The Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak Criminal Disaster

From Leon Trotsky’s, 1939 pamphlet, The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International:
“All talk to the effect that historical conditions have not yet “ripened” for socialism is the product of ignorance or conscious deception. The objective prerequisites for the proletarian revolution have not only “ripened”; they have begun to get somewhat rotten. Without a socialist revolution, in the next historical period at that, a catastrophe threatens the whole culture of mankind.”

Predicting the coming catastrophe if the mode of production does not change, Rachel Carson wrote in The Sea Around Us:
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself. . .”
Despite Carson’s warnings and the beginnings of the environmental movement over 40 years ago, the destruction of the environment by capitalism and the capitalist mode of production has only escalated.

“The president has been a one-man disaster wreaking havoc on the world’s environment.” blackagendareport

“ President Obama cannot avoid political responsibility for the latest disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, or the future catastrophes that will inevitable flow from his acquiescence to Big Oil. “Liberals who ordinarily sneer at Sarah Palin and others who cry ‘Drill baby, drill,’ zipped their lips when Obama supported the same dangerous policy.” And, don’t believe it when Obama vows that BP will pay the full cost of cleanup. “Anyone who sends an invoice to British Petroleum will need divine intervention if they ever expect to collect.”

“Fossil fuels are quite literally killing this planet. The explosion of British Petroleum’s Deep Water Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed eleven workers on April 20th, and the resulting oil spill is now killing wildlife and the livelihoods of thousands of people. Every day 5,000 barrels of crude oil, equal to 200,000 gallons, gush into the water and spread like a cancer across the gulf. The first victims will be in Louisiana and the rest of the gulf coast states, but damage will not be confined to that region either. This spill, perhaps worse than the infamous 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, may spread to the east coast of the United States as well.”
— Margaret Kimberley, Freedom Rider: Obama’s Oil Slick

“As I watch the slow unfolding of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I am reminded of the children’s poem:

Humpty Dumpty Sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses,
And all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

“ This time, it is our technology that has had a great fall, and while the efforts to put it right may be valiant and well intentioned, we won’t be able to put it back together again.
“  …. With a spill of this magnitude and complexity, there is no such thing as an effective response. . . . .”  — Dr. Robert J. Brulle, Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science, Drexel University, 20 year veteran  of the Coast Guard. — 20 year veteran of the Coast Guard  “With a spill of this magnitude and complexity, there is no such thing as an effective response.”

One can judge a society by how it treats its own people and how the state apparatus responds to a natural disaster and/or a man-made disaster. In the recent period, we have had the disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent gentrification of New Orleans as a result of the manmade disaster caused by the federal government’s refusal, to repair the levees that were not even prepared to withstand the water when Hurricane Katrina hit the coast as a Type I Hurricane; the earthquake in Haiti, and the U.S, sent troops and guns, but Cuba sent doctors; the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion; and the Gulf Oil leak. In response  all of these examples, the United States has pathetically failed.

In every case we were able to recognize the greed of the United States ruling class, as it ignores it own laws, in the quest for more profits throughout the United States. It is traveling about the world like racist four horsemen of the apocalypse, spreading war, famine, pestilence and death throughout the world.

Before I start, it is my position that we should not be drilling for more oil. Our dependence on carbon fuel has led to the current environmental era of global warming and the destruction of a habitat for humanity.

The latest disaster, the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, exposes most of the crimes being made against humanity by the US ruling class. It exemplifies the decay of American society, as the federal government, British Petroleum, and the Media Monopoly, do their best to cover-up the facts and the true impact of the environmental damage that is being done. —Wayne Madsen, The Cover-up: BP’s Crude Politics and the Looming Environmental Mega-Disaster.

The 11 facts listed below, demonstrate the decadence, the lying and the deceit by the players involved is overwhelming.

Fact #1: BP, the White House and the media claim that the drilling was 18,000 feet below the ocean floor — a cover up. BP only had a permit to drill 18,000 feet below the ocean floor, but it drilled 25,000 ft.!

Fact #2: BP knew of the problems hours before blast.

On the day of the explosion, BP knew of problems well hours before it exploded. They told the Senate Energy and Commerce subcommittee that the well failed a key pressure test just hours before it exploded on April 20. The test indicated pressure was building up in the well, which could indicate oil or gas was seeping in and could lead to an explosion. Yet, in their quest 4for profits, they went ahead drilling knowingly putting the oil rig workers are risk of death. A few hours later 11 workers were killed and the Gulf faces an environmental catastrophe, due to their wanton disregard for human life — a felony! In a sane society they would be charged for murder on depraved indifference! — Steve Hargreaves, BP knew of problems hours before blast.

Fact #3: Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig explosion, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling.

“The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet.” — Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in Gulf.

Fact #4: It should be noted that President Barack Obama and members of Congress have taken the millions in campaign contributions from the oil and gas giant over the years. (Even though he campaigned for building alternative sources for energy, Obama honored his commitment to big oil’s campaign contributions and he went ahead and ordered more offshore drilling last month, adopting the slogan “drill baby drill.” (Obama biggest recipient of BP cash, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36783.html.) This was done despite the fact that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned the Department of Interior, last fall, that it was underestimating the threat of a dangerous spill. “But NOAA’s views were largely brushed aside as Obama went ahead and announced on March 31 that he would open vast swaths of American coastal waters to offshore drilling — a plan now very much in doubt . . .” — NOAA Warned Interior It Was Underestimating Threat Of Serious Spill

Fact #5: Proper controls were not in place. Paul Noel, Software Engineer (Contractor) for the US Army at Redstone, In Mother of all gushers could kill Earth’s oceans  stated 5 Controls that should have been in place:

  1. The rig that was drilling was not a US Flagged rig.* That means US Inspectorswere not allowed on board the rig to inspect it. As a matter of National Security under the GATT the USA has a right to demand US Only in various technology. The USA should never allow a foreign flag vessel to drill for oil in the US Economic Zone (200 mile limit). (It flies the flag of the Marshall Islands. The Republic of Marshall Islands. A republic  in the Pacific. “They have a ship registry which provides a useful flag of convenience. — List of Tax Havens.)
  2. Acoustic automated shut of devices should be required.
  3. I think US Federal Inspectors should have to be resident on and inspecting rigs like this 24/7.
  4. I think that the drilling should be required to do some smaller holes that deliberately miss the main deposit that test the structure before main drilling operations happen.
  5. Careful procedures should be in place to set up wells before they hit the main deposit. The well casing should have to be inserted well before the drill hits the deposit and it should have to be cemented in at least 2 weeks prior to finishing the hole down to the oil or gas. This is to give the cement time to set. The casing should have ridging to make this cement have a tight wedged grip on the miles of rock around it. This is required because the lift pressure on a pipe in this case could easily reach 20 million pounds of lift. This is an insane amount of up pressure. Even at 70,000 psi it would lift about 140 million pounds. (almost 64,000 long tons!).

Fact #6: “If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land. The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.” —  Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill. (This like having no fire hose in a high rise building or no fire department in a municipality.)

Fact #7: The “official sources state that the oil gusher river of oil was leaking 200,00 gallons a day. But the Christian Science Monitor in C’mon, how big is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, really? wrote:
“ Calculating the exact flow of crude out of the bent Deepwater Horizon oil rig “riser” pipe on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is difficult. But it’s now likely that the actual amount of the oil spill dwarfs the Coast Guard’s figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.

“ Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. (Or over a million gallons a day RS) If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.
“ As estimates of the spill increase, questions about the government’s honesty in assessing the spill are emerging. At the same time, pressure is building for the US to release worst-case scenario estimates so residents of the Gulf Coast can adequately prepare.”

Fact #8: The false claims that dispersants are cleaning up the spill. The main dispersant is Corexit, it is “a chemical banned in the UK because of its effects on limpets and other sea life.” Atlantic coast now under threat as current spreads Gulf oil slick
As Robert Brulle, a 20-year Coast Guard veteran and an affiliate professor of public health at Drexel University said:
“Chemically dispersing oil spills ‘solves the political problem of visible oil but not the environmental problem,’
“ (But) These dispersants “do not actually reduce the total amount of oil entering the environment,” as a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report on the subject [3] put it. In short: out of sight, out of mind. But not out of the body of marine life. Dispersants decrease the amount of oil that directly reaches the shores or the creatures that live on the shores or sea surface. But they increase the exposure to oil by creatures that live in the water or on the sea floor — like, say, shrimp or oysters.” — Out of Sight: BP’s dispersants are toxic — but not as toxic as dispersed oil.

Fact #9: This is the type of Oil spill that the United States was not prepared for  and what experts had feared. Below is the complete article Oil spill is the ‘bad one’ they feared. I doubt if it can be cleaned up.

Environmental effect compared to Category 5 hurricane
WASHINGTON – What makes an oil spill really bad? Most of the ingredients for it are now blending in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts tick off the essentials: A relentless flow of oil from under the sea; a type of crude that mixes easily with water; a resultant gooey mixture that is hard to burn and even harder to clean; water that’s home to vulnerable spawning grounds for new life; and a coastline with difficult-to-scrub marshlands.
Gulf Coast experts have always talked about “the potential for a bad one,” said Wes Tunnell, coastal ecology and oil spill expert at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “And this is the bad one. This is just a biggie that finally happened.”

Recipe for devastation

It hasn’t quite become a total disaster yet. But it’s hard to imagine it not being devastating, said Ed Overton, who heads a federal chemical hazard assessment team for oil spills. The Louisiana State University professor has been testing samples of the spilled crude.

He compared what’s brewing to another all-too-familiar Gulf Coast threat: “This has got all the characteristics of a Category 5 hurricane.”

If conditions don’t change quickly, devastation of the highest magnitude is headed for somewhere along the coast, said Overton, who works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

More than 200,000 gallons of oil a day are spewing from the blown-out well at the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded April 20 and sank two days later. Crews are using at least six remotely operated vehicles to try to shut off an underwater valve, but so far they’ve been unsuccessful. Meanwhile, high winds and waves are pushing oily water over the booms meant to contain it. Besides BP, a slew of federal and state agencies are scrambling to minimize the onslaught of damage.

This is relentless

Experts in oil spills have drills every few years to practice their response for spills of “national significance.” One of those practice runs took place just last month in Maine. The Gulf of Mexico leak is a “combination of all the bad things happening” and makes it far worse than any disaster imagined in the drills, said Nancy Kinner, director of the Coastal Response Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

“This is relentless,” Kinner said. Most Americans think of Exxon Valdez when it comes to spills. But the potential and likelihood here “is well beyond that,” said University of Rhode Island ocean engineering professor Malcolm Spaulding. Because the Deepwater Horizon well has not been capped and may flow for months more, it should be compared to a bigger more dangerous one from a well explosion in 1979, said Tunnell. That was Ixtoc 1, off the coast of Mexico. It was the worst peacetime oil spill on record.

The current spill “is kind of a worst-case scenario,” Tunnell said.

What makes this spill relentless and most similar to Ixtoc 1 is that it’s an active well that keeps flowing. The Exxon Valdez was a tanker with a limited supply of oil. The rig 40 miles from the Gulf Coast may leak for months before a relief well can be drilled to stop the flow, Kinner said.

And LSU’s Overton said: “I’m not very optimistic that they’ll be drilling a relief well in three months.”

Type of oil also a problem

The type of oil involved is also a major problem. While most of the oil drilled off Louisiana is a lighter crude, this isn’t. It’s a heavier blend because it comes from deep under the ocean surface, Overton said.

“If I had to pick a bad oil, I’d put this right up there. The only thing that’s not bad about this is that it doesn’t have a lot of sulfur in it and the high sulfur really smells bad.”

The first analysis of oil spill samples showed it contains asphalt-like substances that make a major sticky mess, he said. This is because the oil is older than most oil in the region and is very dense.

This oil also emulsifies well, Overton said. Emulsification is when oil and water mix thoroughly together, like a shampoo, which is mostly water, said Penn State engineering professor Anil Kulkarni.

It “makes a thick gooey chocolate mousse type of mix,” Kulkarni said.

And once it becomes that kind of mix, it no longer evaporates as quickly as regular oil, doesn’t rinse off as easily, can’t be eaten by oil-munching microbes as easily, and doesn’t burn as well, experts said.

That type of mixture essentially removes all the best oil clean-up weapons, Overton and others said.

Under better circumstances, with calmer winds and water, the oil might have a chance of rising without immediately emulsifying, but that’s not happening here, Kulkarni said. It’s pretty much mixed by the time it gets to the surface.

Winds and waves

The wind and waves are also pushing the oil directly toward some of the most sensitive coastal areas: the marshlands of Louisiana and surrounding states.

And there are three types of beaches: sandy, rocky and marshy. Sandy beaches, like those in Florida, are the easiest to clean, Overton said. By far the hardest are marshlands and that’s where the oil is heading first.

Marshes are so delicate that just trying to clean them causes damage, Kinner said. Once the oily mess penetrates, grasses must be cut. But it also penetrates the soil and that is extremely difficult to get out, she said.

The normal bacteria that eats oil needs oxygen to work, and in the soils of the marsh, there’s not enough oxygen for that process, she said.

It’s also the time of year in the Gulf of Mexico when fish spawn, plankton bloom and the delicate ecosystem is at a vulnerable stage.
Hurricane season is fast approaching in June and experts are sure the oil will still be flowing by then. Though it might seem counterintuitive, a big storm could help by dispersing and diluting the worst of the oil, Overton said.

‘A hurricane is Mother Nature’s vacuum cleaner,’ Overton said. Normally it cleans things up. But that’s not a solution with a continuing spill.’

Fact #10: Off Shore Drilling, contrary to Obama’s glib assertion, is not safe.

“BP platform was drilling for what they call deep oil. They go out where the ocean is about 5,000 feet deep and drill another 30,000 feet into the crust of the earth. This it right on the edge of what human technology can do. Well, this time they hit a pocket of oil at such high pressure that it burst all of their safety valves all the way up to the drilling rig and then caused the rig to explode and sink. Take a moment to grasp the import of that. The pressure behind this oil is so high that it destroyed the maximum effort of human science to contain it.” Mother of all gushers could kill Earth’s oceans

Fact #11: The oil industry, not the federal agency that regulates it, plays a crucial role in writing the safety and environmental rules for offshore drilling, a role that critics say reflects cozy ties between an industry and its regulators that need to be snapped. McClatchy Washington Bureau U.S. agency let oil industry write offshore drilling rules

Conclusion

British Petroleum and the United States do not have the capacity to drill so far below the surface in a safe manner, yet they did. Why? Are they all ‘bad’ people? It is not a question of them being bad, in that sad state of capitalist affairs that there is no other choice.
As we enter this capitalist crisis, which French Premier François Fillon described as “the edge of the abyss”, there is no New Deal solution for capitalism — it cannot longer afford The New Deal. To paraphrase Leon Trotsky, The New Deal despite its first period of pretentious resoluteness, represents but a special form of political perplexity, possible only in a country where the bourgeoisie succeeded in accumulating incalculable wealth. The present crisis, far from having run its full course, has already succeeded in showing that New Deal politics, pens no new exit from the economic blind alley.

2009 has been the largest increase in debt in history. While the rich were getting richer, the world’s peoples were getting poorer. To quote from Reflection by Fidel: A Science Fiction Story:
“at the end of 2008 the total debt of the United States –including that of the federal, state and local administrations, the businesses and families—amounted to 57 trillion dollars, that is, over 400% of its GDP, and that country’s budget deficit reached almost 13% of its GDP in fiscal year 2009, ” ….

“…. .The Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, who is not a disciple of Karl Marx but an honest catholic among others who are not willing to cooperate with the imperialism in Latin America, has recently said that ‘….we are risking our destruction and the devastation of life’s diversity.”‘
“‘ […] almost half of humanity is living today under the poverty line. The wealthiest 20% are consuming 82.49% of all of the riches on Earth while the poorest 20% are living on a tiny 1.6%.’ He also quotes the FAO as he warns that ‘…there will be in the upcoming years from 150 to 200 million climate refugees.’ And then he adds that ‘humanity is consuming today a 30% above the regenerating capacity…the planet is giving unmistakable signs that it can stand it no more.”

There is no longer any basis for support to the reformism and its ‘lesser evil’ politics.
Worldwide the capitalist class is socializing their debts — transferring their losses to the working class and the poor. Now they are in frenzy in their search for profits and are stripping the assets of working class and the poor. This is what happened historically in the Roman Empire on its way to debt bondage and serfdom.

Today, as the costs of doing business are increasing, we are witness to the falling are of profit. (Proving the Marxist Law of the falling rate of profit) In order to get a return on their investments, the ruling class has to lower wages and  cut social service, along regulations protecting humanity and the environment.

The resulting oil gusher from the Deepwater Horizon explosion, demonstrates the BP and all capitalist enterprise are in a deep crisis and are now act like sharks, in a feeding spree, in quest for a higher return on their investments. They are so driven in this quest, that they have drilled 25,000 below sea level, knowing that it was not safe for humanity or the environment. The damage to humanity and the environment are now considered collateral damage to the lust for profits.

Or as George Monbiot, environmental blogger for The Guardian,  put it: “Industrial civilization is trashing the environment.” — Money’s Hunger.

The Fig Leaf covering, its bowels, has fallen off of the image of capitalism and its true nature is now demostrated to the world.
In the present world, the rights of the capitalists to make a profit are in direct conflict with our basic rights. In this sense, the capitalist system has become a threat to humanity.

Jefferson’s words, that human rights are unalienable, mean that these rights can never be superseded. At all points of conflict the rights of humanity to survive must supersede the right of the few to make a profit. The right to a safe environment is an unalienable human right!

A New Society Is Required

In its death agony, United States Capitalism has been traveling around the world like racist spreading war, famine, pestilence, and death, as it lay claim to the majority of the world’s wealth and resources.

Since environmental illness and destruction are a global concern, it requires all of humanity to act collectively, in our overall interests for our survival as a species, to correct the problem and to remove the obstacle of capitalism. It requires a new society where humanity has social, economic, and political control over the entire environment. Such a society, a socialist society, is needed to ensure that all decisions affecting the environment are under the democratic control of humankind so that the production of goods will be done for the needs and survival of humanity instead of the production and the destruction of humanity and other species for profit.

With common ownership of the means of production, and common control and protection of all property and wealth, science and society will be in harmony with the ecosystem and humanity’s future.

With these goals we can begin to build a more effective environmental movement. As we continue to organize against capitalism and its destructive course, we can and will transform the world.

In the words of Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist: Never doubt that a “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

rsheppard@borblack.ca'

Ronald Sheppard

Roland Sheppard is a writer and activist and former BA of the Painters Union in San Francisco.

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