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2010 May 21 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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I’m Sure This Doesn’t Matter

So, we’re having a discussion of alternative energy sources in comments and I was out looking for various things that I have heard about, when I came upon this article, LS9: Genetically Modified E. Coli that Secrete Drop-in Diesel, which is the sort of thing I was seeking.

Down in the article which is discussing the company, LS9, more than its process, I noticed this:

Add one more factor in LS9’s favor: one of its founders is Chris Somerville, the director of the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley and one of the major scientific figures in biofuel. He’s also close to Energy Secretary Steve Chu and Steve Koonin, the head scientist at the DOE. The three were behind BP’s $500 million donation to Berkeley and the University of Illinois to study biofuels.

So, the two guys that have been tagged with watching what BP is doing, Chu and Koonin, have connections to BP. I don’t remember this being mentioned when they were assigned to the job.

May 21, 2010   6 Comments

Congress Is Listening

Congress has apparently remembered that it has oversight responsibilities. They seem to remember when there’s a Democrat in the White House, and forget when it’s a Republican. Since it is become obvious that the executive branch has been following BP’s lead on the Gulf Gusher, it’s good that Congress remembers.

CNN reports that Experts testify on grim ecological fallout from Gulf oil spill

Washington (CNN) — The damaging effects of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be felt all the way to Europe and the Arctic, a top scientist told a congressional panel Friday.

Other scientists and researchers — invited to brief members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — warned that the thousands of barrels of oil still gushing into the Gulf are contributing to a potential ecological disaster of unknown proportions.

Safina argued that BP was using the dispersants as a public relations tool, so cameras can’t see the extent of the oil slick.

In other news at CNN, after a month, the White House finally decides it should do something, so it create a “blue ribbon committee”: Obama forms bipartisan commission to investigate oil spill

Washington (CNN) — President Obama has issued an executive order establishing a bipartisan commission tasked with investigating how to prevent future oil spills, two sources familiar with the announcement said Friday.

Obama named former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly as commission co-chairs.

Bob Graham is good news. He was the governor of Florida, as well as a Senator, and he isn’t fond of polluters. He is a very intelligent man who is known for his meticulous notes, which he used to great effect when the CIA claimed he had been briefed on the use of torture.

May 21, 2010   4 Comments

Don’t Tell People Their Job

Gulf Gusher symbolIf you are feeling really masochistic, go tell academics from a totally different field that you know more about their subject matter than they do.

Apparently BP’s science type is a geologist, as makes perfect sense, and he has been ignoring the advice of oceanographers and marine biologists who specialize in the Gulf of Mexico. As there was obviously no intention on the part of BP to listen, the only reason for contacting these people was to check off a box on a form to prepare for a trial.

Ben Raines of the Mobile Press-Register writes that Mobile scientists’ warnings about oil dispersants ignored by BP, Coast Guard

Mobile-area scientists warned BP PLC officials and Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen a week ago that the use of dispersants both on the surface and underwater at the Deepwater Horizon well could have grave consequences for the Gulf ecosystem.

The scientists, Bob Shipp of the University of South Alabama and George Crozier of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said they felt their concerns were ignored at the time.

BP did not respond to the Press-Register’s questions.

BP assumed that everyone would complain about toxicity, but there is a totally separate issue – hypoxia or oxygen depletion in the Gulf. Even if you could drink the dispersant without ill effect, the clouds of oil droplets they create are toxic in their own right, and the most toxic, like benzene, can’t evaporate as they would if the oil went to the surface. The droplets will collect in gills and on the underwater plants. They will coat reefs. They will cause a bloom of oil-eating microbes that will suck the oxygen out of the water.

May 21, 2010   Comments Off on Don’t Tell People Their Job

Invest 90

Invest 90 is first out of the gate for the 2010 Hurricane Season. If it spins up it will be called Alex.

At 7PM CDT it was located at 24.9N 73.3W, about 500 miles East of Port St. Lucie, Florida, with 25mph winds and a pressure of 1011↓.

The models have no agreement on a path, but it’s observed movement is generally Southwest.

Elsewhere in the tropics the El Niño has faded and a La Niña may be building, which is not good news for the Atlantic, but welcome news for the Southern Hemisphere.

There is an “interesting” weather pattern in the Caribbean near the Yucatan Peninsula, that will have to be watched.

If either of these gets into the Gulf, the yogurt could get very high, very quickly and have a hydrocarbon tang.

May 21, 2010   Comments Off on Invest 90

There Is No Lower Limit

Gulf Gusher symbolAccording to MSNBC Rand Paul: Obama BP criticism ‘un-American’

WASHINGTON – Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul said Friday that President Barack Obama’s criticism of BP in the wake of the Gulf oil debacle sounds “really un-American.”

Tell you what, Rand, why don’t you start staging photo ops with Don Blankenship, of Massey Energy, and see how many votes that gets you in coal country. Since you obviously know nothing about the Well from Hell, maybe you should take a large dose of STFU, and talk about diseases of the eye.

The New York Times noticed something that has been obvious: Conflict-of-interest fears raised in oil spill tests

Some people are questioning the independence of the Texas lab. Taylor Kirschenfeld, an environmental official for Escambia County, Fla., rebuffed instructions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to send water samples to the lab, which is based at TDI-Brooks International in College Station, Tex. He opted instead to get a waiver so he could send his county’s samples to a local laboratory that is licensed to do the same tests.

Mr. Kirschenfeld said he was also troubled by another rule. Local animal rescue workers have volunteered to help treat birds affected by the slick and to collect data that would also be used to help calculate penalties for the spill. But federal officials have told the volunteers that the work must be done by a company hired by BP.

“Everywhere you look, if you look, you start seeing these conflicts of interest in how this disaster is getting handled,” Mr. Kirschenfeld said. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but there is just too much overlap between these people.”

I guarantee you that people in the Escambia County government have more than a layman’s knowledge of “conflict of interest” and they have the court records from the trials of local officials to prove it. It is a given that you don’t let the suspect gather the evidence. BP controls all of the record keeping and evaluation of evidence in the incident if locals just go along.

As McClatchy noted Low estimate of oil spill’s size could save BP millions in court. This is all about the court cases, and BP wants all of the evidence “shaded” in their favor. If BP is the largest client of the companies that are collecting the data, who do you think will get the “benefit of doubt” as the data is collected?

May 21, 2010   8 Comments

Who Knew?

Obviously television really sucks because the one thing that everyone wants to watch is clouds of oil billowing out of a pipe a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

The House server went down early, with the Senate not lasting much longer. CNN had to take it down. Al.com can’t keep up. In all I’ve been to almost 10 places that are trying to host it, and none of them can keep up.

Given that the networks are previewing their fall line-ups, things look a bit grim in the media industry.

Some of you may have experienced problems getting here yesterday. My host was experiencing a very weird problem that was slowing things down. They are working like crazy to find the cause. but at this point, based on their feedback, it could be hardware or software or both, and it isn’t consistent,

I apologize for any inconvenience, and my condolences to the families of the guys working on it, because they will be miserable to live with until they know what happened and how to stop it from happening again.

May 21, 2010   2 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

The Furry Catpillager

Friday Cat Blogging

What plant?

[Editor: Adolf is one of our local garden pests.]

Friday Ark

May 21, 2010   6 Comments