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Topics: Researchers: BP oil spill may have contributed to Gulf of Mexico dolphin deaths, Some dolphins in massive die-off killed by bacterial infection, NOAA says, Bacteria may have caused dolphin abortions, deaths, Bacterial infection blamed in some dolphin deaths, oil link unclear, Research led by UT Marine Science Institute seeks to unravel mysteries of BP spill, Kenneth Feinberg vows better lifeline for shrimpers at House hearing, Louisiana Must Give BP Data or Lose Spill Claims, Judge Says, Transocean eyes more action against BP, Sen. Bill Nelson helped lift veil on BP gulf oil spill, Arco dealer's BP revolt may spread

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Topics: Researchers: BP oil spill may have contributed to Gulf of Mexico dolphin deaths, Some dolphins in massive die-off killed by bacterial infection, NOAA says, Bacteria may have caused dolphin abortions, deaths, Bacterial infection blamed in some dolphin deaths, oil link unclear, Research led by UT Marine Science Institute seeks to unravel mysteries of BP spill, Kenneth Feinberg vows better lifeline for shrimpers at House hearing, Louisiana Must Give BP Data or Lose Spill Claims, Judge Says, Transocean eyes more action against BP, Sen. Bill Nelson helped lift veil on BP gulf oil spill, Arco dealer's BP revolt may spread

Once the unprecedented dolphin deaths in the Gulf was making front page news it took No Oil At All (NOAA) less than a nanosecond to exert their federal authority to not only bigfoot the investigation but to totally muzzle the scientists. They were not even able to report the number of dead dolphins they were finding.

Scientists have found Brucella in five out 21 dolphins that were tested. I suspect that scientists used the fact that Brucella can be transmitted to humans to pressure NOAA to release their death grip on a small amount of data.

Given NOAA's track record of being BP's enthusiastic, numero uno apologist-in-chief it is shocking that Teri Rowles, NOAA spokesperson, actually admitted in public that BP's black monster could be a contributing factor in the dolphin's deaths and that at at least one dolphin was coated with oil linked to the Macondo. However, BP should be pleased that Rowles was lightening fast to point the dolphin deaths could have been caused by something else.

Even more disturbing, is NOAA admitting that more dolphin deaths are expected. My guess is that the scientists actually doing the work had to stage a near palace revolt to get NOAA to cough up even this paltry amount of data. NOAA even went so far as to also publicly admit that many dead dolphins and whales never wash ashore so what is counted only represents a fraction of the deaths.

Louisiana State University, oceanographer Jim Cowan, is quite direct in stating that chronic toxin exposure caused the rotting fins that were seen earlier this year on snapper. He further states that he thinks BP's monster is the culprit.

As critically important this dolphin research is, it strikes me that the same level of concern is not being shown for human victims. I would find it highly doubtful that vast majority of local jurisdictions, particularly in the most seriously affected areas, would have the testing facilities or budgets to send tissue samples out to qualified labs from people who passed away who were in close contact with BP's black monster.

We already know that the living who are suffering symptoms consistent with exposure to oil and dispersant are, often as as not, receiving anything approaching qualified medical care. Sometimes have no medical care access at all. The federal government is too busy patting itself on the back thinking that they are doing everyone a huge favor by sending out written health surveys. Heaven forbid they actually do anything to see to it that BP's victims receive some actual health care.

Researchers: BP oil spill may have contributed to Gulf of Mexico dolphin deaths

Five of the more than 500 dolphins that have washed ashore dead along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas over the past two years died from a bacterial infection called Brucella, federal scientists announced Thursday.

And last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have played a role, they said.

"The working hypothesis is that the oil negatively impacted the dolphins' immune system," said Teri Rowles, coordinator of the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. "It could have impaired the dolphins' ability to respond to the bacterial infection."
They do think there are likely to be more bodies washing up.

"We don't consider this event over," Rowles said.
Over the winter, anglers began pulling in red snapper that didn't look right. The fish had dark lesions on their skin. Many had fins rotting away, and discolored or even striped skin. Inside, they had enlarged livers, gallbladders and bile ducts.

Jim Cowan, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University who examined them, said in April, "There's no doubt it's associated with a chronic exposure to a toxin."

Cowan said he thought the toxin to be oil from the BP spill. The investigation is continuing.
One dolphin that washed ashore last December was coated in oil that matched what spewed out of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which may be another indication that the two are connected. NOAA officials noted that only a fraction of dead dolphins and whales in the gulf wash ashore, so the actual number of deaths is almost certainly higher than what can be confirmed.
One dolphin that washed ashore prior to the oil spill was tested, and it did not show signs of Brucella, said Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist working with federal officials to study the deaths.

Some dolphins in massive die-off killed by bacterial infection, NOAA says

NOAA admitted that Brucella in stranded dolphins is unprecedented anywhere in the world. NOAA's chair of the investigation has mentioned investigators will be looking into the possibility of a strengthening of the Brucella bacteria as well as the possibility of the BP's black monster having weakened the dolphin's immune systems.

Even though brucellosis is zoonotic there have been no cases of human infection caused by contact with marine mammals.

Additional testing is underway to determine whether oil or a chemical in the oil may have left the dolphins more susceptible to the marine strain of the Brucella bacteria, which caused the brucellosis, said Dr. Teri Rowles, a veterinarian and coordinator of NOAA's National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

No similar large stranding event involving dolphins has been connected to the Brucella bacteria anywhere else in the world, the scientists said, although the bacteria is often found in dolphins and other marine mammals.

The oil could work in in tandem with the bacteria in one of two ways, said Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson,  a veterinary epidemiologist and chair of the working group studying what NOAA has termed an "unusual mortality event."

"The dolphins may be more susceptible to severe infection because their immune system is not working well, or the pathogen Brucella becomes stronger and thus are able to do more damage," she said.

Rowles said future tests would focus on whether key organs -- the adrenal gland, lymph node or spleen -- may have become enlarged or atrophied because of oil exposure, and not provided the dolphins with a way of fighting the disease.

She urged residents to report to federal and state fisheries officials when they come across a stranded animal, rather than approach it themselves, to reduce the potential for the disease spreading to humans.

NOAA advises anyone who sees a stranded dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico region to call 1-877-WHALE HELP (1-877-942-5343). The stranded dolphin should not be touched, and pets should be kept away from the dolphin as well. The public should also avoid touching live dolphins in the wild. 
Two fetuses that died within the bodies of grown dolphins were killed by bacterial pneumonia caused by brucellosis. Two adult dolphins died from meningitis, a swelling of tissues around their brain, again linked to the brucella bacteria.

The third fetus had brucella in its lungs, but was killed when its mother died of meningitis. Tests on the mother's brain tissue are still underway.

NOAA is now specifically mentioning the dispersant as being a possible contributing factor to the dolphin deaths. The chair of the dolphin death project, Stephanie Venn-Watson, doesn't seem to know which of the 16 dead dolphins that had negative brucella reports had which of their tissues tested. She says earlier that she wonders if they don't test the right organ that they may not find if Brucella is present. One would think that the head of a scientific project would not exactly what tissues were tested in which dolphins before yammering to the press.

There are other 41 dolphins who have lesions similar to those of the dolphins testing positive for Brucella. However, Venn-Watson just says that eight are being "checked" without any more specifics with and was silent what the game plan, if any, for 33 more dolphins with lesions.  

Bacteria may have caused dolphin abortions, deaths

updated 10/27/2011 7:29:40 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS — A common bacteria known to cause abortions in marine mammals killed some of the hundreds of dolphins — more than 100 of them babies and fetuses — that have washed ashore in the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010, dolphin experts say.

What they don't know is why a germ that has been found in healthy animals and that occasionally killed single animals is now apparently causing an animal epidemic and "abortion storms" like those caused by its land-based cousins.

The deaths are continuing, said Teri Rowles of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and Stephanie Venn-Watson, head of a group that has been studying the deaths.
She said scientists are also looking for contaminants from oil and dispersants, though only about 15 percent of the 580 cetaceans that have stranded since February 2010 — three months before the spill began — have been fresh enough for tissue samples.

Those found before the spill were generally too decomposed to test, Venn-Watson said. She thought at least one was tested without finding Brucella, but "I really get the feeling that if we don't test the right organ we might not know if the dolphin had Brucella."

The deaths are continuing from Louisiana through the Florida panhandle, Rowles said. Texas has not had unusual numbers of dolphin deaths, said Connie Barclay, spokeswoman for NOAA.

The "unusual mortality event" has killed a few whales and more than 570 dolphins, nearly 520 of them bottlenose dolphins. They included more than 100 pups and fetuses.
She said Brucella was found in five of 21 animals tested for it: two adults and three fetuses. It had infected the fetuses' lungs and the linings around the adults' brains, and it's possible that those tissues were not tested in at least some of the 16 in which the germ wasn't found, she said.

Venn-Watson said the bacteria identified earlier this month as Brucella are now being analyzed to see whether the same strain infected all five dolphins.

"If different strains of Brucella are infecting many different dolphins," that could indicate that the animals all had compromised immune systems, she said. "If they're all exactly the same, this could potentially be a new Brucella that is particularly good at causing disease."

Venn-Watson said the scientists are also checking eight dolphins with lesions matching those of the animals with brucellosis, and have identified another 33 with lesions of the lungs in fetuses and of the brain and central nervous system of adults.

Bacterial infection blamed in some dolphin deaths, oil link unclear

Officials said they were investigating any possible link between the infections and the BP oil spill.

All of the animals that tested positive for the bacteria were found along the Louisiana coast and included two adults and three fetuses. Brucellosis, the illness caused by the bacteria, is often associated with abortions in marine mammals.

The high number of stillborn dolphins found in the Gulf during the last two years prompted scientists to test for Brucella. The same family of bacteria causes illness in mammals on land, including dogs, pigs, cows and goats, according to federal officials.
Five carcasses from Mississippi and one from Alabama have been tested for the virus, with results expected next week. Those carcasses “have lesions that are similar to those in the five that were tested positive for Brucella,” Venn-Watson said. Dolphins can spread the disease through sexual contact and from mother to calf. Some marine parasites may also transmit the bacterium.
Tests are ongoing for other possible causes, with scientists focused on common marine mammal killers, including toxins produced by shellfish and algae, as well as morbillivirus, which is a form of measles.

Venn-Watson said the agency was not in the position “scientifically and legally” to release the results of those other tests. The Brucella finding was released due to the possible public health threat.

Unhappily, this research seems to be premised on the fact that dispersants will be used in the future for oil spills rather than addressing the fundamental question of whether should be used at all. I am also scratching my head as why they need to find out why the oil dispersed so quickly. That answer seems blindingly obvious. It's because they dumped what seemed like an endless supply of dispersants containling heavens only knows what on BP's black monster.

Scientists from the University of South Florida have gone out of their way to praise the independence of the vetting committee for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Those scientists going toe-to-toe with NOAA over their findings have earned credibility on the subject so I think we should be in wait-and-see mode to see the quality and credibility of the work that ends up being done.

Research led by UT Marine Science Institute seeks to unravel mysteries of BP spill

PORT ARANSAS — Researchers at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute are starting a three-year, $7 million project aimed at solving some of the lingering mysteries of last year's oil spill after the blowout of BP's Deepwater Horizon well.

A central question is where much of the oil went and what it did to life in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under the largest grant in the institute's history, scientists will study how and why the oil dispersed so quickly, relative to other oil spills. They'll also look at whether chemical dispersants applied deep below the ocean surface had unintended consequences, from the microscopic plankton and bacteria that may have fed on tiny oil droplets to larger animals higher up the food chain.
"Is this a great idea to apply dispersants like this?" asked Ed Buskey, a marine science professor and lead investigator on the grant. "It certainly made the oil disappear. We just want to make sure it's not causing any hidden problems we might not be aware of."
Ideally, the answers could help minimize the damage of future spills, or help responders make better decisions about how to apply chemical dispersants, said Wes Tunnell, a biologist at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi who has studied the effects of Gulf of Mexico oil spills for more than 30 years. Tunnell is not involved in the UT grant research.
Researchers want to confirm that plankton do actually consume the oil, how much they consume, whether it's lethal to them and whether the oil moves up the food chain, Buskey said.

The grant is part of the $500 million Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative established by BP after the oil spill.

The Florida Panhandle is suffering an oyster die off and the officials to speak on the subject "hesitated to blame the die-off on the 2010 BP oil spill" according to the reporting. Click through if reading more officials covering BP's backside amuses you. While it is quite possible the oyster die-off could be caused by any number of things BP's black monster should surely be considered at least as a contributing factor. h/t Yasuragi

Die-off reported in Pensacola's oyster beds - Florida Wires -

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- State scientists will head to the Florida Panhandle this week to check on East Bay oyster beds where oystermen are reporting a die-off.

Oyster season opened Oct. 1. Oystermen have reported pulling up dead oysters from beds that had been filled with large, healthy oysters at the end of the last harvest season on June 30.

"We're finding very few alive," Pasco Gibson, a main supplier of the East Bay oysters, told the Pensacola News Journal. "This time of the year, we should be catching 500 to 1,000 pounds per boat a day. We're not even catching a hundred pounds."
Palmer [director of the Aquaculture Division in Tallahassee] and Turpin [Escambia County's marine resources manager] hesitated to blame the die-off on the 2010 BP oil spill. The massive oil slick washed up on Pensacola's beaches, and pockets of submerged oil remain in Pensacola Pass.

Kenneth Feinberg has made so empty promises to BP's Louisiana victims that NOLA should hang its head in shame for using anything that comes out of his mouth in a headline. I wonder how long Feinberg's nose grew at the House hearing. He should be able to use it for pole vaulting by now. The headline should have been about Dean Blanchard calling out Feinberg's lies.

Kenneth Feinberg vows better lifeline for shrimpers at House hearing

The administrator of BP's Gulf Coast compensation fund promised a congressional panel Thursday that in the next few weeks he will come up with a better method to make shrimpers whole in the aftermath of last year's oil spill disaster.

"I think we've got to do better by the shrimpers," Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator Kenneth Feinberg told a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee. "We're reviewing ways to make the program even more generous to the shrimpers."
Landry [R-New Iberia] said Feinberg's initial offer to make immediate payments to shrimpers and others without having to provide much in the way of evidence of damage had turned into a "blue-light special on white boots that allowed people to claim they were shrimpers but were not shrimpers, not traditional, commercial shrimpers."

Instead, Landry said, Feinberg should have from the start, and should now, check with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which could identify the 1,500 certified commercial shrimpers in Louisiana.

"He didn't pay any of that 1,500, I can you promise you that, none of them" has reached a final settlement, said Dean Blanchard, of Dean Blanchard Seafood of Grand Isle, who attended the hearing. "They're not settling. They'd be crazy to settle. They're hiring lawyers right now. Everybody I know has a lawyer. Everybody."
Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., told Feinberg that shrimpers in particular face a special dilemma of not knowing whether the damage to their livelihood will extend well beyond the dissolution of the fund in August 2013.
"It looks as if there will be hard time for years to come,"
he said.
"At a million 25, he ought to at least be required to come up with a new lie every month," said Blanchard. "He tells you the same lie, 'I'm going to personally take care of you, you write your name down here.' Every meeting that's it. I know a hundred people who did that, and not one has been taken care of."
Overall, the claims facility has denied about a third of all claims, and a marginally higher percentage -- 38 percent -- in Louisiana.

"It just seems like the process is taking way too long," said Landry, who also complained that those harmed by the administration's drilling moratorium remain out in the cold.

Louisiana seems to be claiming that producing documents for discovery would be too expensive for the Louisiana taxpayers. It seems to me that this argument would not likely be persuasive to a judge. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't. A spokesman for Louisiana's attorney general's office had no comment on the ruling. h/t Yasuragi

Louisiana Must Give BP Data or Lose Spill Claims, Judge Says

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Louisiana must quickly turn over all documents BP Plc has requested or face stiff fines and possible dismissal of the state’s claims for environmental and economic losses from the 2010 oil spill, a judge ruled.

If Louisiana fails to meet strict new deadlines, the earliest of which is Nov. 3, the state will be fined $2,500 a day, U.S. Magistrate Sally Shushan said in an order today in New Orleans federal court. That fine rises to $5,000 a day after seven days and to $10,000 a day after 14 days, if Louisiana continues to delay.
Louisiana must produce documents related to the first phase of the spill trial, to determine liability and which companies must pay for damages suffered by thousands of coastal businesses and property owners from the spill. On Oct. 12, after the judge had granted Louisiana one extension to the document production deadline, the state’s lawyers told Shushan [U.S. Magistrate, assistant to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier] they would need 14 to 16 more weeks to complete that task.

‘Public Funds’

“While the court appreciates that Louisiana is required to expend public funds to produce the documents, it is necessary that its document production be completed so that this MDL proceeding may progress as scheduled,” Shushan said. BP must be given the state’s documents with enough time to be “adequately prepared” for depositions scheduled to begin Nov. 14, she said.

BP's U.S. refineries seem to spend as much or more time spewing illegal filth than not. The idiots don't even seem to know what is causing the misbehavior this time. There is simply no case to be made for allowing these greedy dimwits to do something as technically challenging as deepwater drilling.

BP Whiting refinery reports flaring

05,000-barrels-per-day Whiting, Indiana refinery reported flaring on Saturday, according to a notice the company filed with state and federal pollution regulators.

A copy of the notice posted on the U.S. National Response Center website said the cause of the flaring was unknown.

Transocean is arguing that while it is responsible for picking up the costs of compensation for the deaths of the 11 Deepwater Horizon workers and damage that diesel on board the rig caused that BP is responsible for all the damage the Macondo's oil caused. BP signed a contract that indemnified Transocean, even in cases of gross negligence.

Transocean eyes more action against BP

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico last year, is planning to take further legal action against BP as it seeks to prove that the British company should be liable for almost all the costs of the disaster.

Legal arguments from Transocean, which could be filed in the next few days, will be based on the contract that it signed with BP to work on the Macondo well, which it says protects it against claims for damages, fines and other penalties.
BP argues that no court would protect Transocean against fines and charges handed down by the US authorities, saying: “If Transocean has materially breached the contract containing the indemnity or prejudiced BP’s rights, then Transocean cannot take advantage of the indemnification clauses.”
All civil actions will come to trial in the multi-district litigation in New Orleans, starting on February 27 next year.

In a truth watch story the St. Petersburg Times has determined that Senator Bill Nelson's claim that he and Barbara Boxer were responsible for wresting the live video from BP's wretched hands. I know that he and Senator Boxer were among those who were very active in pressuring BP for the video but it seems highly ungracious to me for Nelson not to have included Representative Markey among those who had boots hard on BP's neck.

Sen. Bill Nelson helped lift veil on BP gulf oil spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion ripped through the drilling rig, killing 11 crew members. As flames raged above water 49 miles off the coast of Louisiana, something equally violent was happening beneath the surface.

It wasn't yet clear what.

But within a day, a nonprofit group called SkyTruth, led by a geologist who had worked for the energy industry, began collecting and analyzing satellite images. The group got help from Florida State oceanographer Ian MacDonald.

On April 24, BP said a broken riser pipe was leaking 1,000 barrels a day. A few days later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration boosted the estimate to 5,000 barrels. That was the first official "flow rate estimate." It would be used for weeks.

In late April and early May, SkyTruth said satellite images and Coast Guard maps of the slick showed the flow might be more than four times that.

• • •

On May 12, BP released a 30-second video of oil and gas spilling from the end of a broken pipe — and scientists scrambled to update their estimates, which now ranged from 20,000 to 100,000 barrels a day. By mid May, media reports spread additional doubt about the 5,000-barrel estimate. Rep. Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, sent BP a letter questioning the size of the spill.

A few days later, Sens. Nelson and Boxer sent their demand for underwater video. They soon got seven hard drives of high-resolution digital imagery, thousands of hours, said Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin. Low-resolution streaming video — what you may have seen online — wouldn't give scientists the detail they needed, so the senators' offices also uploaded high-resolution files to large-file transfer sites on the Web and, in some cases, even copied the hard drives and sent them to researchers, such as Timothy Crone at Columbia University.
Paul Ruscher, a Florida State professor who along with MacDonald urged that BP release more information, said much of what scientists suggested was initially ignored.

"It was a staffer from Sen. Nelson's office who was contacted at some point, and whom I then contacted, to try to encourage both Senate and House energy committee members to get involved," he said.

Ruscher said Nelson and other politicians, including Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Markey, should get full credit for pushing NOAA, the Coast Guard and BP to release video.

Final official estimates came from the Flow Rate Technical Group, which used several methods to estimate the amount of oil that streamed from Deepwater Horizon. Among its evidence: high-resolution video.

It would seem that BP does business with its gasoline station owners with the same zest for sleaze that they go about everything else. What started as one owner's dispute with BP has now spread to 76 Arco service stations on the West coast. BP started fibbing even before the owners bought their stations and things pretty much went downhill from there.

Click through to see the lengthy laundry list of the owners' claims. I doubt anything there will surprised BP's Gulf victims. Sadly, for the owners this promises to be a very long and expensive legal fight for the owners.

Arco dealer's BP revolt may spread

A legal dispute that began in August between a single Tacoma Arco dealer and the oil company now threatens to spread down the West Coast as dozens of dealers seek to break the restrictive agreements that tie them to the company.

If they are successful, they could change the competitive landscape in the gasoline business throughout the country.

Dealers and former dealers who operate a total of 76 Arco service stations in Washington, Oregon and California last week wrote executives of BP America Inc., Arco’s parent company, contending the company is in default of their gasoline dealer and AM/PM convenience store agreements. The letter, from a Texas lawyer representing those dealers, contends the company is in violation of Washington franchise protection laws.

BP spokesman Bill Kidd said the company couldn’t comment on what is a complicated legal issue.

The net effect of all of BP’s policies is to enrich itself at the expense of its dealers, said their attorney, David Schiller. Those dealers are married to the company with 20-year dealer agreements they signed when they bought the stations and the associated convenience stores from the oil company.

“They’re trying to squeeze the last bit of blood possible out of the dealers,” Schiller said.

PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:

10-28-11 07:44 PM Gulf Watchers Block Party: Hallowe'een? BlackSheep1
10-26-11 03:45 PM Gulf Watchers Wednesday - ROV pilot from BP spill killed by shark - BP Catastrophe AUV #566 peraspera
10-23-11 03:33 PM Gulf Watchers Sunday - BP Allowed to Drill Deeper Than Ever - BP Catastrophe AUV #565 Lorinda Pike
The last Mothership has links to reference material.

Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.

Originally posted to Gulf Watchers Group on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 01:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Any volunteers for Friday's block party? (11+ / 0-)

    I sure hope everyone that got such heavy snow has power back. The Weather Channel has been reporting that many are still are without.

    I've spent a total of 6 1/2 hours with three different senior support advisors trying to fix my account that iTunes co-mingled with some perfect stranger's account. Between that and allergies I have absolutely no functioning brain cells so apologies in advance for any ridiculous errors.

  •  Depressing, horrifying, and heartbreaking. (6+ / 0-)

    Republished to Class Warfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS the Working Class Occupy Movement Group.

    If the BP Gulf Oil Spill doesn't illustrate what OWS is about, nothing does.

    Thank you peraspera.

    If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

    by Onomastic on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 01:19:32 PM PDT

    •  It's great to see you stop by. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Phil S 33, rubyr, RunawayRose

      Thanks much for republishing. I couldn't agree more that BP is a shining example of what prompted the justified anger out of which OWS was born.

      Something is seriously wrong when government stands by, ignoring its responsibilities and duties to its citizens, and applauds when a company is pretty much operated as a criminal enterprise.

  •  Hi (6+ / 0-)

    happy to be here for once in the right time :)

    exert their federal authority to not only bigfoot the investigation but to totally muzzle the scientists.

    how does such a thing actually work? I´ve seen it a lot over time but always wonder. I´m a scientist (of sorts) in a private company so those of course have the right to shut me up as whatever I think is their private property (or so they maintain). But a scientist at a publically funded institution or government agency dont they have some autonomous freedom to pursue their science? if an agency does policy or administration yes of course employees would have to follow those rules. but where an agency does science how can the free dissemination and discussion of that be regulated by authority? The essence of science is the disregard for "authority" (other than based on open factual discussions).  

    e. g. when Chernobyl came around, the government could do not a thing about physicists from all faculties running around with their geiger counters happily telling everyone how much they radiated. (Fun time!) Those were all government employed of course (no private universities at that time and place).

    how does that work in the US? where is the line where authority ends and academic freedom begins?

    •  The Marine Mammal Protection Act (5+ / 0-)

      is what I see cited by NOAA as giving them the authority to take over the investigation. From their site:

      Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended), an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) has been declared for cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Texas/Louisiana border through Franklin County, FL) from February 2010 through the present.

      After NOAA asserts their authority it seems they can do as they please, including the complete muzzling of scientists and determining when, how and for what tissue will be tested. NOAA also determines what labs will be used although it seems that there is a process where other stakeholders have a say in that. Basically, it's both a legal and scientific mess.

      There is also the loathsome National Resource Damage Assessment law which gives the polluter veto power over the science been done.

      You won't get any argument from me that the free and open exchange of ideas is foundational to good science but it seems our government does not agree and chooses to use the law to protect polluters instead of science.

      •  hmmm (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peraspera, rubyr, RunawayRose
        The draft Procedural Directive
        describes the annual process for making
        and documenting injury determinations.
        The annual process includes guidance
        for which NMFS personnel make the
        annual injury determinations; what
        information should be used in making
        injury determinations; information
        exchange between NMFS Science
        Centers; NMFS Regional Office and SRG
        review of the injury determinations;
        injury determination report preparation
        and clearance; and inclusion of injury
        determinations in the SARs and marine
        mammal conservation management

        I´m in two minds about this at first sight. In innocuous cases, or on matters where no specific (significant) interests are involved, this would be standard fare rules of a government agency (I think) but its also obvious that as soon as interests are involved, with such rules, what the agency says is directly political and not scientific. In reality I think it can not very well be different. Or can it? They say they have Science centers. Should those not be exempt from agency control of their statements? Or at least if they are to be seen as "science" centers. But in any case, NOAA may be an agency but university biologists can say what they want, not?

        for me as a practitioner the test would be if a journalist rings me up, can I say them what I think is true according to my best scientific insight, or do I have to tell them that they need to contact some kind of info office? As said I´m in industry so in formal reality, no question, I can´t say a thing. But if I´m a university lecturer or some such then no one can stop me from saying what I want to this press guy on the phone?

        we have these fights all the time, actually, even within our company. Because its a big one, there is a kind of internal "community" of, well, "researchers". And we get it all the time that X says youre not allowed to talk to Z in another department (of the same company) because you´ve no authority to! Small wonder I´m roundly loathed by my managers.

        •  I'm not good at interpreting law (5+ / 0-)

          but as a practical matter anyone with first-hand knowledge seems to be precluded from saying a single public word about the dolphin deaths. If any academics have first-hand knowledge they remain silent.

          I don't see that NOAA or anyone else in government has made the case that it is in the public interest to muzzle everyone involved in studying the dolphin deaths. In my view history is quite clear that leaving scientists to decide how and when to share their work has worked very well. Leaving government to make those decisions has not.

          Good for you for favoring open communication even though it aggravates your managers.

  •  Hey pera!!! Superbly excellent diary as (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, RunawayRose, mint julep, JanL


    After all of this time, some of this crap still just unhinges my

    Thank you for all of your hard, hard work. Going off to read more thoroughly.

    Hey Gulf Watchers!! Hope everyone is well.


    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 03:44:03 PM PDT

    •  It's always wonderful to see you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rubyr, RunawayRose, JanL

      Unfortunately, there wasn't any particularly good news to report this diary. Texas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of big oil so I'm less than thrilled to see dispersant research going their way. I've also missed seeing any reporting that research money has being going in Dr. Samantha Joye's direction or to eminent toxicologists.

      •  The level of favoritism to BP is astounding. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peraspera, JanL

        Even in the case of the state of Louisiana, BP was favored.

        Dr. Samantha Joye is one of the few people who I think is totally without bias and trustworthy. It is tragic if she got no money for her valuable work. I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't. The money goes to those who toe the party line... and in this case the party is BP.

        I read this stuff and I feel like I cannot breathe. It's like the guy said about Feinberg, they tell the same lie over and over, all of them and it works.

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 04:40:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This whole disgraceful mess always brings to mind (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Andhakari, JanL

          one of Big Daddy's lines from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, "What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?... There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity... You can smell it. It smells like death."

  •  I hope he's got tenure: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, DawnN, rubyr, peraspera
    Jim Cowan, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University who examined them, said in April, "There's no doubt it's associated with a chronic exposure to a toxin."

    "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

    by Andhakari on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 12:04:54 AM PDT

    •  I would guess that Cowan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andhakari, marsanges

      feels fairly confident about keeping his job. He was one of the people who went toe-to-toe with Lubchenko and Hayward when they were screaming to the media that there were no undersea oil plumes. Even though ocean currents don't seem to be his main focus of study Cowan proclaimed publicly that he had observed the plumes himself.

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