I have never been a Dick Cheney fan. So, with that as the backdrop, I must say that an article in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) seems to point the finger at the former vice president. When he was having his secret meetings with Big Oil companies, these companies asked for and got a pass on buying expensive devices that help prevent blows like the one off the coast of Louisiana.
Now, I don’t know if this is true or not. Over the next several days, newspapers and TV reporters will start doing their jobs and investigate the situation. TPM has a nice timeline of this disaster. What is clear is that we were told a story, a fairy tale. For the first two days, we were focused on the lost workers. Where were they? There was nothing about this being one of the largest spills in US history. There was nothing about a spill at all. Then, on day three or four, we heard there might be some leaking oil. Is this all one big cluster?
The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.
The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.
The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives. On Wednesday federal investigators said the disaster is now releasing 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf, up from original estimates of 1,000 barrels a day.
U.S. regulators don’t mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon, hired by oil giant BP PLC, didn’t have one. With the remote control, a crew can attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated. (more…)
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