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Posts Tagged ‘Gulf of Mexico’

Microbes Outsmart Scientists in Gulf Cleanup

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 11, 2012

The Wall Street Journal this week published a story on how microbes outsmarted the best minds in science.  Back in 2010, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico remaining uncapped for months and spilling 200,000 tons of methane gas and over 4 million barrels of petroleum. Into the Gulf

At the time of the spill many scientists predicted an environmental catastrophe resulting from the pollutants.  It turns out they were wrong.  A study released Monday by the National Academy of Sciences indicated that within a few months most of the underwater methane had been dispersed and by October of 2010 most of the underwater oil vanished.  The miracle came from hungry bacteria.  The spilled materials turned out to be a food source for bacteria.  This led to their population exploding which then consumed the pollutants in short order.

While the study is fairly conclusive and was conducted by respected scientists, this has not stopped some from questioning the results.  One doubter, Ira Leifer of the University of California Santa Barbara, criticized the findings stating that the conclusions were questionable because they were based on a computer modeling “which is only as good as the input or assumptions“.  That is a curious response coming from the same scientific community that depends on computer modeling to “prove” their theory of man-made global warming.  It is remarkable how supposed scientific geniuses demand it both ways.  That may help explain why they were proved wrong by the simplest of life forms.


Posted in Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Huge Energy Find in Gulf of Mexico

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 26, 2011

Earlier this month Exxon Corporation announced significant energy discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico.  Two involved natural gas discovered in 2009 and 2010, but withheld until a nearby third well was completed that has since proven to contain significant oil reserves.  Together finds include about 700 million barrels of oil equivalent, one of the larger energy finds in the Gulf during the past decade.  It is estimated that these fields could produce over 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day when fully operational.

The new Gulf finds, together with significant other gas and oil discoveries worldwide, raise interesting issues.  It is evident that the world is not running out of fossil fuels, as the doom and gloom folks on the Left predicated in the 1970’s.  Remember when President Jimmy Carter announced in the late 1970’s that the United States would run out of natural gas within a decade?  That’s as bad as any of the many Carter wrong calls.

Carter’s false predictions concerning world energy supplies are eerily similar to more modern predictions of immanent doom from manmade global warming.  Both were/are based on junk or flawed science.  Both were/are proffered to allow Progressives redistribute wealth on a worldwide basis, the primary goal of this philosophy.  Both damage humanity.

Posted in Energy, Oil | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gulf Microbes Prove More Powerful than Governmental Action

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 10, 2011

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April was a catastrophe.  Workers at the well site were killed during the explosion, fisheries were closed, beaches were damaged and many other peoples’ livelihoods were hurt.  These were all predictable results of the massive oil and gas leak into the Gulf.  What was not predicted by the experts was how quickly the Gulf ecologically recovered from the spill.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the amazingly rapid comeback for the Gulf.  The well leaked tons of methane gas into the gulf that scientists predicted would take years to disperse before the Gulf would return to normal.  Instead, it only took months.  The heroes were not government bureaucrats who bungled so much during the months that followed the accident.  The heroes were some of the smallest critters that live on this planet, bacteria.

According to a recently released government funded study appearing on the online journal of Science, microbes occurring naturally in the Gulf have devoured much of the poisonous chemicals found in the natural gas and oil on the sea floor.  In June, measurements of methane showed levels in the water at thousands of times the normal amount.  Current measurements show these readings now to be normal.

The scientific communities surprise at the Gulf’s natural cleanup abilities was echoed by chemical oceanographer John Kessler at Texas A & M, an author of the Science study who said: “We were shocked.  We thought the methane would be around for years.”  Dr. David Valentine, a microbiologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, also said: “Within a matter of months, the bacteria completely removed that methane.  The bacteria kicked on more effectively than we expected.”

The remarkable natural cleansing of the oil and gas spill from the Deepwater Horizon spill is instructive.  The environment is complex and dynamic with literally millions of variables that come into play in keeping it in balance.  It should not be surprising that this same environment has significant abilities at self repair.  Long before man began to affect the Earth’s environment it put up with all sorts of natural abuses including earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and Ice Ages and it still remains a rather hospitable place.

While the evidence on the Gulf’s natural cleanup is compelling, there remain disbelievers among scientists including University of Georgia microbiologist Samantha Joye who said:  “I think they are jumping to a conclusion.  It would take a superhuman microbe to do what they are claiming.”  Evidently Ms. Joye didn’t read H.G. Wells’, The War of the Worlds.  There are indeed events that man cannot control.

There are those that will also question the Gulf’s natural cleanup “theory” since it has implications for the Global-Warming debate.  Methane is a significant greenhouse gas that plays a role in some theoretical scenarios on rapidly rising earth temperatures.  Should naturally existing microbes be able to control large methane gas releases, that part of the alarmists’ theory will no longer hold water.

The Earth’s ability to self-repair its environment does not justify man’s abuse of it.  However, this ability should give pause to allowing fear-mongers to change the way the world operates in the name of questionable theories on manmade global warming.  Given that these scientists could got it so wrong on how a major oil and gas spill would affect the Gulf of Mexico, it is likely that their predicted results of excess carbon emissions on the Earth’s temperature is also flawed.


Posted in Global Warming, Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Castro Says “Drill Baby Drill”

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 30, 2010

Showing arrogance and a lack of understanding of unintended consequences, the Obama Administration five months ago imposed a moratorium prohibiting deepwater drilling in American waters in the Gulf of Mexico.  Add to this a longstanding federal law banning drilling near the coast of Florida and we have effective stopped drilling for oil and gas in the southeastern waters off the United States.  Well, not exactly.  All we have done is stopped drilling in American-controlled territory.

Next year a Spanish company will begin drilling wells 50 miles from the Florida Keys in Cuban sovereign waters.  This will not only move jobs and money from the United States to Cuba, but also increase the risk of environmental damage in the future since Cuba and its partners do not have the safety rules or resources that drillers in the United States have access to.

It is ironic that our socialist brothers in Cuba need to teach us some rules about supply and demand.

Posted in Oil, Supply and Demand | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Microbes Eating Gulf Oil

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 8, 2010

Government scientists released a promising report on the Gulf of Mexico.  It seems that our smallest friends, microbes, are consuming most of the oil spilled in the Gulf by the explosion on the BP oil platform.  Adding to this good news, little critters’ are digesting the oil without depleting the oxygen levels in the Gulf, another fear when the leak started.  In fact there are more problems in the Gulf from oxygen depletion caused by the annual run-off from the Mississippi river.

There are few lessons that can be learned from the recent Gulf disaster.  First, the complex ecosystem that we call Earth is capable of great healing, even from manmade disasters.  Compare the months it took for our natural eco-system to repair itself to the government’s failed efforts to correct the financial imbalances that exploded two years ago and continues to this day.

Also, while the Gulf’s oil spill was a disaster, its long-term effects will be much less than the government and environmentalists projected.  This error of over exaggeration by the government joins other failed projections including Y2K, Swine Flu, the Hawaiian tsunami, Bird Flu and others.  Are these errors signs of incompetence or caused by more nefarious motivations?

Posted in Government Ineptness, Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Congressional Bill May Limit BPs’ Ability to Pay for Damages

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 3, 2010

The New York Times today published a story that offers a simple lesson in economics, which all but the Progressives in Washington would already understand.  In a kneejerk reaction typical of politicians, the Congress is trying to punish BP in a way that may inhibit its ability to pay for damages caused by their oilrig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

With great fanfare, President Obama brought BP executives to the White House on June 16 and got the Company to commit to putting $20 billion into an escrow fund to pay for damages to individuals and businesses affected by the disaster.  But, there are strings to this plan.  First, BP doesn’t have that cash available.  They must sell assets to get some of it.  In addition, the funds are to be placed in the escrow amount over four years. These funds are to come from Company’s future earnings.  Obviously if BP doesn’t have the earnings, they will not be able to pay this bill.

Now comes Progressive Congressman George Miller, Democrat of California and close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  He has added a provision to a drilling bill being considered by Congress that would bar companies from drilling in the Gulf if that company had more than 10 fatalities and/or was penalized with fines of $10 million or more in a seven-year period.

The Miller amendment would only bar one company, BP, from drilling in the Gulf.  Since BP gets 11 percent of its global oil and about $6 billion of its annual profits from its Gulf oil, the effects on BP’s finances will be substantial and likely impact its ability to pay the bill.

The opposing directions being taken towards BP are typical of inept governments.  Each agency or division within a government has its own interests that they focus on and this results in tactical polices that cause more overall harm than benefit.  In this case, Obama focused on getting BP to pay for damages and his Democrat alley in the Congress, Miller, wants to punish them in a way that hinders Obama’s goals.

Remarkably, the repeated stories of inept government continue to be ignored by Progressives.  In fact, they watch the failures and still demand even more government.  If Einstein was correct when he defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, then these Progressives are indeed insane.

Posted in BP, Government Ineptness, Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gulf Oil Spill: A Failure of Government

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 29, 2010

The Gulf oil spill catastrophe has resulted in the same-old responses from Washington.  First they look for scapegoats and then promise new legislation, regulations and agencies.  Unbelievable since these solutions never have worked in the past.

Remember the Savings and Loan (S&L) crisis of the 1980’s when over 700 S&Ls failed?  This mess resulted in a cost to taxpayers of about $125 billion.  The government’s fix included abolishing the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) and replacing it with the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).  This change failed, as evidenced by the banking mess we have faced during the past two years.  In fact the OTS was the agency responsible for overseeing AIG and other firms that help create the current recession, with still greater taxpayer losses.  So what is the Obama Administration now proposing; that we abolish the OTS and replace it with still another agency, a financial consumer-protection agency.  That same solution failed after the S&L meltdown so let’s do it again. ….  Knuckleheads!

Then, after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oils spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, the government created the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) to help avoid future spills and set up mechanisms for the government’s responses to them should they occur.  The law mandated that companies have a “plan to prevent spills that may occur” and a “detailed containment and cleanup plan” for oil spills.  In addition, the law gave the president expanded authority to respond to spills.

Think the OPA worked?  Here’s an example of the government’s negligence with the Gulf oil spill:

  • All oil companies, including BP, are required to have response plans in place and approved by the government for potential oil spills.  Obviously BP’s plan was seriously flawed and they will pay dearly for their errors.  What about the government employees who didn’t do their jobs?  What is the cost to them?
  • The U.S. government (MMS) modeled a spill trajectory called “oil spill risk analysis.”  It projected that a spill in the Gulf near the current location would have only an 11% chance of making landfall in Plaquemines, Louisiana after 30 days.  However, Plaquemines, one of the hardest hit areas, started seeing oil within 22 days.
  • By law BP’s plan for Gulf of Mexico potential oil spills was based on U.S. government projections, as list above that included projections of low odds of oil reaching shore.  Unfortunately these 2004 projections wrongly assumed the oil would evaporate or get broken up in the water.  Instead, oil is now hitting shorelines in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

In addition to the Oil Pollution Act not protecting us from the current disaster, it played a role in creating it.  This act limited company liability to $75 million per spill occurrence, probably because some special interest group got it placed in the Act.  Had the government not inserted itself into the market by limiting liability, BP may have either shown more care in drilling or may not have drilled at all for fear of potential losses.  That’s the way the free market is supposed to work.

OPA failed us in the Gulf of Mexico.  Laws and regulations cannot foresee future needs and predict accidents.  In addition, goventment employees have little to lose (skin in the game) for errors, as compared to private companies.  In the Gulf spill BP will not only be financially liable, but possibly criminally.  No such threat hangs over the heads of the politicians and bureaucrats that were equally negligent in causing this catastrophe.

Given the history of government’s failure to prevent oil spills or take appropriate cleanup action we should not expect additional new laws or agencies to fair better.  It is time for a real discussion relating to the limits of governmental ability to protect society.  Penalties on corporations and individuals, including those in government, are the only dynamic means for policing complex economies and societies.

Posted in Government Ineptness, Governmental Intervention, Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Energy Secretary Chu Claimed BP will Help Save World

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 23, 2010

President Obama publically referred to Energy Secretary Chu’s Nobel Prize in Physics as a proof statement that the President and his team are on top of the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.  Given that the Noble Prize folks gave Obama the Peace Prize when he created no peace makes this claim dubious.

More troubling is Chu’s words in 2007 when he claimed that a partnership of Chu’s University of California laboratory and BP, with BP’s $500 million, would “help save the world”.  Hmmmm….  See the incredible video below.

Posted in BP, Oil Spill | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Judge Overrules Obama’s Drilling Moratorium

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 22, 2010

The New York Times reported that U.S. Federal Judge Martin Feldman axed Obama’s six month ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Judged agreed with the plaintiffs who argued that the Obama Administration wrongfully concluded that one oil rig failure means others are also unsafe stating:

”The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster.  What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm.”

Our Founding Fathers understood the dangers of too much power being given to any branch of the government.  It was that foresight that allowed Judge Feldman to conclude that President Obama overstepped his authority when he issued the broad drilling moratorium.

Barack Obama, the purported expert on Constitutional Law, just got a lesson on the Constitution.

Posted in Constitution, Oil, Oil Spill, President Obama | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama Tramples on Constitution

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 18, 2010

One narrative crafted by the Leftist media during the presidential campaign was Obama’s high intelligence and expertise of Constitutional Law.  If indeed he has this expertise Obama has used it to trample on the Constitution, not to protect it, as he was sworn to do.

While the President should have spent the last 60 days focusing on stopping the oil leak and cleaning up the mess in the Gulf States, his most visible action has been to beat up on BP, i.e. looking for an “ass to kick”.  While BP deserves much blame and liability, this Country is suppose to be run by the rule of law, even when there seems to be clearly culpable parties such as BP.  But that is not good enough for a President who acts more like a king than a protector of the Constitution.

This week President Obama arm-twisted BP to put aside $20 billion as a down payment for its liabilities for the oil spill.  Forget for a moment that BP currently has less than half that amount in cash, under what authority did the President take the action?  Just as troubling, Obama put one of his political cronies, his Pay Czar, to manage this fund.  As we saw with the TARP money being used for items never approved by the Congress, these BP funds too will end up being spent on non-related projects and to pay off political cronies.

This is not the first time President Obama overstepped his Constitutional authorities:

  • Obama greatly expanded the use of Czars in order to place people at cabinet level positions while bypassing Congress’s Constitutional right of consent, even though both house were already controlled by his own Party.
  • Obama bailed out and then took control of General Motors.  In the forced bankruptcy he then changed the precedent of GM debtors, taking rights from some and giving them to others, specifically his union allies.  Then he summarily dismissed its chief executive.
  • Obama forced Chrysler into a merger.
  • Obama had the government take charge of executive compensation for any firm that received government bailout money.

Where does in the Constitution is the president given such powers?  The answer is nowhere!

There are those who will say that BP and GM debt holders got what’s coming to them.  That, however, is an argument that does not belong in a discussion of the rule of law or Constitutional rights.  A government that will trample on the rights of any of its citizens or corporation will ultimately trample on all of our rights.

Obama is taking this country down a slippery and dangerous slope.  And the folks on the Left are scared of Sarah Palin!

Posted in BP, Constitution, President Obama | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »