the "responsible" company. There was a government saying popular in my time, "Put the monkey on the contractor's back," because we saw so many cases of a contractor's obligation coming back to government. Often that was because of over specification, poor specification or downright government intrusion where it should not be so that the contractor could legitimately claim "I failed because you . . ."

        Well, that desire combined with a desire of our oil drenched Congress to "limit government" in both financial liability and "intrusion" ran amok in OPA.

        We are hunkering down in the winds of blowback now. By law it is not Coast Guardsmen, military, government employees and direct federal contractors doing the clean up. By law it is contractors hired by the oil company, in this case a flagrantly negligent company in my opinion, with the government's role only in general "oversight." There are no direct levers of power to control those clean up crews. OPA essentially put the government in a 747 cockpit as "pilot" strapped in the back who can only fly the plane by passing orders to someone of doubtful competence actually at the controls.

        Worse, because of the real issues of contract law the government has difficulty at best in getting directly involved with any of those. Western law places contracts on a very high level and you could count on a storm of lawsuits about government "meddling" between BP and its contractors.

        As mentioned above an old contract problem was "I failed because you . . ." had faulty specs, didn't deliver government access as required and any number of other legally valid "excuses." It would not surprise me one second if that is not involved in the EPA/USCG/BP dispersant issue. "You forced me to use your brand thus all these other failures stem from that" arguments are actually to be feared as legal shit hits the fan.

        The president is the chief pilot stuck in the back of the cabin "taking responsibility" while bound by OPA to just jawbone the guy with hands on the actual controls. He is between a legal rock and a political hard place there. That is the damned reality. That is the Gordian knot he likely has to slash through soon. Regardless, the ugly truth is that only the oil industry has the expertise and equipment to stop that blowout.

        I think he is going to be forced to choose soon. How he can unbuckle that belt and get hands on the controls--or put a gun to the ear of the guy at the controls--I am not sure. We blasted GEB for paying no attention to laws so we become our despised hypocrites if we demand Obama do so here.

        My personal view, with a bit of experience in somewhat similar things, is that the Coast Guard leadership here is weak. Both have made comments and done things that made me cringe and shake my head. I would replace them with much more aggressive types and enforce their acceptance of independent scientific advisers as a start. I would also have Justice looking at every legal way to enforce control, freeze assets to ensure those are not "leaking" and  hauling corporate foot dragging players to the table in shackles if necessary.

        One thing I would do in his shoes is let them know there will be "payback" if there is one more BP news conference or full page "we will fix everything" ad (Why the hell are they spending money for that when it should go to actually fixing things? Yeah, magician distraction talk.) as I've seen in my Washington Post several times. This cannot be fully fixed, ever. They cannot get "every drop of oil" that is in marsh mud and in submarine currents. My message to them would be STFU unless you are speaking by invitation of the government incident command. Those children need to be seen assholes and elbows, not heard!

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Sun May 30, 2010 at 07:42:21 AM PDT

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