Saturday, June 19, 2010

Palin Fan Fail

Palin Supporters Showcase Their Desire to Make Sarah Palin Look Like She Is Knowledgeable About Something, Anything, and Fail Yet Again!

Sarah Palin was recently a guest on the Bill O'Reilly show, and she once again allowed her ignorance to shine bright on national television due to her inescapably obvious jealousy of the President of the United States.  Her anger at him has been obvious, and while her supporters like to portray it as being something that is expected due to his inexperience, it is really an emotion she has a hard time controlling due to her inability to accept she did not succeed in the last presidential election.  She pit herself not against Joe Biden with whom she was actually running against, but against the top spot on the presidential ticket because that is the title she covets.

So, onto the Bill O'Reilly show.  Bill did a marvelous job of showing her to be the ignorant and ranting fool that she is, and all he had to do was ask her questions.  The fact is he didn't even ask tough questions, instead questions like, "what would you do", and she couldn't even answer that.  She ranted about stopping the leaking well in the gulf and yet when Bill pointed out that no one knew how to stop the well, she did not let that deter her from continuing her anger filled diatribe against President Obama.   She claimed that the Dutch were never called back and that both they and the Norwegian had offered to help but "couldn't even get the proverbial call back".

You can watch the entertaining exchange if you'd like.

Now as expected many started immediately laughing at Sarah for her Dutch Dike image and why not, as she is known for not being accurate in her claims. In fact more than a few people were willing to show how easily Sarah stretches the truth to embellish her own record.
Palingates did a story about part of this interview: Sarah Palin, still lying about her record regarding the oil industry in Alaska; Sarah Palin, in her attempts to undermine President Obama, continues to make wild claims about her tough stance when she dealt with the oil companies in Alaska before she quit the office of governor. They did quite a good job showing just how far Sarah tends to go in order to try and smear President Obama and make herself seem important.

Now Palin Supporters are doing some serious twisting of the facts in order to attempt to make Sarah's claims seem accurate and it truly is a sight to behold, especially in light of the actual facts.

The blog "Conservatives4Palin" posted this commentary yesterday:

FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 2010

Guess What? The Dutch Want to Build a Sand Dike to Help with the Obama Oil Spill

The left should probably ask themselves why nobody in the mainstream media in America has criticized Palin for her comments about the Dutch. They haven't done so probably because they know that Governor Palin is absolutely correct. Barack Obama rejected assistance from the Dutch untilvery recently and he has failed to accept all the help that the Dutch have offered. What help from the Dutch has Barack Obama failed to accept?
The government is also making it difficult for the Dutch to provide assistance in creating sand barriers to prevent the spilled oil from reaching the gulf shores. Van Oord, a Dutch company and Deltares, a Dutch research institute provided plans to build 60 mile sand dikes and the government rebuffed their offer of assistance. The government has now changed it’s tune and has accepted the plan, but the Jones Act prevents the Dutch from operating in America’s coastal waters.

This article tells us that Barack Obama's failure to waive the Jones Act has prevented the Dutch from implementing its plan to build a.....sand dike, which is exactly the type of expertise that Governor Palin claimed the Dutch would bring. The article also tells us that Governor Palin is correct that Obama has only accepted some, but not all, of the help that the Dutch has offered due to his failure to waive the Jones Act.

It's pretty telling that Yglesias is the only liberal willing to come forward and concede that Governor Palin was "right" (his characterization of what Palin said, not mine). And liberals have the gall to claim that the right is suffering from epistemic closure?

(I did not copy the entire article, only the truly relevant portions when taken into consideration what Sarah Palin was stating in her interview with Bill O'Reilly. )

Let's tackle the main points and go from there shall we?   Sarah claimed "The Dutch could not even get a proverbial call back" and that they have expertise in Dikes.

Now The Dutch did get a call back. Even they admitted as such:

Three days after BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the Netherlands offered to help. Ships could have set about clearing the oil using Dutch sweeping arms, but the US government didn’t take up the offer. Dutch Consul General Geert Visser in Houston told Radio Netherlands Worldwide he was disappointed.
The article also went on to state:
Not only capricious US decision-making has made life difficult for the Dutch companies, but also protective US legislation. Consul General Geert Visser’s pet hate is the Jones Act: “It means that Dutch ships, or whatever other ships not under a US flag, can’t operate in US waters.” According to the Jones Act, all goods in US waters have to be transported by US ships.

Dutch Counsel Slams Foot Dragging by U.S. In Oil Spill

Now clearly the Dutch got a call back as they are complaining that their offer was not accepted on the 3rd day after the rig explosion. It also sounds like the Dutch have a bit of a problem with the Jones Act itself so perhaps they are more than willing to show their displeasure with that "thanks but no thanks" by taking a bit of a pot shot at the U.S. with regards to the oil spill simply because of their anger with the Jones Act?

So Sarah lied about that, and her supporters even prove it by linking to the article that shows they did indeed get a call back. They are obviously unwilling to admit to that part though. Why point out the obvious when it is much easier to just go with her lie and pretend like her claims are truthful.

Now, as to the response to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and collapse, the Dutch claim that they offered to send help 3 days after the rig explosion, but it wasn't until the 4th day that the oil started showing up as leaking out of the riser pipe below the surface, prior to that there was simply oil from the platform, and based on those on scene, additional help was not really needed.  Now lets just give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are talking about 3 days after the initial explosion took place, that puts the date at the 24th, which is when the first signs of oil was leaking out of the riser pipe, but it was not known at that point that it was going to be the huge or long lasting gusher that it has become.  BP was still the ones calling the shots at that point as they were "the responsible party" and therefore the ones  who were responsible for all efforts.  So, instead of being angry at President Obama, the anger should be directed at BP for their refusal of aide, but the Palin crowd can't let a chance to screech at the President go to waste.

April 20, 2010: 9:45 p.m. CDT - Deepwater Horizon catches fire.
April 21, 2010  Coast Guard rear admiral Mary Landry named Federal On Scene Coordinator
April 22, 2010  10:21 am - Rig sinks.
April 23, 2010  Coast Guard rear adm. Mary Landry tells CBS "At this time, there is no crude emanating from that wellhead at the ocean surface, er, at the ocean floor...There is not oil emanating from the riser either
April 24 - BP reports a leak 1,000 barrels (42,000 US gallons; 160 cubic metres) a day.

Here is the Response Timeline:
Deepwater Horizon Response

Here is the Timeline of events:
Wiki: Timeline of the Deepwater Horizon Events

So, despite the anger by the Dutch at the fact that the response team didn't need their help on the 3rd day as there was no noticeable leaking at that point, it was the correct response to make at the time.  It should also be mentioned that since that time, the Dutch have again offered their help by way of skimmers and that help has been accepted, and with no waiver of the Jones Act needed.   Now if you want to argue that the Unified Command was late in accepting that help, I will have no problem admitting that fact.  The Coast Guard was simply stupid to allow BP to make the final call on these decisions for as long as they have.  When it was obvious that BP was not putting the needed effort into the clean up of the spill, the Coast Guard should have taken total control of the clean up effort, but it didn't and still hasn't.

You will also notice that there is a constant reference to the Jones Act. The Jones Act was set up to protect the American worker.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261) is a United States Federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports.
Section 27, also known as the Jones Act, deals with cabotage (i.e., coastal shipping) and requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. The purpose of the law is to support the U.S. merchant marine industry, but agricultural interests generally oppose it because, they contend, it raises the cost of shipping their goods, making them less competitive with foreign sources.
In addition, amendments to the Jones Act, known as the Cargo Preference Act (P.L. 83-644), provide permanent legislation for the transportation of waterborne cargoes in U.S.-flag vessels.
(The cabotage provisions restrict the carriage of goods or passengers between United States ports to U.S. built and flagged vessels. In addition, at least 75 percent of the crewmembers must be U.S. citizens. Moreover foreign repair work of U.S.-flagged vessels' hull and superstructure is limited to 10 percent foreign-built steel weight.[2] This restriction largely prevents American shipowners from refurbishing their ships at overseas shipyards.)
Merchant Marine Act of 1920

Now there has been constant complaints that we are not able to get help due to the fact that the Jones Act has not been officially waived, and yet that rates as a 'true but barely" on the Truth O'Meter scale.

Thad Allen sets up accelerated Jones Act waiver process
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen today announced the development of specific guidance to ensure accelerated processing of requests for Jones Act waivers should they be received as a part of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.
Currently, though 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the response, but no Jones Act waivers have been granted nor required for the operations in which they are engaged.
However, in order to prepare for any potential need, Admiral Allen has provided guidance to the Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Maritime Administration to ensure any Jones Act waiver requests receive urgent attention and processing.
"While we have not seen any need to waive the Jones Act as part of this historic response, we continue to prepare for all possible scenarios," said Admiral Allen. "Should any waivers be needed, we are prepared to process them as quickly as possible to allow vital spill response activities being undertaken by foreign-flagged vessels to continue without delay."
To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations' International Maritime Organization and the European Union's Monitoring and Information Centre. In some cases, offers of international assistance have been turned down because the offer didn't fit the needs of the response.
Generally, federal law prohibits a foreign-flagged vessel from transporting merchandise between points in the United States encompassed by the Coastwise laws. CBP makes determinations as to whether or not the Jones Act applies to the activities of a foreign-flagged vessel operating within U.S. waters.
Even if the Jones Act applies, a foreign flagged vessel can still conduct certain planned operations as part of the BP oil spill response if the vessel is an oil spill response vessel and meets the requirements of 46 USC section 55113.
The guidance provided by Admiral Allen would route waivers related to the BP oil spill response through the Federal On-Scene Coordinator, who will forward requests immediately through the National Incident Commander for expedited clearance.
A Jones Act waiver can be submitted by any interested party, either inside or outside the U.S. government.

Marine Log

So as has been reported repeatedly and more often ignored, there has been no need to waive the Jones Act, and by not doing so it has not stopped any help from being offered or accepted in the Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Containment & Clean Up.   Color me surprised that this is ignored by those who are desperate to find anything they can to complain about when it comes to the current administration, even if it means making things up which seems to be about all they have nowadays, when as I see it there are plenty of legitimate things you can complain about.

Now lets move onto these claims that the Dutch want to build 60 mile Sand Dikes to help protect the wetland.

What about these Sand Berm's or Dike's?

Are they the best option? Will they work?

The U.S. Army Corps had objected to parts of the plan, saying too many berms would alter tidal movements and send oil spilling onto neighboring Mississippi.The approved berms make up about half of an 86-mile network considered a last-ditch attempt to keep oil out of the state's fragile marshes.

"Rather than just say 'No way' the prudent thing to do was start a pilot project and keep asking questions," Allen said Thursday during a news conference in Venice.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said BP PLC, which is responsible for the spill's cleanup, would pay for the first section to be built, at Scofield Island. He said the oil company would pay for the other five if the Army Corps deems the Scofield berm successful.

Shreveport Times

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is desperate: millions of gallons of BP’s crude are launching an amphibious assault on his beaches and wetlands. So let’s do the math: desperation + a pol’s “do something” mentality = a loony decision to build 14-foot sand berms to protect the state’s coastline—a decision that bodes ill for the many others the state will face as BP’s oil gushes at least until August.

Before this, Jindal was known to scientists as the governor who in 2008 signed a law allowing the state’s public schools to teach creationism (excuse me! “intelligent design”) in their classrooms. The difficulty he has distinguishing science from faith reared its ugly head again when he cast about for a way to hold back BP’s oil. Emissaries from Jindal’s office have made regular pilgrimages to the Netherlands to consult with engineers about protecting the state’s coasts from the next Katrina. Van Oord, a marine engineering and dredging company that is constructing the artificial Palm Islands for Dubai, proposed building what amounts to artificial sandbars. “If you ask a Dutch company that builds artificial islands in Dubai how to protect marshlands and barrier islands,” says coastal geologist Rob Young of Western Carolina University, “of course they’ll say, ‘Let’s make an offshore island!—and shall we put a palm tree on it for you?’
Nothing like this has ever been tried, and the potential problems are legion. For starters, the 45 miles of berms the Army Corps of Engineers has OK’d will take six months to build, and “is going to start to erode and disappear immediately,” says Young. “I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time they get to the end the beginning is gone—and that’s without a storm.” (Scientists predict this hurricane season will be one of the worst in years.)

But heck, it’s BP’s money ($360 million for the berms alone, to be constructed by The Shaw Group Inc. of Baton Rouge, though the feds and state would have to front it and hope to be repaid), so who cares if the berms have to be rebuilt over and over? The real problem could be if they last long enough to block inlets that carry water to the wetlands on shore. If that happens, notes Young, “organisms that need to move in and out with tidal flushing won’t. You could kill the wetlands without the oil ever reaching them.” If they don’t block the inlets, then oil will reach the wetlands, and they’ll be toast. (If you think it’s tough to clean oil from a bird or beach, try cleaning it from the roots and stems of a wetland’s grass and reeds.) Altering tidal currents could also cause erosion of the natural barrier islands that protect the coast from hurricanes. “This could do more environmental harm than good,” says Young.

Newsweek: Don't Just Do Something

Dallon Weathers, noted coastal geologist at the University of New Orleans. Dr. Weathers compiled his concerns about the concept, perhaps in response to my May 10 post. His thoughts are summarized as follow:
• The planned area of dredging 1 mile from the shoreline will provide very little usable sediment.
• The proposed location and geometry of the designed berm ensures a rapid erosion timetable.
• The trench left at dredge site will modify wave patterns and rob sediment from the coastal system for years to come.
• Closing inlets would wreak havoc on the natural functioning of estuaries and inlets which make up our coastal ecosystem.
• Dredging along our coast could sever oil and gas pipelines.
• Precious offshore sand resources will be spread diffusely and haphazardly.
• Plugging inlets will cause channel scouring and potential inlet relocation.
• Waste of money and sentiment for others to give to future restoration.
• The (proposed sand) berm won’t be ready to help with this oil spill, or last for another.

LA Coast Post

There seems to be a general consensus that these berms or dikes are a bad idea.  Why invest so much into a project that is doomed to not only fail, but in all likelihood make matters worse?  Is it really just a desire to do anything over doing something right?    Bobby Jindal has wanted these berms put in place long before the oil spill and now he has an even better excuse to use to attempt to get them put up, and what's worse is that BP will be paying for them.   I have no qualms about the fact that BP should pay for doing everything they can to not only clean up the mess, but to help find ways to prevent the disaster from becoming worse, but it seems really ignorant to have them spend that money on something that isn't going to work, when the money could go towards some other idea that will work, or someone who has lost everything due to this disaster.

When we demand that they just throw away money, then we become as reckless as they have been, and that makes us no better than they are.

So the basis for this whole article that Sarah Palins' fans have written is false.  She was not right about the fact that the Dutch did not get the proverbial phone call back, because they did.  The Jones Act is not something that is a concern, as that has been taken care of already, it has not stopped or prevented help from coming into the Gulf of Mexico to help with the oil spill.   She lied about her record, unless of course she wants to come forward and admit that she did not do what she claimed instead she simply renamed an organization that was set up by the previous administration, and then admit that despite her claims of making sure that the Oil & Gas companies were working safer, they weren't and there is documented evidence of that fact.

Director James Cameron Produces More than Movies ~ Gulf Oil Well Solutions

James Cameron,  noted director of such films as recent blockbuster "Avatar", as well as "Titanic", The Terminator Series, and producer of many other films, is not just a famous director and producer, but he is also  a screenwriter, an editor and an inventor as well.
In mid-May, Cameron offered BP use of his private fleet of submarines, currently moored in Lake Baikal in the Russian federation. is considered an expert in the technology of deep-sea diving, having used submersibles in a succession of his films.

His 1989 film The Abyss is set underwater around an oil rig where a US nuclear submarine has crashed. The film was shot in a deep-sea canyon in the Caribbean known as the Cayman Trough. The make-believe oil company that owns the rig in Cameron's underwater thriller is called BP, standing for Benthic Petroleum.

In preparation for his 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, he created a new generation of mini remotely operated vessels (ROVs) that were small enough to enter the inside of the sunken ship.

He later returned to the site of the shipwreck to make a 3D documentary of the Titanic remains, Ghosts of the Abyss (2003).

In addition to his own submersible creations, Cameron has worked with the Russian-made Mir submarines on lease from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He has filmed at depths of as much as two miles – twice the depth of the Deepwater Horizon well.

He once told the public radio network NPR: "There are four submersibles in the world right now that can go to 20,000 feet and, you know, that's like trying to explore an area the size of all the continents of the world put together with four Jeeps."

Cameron also works closely with fellow-Canadian Phil Nuytten, a designer of remotely- and human-controlled deep-sea vessels.

BP turned down the offer, but that didn't stop Cameron from plugging forward with his decision to help in some manner, and so he gathered together 28 experts to see what they could come up with.  The following is part of the report that his group issued:

On June 1, 2010 twenty-eight experts in marine engineering and science, as well as government and oil industry technical advisors, met at the EPA building in Washington to consider possible alternative solutions to capping or controlling the runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The group included leading experts in deep ocean engineering, marine science, remotely operated vehicles, piloted submersibles, offshore oil operations and well control. Also attending were representatives of NOAA, EPA, and the Coast Guard.

Executive Summary
On June 1, 2010, at the invitation of James Cameron, a group of twenty-eight experts in deep ocean engineering and exploration met in Washington, DC. This group included representatives from marine industry, oceanography, government agencies, and ocean advocacy and represented a unique and powerful talent base focused on one purpose: to identify possible solutions to capping and ultimately controlling the runaway Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico.
At meetings end it was recognized that the situation was much more complicated than portrayed through the media and that the potential for making matters dramatically worse was significant. With that in mind this group recommended three near-term solutions.

1. Tap into the 8 additional 3” ports that currently exist
on the BOP to draw off more oil through the second
riser (2nd riser was established for the two 3” lines used
for the kill shot). Using this technique should allow the
capture of significantly more oil than is currently being
recovered. These lines will function in parallel with the
existing LMRP Cap while the new valve/cap is being
fabricated. These additional lines could also be used to
pump heavy mud, and then cement, in a repeat of the top
kill procedure should one be attempted.

2. Replace the existing LMRP Cap with a new cap
that produces a solid seal, and has a valve that can be
controlled from the surface to produce the necessary back
pressure for a more effective top kill procedure. The cap
would be mechanically locked over the existing flange at
the top of the BOP, using hydraulically actuated clamps,
then filled with cement, epoxy or ferrofluid to generate
a permanent seal. A rubber tube or skirt inside the cap
would keep a channel clear for the oil to flow through
while the sealant is injected. Variants on this cap/valve
concept include a temporary or permanent expanding
bladder inserted into the bore of the BOP if the bore is
unrestricted with drill pipe.

3. As an alternative to top kill, it may be possible to
engage the existing drill pipe with an overshot, using
high frequency sonar to image within the venting oil. If
sufficient unobstructed internal clearance exists through
that pipe it could have a tube inserted through it. The
object is to pump heavy mud into the well deep in the
hole. A version of this concept that incorporates an
expanding bladder cap (pipe through the middle of the
bladder) would combine the best of both concepts... back
pressure and deep injection of mud.

The optimal outcome is that some combination of these techniques could be used to kill the well, which is vastly superior to the current situation in which the cap system is estimated to be capturing only about half the oil, and the whole thing is vulnerable to work stoppage in the event of a hurricane. Killing the well is a 100% solution. In addition to consideration of the Deepwater Horizon well itself, the group discussed steps that should be taken to more efficiently manage similar environmental threats in the future.

These included encouragement for the deployment of long term undersea environmental monitoring systems, the establishment of environmental baselines, and the design and development of a rapid response capability consisting of an assortment of platforms and sensors.

(Subsequent to the meeting of the task force BP revealed there are three 16” rupture/burst disks in the well, the condition of which is not known. If their integrity has been compromised any effort at a top-kill has a very low probability of success and may further damage the integrity of the well.)

Conclusions and Recommendations

Regarding BP’s post-accident response, our general conclusion is that BP have assets on scene sufficient to deal with the problem. BP’s expertise is excellent at the engineering level, and the post-incident decisions made to date are, for the most part, correct, at least regarding well control, however we believe that more needs to be done.
Although the media have given the impression of sequential processing of the problem as each new procedure is attempted, it is clear that sufficient parallel processing has been applied to solve the problem on several fronts.  However, external advisory support and analysis from the deep ocean community should have been sought out, both by BP and government, at an early stage
The transparent flow of information from BP to responding agencies and from the marine science/engineering community to the government would have helped enormously. Obtaining critical information on flows, pressures and status of the well was beyond arduous and thus much of it was estimated or inferred.  Going forward, BP should avail itself of the analytical and engineering support offered by the deep ocean community, which is highly expert in deep vehicle design and operation, and in deep ocean operations at depths greater

than the well site.

BP should consider restricting BOP internal pressure at the top flange and then repeating the top-kill, because the LMRP cap is subject to leakage and forced removal in a hurricane. This would involve creating a new cap or plug containing a surface controlled valve. The valve would be used to meter the flow, maintain enough back pressure in the BOP and give the top-kill a greater chance to work. The new cap/plug would make a high pressure seal to the upper flange, as opposed to the LMRP cap’s “loose seal.”

A variant on this idea is using the existing drill pipe, already in the well, or an additional pipe or tube inserted through it (or replacing it) to inject heavy mud all the way to the bottom of the well and attempt a kill that way. BP should be asked if they have analyzed this. The opaque flow of the oil will require the use of high frequency multi-beam sonar to image the pipe’s position inside the BOP. To increase capture of oil, BP should add more 3” lines (same as the choke and kill lines) to take advantage of the multiple valve ports on the stack. This would require significant work with ROVs, but could happen after the LMRP cap is in place. Two and possibly as many as eight 3” lines could be added. These lines would pump more volume of oil to the surface without relying on the LMRP cap. They will also relieve the flow at the LMRP cap and provide backup if it fails or needs maintenance. In addition, they could be used to pump mud into the well bore at high volume in a second attempt at a topkill.

Combined with higher back pressure and fine control of BOP internal pressures from the proposed valve/cap, this could insure success months in advance of the relief well.

A major flaw in the current LMRP cap strategy is that it depends on the ship holding station without interruption. If a hurricane forces the ship to move, the well will vent without restriction into the sea. We predicted during the meeting that the flow would increase significantly when the riser was cut off, and it has more than the predicted 20%. This rate is the new normal any time the LMRP cap is removed because of weather or loss of function. With a minimum of two months required to complete the relief wells, we recommend that another attempt to kill the well be made soon.

BP has assets on scene sufficient to deal with the control of the well. The deep ocean community has vehicles that could assist, but they are unnecessary for work directly at the well, and integrating working styles with the offshore ROV operators already on the scene would be counter productive.

However, assets like ROV’s, 3D cameras, and manned submersibles from the deep ocean community should be employed by government agencies immediately to independently image and monitor the site and the midwater and benthic communities. Quantitative optical imaging in 3D and from uncompressed sources could be used to monitor flow rates. Acoustic volumetric monitoring similar to what has been accomplished at deep sea hydrothermal vent sites could be utilized. Right now the government is relying on the perpetrator’s poor-quality surveillance video of the crime scene.

Commander Greene of Coast Guard assured us that all command decisions were being made jointly between BP and USCG. But this can only truly happen if Incident Command has an independent flow of data and imaging, to make informed decisions. Currently it does not. We recommend independent imaging and data acquisition in situ within visual range of the work as it proceeds. This would allow the government to monitor progress, leakage, and scan for additional leaks and hazards, as well as have a data set for accident investigation, independent analysis of well control efforts, and flow measurement.

Coordination of all vehicles on the bottom is critical so as not to impede the critical work at the well site, but can be done. This group has extensive experience in operating multiple vehicles, both piloted and ROV, within a small theater of operations. Piloted vehicles and fiber-spooling vehicles could approach the well by traversing across the bottom from a deployment point outside the cluster of ships directly over the work site, so as to not interact with BP’s ROVs, tethers, and risers.

In addition to independent imaging and monitoring of the site, the responsible agencies should look to our group to assist with incident investigation. Phoenix has performed search and recovery operations for the US Navy under Sup/Salv. Lightstorm, working with the Russian Academy of Sciences Mir research subs, has carried out exterior and interior forensics studies at Titanic and Bismarck. (Both wrecks are at much greater depths than the blown out well.) Woods Hole has decades of experience with deep-sea surveys, bottom mosaics and marine archeology including the Titanic wreck site and Challenger debris field.

There is no better capability anywhere in the world.

Creating a definitive seafloor survey of the site, including the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon, will be a critical part of the accident investigation. Members of this group have extensive experience operating small fiberspooling ROVs inside shipwrecks hundreds of feet and several decks away from the entry point. It may be possible to recover valuable data from the Deepwater Horizon that could assist in understanding the accident. A comprehensive interior and exterior survey of the wreck should be performed as a basic part of the investigation. Our experience with wrecks is that “the steel does not lie.” Deepwater Horizon holds many answers to urgent questions.

Many of the people in the room will be involved in studies to determine the damage to the environment below the ocean’s surface. There was a strong level of commitment and desire to work cooperatively in an unprecedented way.  Typically these institutions organize vertically under their funding agencies (Navy, NOAA, NSF and others) and work in an uncoordinated fashion.

Dealing with the aftermath of the biggest environmental disaster in US history will require unprecedented coordination; all present were eager to work within this framework. Craig McLean of NOAA offered to function as a pro-tem hub for that effort, specifically in creating a master list of assets and capabilities.

One example of this kind of coordination is the need to establish a centralized database for existing Gulf samples, imaging, and research currently residing within many institutions and researchers. What the conditions were before the spill and how much good data exists is critical generating a baseline for the
upcoming studies. It will also be important to standardize the instrumentation, regardless of the vehicular platform, so that the same types of data are coming in from all measurement sites.

Different institutions have different ships, ROV’s, AUV’s, manned subs, and deep-sea capabilities, so it will be important to cast each one in its right role. We also concluded that this group represented an excellent nucleus for a Rapid Response Team to deal with deep ocean incidents environmental or otherwise.
(Such as the search still underway for the Air France black box.) There are precedents for this in earthquakes, submarine rescue, and aircraft disasters
The team would be international and have a webbased inventory of private-public sector deep-sea scientists, technical systems and scientific packages. It would have a central command structure. It would be an independent body that governments could call on for high-resolution imaging and scientific accuracy. It was agreed to follow up on this idea; one of our members offered to host a meeting on the subject at his institution.

We are finished with regard to our recommendations on the well control and oil capture task (unless specific recommendations are adopted and create ongoing engineering or execution roles for some of the members), but we believe that this is just the start of the conversation for the coordinated research, site survey, independent site monitoring, and rapid response concepts.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Oil Spill Page:

Despite the lampooning David Cameron took in the media for his offers to help, this report shows how important his help could be to the U.S. in their independent investigation into the Deepwater Horizon Explosion that resulted in the rig's sinking and creating the worst environmental disaster this country has ever faced.  His group is willing to work with helping BP to stop or reduce the flow of oil into the gulf, in assisting the U.S. in gathering evidence for the investigation, and to help create a group that would be capable of responding to disasters around the globe.

I am impressed with the report and am doubly impressed with Mr. Cameron's desire to help not just in this situation, but others that might arise.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tony Hayward Still Running Things At BP

There have been numerous reports that BP chairman Tony Hayward was removed from the day to day running of things for BP. This was a bit of a misunderstanding. It was previously reported that Mr. Hayward would be handing over the day to day operation to Bob Dudley (who is an American), and that will happen as previously reported, just not immediately.

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg (he of the small people quote) is the one who spoke with reporters about this yesterday, but today BP has clarified Mr Svanberg's comments.

It would seem that Mr. Svanberg has the same foot in mouth disease that Mr. Hayward has, which is no doubt why they are opting to eventually turn the reins over to Mr. Dudley.

Another reason I believe Mr. Dudley was chosen to take over is that he is from Mississippi and will be looked upon more favorably than either Mr. Hayward or Mr. Svanberg have been.

I'm sure that Mr. Svanberg is looking forward to getting back to his sailing trip which was interupted for him to come to the U.S. to meet with President Obama, and we all know that Mr. Hayward really wants to get back to his life in the UK where he can enjoy the fruits of his labor. Just weeks prior to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, Mr. Hayward cashed out about 1/3 of his stocks and avoided the massive fall of value that others outside the company who were unaware of the issues the Deepwater Horizon was having.

So while it would be nice to not have to see Mr. I Want My Life Back aka Mr. I Don't Recall or Mr. We Love The Small People, we are stuck with them for now it seems, although I suspect that despite the fact that Mr. Dudley hails from Mississippi, he will be of the same calibur as the other two, because as we've come to know in the last few months, BP is not known for its concern towards the people whose lives have been ruined due to their poor safety record and their greed.

Oil Spill: Updated Headlines and Misc. Information

Coast Guard Shuts Down Oil Sucking Barges Over Fire Extinguishers &Life Vest Checks
Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state's oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor's wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.
So why stop now?

"The Coast Guard came and shut them down," Jindal said. "You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, 'Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil.'"

A Coast Guard representative told ABC News today that it shares the same goal as the governor.
"We are all in this together. The enemy is the oil," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dan Lauer.
But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.
The governor said he didn't have the authority to overrule the Coast Guard's decision, though he said he tried to reach the White House to raise his concerns.

"They promised us they were going to get it done as quickly as possible," he said. But "every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer."

After Jindal strenuously made his case, the barges finally got the go-ahead today to return to the Gulf and get back to work, after more than 24 hours of sitting idle.
Against Gov. Jindal's Wishes, Crude-Sucking Barges Stopped by Coast Guard

Sharks Showing Up Closer To Florida Beaches
The appearance of a huge man-eating shark near a Florida beach on the cusp of the summer swimming season would not usually evoke a sympathetic response from either beachgoers or local tourism boosters.

But the discovery of a weakened, disoriented tiger shark -- measuring more than 11 feet and weighing some 800 pounds -- in the surf of Nokomis Beach last month has become something of a poignant symbol for what scientists fear most from the gulf oil spill: the unknown effects of the massive underwater oil plume and dispersants on marine life beneath the waves.

"When we see deeper-water sharks this close to shore, it leads me to believe that something is going on," said Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. "The tiger shark was still alive, but disoriented and lethargic. That matches what toxicologists tell me are the effects of oil on other invertebrates."

Oil Spill May Be Pushing Sharks Toward Fla. Beaches

Before BP oil spill, Big Oil-led study urged feds to cut safety testing

Blowout preventers – crucial safety devices in offshore drilling that are supposed to preclude undersea oil gushers like the one in the Gulf of Mexico – have failed 62 times during testing in Gulf waters over three years.

A 2009 reliability study of blow-out preventers deployed in the Gulf of Mexico also found that four of those breakdowns were "safety critical failures," meaning the equipment malfunction was serious enough to have allowed "an uncontrolled release" of crude oil from the well bore.

The study, which has not before been reported in the press, is an example of the coziness between government regulators and the oil industry that has been much criticized since the Gulf oil spill, some say. Funded mainly by oil companies but with participation by the US Minerals Management Service (MMS), the study examines whether it is possible to scale back the frequency of safety testing required on blowout preventers. Such testing "is costly," the study notes. "Thus, a study to evaluate the relationship between testing and its impact on safety and environmental performance was warranted."
Its conclusions? Less testing. The study recommended that pressure testing of most blowout preventer systems occur a minimum of every 35 days rather than every 14 days. That would save the industry about $193 million a year, according to the study's prospectus. However, for the least-reliable component of blowout preventers – the hydraulic and electrical control systems – the study recommended keeping "function tests" at their current weekly rate.

The reduction in testing was never adopted, but the study highlights federal reliance on industry recommendations and intensifies suspicions that industry interests have been trumping US safety regulations.

"You're letting the people being regulated get too close to the regulators," says a blowout preventer expert who is familiar with the study and asked not to be named. "Is this study an example? I wouldn't argue with that. Is it too cozy? Right on."

The report's data analysis seems to him to be accurate, and he says redundancies built into the devices make them very safe, but he nonetheless questions whether the report's conclusions are justified. Its authors seem "less than enthusiastic" about their recommendations, he says, and the apparent industry-MMS agenda to justify less testing makes the report seem "precooked."

Big Oil-led study urged feds to cut safety testing

Cracks Show BP Battled Well Two Months Before Blast

BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February, more than two months before an explosion killed 11 and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

It took 10 days to plug the first cracks, according to reports BP filed with the Minerals Management Service that were later delivered to congressional investigators. Cracks in the surrounding rock continued to complicate the drilling operation during the ensuing weeks. Left unsealed, they can allow explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.

“Once they realized they had oil down there, all the decisions they made were designed to get that oil at the lowest cost,” said Peter Galvin of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been working with congressional investigators probing the disaster. “It’s been a doomed voyage from the beginning.”
On Feb. 13, BP told the minerals service it was trying to seal cracks in the well about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, drilling documents obtained by Bloomberg show. Investigators are still trying to determine whether the fissures played a role in the disaster.

‘Cement Squeeze’

The company attempted a “cement squeeze,” which involves pumping cement to seal the fissures, according to a well activity report. Over the following week the company made repeated attempts to plug cracks that were draining expensive drilling fluid, known as “mud,” into the surrounding rocks.

BP used three different substances to plug the holes before succeeding, the documents show.

“Most of the time you do a squeeze and then let it dry and you’re done,” said John Wang, an assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania. “It dries within a few hours.”

Repeated squeeze attempts are unusual and may indicate rig workers are using the wrong kind of cement, Wang said.

In early March, BP told the minerals agency the company was having trouble maintaining control of surging natural gas, according to e-mails released May 30 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the spill.

Cracks Show BP Battled Well Two Months Before Blast

BP oil spill: MMS shortcomings include 'dearth of regulations'

The federal agency charged with overseeing the offshore oil and gas industry was ill-prepared to do its job because of a severe shortage of inspectors, a "dearth of regulations," and a "completely backwards" approach to investigating spills and accidents.

That's the summation of Mary Kendall, acting inspector general for the US Department of Interior, who testified Thursday on Capitol Hill about the regulatory capabilities of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the wake of the BP oil spill. Those capabilities were thin, at best, she said. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced a reorganization of the MMS.

With just "five brief paragraphs" of regulations to guide it on how to conduct a post-incident investigations, the MMS has long relied on public forums held by the US Coast Guard rather than gathering its own evidence, she told a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. MMS reliance on those public hearings "rather than developing evidence to culminate in a public forum" is an approach that Ms. Kendall characterized as "completely backwards."
Assigned to identify gaps, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve the MMS, she said her office has not completed its work. However, she did identify several problems, including the following:

The MMS has about 60 inspectors to cover nearly 4,000 offshore facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
MMS inspectors are underpaid, compared with similar jobs in the industry, and receive mostly on-the-job training using guidance and instructions developed between 1984 and 1991.
Inspectors operate "relatively independently, with little direction as to what must be inspected or how." Inspectors are guided in their work simply by a handbook of "potential incidents of noncompliance," she said.
Another major focus for the inspector general's office has been MMS regulations, which Kendall said are "heavily reliant on industry to document and accurately report on operations, production, and royalties."

Looking into MMS enforcement programs, she said the agency's enforcement office "takes action to encourage compliance rather than take a stronger deterrent approach." She noted, though, that enforcement had become tougher in the past year.
MMS shortcomings include 'dearth of regulations'

Rep Joe Barton (R) Texas Apologizes To BP CEO Tony Hayward

GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking member on the House Energy Committee, made a decisive splash in his opening remarks (from which Republican leaders immediately began distancing themselves). A staunch conservative who has a long record of backing oil industry interests, Barton apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the "shakedown" the Obama White House pulled on the company. (Barton has received more than $1.5 million in campaign donations from the oil industry, according to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan watchdog group.)

"I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself," Barton explained, "but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion shakedown."

Wrapping up, Barton said: "I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words — amounts to a shakedown, so I apologize."

Rep. Joe L. Barton Apologizes to BP CEO Tony Hayward during Congressional Hearing

Astounding? Yes! Here this company has ruined the lives of thousands upon thousands of people, has literally destroyed nearly a half a million acres of marshes and wetlands, caused untold damage to our wildlife and our sea life, all in the name of greed, and our President is doing everything in his power to ensure that this company doesn't run from its obligations to those people and the damage they have done, and this idiot has the gall to apologize to them for our President putting the citizens of this country first?

Yes he did.

He also came out later and retracted his apology to BP but he obviously didn't do it willingly. Instead he was "forced" to do it by the GOP leadership.

GOP leaders summoned Barton to the Capitol and demanded he apologize in specific terms. The leaders threatened to launch a process to strip Barton of his position as ranking Republican on the powerful panel, according to two Republican officials who demanded anonymity.

So why did Barton jump on this chance to slam President Obama and defend BP?

Barton is the biggest recipient of oil and gas industry campaign contributions in the House of Representatives, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Its data showed that Barton has collected $1,447,880 from political action committees and individuals connected with the oil and gas industry since 1989.

Federal Election Commission records show that during the current 2009-10 campaign cycle, the oil and gas industry has been the second-biggest contributor to Barton, at $100,470, behind only the electric utility industry ($162,800).

Republican Forced to Apologize

Should you wish to contact Mr Barton and voice your concerns that he is willing to support BP rather than the citizens of this country, I have listed his contact information below.

How you can contact Mr. Joe L Barton:

Email Contact Form

2109 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2002
(202) 225-3052 fax

6001 West Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway,
Suite 200
Arlington, Texas 76017
(817) 543-1000
(817) 548-7029 fax

2106 A W. Ennis Ave.
Ennis, Texas 75119
(972) 875-8488
(972) 875-1907 fax

303 N. 6th St.
Crockett, TX 75835
(936) 544-8488

Updated Information on Stranding's, Deaths & Survival of Animals in Gulf

The NOAA Ship Pisces reported a dead 25-foot sperm whale was located 150 miles due south of Pascagoula, Miss. and approximately 77 miles due south of the spill site. The whale was decomposed and heavily scavenged. Samples of skin and blubber will be analyzed. Sperm whales are listed as an endangered species.

A total of 449 sea turtles have been verified from April 30 to June 15 within the designated spill area from the Texas/Louisiana border to Apalachicola, Florida. Between Monday, June 14, and Tuesday, June 15, 12 turtle strandings were verified. The on-water turtle rescue operation led by NOAA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and other partners working under the Wildlife Branch of the Unified Command captured 7 heavily-oiled turtles Tuesday and brought them ashore for rehabilitation at the Audubon Nature Institute outside New Orleans. There are now 85 sea turtles in rehabilitation centers. These include 60 heavily-oiled sea turtles captured as part of the on-water rescue operation and 25 turtles that stranded alive. A total of 75 stranded or captured turtles have had visible evidence of external oil since verifications began on April 30. These include the 66 captured or collected turtles from the on-water operation (60 live turtles, 3 collected dead and 3 that died in rehabilitation), five live stranded turtles (two caught in skimming operations), and four dead stranded sea turtles. All others have not had visible evidence of external oil.

Of the 449 turtles verified from April 30 to June 15, a total of 350 stranded turtles were found dead, 33 stranded alive. Four of those subsequently died. Four live stranded turtles were released, and 25 live stranded turtles are being cared for at rehabilitation centers. Turtle strandings during this time period have been much higher in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle than in previous years for this same time period. This may be due in part to increased detection and reporting, but this does not fully account for the increase.

From April 30 to June 15, 45 stranded dolphins have been verified in the designated spill area, an increase of 2 (both documented in Mississippi) verified since June 14. Of this 45, 43 dolphins stranded dead and two stranded alive. One of those dolphins died on the beach and the other that stranded alive in Florida was euthanized. So far, two of the 45 stranded dolphins had evidence of external oil. However, we are unable at this time to determine whether the animals were externally oiled before or after death. Since April 30, the stranding rate for dolphins in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle has been higher than the historic numbers for the same time period in previous years. In part, this may be due to increased detection and reporting and the lingering effects of an earlier observed spike in strandings for the winter of 2010.

A stranding is defined as a dead or debilitated animal that washes ashore or is found in the water. NOAA and its partners are analyzing the cause of death for the dead stranded and dead captured sea turtles and the stranded marine mammals.

NOAA Deepwater Horizon Incident Information

The NOAA field crew is required to take photographs of the approximately 25-foot whale, collect skin swab for oil analysis, collect blubber and skin samples for analysis, and measure its height in the water. Although the whale is already decomposing, the photographs and samples will help scientists better understand how long it has been dead.

Dead Whale Found in Gulf

H/T Crystalwolf aka Caligrl for this link with picture.

This map shows the extent of the oil in the water in the Gulf and the area's of land impacted with oil as of June 15th

The Oil Spill’s Effects on Life Underwater
Brown pelicans and other seabirds often dive into the oil because the slick makes the water look calmer. If they are coated in oil, they will be unable to regulate their temperatures, leading to hyperthermia.

Plankton, tiny immobile organisms at the base of the food chain, can be killed by chemically dispersed oil.

All four species of sea turtles in the gulf are threatened or endangered. Some have already washed up ashore, and with numbers already low, it would be harder to rebuild the population.

Dolphins, which often follow boats to play, have been following response crews, getting near the slicks.

Shrimp and other shellfish are more vulnerable to oil and chemical dispersants because they are stationary, while some adult fin fish populations may be mobile.

Fish larvae are most at risk. Bluefin tuna, now spawning near the spill, are of particular concern. The Gulf of Mexico is one of only two nurseries in the world for bluefin tuna.

Sperm whales, which spend most of their time diving for prey, may come up in the slick as they reach the surface to breathe.

Inforgraphic on the Effects of the Oil Underwater

Daily Dead Wildlife Tally

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster: Spawn of the Living Dead for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna?
Recently published study, intended to provide data to commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico so they maximize their catch of Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, whilst avoiding bycatch of critically endangered Atlantic (Northern) Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, suggests that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak may devastate the endangered Atlantic bluefin population, causing it to completely collapse or possibly go extinct.

"The population has declined 80 percent to 90 percent of what its original spawning biomass was," said the study's senior author, Barbara Block, a MacArthur Laureate and marine biologist at Stanford University.
Even though it has been illegal to catch Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 20 years, they are accidentally caught by commercial yellowfin tuna, swordfish and marlin fisheries. To avoid bycatch, it is essential to identify the spatio-temporal locations of bluefin so commercial fisheries can modify their techniques to avoid them.

It is generally known that migratory bluefin enter the Gulf of Mexico to spawn each March and stay through June before returning to the North Atlantic Ocean to forage. These giant fish, which can live to be 30 years old and weigh more than 1,400 pounds each, are thought to be similar to salmon; returning to the same area where they were born to spawn. But it is not known with certainty when nor where these fish are, so avoiding them whilst targeting their close relatives, yellowfin tuna, is not a simple matter.

A team of scientists designed a series of studies to remedy this lack of precise information. Their studies relied on two data sources, both of which required them to .. go fishing. The first data source was catch and effort data reported by fishery observers on commercial longline vessels in the Gulf of Mexico from 1992 through 2005. The second data source was the researchers' own catch and effort data collected during six scientific longline cruises in the Gulf of Mexico between 1998 and 2002, as part of their Tag-A-Giant program. The Tag-A-Giant fishing efforts were conducted for the purpose of placing electronic tags on bluefin tuna, which were then released (using methods shown on this video):

Spawn of the Living Dead for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna?

The Size of the Spill
5,000 to 60,000 barrels a day: Rate at which oil is leaking from the Deepwater Horizon rig. Some experts now believe that original estimates of 5,000 barrels a day (that's 210,000 gallons) were way off. And BP says that it's likely that the leak rate is around 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) a day. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
19 million to 39 million gallons: Amount of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico in the month since the Deepwater Horizon spill. (Source: Huffington Post)
11,300 miles: The distance around the world the current amount of leaked oil would stretch if it was placed in milk jugs lined up side by side. To quantify, that's farther than New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and back. (Source: New York Times)
102: The number of school gymnasiums that could theoretically be filled floor-to-ceiling with oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. (Source: New York Times)
130 miles long and 70 miles wide: Size of the oil slick as of May 17. The slick continues to grow and move. (Source: New Orleans Times Picayune)
11: Number of workers missing and presumed dead following the BP rig explosion. (Source: Huffington Post)

The Clean Up
436,000 gallons: Number of gallons of dispersant sprayed on the oil spill to break it up. Thus far, around 4 million gallons of oily water have been recovered. (Source: AP)
50,000 barrels of "heavy mud": Amount of mud used in BP's "top kill" method of stopping the flow of leaking oil. The mud is to be forced into the leaking well in order to overcome the oil and stop its flow. This method has been used before but never at the depths of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. (Source: Guardian)

The Cost
12,000: Number of Louisiana residents who have filed for unemployment since the spill, most of which have come from the southern part of the state most closely impacted by the spill. (Source: Daily Finance)
$300 million: Estimated cost to BP to plug up the leaking oil spill, not including environmental cleanup costs. (Source: New York Times)
$5 to $42 million: Range of BP's estimated fines, per day. On the low end, is the cost based on BP's conservative estimate of 1,000 barrels a day being lost. On the high end, an estimate of 14,000 barrels a day, which is generally considered a more accurate estimate of the leak. As of May 26, this means that BP could be fined anywhere between $37 million to $1.5 billion. (Source: House of Representatives)
$75 million: The government-mandated cap on oil company liability. Some representatives are calling for the cap to be lifted and a new $10 billion dollar cap be put in place. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
$1.5 billion: Amount in insurance claims experts believe the BP spill will cost insurers. (Source: Business Week)

The Threat to Life
400: Number of wildlife species threatened by the spill. Threatened species include sea life such as whales, tuna and shrimp; dozens of species of birds; land animals such as the gray fox and white-tailed deer; and amphibians such as the alligator and the snapping turtle. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune)
At least 30: Species of birds the Audubon Society says are potentially threatened by the oil spill. These include marsh birds, ocean-dwelling birds and migratory songbirds. All reside in "Important Bird Areas," according to Audubon, designated because of their "essential habitat value." Among the most vulnerable species is the brown pelican -- the state bird of Louisiana -- which was only recently removed from the endangered species list. The spill is especially devastating for bird populations because it coincides with the beginning of breeding season. (Source: Audubon Society)
25 million: Number of birds that traverse the Gulf Coast per day, and which are potentially at risk from the oil spill. According to the LA Times Greenspace Blog, "Late spring is the peak time for neo-tropical songbirds moving from the Yucatan Peninsula to make their first landfall in Louisiana," and "more than 70% of the country's waterfowl frequent the gulf's waters." (Source: LA Times Greenspace Blog)
11 million: Number of gallons of oil leaked into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez oil leak. It is widely considered the worst oil spill in U.S. history, although a number of larger spills have happened around the world, most notably the 2002 Prestige spill off Spain. (Source: CBS News)
400: Number of oil projects illegally approved for operation in the Gulf of Mexico under Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the oil surveys and drilling operations threaten marine mammal life in the region. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)

Background on the Gulf Oil Spill
27: Number of offshore gulf drilling operations approved since the BP spill. Two of those were awarded to BP. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)
30 percent: Percent of the nation's oil production derived from the Gulf of Mexico. (Source: E2 Wire)
1 billion: Number of gallons of oil spilled into the oceans each year, Gulf of Mexico spill notwithstanding. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
137.8 billion gallons: Amount of gasoline Americans consumed in 2008, down 3% from 2007. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)
19.5 million barrels: Amount of oil consumed in the United States per day. (Source: CIA Country Handbook 2008)
2,300 square miles: Number of miles of historic Louisiana coastal marsh and cypress forest (out of 7,000) that have been compromised due to oil drilling. (Source: Environmental Defense Fund) 

The Daily Green Gulf Of Mexico Fact Sheet