Here’s a great idea: How about we drill for oil off the Virginia coast . . . then we could be just like Louisiana

For 14 years, oil has been pouring out of an old well site off the Louisiana Gulf Coast — the result of offshore oil drilling.

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history.

Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever.

Aerial view of the 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Louisiana coast

 

If we are lucky, the Virginia coast could look like the Louisiana coast — jammed with oil wells.

As oil continues to spoil the Gulf, the Trump administration is proposing the largest expansion of leases for the oil and gas industry, with the potential to open nearly the entire outer continental shelf to offshore drilling. That includes the Atlantic coast, where drilling hasn’t happened in more than a half century and where hurricanes hit with double the regularity of the Gulf.

Expansion plans come despite fears that the offshore oil industry is poorly regulated and that the planet needs to decrease fossil fuels to combat climate change, as well as the knowledge that 14 years after Ivan took down Taylor’s platform, the broken wells are releasing so much oil that researchers needed respirators to study the damage.

“I don’t think people know that we have this ocean in the United States that’s filled with industry,” said Scott Eustis, an ecologist for the Gulf Restoration Network, as a six-seat plane circled the spill site on a flyover last summer. On the horizon, a forest of oil platforms rose up from the Gulf’s waters, and all that is left of the doomed Taylor platform are rainbow-colored oil slicks that are often visible for miles. He cannot imagine similar development in the Atlantic, where the majority of coastal state governors, lawmakers, attorneys general and residents have aligned against the administration’s proposal.

The Taylor Energy spill is largely unknown outside Louisiana because of the company’s effort to keep it secret in the hopes of protecting its reputation and proprietary information about its operations, according to a lawsuit that eventually forced the company to reveal its cleanup plan. The spill was hidden for six years before environmental watchdog groups stumbled on oil slicks while monitoring the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster a few miles north of the Taylor site in 2010.

The Interior Department is fighting an effort by Taylor Energy to walk away from the disaster. The company sued Interior in federal court, seeking the return of about $450 million left in a trust it established with the government to fund its work to recover part of the wreckage and locate wells buried under 100 feet of muck.

Taylor Energy declined to comment. The company has argued that there’s no evidence to prove any of the wells are leaking. Last month, the Justice Department submitted an independent analysis showing that the spill was much larger than the one-to-55 barrels per day that the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC) claimed, using data supplied by the oil company.

The author of the analysis, Oscar Garcia-Pineda, a geoscience consultant who specializes in remote sensing of oil spills, said there were several instances when the NRC reported low estimates on the same days he was finding heavy layers of oil in the field.

“There is abundant evidence that supports the fact that these reports from NRC are incorrect,” Garcia-Pineda wrote. Later he said: “My conclusion is that NRC reports are not reliable.”

In an era of climate change and warmer open waters, the storms are becoming more frequent and violent. Starting with Ivan in 2004, several hurricanes battered or destroyed more than 150 platforms in just four years.

On average, 330,000 gallons of crude are spilled each year in Louisiana from offshore platforms and onshore oil tanks, according to a state agency that monitors them.

The Gulf is one of the richest and most productive oil and gas regions in the world, expected to yield more than 600 million barrels this year alone, nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. oil production. Another 40 billion barrels rest underground, waiting to be recovered, government analysts say.

About 2,000 platforms stand in the waters off the Bayou State. Nearly 2,000 others are off the coasts of its neighbors, Texas and Mississippi. On top of that are nearly 50,000 miles of active and inactive pipelines carrying oil and minerals to the shore.

And the costs are high.

For every 1,000 wells in state and federal waters, there’s an average of 20 uncontrolled releases of oil — or blowouts — every year. A fire erupts offshore every three days, on average, and hundreds of workers are injured annually.

BP has paid or set aside $66 billion for fines, legal settlements and cleanup of the 168 million-gallon spill — a sum that the oil giant could, painfully, afford. But many companies with Gulf leases and drilling operations are small, financially at-risk and hard-pressed to pay for an accident approaching that scale.

Campaign to impeach Trump now has more members than NRA

Courtesy of Newsweek:

A campaign to impeach President Donald Trump marked its one-year anniversary on Saturday, celebrating reaching more people signed on to its online petition than the 146-year-old National Rifle Association has paying members.

“This online community is bigger than the NRA,” Need to Impeach founder Tom Steyer announced at a town hall in Newark, New Jersey, on the campaign’s first birthday.

The crowd of more than 200 people cheered and applauded.

Need to Impeach last week reached six million signatures on its online petition calling on Congress to begin proceedings to remove Trump from office. The NRA’s dues-paying membership stands at about 5.5 million, Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the gun rights group, said in an email to Newsweek Friday.

This is not exactly a fair comparison, since Steyer is not asking petition signers to pay dues, and has no intention of lobbying Congress.

However, it is still worth noting, as is the fact that the numbers continue to grow and the issue is talked about on the campaign trail by such Democratic superstars as Beto O’Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

I think there is a good chance that the issue will become much more relevant after the midterms.

It is also worth noting that the NRA has a history of lying about its membership numbers.  The claim that the NRA now has “5.5 million members” likely is bullshit.  Read an analysis of the NRA membership lies here.

tRump administration is all about straight white men . . . old ones, at that

The tRump amdinistration is defined by violence and hatred against all who are not straight, white, without disabilities.

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

Today’s news not from Fox

 

 

“This is CNN, not Fox. You have to bring facts.”

During a barb-filled exchange during the CNN televised Florida Governor’s Debate between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum, Democratic Tallahassee mayor Gillum told his opponent that he had to bring his facts because it was not Fox News.

DeSantis started by saying that one of the problems Gillum has is that he is presiding “over a city that’s out of control in terms of crime. When you have the record number of murders, in fact, the guy running to succeed him as mayor was his former chief of staff and he’s sending out literature to voters saying most murders in history last year, something needs to change.” He added: “Andrew couldn’t keep Tallahassee safe, he’s not the guy to keep Florida families safe.”

“Ron is being Don, and that’s Donald Trump, neglecting all sense of reason and facts,” Gillum replied. “I preside over a city that’s experiencing a five-year low in our crime rate on trajectory to be at a 20-year low in our crime rate.”

Then he said this: “This is CNN, not Fox. You have to bring facts to the conversation.”

You know, if it were not for lies, you Republicans would have nothing to say.

The real story of a Trump real estate deal: Trump family lies, investors lose, Trump picks up millions

In November 2007, The Wall Street Journal infuriated Donald Trump with an article that dissected his recent real estate setbacks. Headlined “Stalled Condo Projects Tarnish Trump’s Name,” the report raised doubt about what the mogul treasured — and banked on — most in business: the value of his personal brand.

Trump responded with a 512-word letter to the editor. Calling the story “one of the most ridiculous I have read in many years,” he complained that it ignored his “tremendous successes with massive projects” and instead focused on “small jobs” in the Florida cities of Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. He dismissed both as licensing deals “for which I am not responsible for development.”

Trump’s reaction offers another capsule of his habit of twisting the truth regarding his real estate deals — one of the patterns explored in detail in “Pump and Trump,” which focused on a deal in Panama. That article concluded that, contrary to the Trumps’ longtime claims that they merely licensed their name, they were deeply involved in their deals.

Read the entire sordid story here.