Friday, 4 June 2010

Sarah Palin's oily finger points back at herself - Why BP decided to drill offshore - UPDATE

Sarah Palin said in her Facebook note 'Extreme Enviros: Drill, Baby, Drill in ANWR - Now Do You Get It?' (link)

''Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country's energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas.

If "extreme environmentalists" were not successful in prohibiting land based oil drilling in the United States, then companies like BP would not have to resort to looking for oil in the deep oceans. "

These are excerpts from an article on the Seattle Times, dated August 10, 2008:

Republicans in Congress this June united to defeat a proposed windfall tax on oil companies, deriding it as a bad idea that would discourage investment in U.S. oil exploration.

Things worked out far differently in the GOP stronghold of Alaska, a state whose economic fate is closely tied to the oil industry.

Over the opposition of oil companies, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and Alaska's Legislature last year approved a major increase in taxes on the oil industry — a step that has generated stunning new wealth for the state as oil prices soared.

The Alaska tax is imposed on the net profit earned on each barrel of oil pumped from state-owned land, after deducting costs for production and transportation, which are currently estimated at just under $25 a barrel.

The tax is set at its highest rate in Prudhoe Bay, where the state takes 25 percent of the net profit of a barrel when its price is at or below $52.

The percentage then escalates as oil prices rise over that benchmark. Alaska gets about $49 of a $120 barrel, not counting other fees.

ConocoPhillips said that in total, once royalty payments and other taxes are added in, the state captures about 75 percent of the value of a barrel.

BP Alaska, which runs Prudhoe Bay, said earlier this year that it had delayed the development in the western region of the North Slope as a result of the tax. ConocoPhillips cited the same reason for scrapping a $300 million refinery project.

"What the tax has done is take away all the upside," said Doug Suttles, president of BP Alaska. The U.K.-based oil company paid more than $500 million in taxes to Alaska last quarter — far more than it earned in profits from Alaskan oil, according to Suttles.

Investment dollars are flowing instead to places that have a better return, like the massive deep-water projects offshore in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, where ConocoPhillips said the government take equals less than 50 percent of the barrel.

It's clear that BP didn't go to the Gulf of Mexico because the "extreme enviros" locked up the land with their protests and lawsuits.

Let's rephrase Sarah Palins's Facebook note to reflect the truth:

"If my administration were not successful in raising taxes on land based oil drilling in Alaska, then companies like BP would not have to resort to looking for oil in the deep oceans. "

That's better!

Another interesting point is that Sarah Palin's increased royalty tax imposed is simply a redistribution of wealth from the lower 48. Who ended up paying the added tax that Alaskans enjoyed in the annual APF Alaskan Permanent Fund distribution? Motorists and consumers in the lower 48 and around the globe. Sarah's a Tea Bagger in name only... only when it suits her.

So that there are no misunderstandings about Sarah Palin's position on offshore drilling, let's hear from the lady herself:

More Drill Baby, Drill:

This is the person who unleashed Sarah Palin on the rest of the world:

(H/T to austintxx for the last two videos)

Oh, well...

(H/T to EyeOnYou and sdilmoak)

EyeOnYou has some disturbing pictures of birds affected by the oil spill. You'll need a strong stomach to view them.



Here is another great facebook group:




The website posted a copy of BP's regional oil spill response plan for the Gulf of Mexico (almost 600 pages):

Download this plan HERE.

From the article:

2) Spokespersons were advised never to assure the public that an ecosystem would be back to normal after the worst case scenario, which we are now living through. "No statements shall be made concerning any of the following: promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal." Even in BP CEO Tony Hayward's new television commercial his assurance is an ambiguous, "We will make this right," which does not specifically address preserving or restoring America's Wetlands.

3) Corexit oil dispersant toxicity has not been tested on ecosystems, according to the Oil Spill Response Plan. "Ecotoxilogical effects: No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product." It is contradictory that the question and answer section discusses the choice of a dispersant with: "Have environmental tradeoffs of dispersant use indicated that use should be considered? Note: This is one of the more difficult questions" and "Has the overflight to assure that endangered species are not in the application area been conducted?" Brown pelicans and sea turtles would have been the answer to the latter.

UPDATE 2 (by Patrick):

I have looked for more information about the dispersant used in the Gulf of Mexico, and found some very disturbing information.

One of the dispersants being used is Corexit 9500, also called Corexit EC9500A.

"Themoneytimes" reports:
At present BP is using Corexit 9500. which features high in terms of toxicity and low in terms of efficacy in comparison to 18 other EPA-approved dispersants.

"Based on the information that is available today, BP continues to believe that Corexit was the best and most appropriate choice at the time when the incident occurred, and that Corexit remains the best option for subsea application," BP said.

The EPA, had, in a directive issued Thursday, ordered BP to find a less toxic but equally effective chemical than Corexit 9500.

The instructions also demanded that the replacement should be effected within 72 hours.

The availability of this substitute had to be abundant given the enormous need.
Another dispersant used is Corexit 9527 (also called Corexit EC9527A).

The New Jersey Department of Health published a fact sheet about 2-Butoxy-Ethanol (PDF).

Under "Health Hazard Information", the department notes:

"Acute Health Effects"

The following acute (short-term) health effects may occur
immediately or shortly after exposure to 2-Butoxy Ethanol:

*Contact can irritate the skin and eyes with possible eye
*Inhaling 2-Butoxy Ethanol can irritate the nose and throat
causing coughing and wheezing.
*2-Butoxy Ethanol can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
and abdominal pain.
* Exposure can cause headache, dizziness, confusion,
lightheadedness, and passing out.
Chronic Health Effects

The following chronic (long-term) health effects can occur at
some time after exposure to 2-Butoxy Ethanol and can last
for months or years:

"Cancer Hazard"

* 2-Butoxy Ethanol may be a CARCINOGEN in humans
since it has been shown to cause liver cancer in animals.
* Many scientists believe there is no safe level of exposure to
a carcinogen."
Scientists believe that the use of these dispersants will lead to a horrible environmental disaster - the UK Independent reports:

"It's the biggest environmental disaster of our time and it's not even over yet," said the marine toxicologist Dr Susan Shaw, director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute based in Maine. She has been diving among the damage and is horrified by the contamination caused by BP's continued use of dispersants. "They've been used at such a high volume that it's unprecedented. The worst of these – Corexit 9527 – is the one they've been using most. That ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed. With 800,000 gallons of this, we can only imagine the death that will be caused."

According to Dr Shaw, plankton and smaller shrimps coated in these toxic chemicals will be eaten by larger fish, passing the deadly mix up the food chain. "This is dismantling the food web, piece by piece," she said. "We'll see dead bodies soon. Sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, whales: the impact on predators will be seen in a short time because the food web will be impacted from the bottom up."

The largest of the clouds, confirmed by a University of South Florida research ship last week, has gone deeper than the spill itself, defying BP's assurances that all oil would rise to the surface. It is now headed north-east of the rig, towards the DeSoto Canyon. This underwater trench could channel the noxious soup along the Florida coast, impacting on fisheries and coating 100-year-old coral forests. Tests on the toxicity of another chemical cloud, some 10 miles long and heading south-west of the site, are also being done by scientists from the University of Georgia.

Marine biologists say the timing of this underwater contamination could not be more catastrophic. "This is when all the animals are reproducing and hatching, so the damage at this depth will be much worse," said Dr Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Texas. "We're not talking about adults on the surface; it will impact on the young – and potentially a generational life cycle."

According to ProPublica, during the Exxon Valdez oil disaster, an earlier version of Corexit lead to severe problems amongst clean-up workers:

According to a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, the dispersants and the oil they leave behind can kill fish eggs. A study of oil dispersal in Coos Bay, Ore. found that PAH accumulated in mussels, the Academy’s paper noted. Another study examining fish health after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989 found that PAHs affected the developing hearts of Pacific herring and pink salmon embryos. The research suggests the dispersal of the oil that’s leaking in the Gulf could affect the seafood industry there.

“One of the most difficult decisions that oil spill responders and natural resource managers face during a spill is evaluating the trade-offs associated with dispersant use,” said the Academy report, titled Oil Spill Dispersants, Efficacy and Effects. “There is insufficient understanding of the fate of dispersed oil in aquatic ecosystems.”

A version of Corexit was widely used after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and, according to a literature review performed by the group the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, was later linked with health impacts in people including respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders. But the Academy report makes clear that the dispersants used today are less toxic than those used a decade ago.

“There is a certain amount of toxicity,” said Robin Rorick, director of marine and security operations at the American Petroleum Institute. “We view dispersant use as a tool in a toolbox. It’s a function of conducting a net environmental benefit analysis and determining the best bang for your buck.”

However, can we really trust what the producers of Corexit tell us?

The US-company Nalco with offices in Illinois and Texas has already made huge profits with the product through the Gulf spill. Two weeks ago Nalco announced that they sold already dispersants worth $ 40 million through the sale of the dispersants for the Gulf spill.

On their website they are not shy to report about the use of their valuable product in the Gulf of Mexico in detail. Look what they have to say:

"Data published by Environment Canada, that country’s main environmental agency, showed common household dish soap as having a substantially higher rainbow trout toxicity than COREXIT 9500. Put another way, COREXIT 9500 is the more than 27 times safer than dish soap."

You really would need to be brain-amputed to believe this spin.

Reader's picture from the New York Times:

Description: “I’ve been watching Corexit being used for three weeks, trying to get someone to care. They flew nonstop this weekend, stopping only at dark. This morning there was one C130 take off at 9:30 am this morning, then nothing. Currently they are not flying. My office overlooks the Stennis Airport runway and the flight path goes over my house. The Corexit is stored within 200 feet of my office. No one is using protective gear.” Stennis Airport, Miss.

Credit: Jennifer Aitken


I also found an excellent video which is a documentary about the hazards that clean-up workers face in an oil spill disaster - with the Exxon Valdez oil spill as an example. I hope that old mistakes will not be repeated in this new clean-up operation which is about to start at the Gulf of Mexico:

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