American Elephants

“Top Kill,” BP’s Most Recent Effort to Stop the Spill Seems to Be Working! by The Elephant's Child

— “Top Kill” seems to be working.  The “top kill” procedure, which began on Wednesday, has pumped enough drilling mud to block all oil and gas escaping from the well.

Admiral Thad Allen told the US Media that “They’ve been able to stabilize the wellhead, they’re pumping mud down it.  They’ve stopped the hydrocarbons from coming up.”

It was the first positive official assessment of BP’s latest attempt to plug the well after previous efforts failed.

Admiral Allen said there was still pressure from the well, although at very low levels.  Once engineers have reduced the pressure to zero, they will begin pumping cement into the hole to seal the well, he added.

— There is much talk comparing the Deepwater Horizon Disaster to Hurricane Katrina.  This is beyond silly.  Hurricanes are acts of nature. President Bush was criticized for waiting for four days before going to New Orleans. The Coast Guard followed the storm in and started rescuing people.  But the federal response to Katrina was governed by the 1998 Stafford Act, which says that in the case of natural disasters, the on-shore states are in charge, not Washington.  The federal obligation is to support the State and local efforts by providing whatever resources a governor requests, and paying for the cleanup.  Mr. Bush had to deal with a New Orleans mayor and a Louisiana governor who were,in charge, according to federal law.

There was an oil crisis that went along with the hurricane, with many platforms in the gulf, and refineries and pipelines on shore.  President Bush, according to someone with family members in the industry, was in daily communication with oil companies and suspended all kinds of regulations to facilitate pipeline and refinery repair.  Work that was expected to take months was completed in days and weeks.  When the job was done, Mr. Bush  made personal phone calls and wrote letters of commendation to those who have worked around the clock to get it done.

The BP Deepwater Horizon well was in federal waters.  Washington is in charge, and is Mr. Obama’s responsibility.  He eventually turned up after 12 days.  The law requiring spill-controlling booms to be in place was ignored, there were no booms and they had to be located all over the world.  Governor Jindal’s requests for federal help in protecting Louisiana marshes with sand berms have still not been answered.  You don’t start investigations and recriminations until the well is under control.

Louisiana begged the EPA and BP not to use dispersants below the surface because they prevented oil slicks from forming, and the oil lingers. The EPA overruled Louisiana, then a week after BP released 55,000 gallons of dispersants, did an about face ordering BP to find a “less toxic” one.

Now Mr. Obama has ordered a moratorium on all new deep-water oil wells, and new permits will be reviewed, and some will be canceled. Arctic drilling has been suspended until 2011.  Robert Bryce, managing editor of Energy Tribune reminds us:

For all of the myriad problems that oil creates, it also provides us with unprecedented mobility, comfort, and convenience. While we think of oil primarily as a transportation fuel, it’s also a nearly perfect fuel for heating. It can be used to generate electricity. When refined, it can be turned into an array of products ranging from cosmetics to shoelaces and bowling balls to milk jugs.

The addiction meme inflames the masses and makes for convenient talking points for ambitious politicians, but the reality is that oil remains an absolutely critical commodity in the global economy. And that’s why BP and Transocean were out there in the Gulf of Mexico drilling in 5,000 feet of water. …

While American voters are being inundated with talk about addiction, the reality is that the U.S. oil market has quit growing. Since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, global oil demand has increased by nearly 20 million barrels per day. But the U.S. accounted for just 1.6 million barrels per day of that new demand.

— An environmental group is asking a federal appellate court to halt 49 offshore drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico that were approved without full environmental review.  The Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit challenges exploration and drilling plans approved within the past 60 days that were exempted from full environmental analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Obama Sends 1,200 National Guard troops to Border, but They Are Not to Enforce Immigration Laws. by The Elephant's Child

— President George W. Bush  sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border as a temporary measure, while the numbers of the border patrol were being built up.  His administration significantly increased the number of border patrol agents by 20,000, and then removed the troops.

— Janet Napolitano, former Arizona Governor and now Secretary of Homeland Security, says the Southern Border is secure. But that’s what she claimed when she was Governor too.

— A team of Justice Department attorneys has written a recommendation challenging the Arizona immigration  law.  The draft claims Arizona exceeded its authority, or there might be abuses based on race, but no formal recommendation has been sent to the White House.  If the administration eventually does sponsor a challenge to the Arizona law, the president’s move to send 1,200 National Guardsmen to the Arizona border does begin to look like a bit of political theater.

— The Mexican embassy released a statement on the Guard deployment: “Additionally, the Government of Mexico expects that National Guard personnel will strengthen US operations in the fight against transnational organized crime that operates on both sides of our common border and that it will not, in accordance to its legal obligations, conduct activities directly linked to the enforcement of immigration laws.

— The administration has clarified the role of the 1,200 National Guard troops it is sending to the Arizona border.  They will not be enforcing immigration laws.  “US National Guard troops being sent to the Mexican border will be used to stem the flow of guns and drugs across the frontier and not to enforce US immigration laws, the State Department said Wednesday.”

— State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said “We have explained the president’s announcement to the government of Mexico, and they fully understand the rationale behind it.” … “The extra troops would be used to free up civilians engaged in support functions so that law enforcement personnel can be increased along the 2,999 mile-long border.”

Let’s see, we have immigration laws, but Mexico doesn’t like them, so we won’t enforce them.  Russia doesn’t like the anti-missile defense against Iran that we arranged to deploy in Eastern Europe, so we canceled that.  Russia said it would agree to some mild sanctions on Iran, but they didn’t like the restrictions on their sales of missiles and weapons to Iran, so we said go ahead and sell them.  South Korea is incensed at North Korea’s torpedoing their ship and killing over 40 South Korean personnel, but we’re not willing to throw our weight around.

Do you think that there is a pattern here?

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