Thursday, June 24, 2010

May 31, 2010

Leaving Louisiana but vowing to continue scrutiny of BP

By Paul K. Haeder as told by Marc Gauthier
Special to Down to Earth NW

Marc and the other Grand Isle locals are watching Obama and BP at the press conference right before the three-day weekend, and the first thing that comes to their lips is “dog and pony show.”

He’s finishing his last 24 hours in the Gulf Coast before heading north, and he’s made the connections down south to do follow-ups. He’s run into other like-minded people working on various aspects of bringing the oil disaster to light: biologists counting dead birds and other critters; scientists fighting the oil industry’s double think; the rabbit hole fillers wanting to bring to light all they can about the beauty of all that Gulf Coast water, air, current and sea life. They want to make sure there are spokesmen for all those people, birds, mammals, fish and crustaceans covered in oil.

More than 125 boats were called back when Obama was placating way too many people. Finally, the national media are showing men and women upchucking over the bows from the toxic air of oil and dispersant turning aromatic and volatile. Now BP’s massive PR damage control team is mobilized, Marc keeps lamenting. No teams of skimmers, boom handlers and barrier island builders.

The new slick coming in is more than the literal carpet of oil mixed with dispersant – called Corexit – floating over the benthic zone and entering the more untenable pelagic zones. It’s the slick of B-rated horror flicks and the shame we carry with us, Marc says.

The betrayal of our government allowing “corporations to come into an area, rake out the profits, damage whatever they want to, and send those profits back to stockholders, rich CEOs and even the federal government.”

He’s seeing those $7 billion in US greenbacks paid to the federal government yearly by the offshore purveyors. The states don’t even get a cut of the take.

He’s not happy hearing Obama say his administration has been on this from day one. “Where were those hundreds of miles of booms when they should have been put in place the first week? If they were on this day one, they wouldn’t have allowed the use of that dispersant that sinks the oil.”

The oil should have been allowed to rise, so it could be corralled easier, then, in turn, it would have been more efficiently sucked and scooped up. Everyone at Dixie’s knows it. One fisherman, after watching the press debacle Friday at the diner, says that what he’s been seeing along the hundreds of miles of marshland and beaches, that are fouled with oil and dispersants, tells him he’ll never be able to fish here in his lifetime … maybe shut off to fishing for several generations into the future … maybe not in 100 years!

The bottom kill could have done the trick, but that would have forced BP’s hand: giving up the lease on the mother of all offshore oil finds in the USA. We can’t afford the 45 days that have already passed with the amount of oil already mixed into the Gulf’s waters. Two more months of bleeding out will kill the Gulf of Mexico.

“So, a guy from Spokane spends two weeks in Louisiana poking his nose around and filming, and if he knows more than the President of the United States about what’s really happening down here on the beaches, in the marshes, if the administration doesn’t have what I have learned in two weeks, then we are in big trouble. We are screwed.”

Yeah, all this talk about identifying the dispersed oil by deploying the scientists with expensive equipment to study droplet size, the dissolved oxygen, the CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth), toxicity, and fluorescence might make good drama on the set of CSI, but determining the so-called chemical signature of oil doesn’t mean a flying rip to the people of the tidelands.

Their livelihoods and culture are toast, and if the typhoons hit, then, there it is – their fates will be sealed. Sealed in the slick caused by the oil industry. BP is the culprit in the mainstream news this time, but it was Exxon 21 years ago. Shell’s fouling Nigeria and deploying thugs to keep workers in line. Texaco in Indonesia is accused of aiding and abetting death squads to keep the oil flowing. And Chevron in Ecuador is accused of much the same.

Business as usual while the tidelands suffocate in oil. While the Gulf of Mexico goes viral.

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