Friday, June 11, 2010

Obama Visits, Pensacola Prepares: Friday June 11 BP Oil Leak Update

1. Weekend Oilcast
2. President Obama Visits

3. Live Chat
4. Skeptical of the Enemy
5. Parental Warning
6. Pensacola Prepares
7. Must Hear
1. Weekend Oilcast.

As yesterday, the forecast for today and the coming weekend is hot and mostly dry, with a moderate surf. Perfect beach weather, except for the light south winds, which will likely push the oil even closer to us.

2. President Obama Visits.

President Obama will visit Pensacola Monday, the White House announced late yesterday. A specific itinerary has not yet been released. We're guessing he will want to see Perdido Bay or Pensacola Pass, the westernmost points of vulnerability for Florida. This can be done from the vantage points either of the mainland or Santa Rosa Island.

3. Live Chat.

Before the president arrives, his White House Director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, Carol Browner, will be holding a live chat in Washington today. It's scheduled to start at 11:30 Central Daylight Time. Click here for instructions on how to listen in or submit questions.

4. Skeptical of the Enemy.

Late yesterday, as we mentioned in an update, the government's Flow Rate Technical Group released new calculations of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. As the New York Times reports today, the blue ribbon panel of scientists "essentially doubled its estimate of how much oil has been spewing from the out-of-control BP well" since April 20.
The new calculation shows "an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days."
The new estimate is 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day. That range, still preliminary, is far above the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.
And, needless to say, the new calculation far exceeds BP's lies about 1,000 to 5,000 barrels a day which the corporation was peddling for weeks after the well blew up. Times reporters Gillis and Fountain add:
The higher estimates will affect not only assessments of how much environmental damage the spill has done but also how much BP might eventually pay to clean up the mess — and it will most likely increase suspicion among skeptics about how honest and forthcoming the oil company has been throughout the catastrophe. [emphasis added]
Being a skeptic, frankly, our own suspicions about BP hardly needed to be increased. We know who the enemy is. It has been assaulting our nation's shores for almost two months.

Now, we learn from Mac McClelland of Mother Jones Magazine that BP is stalling the government on two pending requests for (1) the verifying data about damage claims and payments which BP has been loudly touting and (2) a list of clean-up subcontractors the oil company is using. Her article includes ends with an amusing "letter" to the Obama administration:
Remember that one time when BP told the Coast Guard that top kill was working and then the Coast Guard told everyone else and then it turned out that wasn't true? Well, despite every single thing BP has ever said being false, there appears to be zero oversight of the information it's releasing about its cleanup effort.
* * *
Dear Obama administration: Please tell me that a hungover 30-year-old sitting around in her underwear reading press releases on the couch is not really the first person to ask for verification or at least a spreadsheet backing up BP's stats.
Mac has more here....

5. Parental Warning.

The many miles of sandy beaches along Pensacola Beach and Santa Rosa Island as a whole remain open and vulnerable to the oil sheen and tarballs. As yet, thankfully, little of that has been seen.

Tourists and locals continue to flock to the beach despite media reports of tarballs on the beach. All the swimmers we've talked with, and most of the adults with children, appear alert to the danger.

Still, it's unnerving to see a few adults watching from a distance their toddlers and young ones playing the water's edge. We keep reading that fresh tarballs look like "chocolate" -- and they do. (see below). It's easy to imagine a small child picking one up and shoving it in the mouth.

6. Pensacola Prepares.

We've been posting photos of Ft. Pickens and Pensacola Bay over the last month. [See e.g. here, here, here, and here.] Barrier Island Girl, who is a real photographer, has more here, here, and here, among other pages. Few of them show the evil tarballs and none an oil slick. But we know they're coming, and so does the president.

Yesterday at Casino Beach there was almost no evidence of tarballs, although a sheen of oil was reported to be just a mile off shore. Swimmers were cautious, relieved to find the water clean, and eager for fun in the surf.

On the mainland, bays, bayous, and other smaller bodies of water that feed directly into Pensacola Bay are being boomed. Booms can be closed quickly when oil threatens, although they likely will not be effective in a vigorous surf.

Estuaries, wetlands, and lagoons that do not directly feed into vulnerable Gulf waters are left to their own devices. Pictured below is a finger of Hawkshaw Lagoon, separated from Pensacola Bay by a thin rocky barrier.

7. Must-Hear.

A must hear: "Fresh Air's" superb veteran host Terri Gross yesterday spoke with ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten about newly revealed internal corporate documents "from a person close to BP." They are powerful evidence that BP has a deeply ingrained disregard for safety, environmental protection, and equipment maintenance. Click the podcast:

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Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you again for your hard work on reporting this story. My husband and I got engaged on Perdido Key when I used to live in Pensacola. My heart is just breaking again and again over this. Sometimes I can't even read about it at work because it makes me tear up. I appreciate your well-written and -reseached (and funny!) posts.

Emily in Little Rock said...

I think everybody ought to browse on it.