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The Amount Of Oil Matters

Gulf Gusher symbolThe Pensacola News Journal has an AP article that asks the question: Oil spill size: How much and does it matter?

Consider: if you have a billion gallons of fresh drinking water and more than 5 gallons of benzene is accidentally spilled into it, it isn’t safe to drink, according to the EPA. Among the many things coming out of that well is benzene.

Consider: methane is one of the worst of the greenhouse gases, and that well is venting huge amounts of methane.

In another AP article we hear from President Obama:

President Barack Obama addressed the issue Friday. “I know there have been varying reports over the last few days about how large the leak is,” he said, “but since no one can get down there in person, we know there is a level of uncertainty.”

We have the submersibles and the instruments to accurately measure the flow from that leak, but but BP and, apparently the White House, don’t want people to know how bad it is. The scientists making the new estimates are basing those estimates on video that the White House has had for weeks. Where exactly does he think that video came from – a sound stage?

Then you have this on MSNBC – BP oil chief: Don’t ban deep-water drilling

HAMMOND, La. – BP’s chief executive has spoken out against a ban on deep-water oil exploration following the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Tony Hayward, speaking to BBC radio, said the problems which affected the Apollo 13 moon mission had not resulted in the space program being halted and plane crashes did not stop people flying.

That set mild-mannered university professor Juan Cole off: BP Trashes Apollo Astronauts, Parrots Sarah Palin; Oil Godzilla heads for Coast

I would note that the only thing lost by the Apollo 13 mission was its moon landing. Eleven people died on the Deepwater Horizon and the people around the Gulf of Mexico are losing their livelihoods during a major economic disaster. The goal of the Apollo missions was scientific knowledge; the goal of Gulf drilling is corporate profits.

McClatchy has an article on the Republican response to the Democratic proposal to raise the cap on liability for an oil spill from $75 million to $10 billion. The Republicans want the cap to be set at one year’s profits.

My suggestion is that we act like capitalists and let the market and courts decide by removing the cap altogether. Limiting liability with a cap is handcuffing the “invisible hand”.  I want Hayward and the rest living under bridges and eating at soup kitchens.  I want them to experience the poverty their actions have caused.