BP and Administration Lies, Deceit, and Coverup in the Gulf

by Stephen Lendman / May 22nd, 2010

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From the start, Obama administration and BP officials lied and deceived the public about the Gulf spill’s severity, BP CEO Tony Hayward saying (on May 18) its environmental effect will be “very modest,” when, in fact, it’s already catastrophic, spreading, causing long-term or permanent ecological destruction over a vast area, will likely persist for months, and, according to some experts perhaps years if nothing tried to stop it works.

Initially, BP reported a 1,000 barrels per day leak, then 5,000 after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) estimate, while independent analysis of company supplied video and satellite imagery suggest somewhere between 50-100,000 barrels, the consensus settling on 70,000 or an Exxon Valdez equivalent every 3.5 days — by far, America’s greatest ever environmental disaster, worsening daily.

On May 19, McClatchy Newspapers Marisa Taylor and Renee Schoofheadlined, “BP Withholds Oil Spill Facts — and Government Lets It,” saying:

It “hasn’t publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers’ exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude… even though researchers say that data is crucial in determining whether the conditions are safe.”

Further, BP isn’t monitoring conditions or releasing videos, and the Obama administration isn’t pressing it despite experts, like University of Miami’s fisheries biologist Peter Ortner saying “We have been screaming from day one for” it.

Meanwhile, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s satellite imagery analysis reported on May 18 that the spill covers 7,500 square miles, or about the size of New Jersey. Other accounts say 10,000 square miles or a Maryland equivalent. Either way, it’s huge.

On May 19, McClatchy Newspaper writers Renee Schoof and Lauren Frenchheadlined, “Gulf oil spill may be 19 times bigger than originally thought,” saying:

New video footage “indicates that around 95,000 barrels, or 4 million gallons, a day of crude oil may be spewing from the leaking wellhead,” according to Purdue University’s Professor Steve Wereley’s May 19 testimony to the House Commerce and Energy Committee. He based his calculation on BP video, saying the spill could be from 76,000-104,000 barrels daily, but wants more footage over a longer period for a more precise calculation, what BP hasn’t released up to now and won’t, absent Interior Department pressure to do it.

Yet if the wellhead fails completely, these figures potentially could double, begging the question about how long Washington, BP, and the major media can deny the peril, pretending it’s minor.

Wereley said the “media keeps using the 5,000 (figure), but there is scientifically” no basis for its accuracy. “BP’s estimate is nowhere near correct. It is certainly larger.” He sees no “possibility (under) any scenario (that the publicized) number is accurate,” imagine how much less so under a worst case scenario.

On May 14, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) “filed a formal notice of intent to sue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for ignoring marine-mammal protection laws when approving offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Salazar’s Interior Department approved “three lease sales, more than 100 seismic surveys, and more than 300 drilling operations without permits required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.”

According to CBD’s oceans director, Miyoko Sakashita:

On Salazar’s watch, the Gulf was treated “as a sacrifice area where laws are ignored and wildlife protection takes a backseat to oil-company profits.” The Interior Department “is well aware of its obligations under the law… yet it has simply decided it cannot be bothered. You and I have to follow the law, but Interior Secretary Salazar seems to think that he and the oil companies he is supposedly overseeing do not. That is unacceptable.”

CBD is suing Salazar and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) for flagrantly violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. Hundreds of individual and class action ones have begun coming against BP, Transocean, Halliburton and their complicit corporate partners for compensatory and punitive damages, but whatever their resolutions, they’ll never compensate for lost livelihoods, destroyed lives, and environmental devastation that courts can’t redress.

Of course, the problem goes back decades and was extreme under the Bush-Cheney White House, run by former oil men who cared only about profits, and didn’t give a damn about the environment. Neither does Obama and his corporate-controlled administration.

In 2007, Bush’s Interior Department sold BP the affected lease under its 2007-2012 Five-Year Offshore Oil Drilling Plan. In April 2009, the Obama administration approved exploratory drilling, after which CBD and its allies won a court order vacating the Bush Five-Year Plan.

Rather than seek an alternative, Interior Secretary Salazar filed a special motion to exempt approved Gulf sites, identifying BP’s as one to be allowed. In July 2009, the court agreed, despite BP having the worst environmental and safety records of any company operating in America.

No matter. It downplayed a spill possibility, saying it was unlikely or virtually impossible. MMS then rubber-stamped its exploration plan with no environmental consideration. In other words, it should never deter business or stand in the way of profits — the same attitude shown Wall Street, corporate health providers, and other corporate favorites given generous legislative or direct handouts.

As a result, regular large and smaller spills are assured, heavy oil from this one having reached the fragile Louisiana marshlands — nurseries for shrimp, oysters, crabs, and fish that make Louisiana America’s leading commercial seafood producer and a favorite tourist destination for recreational anglers.

Oil also now affects the South Pass Mississippi River entrance, the Mississippi delta, Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island, Alabama, Whiskey Island on the Chandeleur Islands south end, the protected bird breeding sanctuary Raccoon Island, and the Loop Current, a powerful clockwise conveyor belt heading it toward Florida, up the East Coast, and into the Atlantic, threatening Western Europe and perhaps West Africa. The potential devastation is incalculable but at minimum will be huge.

According to European Space Agency satellite images, visible proof shows its position, suggesting it’ll reach the Keys around May 25, America’s only living coral barrier reef – the world’s third most productive marine ecosystem with its patch and bank reefs, seagrass meadows, soft and hard bottom communities, and coastal mangroves. They support one of North America’s most biologically diverse amounts of marine life, endangering them, according to Dr. Hu Chuamin, executive director of the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS) at the University of South Florida.

An optical oceanographic expert, he says there’s “no doubt that (oil) will reach the Florida Keys. (Advancing about 100 miles a day), we know that (Mississippi Rivers waters are heading for) the Florida Straits and will impact the Keys.” Once there, major damage is likely to an ecosystem providing shelter, food and breeding sites for many plants and animals as well as coastal storm protection. According to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, reefs also help the state’s economy through millions of dollars annually from recreational and commercial fishing.

No one knows the potential damage, but if oil flows over the reef, the amount will depend on whether it stays on the surface. According to Eugene Shinn, recently retired US Geologic Service reef ecology expert, “Under no circumstances should dispersants be used on an oil slick in the vicinity of a coral reef.” They would cause oil droplets to sink and potentially destroy tiny coral polyps.

Worse still, the Loop Current joins the Gulf Stream, North America’s most important ocean current system, sparking fears about oil entering it and traveling up the entire East Coast into the Atlantic. En route, it could foul beaches, mangroves, sea-grass, and coral reefs, vital to area wildlife, local economies and human health, besides crossing the Atlantic for more damage.

Earlier, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) head ,Jane Lubchenco, told reporters that an “unprecedented and dynamic” slick was on course to sweep along Florida’s coastline, was “increasingly likely” to reach the powerful Gulf Loop, then be carried to the Keys and beyond.

No doubt to prevent his congressional testimony, MMS associate director of Offshore Energy and Minerals Management, Chris Oynes, will take an accelerated retirement May 31. He got his position despite being key to an offshore leasing foul-up, costing taxpayers an estimated $10 billion in lost revenue — the Interior Department’s inspector general calling his mismanagement “a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling.”

So bad, in fact, he got a better job to rubber-stamp BP’s right to operate recklessly, wreck the environment, and reward its shareholders with billions in profits. Maybe a new high-paying job as well, the usual revolving door payoff for allies leaving government service.

BP’s Criminal Negligence

Besides lying, covering up, and deceiving all along, BP knew the vital blowout preventer was damaged weeks before the spill, yet did nothing to fix it, according to a May 17 Judith Evans Timesonline report headlined, “BP pressured rig disaster workers to drill faster,” saying:

According to chief electronics technician Mike Williams, one of the last workers to leave the doomed platform, the blowout preventer was “damaged when a crewman accidently moved a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force. Pieces of rubber were found in the drilling fluid, which he said implied damage to a crucial seal. But a supervisor declared the find to be ‘not a big deal.’ ”

Engineering Professor Bob Bea disagreed, telling 60 Minutes that inaccurate pressure readings followed. The real situation was concealed. The rig no longer was safe, and without blowout preventer protection, “a catastrophic accident like the Gulf oil spill” might happen.

Bea also said BP ignored an even more critical safety measure, ordering the rig operator to remove the “drilling mud,” the heavy liquid used before the well was sealed to keep oil and gas from escaping.

MMS drilling engineer Frank Patton calls drilling mud “the most important thing in safety for your well.” Explosion eyewitnesses, including nearby fishermen, saw it being extracted beforehand. BP told rig workers that “things” were plugged when, in fact, final cementing wasn’t in place. Without it and the drilling mud, an operable blowout preventer was the last line of defense. Drilling without it was willful criminal negligence.

So wasn’t the whole operation, approved by Obama’s Interior Department, including EPA’s authorizing the use of toxic dispersants, causing more problems than solutions to the environment, wildlife, affected residents, and fishermen hired as first responders, already getting sick.

BP said respirators and other special protections weren’t needed, despite strong hydrocarbon vapors and massive toxic chemical amounts dumped on the slick to make it more water soluble.

As a result, fishermen report bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness — unsurprising based on EPA monitored unsafe airborne levels of dangerous hydrogen sulfide, benzene and other toxins, way exceeding acceptable standards for humans and wildlife.

BP and Washington ignore them, risking chemical poisoning to show up later in long-term illnesses, disabilities and deaths, what happened to Exxon Valdez and 9/11 first responders, never told of the dangers they faced. Again, expediency and corporate interests trump environmental considerations, public health, worker safety, and common sense — swept aside by Washington-BP collusion.

On May 20, with over 600,000 gallons of surface dispersants used and another 55,000 underwater, the EPA told BP officials to choose less toxic ones in 24 hours, submit a list of alternatives, then begin using them within 72 hours.

According to Washington Post writer Juliet Eilperin (on May 20) in her articletitled, “EPA demands less-toxic dispersant”:

An unnamed administration official said “Dispersants have never been used in this volume before,” let alone ones as toxic as Nalco’s Corexit 9500A and 9527A.

Nalco is well-connected, having formed a joint venture with Exxon Chemical in 1994, has oil-industry insiders on its board, including an 11-year BP board member. No wonder Defenders of Wildlife’s senior policy advisor, Richard Charter, calls Corexit “a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically.” Only profits matter, not long-term harm to people, wildlife and the environment.

Washington Coverup of a Massive Underwater Oil Blob

According to investigative journalist Wayne Madsen in his May 20 articleheadlined, “White House Covers Up Menacing Oil ‘Blob’”:

FEMA and US Army Corps of Engineer sources say that “US Navy submarines (in the Gulf and Atlantic off the Florida coast) have detected (and are tracking) what amounts to a frozen oil blob… at depths of between 3,000 to 4,000 feet. (It’s now) transiting the Florida Straits between Florida and Cuba (and parts of it) are breaking off into smaller tar balls that are now washing ashore in the environmentally-sensitive Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.”

Lies and coverup try to hide it, Madsen saying NOAA operates as a “virtual public relations arm for BP,” and the Coast Guard is “lying in order to protect the Obama administration” to limit its damaged image.

Six months ago, without federally required permits, the BP/Transocean/Halliburton troika drilled a 35,000 foot well, causing “a major catastrophic event that required the firms’ oil rig personnel to quickly pull up the drill and close (its) hole.”

Even so, BP “re-sank the drill (causing) another, more destructive chain of events following the (Deepwater Horizon) explosion…. When (it) blew up, (it) also ‘blew down,’ cracking the sub-seabed pipe” as deep as 30,000 feet, “again, without a government permit.”

BP also wants to recover “as much oil as possible from the (site) rather than simply plugging and capping (it), which would then place it off-limits to further drilling.”

Company officials are deceiving the Obama administration and public about their so-called “kill shot” or “top kill” plan to permanently seal the well. Instead, they intend “to shoot cement into the pipe in an attempt to cap” it temporarily, later hoping to dig “a trench for side drilling (to) recover as much oil as possible,” no matter the risk of an even greater disaster that won’t deter their quest for profits.

The Exxon Valdez Connection

Greg Palast’s Exxon Valdez fraud investigations found BP mostly to blame, a topic his May 5 Truthout.org article explained, titled: “Slick Operator: The BP I’ve Known Too Well.”

What the company did to Alaska, it’s now doing to the Gulf, and a vastly greater ecosystem under a worst case scenario. “Tankers run aground, wells blow out, pipes burst. It shouldn’t happen, but it does (after which) the name of the game is containment,” coverup, and spending the least amount possible for cleanup and restitution.

In Alaska and today, BP “was charged with carrying out the Oil Spill Response Plans (it) drafted… filed with the government, and is handling the same way by “l(ying), prevaricat(ing), fabricat(ing) and obfuscat(ing).”

Spills are contained with “lot(’s) of rubber, long skirts of it called a ‘boom’ (used to) surround (them), then pump (them) out into skimmers, or disperse it, sink it or burn it.”

However, “booms” have to be ready to respond like a fire department’s equipment and personnel to operate it. In Alaska, it was BP’s job as principal Alyeska pipeline consortium owner — its same job in the Gulf as principal Deepwater Horizon lessee.

In 1989, Alyeska claimed that equipment and response crews were in place with trained Alaskan natives ready if needed. It also “certified in writing that a containment barge with equipment was within five hours sailing of any point in the Prince William Sound, (and that) it had plenty of boom and equipment cached on Bligh Island, where the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef.

In fact, it had nothing there, and Alyeska earlier fired Alaskan workers, “replacing them with phantom crews, lists of untrained employees with no idea how to control a spill. And the containment barge (in fact was) laid up in a drydock in Cordova, locked under ice, 12 hours away.” Instead of containing the spill, 1,200 miles of shoreline were wrecked, contaminated enough to remain so for decades at minimum.

For a company with the worst safety and environmental record in the industry “here we go again. Valdez goes Cajun” with contagion enough to contaminate vast parts of the Gulf, Florida Keys, fragile ecosystems, and the entire US East coast and beyond.

This goes way beyond BP and its decades of criminal negligence. It’s a regulatory problem for lack of it; a government one for no oversight, public or environmental concern; and a long-term systemic one giving business free reign to plunder and pollute without limit, then when caught call it an accident, paper it over, and repeat again because complicit government officials allow it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at:lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

 

Gulf Coast now a BP police state as law enforcement conspires with BP to intimidate journalists

Mike Adams
NaturalNews
July 8, 2010

Normally I would open this article by explaining this is the story the mainstream media won’t dare report. Except in this case, they are reporting it. It’s right on CNN, on the Anderson Cooper “360″ report.

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BP is a British corporation that is now controlling American law enforcement officials.

What happened is that Lance Rosenfield, a photographer working for ProPublica(http://www.propublica.org), was standing on a public road, taking photos of a BP refinery in full public view. After taking his photos, he was tailed by local law enforcement officials to a gas station, where they demanded to look at the photos he had just taken. A private BP security goon then showed up at the scene, and an official from the Department of Homeland Security soon arrived and began to intimidate Lance.

With his wits about him (and some basic knowledge of the Bill of Rights), Lance at first refused to show his photographs to local law enforcement. They threatened to detain him (probably under the Patriot Act) if he didn’t, so he gave in and let them see the photos. Later, when private BP security personnel asked for Lance’s personal information, he refused to give it to them. So — get this — the police turned over his private information to the BP security goon!

As Lance explained on CNN:

“The BP — the BP security guard showed up at that point and asked me for my personal information, and I declined, because he’s a corporate security guard. And he turned to the police officer, who then turned over all my personal information. And I protested. I said I didn’t understand under what legal — what legal grounds he was able to give him my personal information.”

The reporter, O’Brien, then asks him: “So, when you asked him, what did he say?

Lance replies, “He didn’t give an answer. He said, well, we can — we’re going to do it anyway, whether you like it or not. And we can call our Homeland Security officer, Tom Robison, to come down here and explain it. But, you know, this is what I’m going to do anyway. And he didn’t give me an answer. And then he did call Tom Robison. …this Homeland Security officer came, Tom Robison, it seemed like his only point of being there was to intimidate me.”

And of course, Lance Rosenfield is right: They are there to intimidate people. Local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are now all working for British Petroleum!

This is exactly what I warned about, by the way, in a recent article that was widely read across the ‘net, entitled “First Amendment suspended in the Gulf of Mexico as spill cover-up goes Orwellian” (http://www.naturalnews.com/029130_G…)

Why this matters

This is scary stuff, folks. Now we have a police state in America. No one can deny it. You can’t argue the point anymore. It is documented fact, and it’s happening right now in the Gulf Coast.

If you pick up a professional camera and start snapping photos of a BP refinery, or a BP cleanup vessel, or a beach with an oil boom on it, you risk being followed, detained, questioned and intimidated. And if you don’t surrender your own rights and consent to an illegal search of your photos or film footage, you will be hauled into a federal holding facility and held by the Department of Homeland Security until they feel like letting you go.

Your rights as a free citizen have now been obliterated. America is now a fascist corporatocracy that answers to the financial interests of the corporations — at the expense of the freedoms of the People.

What’s really scary about this is that BP is a British corporation that is now controllingAmerican law enforcement officials.

Didn’t we fight a war to get rid of a British police state once already? Didn’t we declare our independence from British rule a couple hundred years ago? Why are our public streets, beaches and oceans now ruled once again by a conniving, dishonest and downright ominous British corporate giant that has apparently gained control over our local law enforcement officials?

And if this is tolerated, how far will this go? Will BP soon set up roadblocks and checkpoints on public highways to search private vehicles for digital photos and video footage? Can BP’s private security goons arrest and detain you even if you’re on public property? (Apparently they can…)

The real story

See, rather than tell the truth about what’s happening in the Gulf, BP has resorted to police state tactics to threaten the media and intimidate journalists, threatening them with arrest, detainment and felony crimes if they get close enough to snap photos of what’s really going on in the Gulf Coast.

Why was ProPublica targeted for intimidation? Probably because they just published a story exposing BP’s 40-day release of toxic chemicals into the air from a Texas refinery. The story is entitled, “BP Texas Refinery Had Huge Toxic Release Just Before Gulf Blowout” and you can read it right here: http://www.propublica.org/article/b…

The story reveals that the BP refinery being photographed by Lance Rosenfield illegally released 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals including “17,000 pounds of benzene, a known carcinogen; 37,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to respiratory problems; and 186,000 pounds of carbon monoxide.”

Salon.com is also covering the police state tactics now being used by BP to stiff-arm the media. In a story called “The BP / Government Police State”, Salon reports: (http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/g…)

“These are true police state tactics, and it’s now clear that it is part of a pattern. It’s been documented for months now that BP and government officials have been acting in unison to block media coverage of the area.”

It goes on to repeat text from Newsweek, which states:

“As BP makes its latest attempt to plug its gushing oil well, news photographers are complaining that their efforts to document the slow-motion disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials — working with BP — who are blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible. More than a month into the disaster, a host of anecdotal evidence is emerging from reporters, photographers, and TV crews in which BP and Coast Guard officials explicitly target members of the media, restricting and denying them access to oil-covered beaches, staging areas for clean-up efforts, and even flyovers.”

Salon concludes with this surprisingly blunt statement: “The very idea that government officials are acting as agents of BP (of all companies) in what clearly seem to be unconstitutional acts to intimidate and impede the media is infuriating. Obviously, the U.S. Government and BP share the same interest — preventing the public from knowing the magnitude of the spill and the inadequacy of the clean-up efforts — but this creepy police state behavior is intolerable. “

What it all means

On one hand, it’s fascinating to see the mainstream media suddenly discovering that we all live in a police state. Gee, Alex Jones and other freedom commentators have been warning about this for years, and they all got written off as “conspiracy theorists.” But it turns out they were dead on.

There is a conspiracy under way right now. It’s a conspiracy between the U.S. government and British Petroleum to cover-up all evidence of what’s really happening in the Gulf Coast. “Conspiracy” is precisely the correct word to describe their behavior in all this, and I can only wonder how long it will take before the mainstream media reluctant utters the “C” word on air.

What’s happening is exactly a conspiracy. The Random House Dictionary defines “conspiracy” as:

1. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.

2. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose.

3. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.

Does that sound like what’s happening with BP and the federal government? It sure does.

BP and the U.S. government are now clearly conspiring to use police powers to intimidate, threaten, detain and potentially imprison anyone who seeks to report on the truth of what’s happening in the Gulf Coast.

And this, in turn, is the classic definition of what happens in a Police State.

From the same dictionary, a “Police State” is “a nation in which the police, especially a secret police, summarily suppresses any social, economic, or political act that conflicts with governmental policy.”

Once again, that’s exactly what we’re seeing in the Gulf Coast. BP’s private security goons are the new “secret police.” And with the help of local and federal law enforcement officials, they are actively suppressing the public’s right to know the truth about what’s happening there.

You see, the real loss of what’s happening with the BP oil catastrophe isn’t merely the damage being caused by the oil; it’s the destruction of our freedoms as BP stream rolls the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights to destroy our freedoms and once again place us under British rule!

You are now subjects, not citizens, once you enter the Gulf Coast zone in America. Your “rights” have been stripped away and replaced by threats and intimidation, backed by an armed band of corporate-sponsored secret police.

You are witnessing the end of America the free and the rise of a fascist corporatocracywhere all your rights and freedoms have been suspended until further notice.

And now, shamelessly, even local law enforcement isn’t on your side anymore. They’ve sold out to their corporate slavemasters to the point where BP is now covering the salaries of nearly all the cops and Sheriffs working in certain areas there. As Mac McClelland from Mother Jonesreportedly said, “One parish has 57 extra shifts per week that they are devoting entirely to, basically, BP security detail, and BP is paying the sheriff’s office.”

The truth is too scary

All this can only make you ask the obvious question: What could possibly be happening in the Gulf Coast right now that’s so scary that BP and the federal government is willing to destroy your rights in order to protect their secrets?

That’s the relevant question here, no?

Clearly there must be a very big secret in the Gulf of Mexico — a secret so devastating to BP’s financial future that it is willing to do almost anything to avoid that secret from getting out.

Why are beach cleanup workers being required to sign non-disclosure agreements? Why are journalists being threatened and intimidated? Why are local cops being used as BP’s private security force?

I can only shudder at the possible answers to this all-important question. A secret so dark and so dangerous that BP would do anything to keep it from getting out.

There can only be a couple of possible answers to this that would justify such police state actions:

• Perhaps BP and the federal government is about to unleash a nuclear explosion to stop the oil outflow, and they don’t want anyone knowing about it until it’s already done.

• Perhaps the U.S. government is planning a multi-state roundup and evacuation of the population to clear out the entire Gulf Coast region in anticipation of something big and dangerous (such as a nuke, or an oil-soaked firestorm of a major U.S. city, or a dangerous new chemical being dumped in the Gulf by BP, etc.)

• Perhaps human bodies are washing up on the beaches for some unknown reason, and the shock of it would be too much for the public to bear.

… or maybe there’s some other unimaginable reason none of us “little people” have thought of yet.

In any case, the situation doesn’t look pretty. The very freedoms that we just celebrated on Independence Day have been obliterated by a British corporation which now rules our U.S. law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security.

I can only conclude that our government has been infiltrated by a foreign corporation that is now using our own government to enslave us by destroying the very freedoms we once fought so hard to acquire. We are now living under a fascist corporatocracy, and we are seeing first-hand that these corporations will stop at nothing to protect their interests, even if it means sacrificing our freedoms.

B.P. = Beyond Prosecution.

 

Gulf oil spill: a muted ‘hurrah’ across the US as oil stops gushing

News that the leak has stopped, at least for now, prompts a national high-five, if not a whoop of joy. Eighty-eight days of Gulf oil spill minutiae may have dampened interest among the US public.

The new containment cap is seen during the well integrity testing in the image grabbed from the BP’s live video feed in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday. BP said the new cap on well is fully closed and no more oil is spilling into Gulf.

BP live feed/Newscom/File

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / July 16, 2010

News that BP has successfully, if perhaps temporarily, killed the renegade Macondo well after 88 days of drama in the Gulf of Mexico brought cheers on the shrimp docks and beachside taverns of the Gulf Coast.

But after nearly three months of wall-to-wall coverage of top kills, junk shots, oiled plovers, and incineratedsea turtles, much of America outside the Gulf Coast has become less than riveted, offering up more an exhausted sigh of relief than a whoop of joy amid signs that cap on the undersea well is holding steady.

With disaster fatigue setting in and with opinions largely cemented about the competence or incompetence of BP and President Obama, the muted reaction to the good news could offer a glimpse into how the oil spill story will arc across political, economic, and environmental landscapes.

"This spill is going to take a long time to play out," says Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. "How do you deal with the after-effects? How do you clean up the oil? How do you assist some of the local economies down there? But those continuing issues primarily affect that region and, in terms of the whole country, have a very, very small effect."

Capping the well is a milestone, but it’s not the end of the ordeal. Oil continues to affect fishing villages, beach towns, and oil-dependent burgs despondent over a drilling moratorium that some economists say could have a bigger economic impact on Gulf Coast states than the effects of the spill itself.

At the very least, Gulf states are likely to falter in the short term in recovering from a stubborn recession. "Right now tax revenues are a secondary issue to the economic growth over the long term," economist Mark McMullen of Moody’s economy.com tells Reuters. "What’s scary is: when will it bounce back? And what will be the lasting damage to the economy and government coffers?"

Public opinion may also affect how tenaciously BP and the federal government will continue to clean up the spill, some of which could stick around for years. What effect the massive spill will have on the resilience of the Gulf’s environment, already battered by oil seeps and nitrogen pollution from upstream fertilizers, is unknown.

For Mr. Obama, the Gulf oil spill is just one issue among several – the main one being the stubbornly lackluster economy – that have caused a larger share of the public to question his competence as America’s chief executive.

"The oil spill has taken some of the shine off of that image but the president has the better part of the next two years to polish it anew," writes the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Of course, Americans as a whole celebrated the news from the Gulf – and waited a long time for it. More than 4 million barrels of sweet Louisiana crude may have spilled into the Gulf as a result of the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, leased by BP to explore the Macondo Deposit 50 miles off the coast from Venice, La.

"We’re doing a little bit of celebrating, but not too much," oysterman Wilbert Collins of Golden Meadow, La., told the Houston Chronicle. "I think things are going to get better and better."

Last month, 18 percent of Americans said the most important problem facing the nation was "natural disaster response/relief." That figure dropped to 7 percent in July, according to a Gallup poll.

And since June, the share of Americans who say the Gulf oil spill is a major disaster declined from 73 to 68 percent, according to a Washington Post poll. That doesn’t mean Americans don’t care about the mess in the Gulf but, rather, that most identify economic issues as their top concerns.

"I’m sitting here in Madison, [Wis.,] there are no beaches nearby, and so I’m really driven by empathy of people on the Gulf Coast, not from any personal consequence that I can see," says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin. "The spill has had to compete with something that’s far more fundamentally important to people: the economy."

Yet the oil spill has affected many people far from the Gulf, whether beach condo owners in Atlanta or fertilizer producers in the upper Midwest.

"The disaster’s economic fallout has had a sneaky domino effect, touching the lives of everyone from the French Quarter shuckers who turn oyster-opening into theater to the Minnesota businessman who grinds the shells for chicken-feed supplement," writes The New York Times’ Dan Barry. "Some victims were unaware that they were even tiles in the game, so removed were they from the damaged waters."

It’s possible that the ever-accessible BP "spill cam" and the constant Internet and TV coverage of the spill helped to raise the stakes and spur attempts to solve the problem of the leaking well. But it’s also possible that the saturation coverage might have inured some Americans to the Gulf crisis.

The news media’s close attention to a story that didn’t change much from day to day contributed to a sense of ennui about the spill, says Ace Lundon, the Arizona-based host of the Internet radio show "Lundon Calling."

"It’s like with the immigration issue here in Arizona. Pepole don’t want to hear anything more about it," says Mr. Lundon. "The news labors itself on it. OK, we want to know if the tar balls have been picked up, but we don’t want you out there every day inspecting them."

 

Gulf Oil Gusher: No Reason to Believe It’s Over

Infowars.com
July 17, 2010

oilgusher3.jpg

BP claims the oil gusher is capped. Short of independent verification, it should be assumed the transnational corporation is not telling the truth.

On Friday, the corporate media heralded the capping of BP’s Macondo well after 88 days of environmental disaster.

“But after nearly three months of wall-to-wall coverage of top kills, junk shots, oiled plovers, and incinerated sea turtles, much of America outside the Gulf Coast has become less than riveted, offering up more an exhausted sigh of relief than a whoop of joy amid signs that cap on the undersea well is holding steady,” reports theChristian Science Monitor.

But is BP’s latest fix holding steady? Much of the Gulf of Mexico is a no-go zone off limits to journalists, even corporate media journalists who are usually trusted assets of the banker and corporate state. This lock-down on information is enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard, and BP contractors and corporate goons. Even local cops in the Gulf do BP’s bidding. Do you trust BP and the government to tell the truth after months of preventing media coverage and telling liesabout the severity of the oil gusher?

“Americans as a whole celebrated the news from the Gulf – and waited a long time for it,” writes the Monitor. In fact, the American people have absolutely no independent source of information and celebration at this point is inappropriate.

Is the “news” from the Gulf a propaganda ploy designed to restore confidence in Obama as we head into the mid-term elections? Is the establishment hiding the truth in order to save its skin?

Scientists and experts not on the BP lunch wagon need access to the area in order to confirm what BP and the government are saying, Short of that, there is absolutely no reason to trust them. Short of independent confirmation we should assume to oil gusher continues unabated.

Government and transnational corporations are pathological liars and should never under any circumstance be trusted.

BP removes cap from Gulf oil gusher, hopes to resume collection in 4-7 days

Workers began Saturday directing underwater robots to replace the cap on a gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico, in a bid to finally contain the devastating oil flow.

Live video feed of the spill site showed remotely-controlled submarines maneuvering the cap system in order to remove the old containment cap and place a tighter one.

If all works as planned, the new cap combined with a series of tankers that on the surface could contain all the oil now soiling the Gulf’s
fragile coastlines as early as Monday.

But the new system, expected to take four to seven days to be operational, is only a temporary solution before relief wells are completed that could stop
the flow completely — and comes after repeated failures and setbacks
for BP as it wrangles with the worstenvironmental disaster in US
history.

Once the old cap is removed, oil will flow unabated into the Gulf waters for some 48 hours, and the new system’s success is anything but guaranteed.

The thing is the new sealing cap has not been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and there can be no assurance that the sealing cap will be
successfully installed or installed within the anticipated timeframe,"
BP warned in a statement.

BP senior vice president Kent Wells said other options remained at the ready, including a new "top hat" containment system, if necessary.

"We always have backups for our backups," he told reporters, noting that workers were also ramping up skimming activity to collect as much oil
as spill site during recapping period.

Engineers nearly a mile (1,600 meters) above on the surface were manipulating the undersea robots, rushing to take advantage of about a week of expected favorable
weather conditions in the spill area for the new operation.

The existing cap, which sucks up to 25,000 barrels (one million gallons) of oil a day, was installed over a month ago but it allowed some of the
hydrocarbons to escape because it was loosely fitted over a jagged cut
of the well pipe.

BP is also working to connect the Helix Producer containment ship to another portion of the blown-out well. The ship should be up and running by Sunday, officials said.

Government estimates for the disastrous spill unleashed when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank nearly three months ago, range between
35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil (1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons)
spewing into Gulf waters each day, based on interpretation of a live
video feed of the leak.

The new cap and containment ship will raise containment capacity to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels (2.5 million to 3.4 million gallons) a day — in effect halting spill that has
imperiled wildlife and people’s livelihoods across the Gulf Coast,
according to officials.

An estimated 2.9 to 4.9 million barrels of oil have gushed into the Gulf waters since the spill began, and on day 82 of the spill, only 755,900 barrels have been recovered.

The government’s pointman on the spill, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, said on Friday he had approved the latest plans because they will
provide for "far greater" containment capacity than current systems.

But no permanent solution is expected until the first of two relief wells is completed in order to inject drilling fluids into the gushing well
and then seal it for good with cement.

The first relief well is expected to intersect the busted well by the end of July but it will take days or weeks — until about mid-August — to plug the leak, Wells
said.

BP’s backup plans include stationing nearly 400 boats between the Deepwater Horizon site and the Gulf Coast and more than 50 aircraft to spot and scoop up the additional oil that would flow into
the Gulf.

In Pass Christian, Mississippi, cleanup crews in yellow reflective vests fanned out across the white sand beach, scooping tar balls from the water’s edge with shovels and rakes under a punishing
sun.

"It’s a travesty," said Michael Howson, 48, who left his home in Chicago six weeks ago to work as a safety supervisor with the crew.

He’s seen dead porpoises, turtles, pelicans, crabs, sea turtles and patches of oil as big as a car wash up on the beach.

"It’s terrible they haven’t been able to cap it yet," he told AFP. "It’s destroying the beaches, it’s destroying the wildlife and it’s
destroying the people."

Oil has now washed up on beaches in all five Gulf states — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — forcing the closure of fishing grounds and threatening scores of
coastal communities with financial ruin.

 

BP ‘stops oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico’

BP has succeeded in stopping its Gulf of Mexico leak for the first time since an accident on April 20 killed 11 men and triggered a giant oil spill, boosting the shares.

By Rowena Mason, Energy Correspondent
Published: 9:12AM BST 16 Jul 2010

The company on Thursday begun a "very, very intricate operation" aimed at sealing the gusher, the day after a leaking valve caused operations to be delayed.

It stopped the oil leak after only a couple of hours, having predicted that it might take up to two days for the flow to come to a halt. The company had worried that deepwater pressure could cause more ruptures, worsening the situation.

In London, BP shares jumped 5pc to 423p in early trading as investors got their first chance to react to the news. This followed an 8pc rise in the company’s US shares last night to $38.92, after it said early tests indicated that oil is no longer leaking into the ocean. It will continue testing the well every six hours to determine its success.

BP shares have risen 37pc from its low of 302.90p on June 29, but are still 37pc down since the start of the catastrophe on April 20.

Kent Wells, BP’s US vice-president, said the oil stopped at 7.25pm UK time, adding: "It is very good to see no oil go into the Gulf of Mexico."

The company is now monitoring pressure on the well to see if the seal can be maintained. It will still continue with plans to plug the leak permanently by pouring cement down a separate hole called a relief well. This has taken 90 days to drill and is close to completion.

The US Government on Thursday maintained its pressure on BP by insisting that it must pay tax on the oil it has captured from the leak – estimated at 25,000 barrels per day up until now.

However, BP will not lose any extra money from this decision, because it plans to deduct the tax bill from the proceeds it has already pledged to environmental charities to help repair the Gulf coastline.

A US political panel also approved new rules ensuring that oil company chief executives vouch for well designs.

BP’s share price remained almost flat during trading in London at 401¾p, on news that the tests are proceeding cautiously. It dropped in early trading, after a bill proposing a seven-year ban on BP’s US exploration activities passed through a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State for foreign affairs, also pledged to look into allegations that BP lobbied for the release of the Lockerbie bomber as it sought contracts in Libya.

However, BP found financial supporters on Thursday in two high profile investors.

T Boone Pickens, the billionaire energy investor, told Bloomberg News: "You´re going to have to stand a little more heat, but I think they´ll kill the well by mid-August. They will further damage their image when they start the investigation, but on Thursday BP is [a] good buy."

Meanwhile, Anthony Bolton, the Fidelity fund manager focusing on China, claimed that buying BP was a "once in a life-time opportunity".

Mark Fletcher, an analyst from Citi also sounded a positive note, estimating total costs for the disaster at $39bn – much lower than the $80bn high end of expert forecasts.

"The conclusion we draw is that our assumed $40bn of value loss to shareholders is toward the pessimistic end of expectations.

"However, while the atmosphere remains highly politically charged, it is always possible that fines and costs are inflated higher," he added.

 

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: timeline

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig is now considered the largest in US offshore history. Below is a chronology of the spill and its impact:

By Nick Collins and Ben Leach
Published: 9:09AM BST 16 Jun 2010

Tony Hayward (left) and Barack Obama

Tony Hayward (left) and Barack Obama Photo: AP/GETTY

July 16

BP says it has finally managed to halt the flow of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico but that the problem will not be completely resolved until a relief well is drilled.

July 15

Tests on the cap resume. BP’s US share price rise 8pc after it announces that it has stopped its Gulf of Mexico leak for the first time since April.

July 13

Tests begin on the new cap, but are delayed for ‘additional analysis’.

July 12

BP successfully installs the new cap, known as Top Hat 10, which it hopes will contain all the oil, until relief wells are completed in August that will sort out the problem for good.

July 10

BP removes a cap installed on June 4, which was leaking oil because it had to be fitted over a jagged cut in the well pipe, in anticipation of putting on a new cap. This means oil escapes unhindered into the Gulf for some 48 hours.

July 9

A federal appeals court rejects the Obama administration’s effort to restore an offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, opening the door for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to resume while the legal fight continues.

Tests show tar balls washed up on the Texas coast are from the spill, meaning every US Gulf state – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and now Texas – has been soiled by the spill.

July 6

Summer storms push oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill deeper into Louisiana’s wetlands and temporarily slow efforts to contain damage. The storms are also responsible for washing oil into Lake Pontchartrain, bordering New Orleans, further polluting Mississippi’s beaches and halting tests on a supertanker adapted to skim large quantities of oil from the surface.

July 5

BP says that the cost of the spill has reached $3.12bn.

July 3

A supertanker converted into a "super skimmer" begins tests. The vessel can remove up to 500,000 barrels of oil and water from the sea surface a day.

July 1

BP shares gain, with traders initially citing talk, quickly shot down, that it had capped the leaking well.

June 30

Hurricane Alex, later downgraded to a tropical storm, moves slowly in Gulf waters, disrupting the cleanup, and threatening to push more oily water onshore. President Obama formally directs officials to draw up a long-term economic and environmental plan to help the Gulf Coast region get back on its feet after the oil spill.

June 28

BP isbafter Russia’s deputy prime minister said he expected Hayward to resign soon.

June 24

A US judge refuses to put on hold his decision to lift a ban on deepwater drilling imposed after the spill.

June 22

Hayward hands day-to-day control of the spill operation to Bob Dudley – a reflection, says BP, of the need for the CEO to return to other aspects of the business.

June 20

Internal BP document released by US congressman shows BP estimates that a worst-case scenario rate could be 100,000 barrels a day. This is far higher than the US government estimate of 60,000 barrels a day.

June 18 Anadarko Petroleum, part owner of the gushing well, says BP’s behavior before the blowout was "reckless" and likely represented "gross negligence or willful misconduct" that would affect obligations of the well owners under their operating agreement.

June 17

Hayward faces the wrath of US lawmakers as he appears before a congressional hearing. He apologizes for the spill and says everything is being done to stop it. Members of Congress accuse BP of cutting corners for the sake of profit.

June 16

David Cameron calls for the company to be protected from excessive compensation claims after Barack Obama makes it agree to potentially unlimited damages.

The company suspends dividend payments for the rest of the year. It also agrees to finance a $20bn (£13.5bn) clean-up and compensation fund.

June 15

Barack Obama uses a televised address to accuse the British oil giant of "recklessness" and announces the appointment of Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, as his new "oil tsar" for the region.

International ratings agency Fitch slashes BP’s credit rating six notches from "AA" to ‘near junk’ "BBB" rating.

June 14

Shares fall as much as nine per cent in Monday trading after President Obama compares the oil spill’s impact to that of the 9/11 terror attacks.

He says: "In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11…I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come."

June 13

Barack Obama demands more money from BP to meet the cost of handling the crisis, ahead of a meeting of the BP board where a decision will be taken over whether to freeze dividend payouts.

June 12

David Cameron and Barack Obama hold their first conversation about the spillage, and the President assures the Prime Minister during a 30-minute telephone discussion that his public criticism of the company has "nothing to do with national identity".

June 11

David Cameron tells BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg during a telephone conversation that it is in everyone’s interest for the company to remain financially stable and strong.

It came after Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, warned against allowing the disaster to descend into a "tit for tat political diplomatic spat".

June 10

The US government signals it will take legal action to force BP to stop paying a dividend to shareholders. The company’s shares tumble.

David Cameron refuses to defend the company in the wake of Barack Obama’s attack, saying he "completely understands" the American government’s frustration.

John Napier, the chairman of insurer RSA, writes to Barack Obama to criticise his "prejudicial" approach to BP and urges him to stop his relentless criticism of the company.

June 9

BP buys the top Google and Yahoo! search result for terms like "oil spill" in a bid to recover its public image.

Obama is accused of holding "his boot on the throat" of British pensionersafter his attacks on BP are blamed for wiping billions off the company’s value.

The firm’s share price falls a further 17.35p to 391.55p – representing a 40 per cent drop on the 655p price of a share two months ago.

June 8

Norway bans new deepwater oil drilling in the North Sea in a sign that panic over BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill is spreading.

Meanwhile the US President attacks Mr Hayward, saying he should have been sacked for tactless comments made after the spill.

June 7

BP says a second containment system to stem the leak should be ready by "mid-June", as costs of the clean-up rise to £860 million and the total share-price slump reaches 30 per cent.

June 1

BP shares tumble a further 15 per cent after it admits its “top kill” operation was unsuccessful. It emerges that the company has lost a quarter – £30 billion – of its market value since the explosion.

Meanwhile, documents emerge showing that the firm was given permission to drill in the Gulf of Mexico after promising it was equipped to deal with a spill 10 times larger than the current leak.

Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, announces he will visit the site of the spill for the first time on Tuesday, increasing speculation that a criminal investigation will be launched.

May 28

BP attempts a “top kill” operation to plug the spill. The company admits that the procedure has never before been attempted at such depths and its “ultimate success” is uncertain.

The total cost to the firm reaches around £638 million as Barack Obama states that BP would "pay every dime" for the damage caused and criticised the "cosy and sometimes corrupt" relationship between regulators and the oil industry.

May 18

Mr Hayward claims the environmental impact of the spill will be "very, very modest". His reassurances coincide with the discovery of the first tar balls from the spill off Florida.

Experts begin to fear that currents could be directing a slick the size of Luxembourg towards US coastal areas.

The US government announces it is nearly tripling the size of an area in the Gulf of Mexico that is closed to fishing.

May 17

Shares rise as BP says it is capturing about a fifth of the estimated oilgushing from the ruptured well by using a pipe to divert it from the sea bed onto a ship.

May 12

James Dupree, BP’s senior vice president for the Gulf, admits during congressional hearings in the US that a safety valve protecting the oil wellfailed a key pressure test just hours before the explosion.

May 10

BP admits it has dramatically underestimated the cost of the leak and that it has already reached around £240 million.

May 3

Work begins on a drilling a relief well to isolate the leak as Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, indicates that the firm will seek compensation from Transocean.

The slump in BP share prices reaches 15 per cent as some experts predict the total compensation and clean-up bill could be around £10.6 billion.

One of the biggest oil containment operations ever attempted begins, with a flotilla of nearly 200 boats sent to tackle the spill.

April 30

City analysts including Morgan Stanley predict that the disaster could cost BP between £1 billion and £3 billion as shrimpers in the state of Louisiana file the first class-action lawsuits against BP and the platform’s owners.

April 27

BP reports that its first-quarter profits more than double to £3.65 billionfollowing a rise in oil prices.

April 22

The US Coast Guard estimates that the rig is leaking oil at the rate of up to 8,000 barrels a day. Two remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) are sent down to attempt to cap the well, but prove unsuccessful.

Another two ROVs are dispatched in an attempt to activate the blowout preventer – a giant series of pipes and valves that could staunch the leak – but again prove unsuccessful.

April 20, 2010

An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, around 40 miles south east of Louisiana, kills 11 workers and injures 17 others.

The rig is owned and operated by Transocean, a company hired by BP to carry out the drilling work.

Oh-No: Tests Confirm Oil Seep Distance Away From Deepwater Well

Joe Weisenthal
Business Insider
July 19, 2010

This doesn’t sound good.

Admiral Allen has sent the following letter, via The Oil Drum, to BP, regarding the discovery of oil seeps away from the well:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

As the National Incident Commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts. Now that source control has evolved into a period beyond the expected 48 hour interval of the Well Integrity Test, I am requiring that you provide me a written update within 24 hours of your intentions going forward. I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo Well.

You may use your letter of 9 July as a basis for your update. Specifically, you must provide me your latest containment plan and schedule in the event that the Well Integrity Test is suspended, the status and completion timelines for all containment options currently under development, and details of any other viable source control options including hydraulic control that you are
considering. You should highlight any points at which progress along one option will be impacted by resource trade-offs to achieve progress along another option. Include options for and impacts of continued twice-a day seismic testing versus once a day testing.

As you develop the plans above, note that the primary method of securing the source is the relief well and this effort takes precedence. Therefore, I direct you to provide a detailed plan for the final stages of the relief well that specifically addresses the interaction of this schedule and any other activity that may potentially delay relief well completion.

Have your representative provide results on the monitoring efforts and source control requirements described above during today’s BP and Government Science Team call at 8:00 PM CDT.

Sincerely,

THAD W. ALLEN

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