“BP is not in charge. The federal government, the president of the United States, is in charge.”
Now, check out this video of Keith Olbermann talking to former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister:
Yesterday I wrote about the notion of engaging supertankers and vacuuming up the oil from the surface of the Gulf.
I made it very clear that I had no idea if such a thing was truly feasible; engineer friends and family had suggested to me that it was. One of them even went into a bit of detail about how the water would be removed from the oil, once collected.
Reader Sarah sends along this piece from Esquire’s The Politics Blog, and the reading is extremely interesting, as are the updated links and attached videos:
There’s a potential solution to the Gulf oil spill that neither BP, nor the federal government, nor anyone — save a couple intuitive engineers — seems willing to try. As The Politics Blog reported on Tuesday in an interview with former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, the untapped solution involves using empty supertankers to suck the spill off the surface, treat and discharge the contaminated water, and either salvage or destroy the slick.
Hofmeister had been briefed on the strategy by a Houston-based environmental disaster expert named Nick Pozzi, who has used the same solution on several large spills during almost two decades of experience in the Middle East — who says that it could be deployed easily and should be, immediately, to protect the Gulf Coast. That it hasn’t even been considered yet is, Pozzi thinks, owing to cost considerations, or because there’s no clear chain of authority by which to get valuable ideas in the right hands. But with BP’s latest four-pronged plan remaining unproven, and estimates of company liability already reaching the tens of billions of dollars (and counting), supertankers start to look like a bargain.
The suck-and-salvage technique was developed in desperation across the Arabian Gulf following a spill of mammoth proportions — 700 million gallons — that has until now gone unreported, as Saudi Arabia is a closed society, and its oil company, Saudi Aramco, remains owned by the House of Saud. But in 1993 and into ’94, with four leaking tankers and two gushing wells, the royal family had an environmental disaster nearly sixty-five times the size of Exxon Valdez on its hands, and it desperately needed a solution.
Do read the whole piece, and all of the updates. With the second update you can access about 4 1/2 minutes of the May 25th Olbermann/Hofmeister discussion, below which Mark Warren writes:
We have had conversations with people who have had significant careers in energy who have speculated that it need not be a strategy that is confined to surface collection, but by using powerful pumps and “smart pipe” could be utilized at various depths to retrieve the spreading oil. Should someone not test this hypothesis immediately? This is not a solution that ought to wait for further data, or study. Can anyone argue that it would be less effective than the current skimming and burning operations that have not prevented the ruination of delicate and vital Lousiana marshland? And that is just the beginning, and does not even contemplate the long-term deleterious effects that the oil and the chemical dispersants will have on life in a body of water that is so important to life and commerce along one of the most populous coastlines anywhere. And as goes the Gulf Coast, so goes America.
On May 27th–Memorial Day weekend–Jake Tapper reported that 17 nations have offered assistance with this crisis:
At yesterday’s State Department briefing, spokesman P.J. Crowley updated reporters on the offers of international assistance the Department has received to help with the oil spill in the Gulf.
He said the U.S. has received offers to assist from 17 countries . . . The countries are: Canada, Mexico, Korea, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam.
Though the State Department receives the offers, it is BP and the Unified Area Command, led by the Coast Guard, that are the entities that decide which offers to accept. So far, the UAC has accepted skimmers and booms offered by Mexico and Norway. He deferred questions as to why only those offers had been accepted so far to the UAC in Louisiana.
Crowley did not have much information on what each country was specifically offering besides saying, “technical things, skimmers, booms, you know in some cases expertise.” He said most of the offers came in the weeks after the spill.
So, BP is in charge, then? BP is refusing help from all but two nations?
But I thought the president was in charge; this crisis is occurring in a federal jurisdiction. During Katrina, people excoriated President Bush for not overstepping his bounds by bringing the feds in before the local and state governments did their work. President Obama has no such restrictions on him. Why isn’t he helping Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal expedite the damn paperwork through bureaucratic channels, so he can build his berms? Why isn’t he telling BP, “what do you mean, you accepted so little help?”
17 nations offered help with “technical things and in some cases expertise.” I’m thinking Russia and the UAE might have quite a bit of expertise to lend.
The Political Blog is clearly rooting for the president over “fools” like Maureen Dowd; they are being very patient with Obama, but they are still pushing for the supertankers.
Since we have Joe Biden on record stating that the President of the United States, and not BP, is “in charge” of this situation, isn’t it time to ask the President why his leadership seems to preclude utilizing the “expertise” of countries who have dealt with drilling and spill issues? If the supertanker idea is as feasible as it seems, why is the President sitting on it? Doesn’t he want to collect this oil before it kills sealife? Doesn’t he want to prevent the oil from reaching our shores?
Yesterday, Governor Jindal lost his temper with the process-obsessed federal government:
“We didn’t need another meeting. We didn’t ask for another meeting. On Friday with the President we were very clear, it’s not the process that interests us it’s the outcome . . . there were a lot of professors there.”
Unembeddable video here.
There are always a lot of professors and bureaucrats buzzing about from with this administration, but not many people who have actually done things.
For the record, I don’t think a president should listen to Maureen Dowd either, or to fools like me for that matter. He has much more knowledgeable people trying to give him sound advice, though; in the case of John Hofmeister, and possibly others, he has access to people who actually know how to do things.
Why does it seem like he is not interested in hearing them?
Hey, Obama, how do those words taste?
Ed Morrissey: BP Shears Pipe; Could have leak mostly stopped, today
Neo-neocon says Obama is rewarded for not leading and links to similar thoughts
Michelle Malkin: Long Hot Summer of Corruption