Archive for July 2010
“…It’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats.
And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.
I make that commitment tonight.
Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, who’s also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region…”
Develop a plan…every time I hear a leader of any sort, but especially a governor or a president talk about developing a plan, appointing a commission, developing a study, a shudder works through my system. Time and time again, we have been privy to some agency or group of people developing plans on how to fix a problem. While it is an understandable first step, typically the problem is nobody moves on to step two, or if they do, before that step can even set foot on solid ground, an axe arcs down and neatly slices the foot in half, rendering the plan that took forever to take shape meaningless.
And here we are again…
Today in the Times Picayune, America’s Wetland Foundation published an ad in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society and Ducks Unlimited, urging Ray Mabus to not just slap yet another band-aid on the Mississippi River Delta and actually do something meaningful to restore the coastal wetlands.
The ad calls for:
- Accelerating the payment of a greater share of federal revenue from Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leases to Louisiana and other Gulf states. The existing revenue-sharing law would provide about $200 million a year to Louisiana in 2017.
- Arranging immediate financing for new freshwater and sediment diversion and barrier island reconstruction projects already authorized by Congress.
- Establishing a dedicated long-term funding stream sufficient for Louisiana’s long-term coastal restoration plan.
- Ensuring a significant percentage of penalty payments resulting from the BP oil spill are dedicated to coastal restoration “as reparations for the contamination of thousands of acres of coastal marsh that cannot be cleaned up.”
- Cutting red tape to speed payment of existing federal appropriations for restoration projects, including more than $1 billion owed coastal states under the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program.
- Creating a federal-state authority to oversee coastal restoration efforts that has the ability to act quickly enough to stave off further wetlands loss.
It would seem time to finally do something about this problem, not just study it…and Mr. Mabus? Mr. Obama? Please keep Congress’s hands off this plan or any other you guys come up with, but if that’s impossible, aim really, really high with your coastal plan’s end result so when the axe does come down, you still have what you need to finally start restoring the wetlands instead of one more signing ceremony in the rose garden that accomplishes nothing.
Just because Americans have grown used to empty words from politicians, doesn’t mean we like them.
Read the article…
Have a nice day.
BP said the $32.2 billion charge for the cost of the spill led it to record a loss of $17 billion for the second quarter, compared with a profit of $4.39 billion a year earlier. It is the first time in 18 years that the company has been in the red. The charge includes the $20 billion compensation fund the company set up following pressure from President Barack Obama as well as costs to date of $2.9 billion.
But here is my question about this reported loss…
BP reports a 32 billion dollar charge according to the spill, 20 billion of which is the escrow account that will be run by Kenneth Feinberg. This seems to imply that British Petroleum is stocking this escrow account with the full 20 billion dollars straight away, but according to an article in Forbes, this is not the case:
BP will build up the fund over 3.5 years. The first payment will be $3 billion in the third quarter and $2 billion in the fourth quarter. After that BP will pay $1.25 billion each quarter until the $20 billion is met.
So, according to my math…BP reports a 17 billion dollar loss, but to get this loss they figure 20 billion into an escrow account, when this quarter they are actually putting in only $3 billion…which means they are actually breaking even in the second quarter.
A PR stunt geared towards empathy to neatly coincide with the announced ouster of Tony Hayward?
Perhaps…or maybe I’m too cynical.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Now that the well is reportedly capped…reportedly…it would seem a collective sigh of relief is in order. That is if you don’t stop to think about the damage already done. In the past few days, I had the grand opportunity to survey some of that damage.
I have had the good fortune of being able to fly out over the BP/Macondo site, and over other Gulf areas affected by the oil spill, twice in 4 days. I say good fortune…I nearly lost my breakfast 20 or 30 times, but it was well worth it. I took a video camera up with uber-eco-warrior, fearless pilot, PhD of Theoretical Physics, and 2nd mate of the Sea Sheperd’s anti-whaling boat, the Bob Barker (featured on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars), Bonny Schumaker.
Check out the photos and read on…
Have a nice day.
Thad Allen, National Incident Commander said today at a press briefing, “There are hundreds of thousands of patches of oil in the Gulf of Mexico,” as a result of British Petroleum’s catastraphuk. He went onto say, “The ultimate impact of the spill, the amount of tarballs…will be the subject of long-term surveillance. Our goal would be to keep as much of it off the beaches as we can.”
The surprising thing about these comments:
If this is the case, then why last week did British Petroleum stop awarding contracts for oils skimmers and protective boom? The amount of skimmers in the water has been reduced by almost 700 vessels and The DRC group which alone had contracted 480 vessels to lay protective boom and skim oil, has reduced by half their fleet in the water due to the lost contracts.
Why is British Petroleum backing off efforts to skim oil and protect the beaches and more importantly, why is Thad Allen, you know…the guy running the show, allowing them to do it?
No surprise; it would seem BP is still mostly concerned about their bottom line, about the count of oil that is skimmed, because each time cleanup workers skim a barrel’s worth, BP’s fine increases.
Still surprising is BP getting away with these decisions. Every time they do, Thad Allen’s credibility diminishes.
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to think what to do in situations like this, these problems that are so large, so overwhelming, and oftentimes we do nothing because we don’t know where to begin. The oil spill is like that, two million gallons of Corexit, millions of gallons of oil, the wildlife, all the people suddenly robbed of their culture and thrown out of work. Where do you begin…who might you even get in contact with if you had the means to get to the Gulf Coast to volunteer time?
Well, meet Gretchen Wieland; if you had questions about what you could do, she might be a good place to start.
After a vacation in New Orleans, frustrated by a lack of positive coverage about the volunteer efforts Post Katrina, she decided to make a documentary and create an organization to help, so she created Project: Katrina Hope.
Here are her suggestions for what people who want to help can do:
1. Don’t forget. Just because there is a cap on the oil leak and almost five years have passed since the hurricane, it doesn’t mean problems just go away. These men, women and children are struggling.
2. Volunteer. If you have the time and the resources, go down to the Gulf Coast and get a sense of the morale yourself. As we approach this critical anniversary next month, there is still plenty of work to be done, and volunteers are the primary source of rebuilding in Louisiana and Mississippi.
3. Write a letter of hope. If you want to provide hope to a Gulf Coast resident directly, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, where we can set you up with a homeowner pen pal of sorts. We’ll deliver your handwritten or e-mailed letter directly to a resident who is struggling, giving him/her hope for the future, despite circumstances that may currently feel insurmountable.
Read her article:
Have a nice day.
I’m new to writing a blog.
Two months ago, I didn’t know what I was doing. To be honest, I didn’t know if I should be doing it at all. What right did I have to vent my opinions out into the internet? What right did I have to be expected to be taken seriously? Blah, blah, blah…one more guy with a computer pissed off at how stupid this whole world has become, especially in the Gulf Coast, especially in New Orleans. Sure, I lived in NOLA once, lived in a studio at the corner of Royal and St. Ann…but it was the worst apartment I’ve ever lived in…mice, palmettos; during one hurricane, part of the ceiling gave in and I spent the next few months with that hole above, wondering when the rest might come down – still, it was the best apartment I’ve ever lived in. Morning coffee on the balcony off St. Ann Street, tourist buggy’s rolling below as I read the Sunday Times-Picayune drinking chicory coffee…I worked a locals bar, taking a year off social work to be a bartender a few blocks from my place and as those tourists looked up, imagining what it would be like to actually live there, I knew…I knew and it was great! And it sucked! some days I reveled in it, some days I opened up the gate on Royal, saw all the tourists and went back in, no…not today.
And this gives me the credibility of…well, nothing.
But I fell in love with New Orleans back then, and I still am…
Three years ago, up on Frenchman’s, a guy walks up to me as I walk out of the Cat’s Meow after seeing a great set by St. Louis Slim, and this guy says something so simple as “Hello…”
I look at him, wondering what he wants, so focused on my defensive reactions I don’t even respond. He says “Hello” again and just for a moment I realize I am not in California, people actually say “Hello” here, and want nothing…
I laugh, self-conscious, and nod back to answer his greeting.
We shake hands.
He wanders on; I am reminded of how cold I can become, social worker or not.
I am reminded of how I have been changed.
A few months ago, I had a conversation – and it was understood by the end of it, I am coming back to New Orleans. Next year, have too…not really a matter of want, it has become a necessity because for some reason…there and only there am I able to engage on the social level I need…
But now, in the meantime, I am becoming what is known as a “blogger,”…whatever, I write what I feel and what I feel tends to be about the Gulf Coast. To be honest, from what I see – real news from real people tends to trump most “real” news from mainstream news sources, but anyways…with this blog I could have been just venting into the winds for all anybody might have cared, but a few people people took notice and those same people made me feel validated…on occasion publishing what I wrote onto their own blogs…
Kinda made me feel I wasn’t alone, that what I was doing here was a voice sometimes worth listening to…
So, I am writing this for anyone who wants to read it, but specifically to say, “Thank you,” to a few people out there, thanks for giving me a taste of what I know, what I knew all along – something you reminded me of, yet again…Louisiana and New Orleans is home.
Thank you…for reminding me in your own way….Katy, Editilla, Slab, Humid, AmZombie,
Have a great day.
Dudley Set to Succeed Hayward at BP - Wall Street Journal
US Troops Captured in Afghanistan: Report – HuffingtonPost
Everybody but Kyra Phillips…
Have a good night.
Feinberg: The Money isn’t in Escrow Account Yet, plus: How the Reparations Payment Will Work, Problems?
Ken Feinberg said today he hasn’t been able to start writing claims checks because BP PLC has not yet deposited any money into the $20 billion escrow fund it promised to create.
“I don’t want the check to bounce,” Feinberg said.
BP spokesman Justin Saia said the company’s agreement with the White House is still being finalized. “Funds will be made available immediately upon the conclusion of this process,” he said.
Well, okay then…
Sorry Justin if you’re not necessarily trusted…put the money where your oil is. As this article points out it would be a really dishonest thing for BP to leak a profit margin of 5 billion dollars in anticipation of their shareholders meeting on July 27th, for the purposes of gauging response, only to declare bankruptcy before August 10th if their stock doesn’t get a strong enough boost. August 10th is the date Feinberg gets control of the account…yes, it is complete speculation and perhaps even a worse case scenario, but seriously, it’s getting hard to expect anything less from British Petroleum than the worst case.
Here’s what Kenneth Feinberg had to say to CNN:
In an accompanying link, the payment system is discussed and it does raise some interesting questions. Basically, according to Feinberg:
1. For 90 days after the spill is permanently stopped, Feinberg will give emergency payments worth six months of lost wages or business income to those with valid claims.
2. 90 days after the spill is permanently stopped, any claimant has three years to ask for a lump sum payment that will cover a lifetime’s worth of damage from the spill.
3. To accept the lump sum payment, the claimant has to give up their right to sue BP at a later time.
4. Anyone who doesn’t believe the lump sum offer is enough can refuse and sue BP for the amount they feel they deserve.
This begs a number of questions…What constitutes a valid claim? I’ve read numerous articles discussing the oft-times poor record keeping by many fisherman, what will that cost them now? Also, how does one estimate a lifetime’s worth of damage? Is that Feinberg’s role, to determine this? How the hell does he know? And, giving up the right to sue BP, the fisherman have a three-year window…that window is too small, especially for those who have been out helping clean this mess up…some health effects won’t be known for much longer than three years and I doubt potential medical bills will be considered by Feinberg in his estimations. By the time everyone starts getting sick, the lump sum payment window could be closed and then you’ve lost the right to sue. The workers in Alaska cleaning up after the Exxon Valdez had it worse than rough; their life expectancy was only 51 years and two-thirds of the workers got sick. How to estimate the future costs of getting sick? How sick?
Especially when an EPA whistle-blower states the Federal government is covering up the lethality of Corexit and the safety of the water in the Gulf.
All told, this kinda sounds like some sick version of a game show where people must estimate the financial worth of their life. For further information about the reparations from a fisherman’s perspective, check this link at American Zombie, who discusses these details with a fisherman who attended one of Feinberg’s meetings.
Again, nothing appears as it seems in the Gulf…what, me worry?
Read the article from Crooks and Liars:
Have a nice day.