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NN10: Deepwater Disaster: Response and Recovery on the Gulf Coast

I’m afraid this will be a less intensive liveblog, as I was detained (by a very long line for coffee) and missed he first 15 minutes. My apologies to all, but I really needed the coffee!

This afternoon’s panel:

Deepwater Disaster: Response and Recovery on the Gulf Coast

The catastrophic explosion that caused an oil spill from a BP offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico is now the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Even as representatives from the oil industry and the government work to manage the crisis, we still don’t know what the full long-term impact will be to the fragile Gulf Coast. We’ll discuss what the current situation looks like, what environmental groups and activists are doing to help with the cleanup and, more importantly, how to break our country’s addiction to oil and move toward developing alternative energy sources.

I mostly missed Bob Cavnar’s intro, but I did hear him say that he is shocked that we are still deaaling with many of these problems. He thought many of the issues that have come up in this disaster would have been solved 20 years ago (basically since the Valdeze spill).

Cavnar also pointed out that 80% of our offshore driling is deepwater drilling.

Bob talking again. When they compared the drawings of the BOP to the ROV pictures they didn’t match. The BOP had been so modified, the drawings were not useful.

That said, you should never have to use the BOP, except for testing. If you need the BOP, you drilled the well wrong.

But "everyone who is good at this is a little bit arrogant"–Bob says this is like flying, you have to trust your instruments.

In the case of Deepwater Horizon, all indications were for 19 hours the well was going to blow, but these guys "did not listen to the well."

Van Jones is introduced. . . (he came in late)

Now, David Pettit is asked what went wrong policy-wise that led to this disaster.

MMS (now renamed with an acronym that sounds like "bummer") obviously didn’t do their job. Didn’t seriously review the documents. (The stuff about the cut and paste, and the walrusses, etc.)

MMS made summary approvals on whole catagories. MMS’s attitude was "what’s the worst that could happen."

Van Jones up.

Federal government attitude was "Why should we put these people through the trouble of environmental review?"

VJ makes the point of saying "The last administration" when he talks about this.

BP is the 4th most profitable co i the world today–right now.

VJ: I don’t make the case for more regulation, I make the case for the Federal Gov’t. being strong enough to do their job.

Earlier, Bob Cavnar said he can’t believe the industry didn;t embrace this moratorium. It is easy to deal with and is actually needed for review of business.

Now Bob is saying the moratorium actually needs to be longer. He says this is dangerous work, everyone who works in the drilling biz gets injured (Bob included), and we have to stop trading lives for money.

Pettit talks about how universally unpopular the moratorium is on the LA coast. Even fisherman & shrimpers cycle between the seafood industry and the oil industry.

But that is shortsighted. The hospitality & fishing industries are both more profitable than the oil industry. And, the 33 wells covered by the moratorium–none of them were pumping.

Bob Cavnar cuts in–the employment argument is a false argument. These are foreign-flagged rigs. So they can make more money by taking the rig to  Africa and hiring cheaper labor there. If they were made to flag the ships in the US, they would work US waters and hire US workers, and would not have a credible threat of moving.

Pettit makes a plea for using he moratorium as a period to find domestic clean energy, green-collar jobs for folks. Make wind turbines here instead of China, for example.

Van Jones thinks that level of corruption allowed by the Bush Admin was so rampant and deep that it would have been hard for the Obama Admin to clean it up in 18 months. But, he wants to look forward (OK, that is my phraseology), there are folks in the gulf that need help.

The Banksters are still foreclosing on fisherman’s homes and boats. Banks that exist oly because of the bailout should NOT be foreclosing on these victims. They have no right. It is our money that kept them alive.

I have failed to mention that this panel’s moderator is Kate Sheppard.

Pettit says that the victims of Valdeze spent 20 years trying to recover payments to them because of the disaster.

Fed Gov’t. should say how long BP has to pay (as in: not forever) and how long BP is on the hook for disaster (as in: forever)

Cavnar adds we have to focus on the people of the gulf. DOn’t forget abotu helping them.

Kate says that after the Santa Barbara spill in ’69, we got enviro legislation; coming off this disaster, we are seeing gov’t pull back rather than move forward.

VJ: How we go from borrowing to building in America is by building next generation technology here.

VJ says this is Act 2 in the movie when thing look really bad before they start getting better.

VJ: When John Kery (who he calls a hero) came out and said the carbon wars are over, and we lost–VJ thought there should be riots in the streets. He doesn’t know what it will take (Godzilla coming up from the gulf muck) to get people riled up. But he is hopeful.

Pettit does not share VJ’s optimism.

Cavnar says we have a hydrocarbon-based economy economy. We need to extend the decline curve and transition past hydrocarbons.

Only 3 or 4 of the gulf drillers could have survived thsi disaster. No insurers are going to work with them after this. A pooling of resources will be needed to go forward.

After Valdeze, the industry pooled resources to develop skimming technology.

Question time: Former mayor of Sitka Alaska talks–says BP will not make the people of the gulf whole. You can’t monitize a life, a heritage.

Pettit talking about how state utilities are required to bring in power for the best price. Coal is less than half what wind costs per Kw right now. Until someone intervenes to even out cost, how can there be a movement to clean new energy tech?

The woman who started the Coffee Party is here (I didn’t catch her name)–wants foks to focus on the dispersants that are making people sick.

Cavnar says the unprecedented use of dispersants, and the underwater deployment will be one of the biggest mistakes of this whole operation.

Kate Sheppard adds the EP has signed off on this at every step.

VJ: talks about how the dispersants were used to just keep the oil out of sight. [This is not news 90 days in I don’t think.] Van then says it might be OK if you  are a bird, but not if you are a fish. [that seems silly to say, I think]

Cavnar: The challenge today for the President & Dems is to govern. GOP can simply trow rocks.

And we are done!

Update–I just heard that the SItka Mayor is not "former"–he is still mayor, but he is part time. He is also  the Democratic candidate for US Senate–his name is Scott MacAdams. He siad he didn’t want to grandstand during the panel.

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Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine