Oils well, that ends well…………

(It will be difficult to type this column since I have  my fingers crossed.)

Some 100 days ago, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing eleven men and setting off a chain reaction of scientific, political, economic and energy fueled debate that has consumed the media and blogs everywhere. The tragedy that was the Deepwater Horizon, the floating oil rig that was responsible for the worst oil spill in American history, maybe be a story that is now about to enter its next chapter.

The spill is effectively capped, having been stopped from leaking about two weeks ago. It will be permanently sealed by the end of the month. Observers say that there is little visible oil on the surface of the Gulf.  A combination of the use of controversial oil dispersants,  evaporation, summer tropical storms and oil eating microbes, along with clean up efforts, has rendered much of the Gulf relatively clean.

The overall effect of the spill has yet to be seen. Truthfully, it will be years, maybe a decade before the full effect of the damage is known.

A good portion of the Gulf has been reopened to recreational fishing. Some areas have been cleared for commercial fishing. There are flickering signs that some tourism is coming back to the area, and the First Family is expected to pay a visit to the Gulf later this month.

And now the blame-game begins in earnest. President Obama has been hammered relentlessly by conservatives for his handling and the Federal response to the spill. Most of the accusations have been false (see Jones Act) but that certainly isn’t anything new.  BP is replacing their CEO with one who hopefully can keep his foot out of his mouth and the $20 billion “slush fund” escrow account should pay the bill for the damage.

Now what?

Well, like the little kid that sticks a bobby pin in a wall socket, this incident should shock us into taking the appropriate measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

But it probably won’t.

In the highly toxic partisan atmosphere of the country and Washington, gaining consensus for solutions is probably out of the question. Certainly, strong measures are required to make sure this never happens again, but logic has a way of escaping those inside the Beltway.

But the real burden in the aftermath of this disaster doesn’t lie with politicians and pundits, it lies with folks like you and me. If we breathe a collective sigh of relief and go on about our business, it will happen again. It is up to us, the citizens, to keep this issue on the front burner with the flame turned up.

This tragedy didn’t happen in our backyard, but it happened in our neighbor’s yard and we can’t let those that have been elected to represent us forget their responsibilities.

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under The Environment

13 responses to “Oils well, that ends well…………

  1. WSClark

    Due to your not so humble columnist’s impeccable timing, this mornings news brings further “good news:”

    “BP: ‘Static kill’ working, mud holds well shut”


    The “static kill” operation to to stop the flow within the well by pumping mud into it has apparently worked, according to preliminary reports. If the mud holds, and it will be directly tested in about 33 – 61 hours, it will show that well is intact. After that, the well will be permanently sealed below that point (2 1/2 miles below the seabed) with cement later this month.

    Additionally, a new government report indicates that 3/4 of the oil spilled has been eliminated from the Gulf waters.

    Could this truly be the beginning to the end of this national tragedy?

    • indypendent

      I saw last week where some Republicans were trying to say that God created the planet and that it take handle anything man throws at it.

      So when these people see the report stating that 3/4 of the oil spill spilled has been eliminated, they will simply say ‘told you so’.

      I still remember Brit Hume from Fox News stating that there must not be any oil spill because no one could see it from the shores.

      And wasn’t Rush and other talk radio entertainers saying that the environment will simply absorb all that oil – so why worry?

      And this might just be the real tragedy of this BP oil – the debate over whether drilling is safe or not will never be resolved.

      • indypendent

        And it’s pointless to tell these folks that alot of that oil was sucked up, burned or dispersants were used to break it up.

        Facts do not sway these folks.

  2. wicked

    I heard the dispersants themselves are very questionable and may kill sea and land life. No one will know for many years just how much damage the spill–and the cleanup–have caused.

    • indypendent

      I heard the same thing – which just makes sense.

      Have these dispersants been used as widely and as concentrated before?

      • WSClark

        No. The dispersants have been as widely used before, since this is the largest spill in history. The dispersants are used to break up the oil so that it can more easily be devoured by oil eating microbes.

        Not take a position here, but the EPA has basically ruled that the dispersants are no more toxic than the oil, and help in breaking the oil down for the microbes and evaporation. It is also thought to “pass through” fish more easily without harm.

        As I noted, it is going to be a while before the full damage of the spill is known. The oyster and crab industries are pretty much done for the next few years, since crustaceans retain oil and oil related substances longer than fish. Oysters and crabs are generally harvested at three years of age, so it could be three more seasons before they are “good to go.”

        It’s bad – but it’s getting better.

        Of course, you’ll never hear a Con give President Obama credit for that!

  3. There are deep places in the ocean where it is very difficult for man to go. Marine biologists strongly suspect that much of this oil will end up on the Ocean floor where man cannot see it, but it will wreak havoc on the ecosystem. If this is true, the evidence of it may take years for us to see. If the ecosystem is destroyed on the ocean floor, it will affect the ecosystems closer to the surface and that will eventually affect the coastlines. How long this might take is anyone’s guess, but with the ridiculously short attention span of our country, when it does happen, it surely will not be attributed to the BP spill.

  4. freedomwriter

    I love hearing the good news, because stopping the flow of oil into the gulf is good news, but I worry that as with most high profile news stories people will assume that all our problems are now over. However the damage to the marshes and estuaries along the shoreline are not cleaned up, and may be impossible to clean up.

    Shrimp anyone?

    • WSClark

      True, the wetlands are in “no man’s land” now. Trying to save them could well destroy them. Louisiana already loses many square miles of wetlands each year due to the way the Mississippi now enters the Gulf, because of man-made constraints.

      When it rains hard in Kansas, I have my very own mini-marsh in my backyard. Perhaps are Corps of Engineers can study it to determine how to bring some of the Louisiana marches back.

  5. G-STIR

    WSC- Is the picture at the top one of your BBQ experiments gone awry?

    Petro- basting perhaps?

    Just wonderin’.

  6. WSClark

    “WSC- Is the picture at the top one of your BBQ experiments gone awry?”

    Come on, Gee, I only have to call out the fire department once or twice a year.

    Three times, tops!

  7. G-STIR

    Will- What does a one or two alarm steak taste like? I mean after the fire suppressant is removed.

  8. WSClark

    “I mean after the fire suppressant is removed.”

    Seared on the outside, medium rare on the inside – just how I like ’em!