Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Whopper Wednesday: July 21 BP Oil Spill Update

1. Oilcast.

If you want to beach it, the next several days look like the surest opportunity for a pleasant, relatively oil-free time in weeks. NOAA reports (see above) that overflights at BP's well site "indicate the surface oil is breaking up into numerous patches separated by clean water - for the first time no surface oil was observed in the vicinity of the source."

Locally, NOAA expects wind and wave forecasts (below) will be pushing comparatively cleaner water westward over the next 72 hours.
2.Tropical Report.

Get that beach experience in before the weather turns next week. The National Hurricane Center is now saying "there is a high chance... 70 percent" of Invest 97L "becoming a tropical depression or a tropical storm during the next 48 hours."

Right now, the slow-moving system is north of Puerto Rico and soon will be passing the Dominican Republic. The Miami Herald reports, "strong winds and heavy rain" are expected in south Florida by late Thursday.

All the early computer-generated spaghetti projections (left) have the storm heading into the Gulf. After that, they come up with a wide scattering of potential targets ranging from Morgan City, Louisiana to Apalachee Bay, Florida. Pensacola Beach, wouldn't you know it, is just about in the middle.

A hurricane hunter aircraft will be gathering more detailed data later today.

3. Oily Legislators Spin Whoppers.

Gannett Corp.'s capital bureau in Tallahassee covered yesterday's abortive special session of the legislature, called by Governor Charlie Crist to consider placing a referendum on the November ballot that would have banned drilling off the Florida coast. A constitutional amendment is believed necessary as an additional bulwark against future sneak attacks on the existing statutory ban against near-shore drilling which the state has enjoyed for many years.

There once was a time when that drilling ban enjoyed broad bipartisan support. But the extremists who have taken over the state's Republican party were on the verge last April of repealing that statute when the Deepwater Horizon platform blew up, exposing the folly of their plans.

Jim Ash's report today from Tallahassee reveals -- surprise, surprise -- that local legislators are saying one thing to the home folk and doing another in the state capital. Yesterday, every single Republican in the state House of Representatives voted to adjourn the special session after only 49 minutes without even taking up or debating the governor's proposal.

Yet, for the consumption of folk back home, state representatives Clay Ford (R-Gulf Breeze) and Dave Murzin (R-Pensacola) are spinning big whoppers to create the impression they were "disappointed... there was much left undone with regards to oil drilling in the Gulf."

Ford is particularly oily. About Governor Crist's proposal, he claims, "I was in favor of putting it to a vote. I would have voted to put it on the ballot in November."

If that were so, then why would he vote to adjourn the special session before the proposal even could be raised? Ford isn't saying. He doesn't have to. His actions speak louder than words. For Clay Ford, party loyalty trumps protecting his constituents from environmental catastrophe.

Murzin, too, voted in lock-step with the Republican statehouse leaders to deny voters a chance to vote on the constitutional referendum. This is the same leadership behind the sneak attack last April to revoke the long-standing offshore drilling ban.

The excuse Murzin is offering is risible. He claims the offshore drilling ban "might have unintended consequences on the inland oil production in Santa Rosa County known as the Jay Fields." The Jay Fields, which are nearing depletion anyway, are located well inland -- 35 miles north of Pensacola.

4. Murzin's Mendacity.

Dave Murzin wouldn't want you to know this, but the exact wording of the proposed resolution that would have put the drilling ban issue on the ballot is here, in the underlined language starting on page 2.

It would have added to Article II, Section 7 ("Natural resources and scenic beauty") the following new subsection (boldface added):
(c) The exploration and drilling for, and the extraction and production of, oil are prohibited in and beneath all state waters located between the mean high-water line along the coastline of the state and the seaward limit of the state's boundaries, as now or hereafter fixed by this constitution or the Congress of the United States, whichever such boundary is farther from the coastline. This prohibition shall not apply to the transportation of oil produced outside of such waters.
What do you suppose it is about the phrases "mean high water line" or "seaward limit" that confuse state representative Murzin? The nearby Jay airport has an elevation of 254 feet above sea level. The Jay Field will be inside the mean high tide line of Florida about a week after the surf begins washing over the top of Portofino Towers.

Murzin may or may not be rock-stupid, but apparently he thinks the voters are.

5. Ad for Tourism Promotion.

In today's News Journal, reporter Jamie Page covers the YouTube video recently produced by the Appleyard ad agency to promote local tourism in the midst of the BP oil spill. The ad was produced for the tourist promotion arm of the Pensacola Bay Chamber of Commerce.

The title of Jamie Page's article is "Ad Spins Beach Bummer into Fun Summer." After Gannett's self-defeating web policy disappears the article behind a cumbersome and expensive archival system, you can still see the video for free on YouTube.

The ad is supposed to be a semi-comic look at oil cleanup workers enjoying the tourist sites around town. The video, Page reports, hasn't actually been placed yet for paid broadcast anywhere --
but it saw some major publicity over the weekend by "NBC Nightly News" and the "Today" show before it was posted Monday on YouTube. It is now on MSNBC's website. If the video gets a positive reaction from the public, then Visit Pensacola likely will turn it into a 30-second television commercial... .
In other words, it's a work in progress. Viewer reactions are being sought.

Now, we have no expertise whatsoever in advertising or marketing. Over the years, we've worked diligently to develop a constitutional immunity against advertisements of every kind.
Never read 'em, never watch 'em. Couldn't tell you what feminine hygiene deodorant or erectile dysfunction drug we're supposed to be using, or what anti-depression medication we should be demanding our doctor give us.

The story line of the Visit Pensacola ad, according to its producer, is supposed to use "these negative images [people] have seen and... show them in an absurd light and make them funny and use them to our advantage to show all the fun things to do in Pensacola."

Does it work? Our guess is the ad will appeal to locals who know how the BP clean-up workers' hazmat suits look and who will recognize film clips taken around town -- bicycling down South Palafox (good luck with that!), Fort Pickens, the Naval Aviation Museum at N.A.S., the Lighthouse, the war memorial, and so on.

Personally, however, we can't imagine distant viewers appreciating the humor or figuring out what the images depict. One of the scenes (above left) even looks to us like the clean-up workers are about to mug some doofus on the street.

As we say, however, we don't know anything about advertising. You, dear reader, whoever you are know more than we do. Go to the YouTube page and leave your comment for the benefit of all the Pensacola Beach tourist businesses who have been wrecked by BP's criminal negligence.