Late last night I read the powerful, incredible New York Times expose on the knowing failure of oil corporations and intentional lack of the right safety equipment that caused the Gusher in the Gulf. I had just written a diary on Bush's Executive Order to give free rein to oil corporations! The link between the two could not be more clear: BP chose to do everything fast and dirty. Had they not ignore safety reports about faulty BOPs and shear rams failures, they could easily have avoided this catastrophe.
BP knew they were operating unsafely. Read the Times article.
The Bush/Cheney administration had empowered them to do so from May 2001. If Republicans are going to blame this disaster and its cleanup on Obama then let the true blame be placed on Bush/Cheney for enabling the oil industry to run roughshod over safety precautions, regulations and oversight.
PLEASE REC the BP Catastrophe Liveblog Mothership!
The 2000s....ushered in an era of aggressive, government-backed offshore oil production. In May 2001, Bush, acting on recommendations from the oil industry, signed an executive order that required federal agencies to expedite permits for energy projects and paved the way for greater domestic oil exploration.
May 18, 2001. That was the day Bush and Cheney decided they could withstand a huge oil spill. But they probably deemed it unlikely because of the Republican belief that corporations will in self-interest avoid serious risks, and take precautions to avoid catastrophes. Only that is not true.
Bush/Cheney were aware of the many risks and gave Big Oil free rein while they restrained the good people at MMS who wanted to control the industry from doing harm.
. MMS commissioned reports. They knew what was unsafe.
. MMS did not require certain important practices.
. MMS made regulations they then did not enforce.
Giving the pretense of safety, they were effectively neutered by Bush/Cheney who got MMS to require a mere 30 days to approve permits.
Various studies and reports alerted the oil industry. Rig safety hinged on Blow Out Preventers which were at serious risk from failure. But this is not the only rig at risk!
One test showed that 45% of BOP's failed. An industry study four that in only six out of 11 cases had activated BOP's prevented a spill when loss of control of well had occurred. Yet they talk as if these BOP's are the "ultimate failsafe device," offering absolute safety.
..oil industry executives had long known (Blow Out Preventers) could be vulnerable and temperamental.
Other tests showed that two "blind" shear rams were necessary for safety --not just one. Today, 11 of 14 Transocean rigs have two, the other three were built prior to DW Horizon.
From the NYT article today & graphic on how shear rams work:
It was the last line of defense, the final barrier between the rushing volcanic fury of oil and gas and one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.
Its very name — the blind shear ram — suggested its blunt purpose. When all else failed, if the crew of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig lost control of a well, if a dreaded blowout came, the blind shear ram’s two tough blades were poised to slice through the drill pipe, seal the well and save the day. Everything else could go wrong, just so long as "the pinchers" went right. All it took was one mighty stroke.
On the night of April 20, minutes after an enormous blowout ripped through the Deepwater Horizon, the rig’s desperate crew pinned all hope on this last line of defense.
But the line did not hold.
Subsequent test show that only one side of the shears worked. They are extremely vulnerable in that one component not working can cause the whole device to fail.
The problems highlighted by these cases were common knowledge in the drilling industry.
Blind shear rams failed time and time again just as they did on the Deepwater Horizon.
Checks were done. They found seven which "**had never been checked**" for deepwater performance.
"This grim snapshot....illustrates the lack of preparedness in the industry to shear and seal a well with the last line of defense against a blowout."
But they moved into deeper water. The industry argued for fewer safety checks.
This is the kind of redundancy in safety mechanisms that the president is talking about, that his Commission will investigate.
The Times also states that the MMS had not acted on it's own expert's advice on how to minimize this shear ram failure and that the Obama administration needs to stop this. Even when MMS enacted a rule about it, they failed to enforce it.
So it is on all sides that the failures occured, due to the wink, the nod, the Executive Order by Bush/Cheney. A report (May 2000) from our own regulators concluded that a big spill from a deepwater oil well could be disastrous, having major, disastrous effects on wildlife and wetlands. Incoming Bush/Cheney ignored this report.
If Republicans are going to blame this disaster and its cleanup on Obama then let the true blame be placed on Bush/Cheney for enabling the oil industry to run roughshod over safety precautions, regulations and oversight.
Fortunately we now have a president who knows how to make things right and I have every confidence he will wipe out the Bush Executive Order on Expediting Permits to the oil industry:
Obama does the right thing.
One tool that the Bush Team used to approve MTR projects was an expedited permit process: Obama suspended this expedited process last week.
Government regulators told Bush/Cheney that a deepwater oil spill would be disastrous because:
...there were few good ways to capture oil underwater.
They said in effect, SO WHAT? They cared only, only, for the oil corporations.
They did everything they could to squelch all oversight. Hearings by Congress to do their job and oversee the MMS? Forget about that. They put out the word. No hearings that would reveal their treachery of this administration and its directives to push forward on deepwater drilling and the lack of environmental impact studies.
As clear as anything: They put out the word: Restrain the regulators at MMS. MMS knew better. They had commissioned reports, they put out advice but stopped at requiring certain practices that were of great importance. They made regulations and did not enforce them. They were neutered, made ineffective by Bush/Cheney while giving the pretense of safety.
The Minerals Management Service had never required any of these backup systems to be tested despite a report it commissioned in 2003 that said these systems "should probably receive the same attention to verify functionality" as the rest of the blowout preventer. The agency had also declined to take the modest step of requiring rigs to have these backup systems in place at all, though it had sent out a safety alert encouraging their use.
Yes, they did restrain MMS. How can we get MMS, they pondered, to approve drilling applications quickly? Let's simply make it impossible for them to do the job. We'll make it a requirement for MMS to make 30-day decisions on matters concerning the environmental impact of deep water oil wells. Thirty days. Not 60. Not 90. Not 120. But 30 days.
How many days does your local Wetlands Protection Act provide for consideration as to whether or not your building a dog house on your property will adversely impact wetlands? (Wetlands regulations are critical.)
Bush and Cheney, they both had oil interests or ties to companies working in that field. From the moment Cheney had his secret meetings with oil executives we suspected he had nefarious plans. He and George decided probably before they took over the White House that their administration was going to be oil friendly, above all else, at the expense of all else.
Environment? Oceans? Who cares? Sea life? Who cares? Jobs for the people? Who cares? Money for oil corporations? We care. That is their mentality, those are their values. Cronyism, corruption. That's GOP values. Forget that family values thing, unless it's our family.
The result of those GOP values? A spill the size of the Exxon Valdez every few days! Eleven lives lost! A huge oil gusher for months in our precious Gulf of Mexico and all the tragedy it entails.
They knew from the deepwater Shell Plan:
"Regaining well control in deep water may be a problem since it could require the operator to cap and control well flow at the seabed in greater water depths . . . and could require simultaneous firefighting efforts at the surface."
Now all of us have to bear the burden of having had that president and vice president who cared more about the interests of rich oil corporations/friends/family, than about the broader interests of the American people.
They care more about the interests of oil corporations than they do about jobs, about the economy, about people losing hope and a way of life. And many of their GOP friends and colleagues are exactly the same!
The GOP cannot--even now in the disaster's ongoing tragic effects--stop saying DRILL BABY DRILL. They shout it from the rooftops. They preach it on tv and in Congress. They have no common sense, no values, no care for anything else. Just give them their oil and fast. The earth to them is an expendable commodity, just as are rain forests, whales, the land, the marsh, the beach, the sea, the people.
All they can do now, the GOP is try to re-focus the people's interest onto the current administration, onto jobs lost temporarily from a time-out on drilling in deepwater of 24 oil rigs so they can be checked for safe operation and plans to deal with spills.
The GOP and some Democratic politicians gain from drilling because some get huge amounts from oil corporations. You can tell which ones get the most by listening to their speeches in favor of drilling. From Open Secrets, amounts from BP and Oil Industry totals: John McCain (R-AZ) $36,649 & $2,428,287, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) $16,200 & $329,100, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) $8,500 & $223,326, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) $8,500 & $408,400.
This McClatchy article is a must read, especially the paragraph down a ways that begins: "The 2000 Shell plan also cautioned that an oil gusher wouldn't behave the same way in deepwater..." And the next paragraph: "Among its other warnings ..." This will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I promise.
The Shell drill plan written in 2000 by MMS, describes what we are now experiencing. Catastrophic. It:
indicates that some federal regulators were well aware of the potential hazards of deepwater oil production in its early years...
Note: I hope I did not mess up attributions here, but will go check to try make sure of that. Merging the two diaries complicates things.
Thank you all for the recs and comments! I especially like this one:
Republicans = CATASTROPHIC threats to our security, our economy,
our environment, our very existence as a species.