Here we go again. A tragic situation has turned into a politic event. I find it difficult to understand why it has taken so long to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and why the President feels all Americans should be punished by stopping all drilling offshore. As I pondered the President’s remarks on the BP oil spill yesterday, I decided to take a look at the time line of events since the explosion of the oil rig on April 20.
Detailed time lines can be found here and here. An animated map showing the locations of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico for each day since April 25, when the slick was first measured can be found here.
April 20: The Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and caught fire. Of the 126 people on board, 17 were injured and 11 are still missing (presumed dead).2
April 22: The Deepwater Horizon sank.
April 24: Officials discovered that the underwater “riser” structure used to connect the rig to the well was damaged and was leaking oil into the ocean. 2
April 26: Search and rescue operations ended with 11 people still unaccounted for. Officials also stated that it would take months to fix the leak even with the use of “sophisticated” underwater robots. 2
April 28: The United States Coast Guard considered setting fire to the oil in the hope of keeping some of it form reaching sensitive ecological area on the shores of the Gulf. 2
April 29: Officials announced that approximately 5,000 barrels of oil per day was leaking and not the originally estimated 1,000 barrels a day.
April 30: The oil slick was estimated to cover 6,000 square miles.
May 1: A small not for profit group, SkyTruth, analyzed satellite imagery and radar images to estimate that the oil was leaking much faster than the original estimates from the officials.
May 3: BP tried to install a shutoff valve on one o the three leaks underwater but was not successful. 2
May 5: BP stated that they were able to plug one of the leaks.
May 5: Plan to use a containment dome to stop one of the leaks failed.
May 11: Secretary Salazar announced that he will be restructuring the Minerals Managements Service in the hopes of establishing a separate and independent safety and environmental enforcement committee. 1
May12: Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu traveled to Houston to attend meetings with DOE and national lab staff, and others to discuss solutions to cap the leak and contain the spill.
May 14: Pres. Obama announced he had order Sec. Salazar to conduct a “top to bottom” review of the Minerals Management Service. 1
May 15: Sec. Napolitano and Sec. Salazar sent a letter to BP CEO stating the BP is accountable to the American Public for the complete costs of the cleanup of the spill as well as the economic losses related to the oil spill.
May 16: A riser insertion tube tool was inserted into the riser that was leaking. An estimated 2,000 barrels per day were captured by the tool.
May 17: A second drill rig started drilling a second well for relief.
May 19: Sec. Salazar signed an order leading to the fundamental restructuring of the Minerals Management Service. Energy and Environment Subcomittee Chairman Edward Markey asked that BP make public its live video feed of the leak point.
May 20: Sec. Napolitano announced that Coast Guard Adm. Allen would stay as the national incident commander for the Administration’s “continued, coordinated response to the spill” even after he stepped down from his position as Coast Guard Commandant. 1
May 22: Pres. Obama signed an order that established the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. This new commission will recommend how to prevent and mitigate the impact of any spills in the future. 1
May 23: A containment boom was deployed. Approximately 10.2 million gallons of water-oil mix had been recovered.
May 24: An estimated 65.6 miles of the Louisiana coast had been impacted by the oil. Secretary of Commerce Locke declared a disaster for both commercial and recreational fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 1
May 25: BP began the use of “top killing” the leak by filling the leaks with mud.
May 27: Pres. Obama announced that he is extending the moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits and canceled plans for Virginia while stopping drilling in Alaska.
After researching this tragic situation, I found it very frustrating that the government is punishing the rest of the country because the officials at BP did not do their jobs. By stopping current drilling and canceling plans for future leases, Pres. Obama is locking down our chances of economic recovery as well as opening us to being less secure as we buy more and more oil from other countries. Gov. Palin addressed these issued in her Facebook note on May 24:
The Obama administration claims that it “will not rest until we get this situation under control,” but in practice it’s evident that it must do more to stop a potential environmental disaster from happening. U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen probably summed it up best when he described the Obama Administration’s approach to this crisis as “keeping a close watch” while BP is tackling the problem – at the company’s own pace. While the Administration watches from the sidelines, the Gulf Coast states face some potential disaster. This raises serious questions. Should it really take nine whole days before the Administration asked the Department of Defense for help in deploying equipment needed for the extreme depth spill site? Why is Governor Jindal still waiting, 35 days later, for material needed to tackle the oil spill to protect the coast’s environment and for federal approval to build offshore sand barriers to protect his state’s coast line? Is it correct that the Coast Guard was initially unwilling to burn off the oil for fear of causing air pollution (which would have been far less harmful than the current water pollution)?These questions all require answers. In the meantime, let me make a constructive suggestion to help the White House out of its current impasse. They should reach out to the best oil and gas team in the nation and tap into its expertise. I know just the team: Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR team as Governor, I can vouch for their expertise and their integrity in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments.
Please visit Gov. Palin’s Facebook page to read her complete statements.
I do believe that Pres. Obama was successful in garnering bipartisan support, but I don’t think he got it in the way he was planning. Sen. Mark Begich spoke with Neil Cavuto on May 27, 2010. Sen. Begich (D-AK) talked adamantly about how Alaska is falling victim to the failures of BP. He criticized the president’s move to restrict drilling in the Arctic. You can watch the video here. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) also stated in an article by MSNBC that he believes the president’s annoucement might affect the Commonwealth financially.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) are also concerned with the economic fallout from Pres. Obama’s decision. Gov. McDonnell issued a statement yesterday:
The environmental disaster still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is unprecedented and devastating. The full attention of the federal government, as well as state and local governments and the private sector companies involved should appropriately be focused on permanently capping this leak and cleaning up the oil that has been spilled. The images from Louisiana and around the Gulf are stunning, and it will take significant time and resources to fully recover from this tragedy. The Commonwealth of Virginia is prepared to assist in those efforts, should our services be required or useful. I have previously called Governor Bobby Jindal to inform him of our willingness to help. He is doing excellent work in leading his state’s response.
Similarly, it will take significant time to fully investigate and evaluate what took place at the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20th and in the ensuing weeks. This accident must lead to necessary improvements in offshore exploration and drilling technology and safety, and the implementation of new safeguards and regulations moving forward. This process will make it difficult to move forward with the lease sale currently scheduled off the coast of Virginia in 2012. Thus, I understand the decision the President has made today. While I respect his decision, and the need for delay and investigation, I do not believe outright cancellation was the only alternative given the fact that this sale was not due to occur until two years from now, and actual drilling would likely take place years after that. The two-year environmental impact statement already underway would provide ample information about the wisdom of proceeding on to an actual lease sale.
Read Gov. McDonnell’s complete statement here.
Along the same lines, Congressman Wittman issued a strong statement:
My visit to the Gulf, and this week’s Natural Resources Committee hearings have made clear to me that the federal government must focus 100% on stopping the Gulf oil spill and cleaning up the impacted coastlines. It is increasingly frustrating that 38 days into this crisis, industry and the federal government have not been able to stop the spill.
The President’s announcement today to significantly curtail further offshore energy production, including canceling a planned lease sale off the coast of Virginia, while well intentioned may set a precedent that weakens our national security and increases our reliance on imported foreign energy.
It is appropriate to carefully review and ensure that offshore energy production is appropriately regulated and conducted in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner. However, it is also critical that we promote responsible American made energy, including oil, natural gas, nuclear, coal, and renewable energy.
Click here to visit Congressman Wittman’s website.
As a concerned citizen, I feel that our government has dropped the ball here. Instead of looking for scapegoats and placing blame, they need to listen to the people with experience to stop this current leak and to continue to drill in a responsible manner.
Gov. Palin was the top executive of the nation’s largest oil producing state and I will trust her when she says in her April 30, 2010 Facebook note:
All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.
On one final note, I give you a time line of a different sort. Below is the time line of posts to twitter by both Gov. Palin and the White House in the days after the explosion in the Gulf.
Tweets from @SarahPalinUSA
May 27 “I never say drill,baby,drill” Ahh, that’s much of the problem,Mr.President;Drill ANWR&unlock land for safe onshore devlpmnt/energy security
Passing The Buck Doesn’t “Plug the D#*! Hole” http://fb.me/AO2fPdT2
Deep offshore moratorium? Then correspondingly allow more onshore drilling, incl ANWR reserves. Domestic oil’s still required in US industry
Fri, President may put down the golf clubs & fundraiser fork 40 days into Gulf gusher to finally grasp this tragedy?Carville’s right on this
May 24 Big Oil: Learning from Alaska’s Experience http://fb.me/yvJYjTA1
May 23 Mr. Gibbs, Obama is the top recipient of BP PAC & individual money over the past 20 years. http://u.nu/5vpia Dispute these facts. 1:10 PM May 23rd via web
Mr. Gibbs, BP gave over $3.5mill to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with with the largest amount going to Obama http://u.nu/5vpia
May 13 Oil spill states:FIGHT that 150-yr-old,irrelevant maritime law thats used as claim to NOT apply remedy to innocent injured people;Alaska did
May 5 Gulf: learn from Alaska’s lesson w/foreign oil co’s: don’t naively trust- VERIFY. Livelihood affected by spill?Don’t sign away remedy rights
April 30 Domestic Drilling: Why We Can Still Believe http://fb.me/tgHWkTSB
Having worked/lived thru Exxon oil spill,my family&I understand Gulf residents’ fears.Our prayers r w/u.All industry efforts must b employed
April 25 Prayers for everyone impacted by the terrible oil rig disaster off the coast of Louisiana, especially families of the missing workers.
Tweets from @whitehouse
May 27 Starting soon: Obama speaks to the press on BP & more. http://wh.gov/live (or on your WH iPhone app as always)
On tap: 12:45 Obama speaks to the press at length on BP & other issues. http://wh.gov/live
May 26 Obama heading to Gulf Friday. Latest on Administration-wide response to BP oil spill here: http://bit.ly/9iGNNT
May 22 Weekly Address: Obama names co-chairs of independent oil spill commission, accountability for BP, govt http://bit.ly/9UzIna
May 14 Obama pledges ongoing full response on spill, calls BP/Halliburton finger-pointing “ridiculous spectacle” http://bit.ly/91UnJV
Starting momentarily: Obama gives an update on BP spill response efforts, watch live http://wh.gov/live
May 10 A busy day here, but the President has not taken his eye off the BP spill http://bit.ly/90NYXy
May 5 Detailed, thorough timeline from Day 1: The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the BP Oil Spill http://bit.ly/aYOIA3
May 4 “Holding BP Accountable”: Pfeiffer posts on ensuring BP pays, WH support for raising damages cap http://bit.ly/dctrx6
May 2 New photo gallery: The President in the Gulf Coast http://bit.ly/9Fwty3
Transcript: Gibbs press briefing on BP oil spill aboard AF1 en route to Louisiana with Obama http://bit.ly/bwRRgb
May 1 Gibbs: Update on response to the BP spill http://bit.ly/ahevm9
April 30 Gibbs post: The Response to the Oil Spill So Far http://tiny.cc/cv46n
There are many who feel Gov. Palin is unintelligent, has no experience, doesn’t know what she is talking about. Well, I disagree. If she were in the White House, she would have responded to this crisis on day one. As you can see by the twitter time line. The current administration was late by 7 days! You be the judge.