Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

Posts Tagged ‘Gulf of Mexico

Another coincidence, BP settlement style…

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Great job boys! With lawyers like you, who needs moralities?

The settlement between British Petroleum and the Plaintiff Steering Committee has been reported to be $7.8 billion dollars, and also without a cap. This means that when all is said and done, if the settlement amount exceeds this monetary figure, well…so be it as British Petroleum has maintained the $7.8 billion dollar amount is only an estimate…could be more, could be less.

Either way, consider the plaintiffs paid.

So yeah, I guess that sounds pretty good and hey, at least more of the people who’ve been waiting all this time while their lives were torn asunder, at least now they will finally…wait, what?

The settlement is different for those with seafood claims? What do you mean, it’s different?

From David Hammer’s article in the Times Picayune:

“In the BP oil spill case,  a key component of the proposed class-action settlement between private plaintiffs and BP is a $2.3 billion set-aside for seafood claims, the only part of the settlement that’s capped. That’s what BP is willing to pay to compensate commercial fishing vessel owners, captains and deckhands, as well as oyster leaseholders and harvesters.”

Perfect.

So there is a cap for part of this settlement, and it’s geared specifically for those making seafood claims…Okay, well now, $2.3 billion dollars is still a lot of money. The actual amounts paid to the plaintiffs couldn’t possibly exceed this amount, could they?

Short answer?

Yes.

After the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, it wasn’t until four years later the herring fishery collapsed, ruining the livelihoods of so many for years, not to mention the damage to the ecosystem.

But we’ve all heard the reports of the differences here…couldn’t possibly happen in the Gulf. The BP scientists were all over this and the Gulf is so much bigger, and the water is warmer and that makes all the difference, yes?

Perhaps…perhaps in the Gulf, it won’t take four years.

It may only take two…

From Stuart Smith’s blog -

The docks and marinas in hard-nosed fishing communities like Pointe-aux-Chenes and Venice, Louisiana, should be bustling this time of year, but today they are eerily quiet and undisturbed, like a world frozen in perpetual limbo – waiting, hoping, praying for the Gulf’s once-bountiful (even legendary) fisheries to produce again. Current reports from up and down the coast indicate the situation is dire indeed.

The oysters have been wiped out. The harvest for 2010 was the worst in more than four decades. And there’s been little improvement since then as oystermen continue to report catches down as much as 75 percent, from Yscloskey to Grand Isle. Some estimates put this year’s harvest at roughly 35 percent of the normal yield – and that’s if we’re lucky. Crab catches are in steep decline. Brown shrimp production is down two-thirds. And the white shrimp season was even worse, leading to descriptions of “worst in memory” and “nonexistent.”

Also, from an article by Dahr Jamail -

“I was at a BP coastal restoration meeting yesterday and they tried to tell us they searched 6,000 square miles of the seafloor and found no oil, thanks to Mother Nature,” Tuan Dang, a shrimper, told Al Jazeera while standing on a dock full of shrimp boats that would normally be out shrimping this time of year. Dang’s fishing experience has been bleak. “Normally I can get 8,000 pounds of brown shrimp in four days,” he explained. “But this year, I only get 800 pounds in a week. There are hardly any shrimp out there.”

When he tried to catch white shrimp, he said he “caught almost nothing”. He is suing BP for loss of income, but does not have much hope, despite recent news of an initial settlement worth more than $7bn. “We’d love to see them clean this up so we can get our lives back, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Song Vu, a shrimp boat captain for 20 years, has not tried to shrimp for weeks, and is simply hoping that there will be shrimp to catch next season. His experience during his last shrimping attempts left him depressed. “The shrimp are all dead,” he told Al Jazeera. “Everything is dead.”

And experts estimate it could be years before things get back to normal.

That’s years of running up against this cap in the settlement the Plaintiff Steering Committee has agreed to with BP.

That’s years of potential catastrophe with no recourse.

Years, all while British Petroleum continues to make billions of dollars in profit while the Gulf continues to suffer, all as a result of British Petroleum’s actions…and let’s not forget that along with this cap, the settlement also negates punitive damages, and this is not a coincidence, not at all. This is a hasty agreement that leaves thousands in the lurch for what could very well be the collapse of the Gulf’s fisheries…

 And this is British Petroleum, business as usual.

Read the articles:

In BP oil spill case, court names mediator in $2.3 billion seafood claims settlement

“Everything Is Dead”: Gulf Fisheries Collapse Nearly Two Years After BP Oil Spill

Gulf fisheries in decline after oil disaster

Have a nice day.

Dolphins, Turtles, Red Snapper…and now, sand dollars and starfish…

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British Petroleum? Nah...they've made things right already...free cars for everyone in the studio audience!

Most everybody’s aware by now there were an abnormal amount of dead dolphin calves washing ashore this year, as well as a much larger than usual number of turtles dying, and there is of course the red snapper, with the NOAA recommending if fishermen catch the fish, or any other kinds of fish with lesions, fin rot or other assorted maladies they not touch them with bare hands and throw them overboard, all while they continue to maintain the seafood is safe to eat. But, with all these strange events, it would seem to make sense that these occurrences, when placed side by side could be readily explained by a certain oil spill, and a certain dumping of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico to combat said oil spill…but if you buy that explanation, you’d be wrong.

Dolphins? Probably an algae bloom.

Turtles? Damned shrimpers trawling.

Red Snapper? Well, bacteria obviously.

Okay, then how about the sand dollars and starfish washing ashore along Florida beaches?

From the Pensacola News Journal:

“At first glance, it looks like a coin machine exploded on the shoreline. Thousands of sand dollars cover the beach from the Fort Pickens gate area to at least a mile west. And they’re also directly across Santa Rosa Sound from that area, on the south shore of Gulf Breeze.

The nickel- and quarter-sized sand dollars are all dead. They’re not white; rather, they’re tinged green like a coin left in water. The mass die-off is raising concerns about what killed or is killing the sand dollars and hundreds of sea stars mixed in with them.”

And then we get to the quotes from the locals, a type of quote that those following the events of the Gulf are becoming far too familiar with, uncomfortably so:

“This is not a normal thing,” Mary Lynn White 53, said. “I’ve lived in Gulf Breeze all my life. I grew up on the water, and I always take notice of changes. Something is killing them. I’d definitely say it is related to the oil spill.”

Or this one:

“I had a bait net, and I was able to scoop up the net full of them over and over and over,” said Berta Hurston, 56, of Gulf Breeze. “I’ve never seen anything like this. And I grew up in the area and I live on the water. It’s really disturbing to me.”

I seem to remember many similar statements made about the amount of dead dolphins, (never seen it like this before) turtles (no, not like this) and the condition of some of the fish being caught in the Gulf (been here thirty years and no, never), not to mention the woeful beginning to the brown shrimp season where the shrimp were more  scarce than usual and undersized, leading some shrimpers to call for an early end to the season as it might do more harm than good, and the docks aren’t buying them anyway.

In each and every one of these situations, there is an alternative culprit besides the oil spill that can be named…

But this many deaths across this many species, not to mention the fish kills occurring earlier in the year…could reasonable lead a person to believe one of two things…

Either the oil spill is the culprit, BP’s gotta pay and Feinberg needs to revise his estimation that all will be well in the Gulf by 2012 (good luck proving that in court), or…the Gulf of Mexico is in a real lot of trouble.

Neither option is appealing…but my money’s on British Petroleum being at fault.

Call it a hunch, a hunch constructed of several coincidences, with unfortunately more expected to come.

Have a nice day.

The Red Snapper…what am I supposed to make of this?

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Am I gonna live, Doc?

Over the course of a week, it would appear a very interesting development has occurred regarding Red Snapper caught off the shore of Alabama…and it’s all got me a bit confused.

Last week, in the Pensacola News Journal, the NOAA was warning anglers that some fish are sick and may pose health problems if handled or eaten raw. The agency further suggests anglers be on the look out for fish that have lesions, fin rot, or discolored skin and toss these fish away.

Jim Cowan Jr., a Louisiana State University Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences scientist reports that the locations where the sick fish have been found correlate with areas most impacted by the BP oil spill. The NOAA, however, states that the LSU findings are preliminary, but Cowan said he believes the problems are more widespread, “I’m very worried because I’ve talked to both commercial and recreational fishermen who have been in the business 30 to 40 years and no one has seen anything like this,”

But, that was last week…

This week, I read in the Alabama Press-Register, the following headline:

“Snapper Season 2011, one year after BP oil spill: ‘Bigger, badder and better’”

Skipper Thierry, a charter boat captain, said he was initially fearful of what the season might bring, but after witnessing scientists continue to search the seafloor for oil and come up empty time and time again, Thierry has had a change of heart, “I think the fish are fine. I think the fishing’s fine. We still have a little bit of a perception problem — or maybe a lot of a perception problem — with the public. Nothing is going to heal that but time.”

As for a prediction about this year’s snapper season, Thierry said it’s going to be outstanding, “We left a lot of fish out there last year, and the spill didn’t kill them. That moves right on up the food chain. The fish are everywhere…I’ll say this: The Gulf, the red snapper, everything out there, is bigger, badder, and better than it’s ever been. And it really is. Nobody can deny that.”

Maybe, maybe not…I guess it all just depends on who you ask, and which day of the week it is.

And that’s unfortunate, very unfortunate because when it comes to all these perception problems, articles so diametrically opposed are a huge part of the problem…

Have a nice day.

So, they’ll get it right this time? Oil spills, mine disasters, levees and forgetfulness…

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Far better prepared for this picture, than an oil spill...

It would appear a pattern is developing in this great land of ours. Simply put, we begin with a tragedy, then we have an investigation which discovers the governmental agencies designed to prevent such tragedies either fell down on the job or didn’t care, and even worse, the fail-safe for the agency that didn’t do their job is woefully unprepared to handle the mess created. Next, we get public and government anger, utter outrage about the aforementioned tragedy and congress types propose bills, make promises and issue guarantees that a tragedy like this will never happen again, and damnit, we mean it…never.

At least until next time.

What? What happened to the guarantees, the promises and the bills?

That was so last week man, have you talked to my lobbyist?

In a recent report, it was discovered (surprise) that the US Coast Guard was not prepared for a large deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was continually troubled by this lack of planning. Government and private sectors “demonstrated a serious deficiency… (in) preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation.” The panel also found many of the Coast Guard staff members interviewed “acknowledged that they were unfamiliar” with the plans to combat such a spill, “even though they held prominent positions” in the command structure for the response. Much of this is blamed on the changes to the Coast Guard, post 9-11. As their responsibilities were diversified, the oil spill response plan atrophied which resulted in problems with coordination and communication. From the report: “While the response plan by BP, the well’s operator, was criticized as unrealistic in the report, the government’s plans were also found to be inadequate and incomplete.”

Okay, given…anyone paying attention to events last summer could have figured out that both BP, the Coast Guard and state officials were caught with their pants down on this one, but…what happens now? New drilling permits are being issued, ten in fact (no matter what Vitter says).

“Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the Coast Guard was reviewing the recommendations and had already begun making improvements. (The Department of Homeland Security has requested an additional $11.5 million in its 2012 budget to help bolster the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to major spills, a department official said.)”

Improvements…

Perhaps a complete change might be more in order? One suggestion might be to immediately discuss and begin planning how to keep politics and corporate self-interest out of the equation.

If not, one might someday read an oil spill version of the soon to be even more tragic story about developments occurring since the Massey Mine disaster, which also happened last April and killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

If you don’t recall, there was outrage by Congress and the public that federal regulators didn’t have the power to close dozens of mines that had racked up thousands of safety and health violations (sound familiar?). At the time, both parties in Congress vowed swift action. They promised from their pulpits to fix this so no family will ever have to go through this kind of tragedy again.

A bill was proposed. It would have made it easier to shut down problem mines. It would have increased penalties for serious safety violations and offered greater protection for whistleblowers, and it took eight months for the bill to even reach the floor of Congress where two weeks ago, this bill was killed off, voted down by every single Republican and 27 Democrats.

In 2010, 48 coal miners died, the most since 55 were killed in 1992.

As retired miner, Fred Burgess said, whose stepson Ronald Mayor died in the Upper Big Branch explosion, “The miners should have a safer workplace, but the mine companies throw a lot of money around, they have lobbyists all over the place.”

Indeed, and to add insult to injury, it would appear lots of those lobbyists have been speaking to Rand Paul, who recently said in response to the MSHA’s (Mine Safety and Health Administration) new proposals which would reduce by half the amount of coal dust miner’s breathe, coal dust being the primary cause of  black lung, “”Every regulation doesn’t save lives…There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled.”

Or in other words, “What he’s suggesting is to keep the cost of coal down we would jeopardize the health of coal miners,” said Stephen Sanders, director of the Appalachians Citizens’ Law Center.

Oh, and speaking of guarantees and promises, anybody remember a certain town called New Orleans and this little catastrophic failure they had a few years back, you know, where over a thousand people died when the levees broke, in several places?

Yeah, remember all those promises made back in 2005, to guarantee that would never happen again?

Well, it would appear those promises were equally hollow. The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for building and fixing the failed levees, well…they’re working on it…going on six years later. Which isn’t to say improvements haven’t been made. They have, but do those improvements match all those guarantees and promises President and Congress types threw around during the flood’s aftermath?

Anybody want to by the Crescent City Connection?

Really, I’m selling…

But, back to the Coast Guard and their report. Whereas it’s great they are working on “improvements” to their response, it might be nice to see exactly what they are working on, how they intend to coordinate federal, state and local officials, how they intend to keep financial self-interest and politics out, how their own staff will be trained on any new plans that are so coordinated to ensure each administrative and governmental level is on board, you know, so we don;t wind up with useless sand berms.

It would seem if oil companies have a right to drill out there in the Gulf, and they are…Gulf Coast residents have a right to know what will be done, and a guarantee that it will be done to respond to another spill…even after the anniversary news coverage comes and goes.

After all, coal miners still haven’t gotten protection from cost cutting mine owners.

New Orleans still hasn’t received the levees promised by Congress and the Corp of Engineers.

And now, Gulf Coast residents are waiting to see if that pattern continues or breaks, and they’d probably like to know which, before the next big spill.

Hell, I would…because if there is one thing I’d…uh…oh damn…

From the Times Picayune:

“A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy…”

Continue reading:

A year after Gulf oil spill, Congress is sitting on its hands

Have a nice day.

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