A few photos from the "oil leak" in the Gulf of Mexico:
A few photos from the "oil leak" in the Gulf of Mexico:
A NYTimes report from Venice, Louisiana: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/01/us/01gulf.html?hp
supposedly the most technologically advanced muti-million dollar rig; practically a poster child for the offshore drilling crowd, touted for the safety practices of drilling, yet:
-they had a major problem anyway
- and no-fail safe solution for stemming the leak worked;
-they had no plan B
-the impact of the spill is going to ruin many lives
drill, baby, drill.
Disclaimer: I work for BP here in Alaska.
I think this rig explosion and massive oil spill demonstrates how risky oil exploration and development in areas like the deep waters of the Gulf can be. To my knowledge, BP is considered to have some of the industry's best technology for deep water drilling....but even so, catastrophic accidents can happen unless EVERYTHING works perfectly. There is such a small margin for error when you're drilling in waters a mile or more beneath the ocean's surface (and then down an additional 2-3 miles from the seabed). The most likely causes, from what I've read and heard from engineers here is a faulty cement casing job in the drillpipe and perhaps a faulty blowout preventer valve.
Personally, I think the whole idea of drilling in waters like this should be reconsidered....as we're seeing now, the environmental and economic consequences of failure can be far greater than many people have been willing to admit.
But if we're going to limit oil development and drilling to protect the environment (as I think we should) then we've all got to make tough choices about energy use and get serious about investing in alternative energy technologies as a nation. Frankly, I have little sympathy for my brother-in-law who has been quick to criticize BP for it's failures in this case and yet is determined to drive his F-350 diesel pickup (getting about 12-14 mpg) and tow his fifth wheel trailer across country all summer....not to mention his horse trailers etc etc. He derides the whole idea of driving more fuel efficient vehicles.
I just don't think we can have it both ways anymore.....cheap fuel, big trucks/RVs, a clean environment and an inhabitable planet.
I understand that Sarah Palin has tweeted today that she is praying for the people and communities in the Gulf that will be hit by this oil spill.
With all due respect Sarah <ack!>, I don't think "Pray, baby, pray" is a real solution to this problem.....no more than drill, baby, drill ever was.
Last edited by bensonga; 30th April 2010 at 12:58.
i am taking heart from the cape cod wind farm developments and of all things, the energy and initiative of Schwartzennegger!
It's so depressing for me to see and anticipate the impact of this spill on the estuaries and wildlife of Louisiana and the Gulf coast. While I've never been to that part of the Gulf, I have spent many weekends walking the beaches and bird watching in the Bolivar Flats Bird Sanctuary near Galveston, Texas in the mid-90s.
When you work for a big oil company like BP, you want to think and believe that the company really means what it says re it's commitment to safety, protection of the environment etc. I know that many, many of my co-workers here in Alaska take that commitment seriously, as do I. After the Texas City refinery explosion and the oil pipeline leaks here in Alaska, there is always a nagging doubt in the back of our minds.....is it real, or is it just PR.
You raise some interesting points, Ben. From what I know, also coming from the oil patch right here in the Gulf Coast area, BP has found itself beset with a couple issues. While it has a very strong PR and acclaimed program for both safety and environmental sensitivity, it has also gotten caught with some asset problems from acquisitions (they bought Amoco, which was the owner/operator of that Texas City refinery that had the explosion; they bought Arco, which was a major owner of a piece of the pipeline in Alaska). Those assets were starting to become marginal, meaning they needed a lot of investment and upgrading. BP was expanding into many areas, and maybe not putting as much into the older assets as they maybe needed to. Not trashing them, nor defending them, just pointing out that it takes huge amounts of capital to keep things in top shape, and that has a very poor effect on the share price....until something like this happens, and the impact is even worse financially. I used to do a lot of the risk analysis number crunching for many of these drilling programs, and while clean-up/remediation was always factored in, it gets low-balled, because of the false sense of belief, and record to some extent, that the technology works and will "probably" not fail.
The blowout preventer was built by a third party company (Cameron), and it was actually tested and passed a couple weeks prior to the explosion at that rig. What is interesting now, is that it cannot be manually triggered with the submersibles. That may be because it could have been damaged in the blowout itself, but it ain't doin' what it is 'sposed to be doin'. That is something that will be closely scrutinized for sure. If the cement job was poor (other very possible problem, especially in deep water, and that job was done by Halliburton!! I think the records show that 18 of the 39 rig blowouts in the Gulf since 1992 were caused by faulty cement jobs.), it will be the driller's fault (BP and Transocean, the rig owner). The worst part is that the "Plan B", which is actually mandated by Federal Law since the late 1980s or so for containment, clean-up and remediation, has never really been tested too often, simply because there have not been very many disasters like this one. (BTW, in a completely separate incident, another drilling rig tipped over in the shallow waters of a channel area today...operated by another company....no leaks known yet.) With oil price north of $80/bbl, drillers and pumpers are working flat out to get the stuff out of the ground and make the most money. We all know what happens in times like that.
Sorry to get too carried away on this, but having been pretty close to a lot of the inside stuff in all these companies while a consultant for several years, I can say there is plenty to worry about on so many fronts of this extremely technical and dangerous business in every sector from exploration through production to refining and petrochemicals. As long as we keep using the oil and plastics, we will constantly be creating more opportunities for these kinds of disasters. No way to practically build in enough safegaurds, unless the price of crude was so high and the penalty for accidents so punishing that nobody would dare lose a drop coming from the ground ;-)
Last edited by LJL; 30th April 2010 at 19:33.
I agree with much of what you've noted LJ. While I don't know the history of the Texas City refinery, I have worked for BP here in Alaska since the mid-80s and know that most of the Prudhoe infield pipelines that suffered severe corrosion problems (resulting in the leaks) were on the eastern side of the field formerly operated by ARCO (BP operated the western side of the field). Unfortunately, when BP became the sole operator of Prudhoe in 2000/2001, oil prices were very low and the pressures to keep costs down were intense, so I guess checking for pipeline corrosion on the formerly ARCO operated lines didn't get the attention it deserved (in hindsight). Since 2007, BP has spent alot of money on pipeline and facility renewal here at Prudhoe....despite the fact that production from Prudhoe is down to about 350 thousand bpd (from about 1.5 million bpd at it's peak). It's all downhill from here on out unfortunately.
The margin for error (whether human error or equipment failure) is so small when it comes to operations like those in the Gulf and the consequences of failure can be so great.....but it's really discouraging for those of us who work in the industry and care about doing it right to see catastrophic failures like this one.
Last edited by bensonga; 30th April 2010 at 20:59.
hopefully, an outcome of this incident will be to considerably raise the standard of belief for claims of safety for many industries.
funny how so many of the major disasters involve energy production: Valdez, coal mines, 3-mile island, (there is a still a huge underground oil spill in Queens, larger than the Valdez, that has been pushed under the rug) and always the technologies had claimed they were safe. In spite of this record, our government continues to sell out real safety for the fast big money.
To be fair, these problems are not unique to just our government. While I cannot speak to the nuclear or coal mining industries, the oil industry has some of the more stringently enforced safety and pollution regulations of any industry. As Ben mentioned, these sort of disasters are really tragic when they happen, and it does pain some of us that are in or came from the "oil patch", when we know what may have been under control and what may not have been. The actual record of oil spills and fines for clean-up for spills in the Gulf is public knowledge. Most of the spills are a few tens of barrels of oil, or maybe a few hundred, and are usually quickly contained and cleaned up. This sort of wellhead explosion and sinking of a rig that held the record for drilling the deepest wells in the Gulf, and by a company (BP) that have really been trying to improve many aspects of operations worldwide, is a huge black-eye for them, and folks will argue forever who or what may have been to blame. Fact is, this is a very dangerous, complex, and costly operation (finding and getting oil and gas from some of the deepest reaches on the planet right now). As long as our demand for it remains high, regardless where it comes from, these sorts of things are destined to happen, and we just need to figure ways to deal with things faster and more effectively. There will be plenty of blame assigned, but right now we have a major disaster to get under control that will impact the lives and businesses of many folks for a long time, as well as the environment. Hurricanes can and do cause as much or more disaster, and we have learned to deal with that as best we can so far. Big difference here is the impact of the oil will linger much longer than the tidal surges and wind damage from storms.
As has been noted, it is a constant balancing act among costs, risks, prices, demands, and the ever present human element, be it the worker, the manager, the inspector, the regulator or whomever else has a role to play. I am not trying to defend this situation, as it is a disaster, and maybe could have been prevented, averted or lessened had things been done differently, but they were not, and now we have to deal with it. Going forward, you can be assured there will be some new regulations and changes, some of which may be needed and good. If you look at the major oil well disaster that happened in the North Sea many years ago, it caused many new regulations to go into place and they are carefully watched. One was the requirement for dual blow-out preventers to be used on all drilling like this. That may have actually helped in the present BP case, but if there was something else wrong, such as the cementing of the wellhead, two, four, or ten BOP would not matter if the rupture came below where they would engage. Anyway, more information than folks probably care about, but this is a good example of just how much we put at risk in some of these industries to service our needs for other things.
Well said everyone.
A realistic assessment of the risks and consequences (which seems to have been down played by BP in it's environmental impact review before drilling this well) and very stringent environmental and safety regulations are critical for as long as we continue to produce and consume oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy etc. I'm always amazed at the folks who say we need less regulation and government, seemingly without regard to the consequences if industries like these were lightly regulated. I work extensively with the HSE (Health, Safety and Enviroment) folks at BP up here in Alaska and I do think they take their responsibilities seriously. The phrase often used is that complying with these regulations is the foundation for our "license to operate". Without that, no amount of oil and gas development is (or should be) possible.
To me, this really reinforces the paramount importance of conservation and using energy as if it was the most valuable commodity we have....that's why personally, I'm in favor of higher energy taxes (including a carbon tax). Seems the most effective way to convince people of the importance of anything (and hence encourage them to use it more wisely) is to make it more expensive. The additional energy taxes could go a long way towards funding alternative energy developments so we can reduce our dependence on carbon based fuels.
Sorry....getting off topic.
Well said, Gary, and please accept my apologies for calling you "Ben" a couple times....your handle, "bensonga" just keeps fooling this old fool ;-)
Without delving more into the political ramifications, this entire energy conservation issue spreads across nearly everything. Using carbon fuels more efficiently might be easier if we had vehicles that would perform that way, and even if the types of carbon fuels were changed. For example, a barrel of crude oil can provide 20% more diesel fuel than gasoline, and some of the new super efficient clean diesel engines can produce an added 20-40% greater efficiency, more torque, lower maintenance, etc., than gasoline engines right now, but our collective "headset" about diesel is that it is for trucks, it is dirty, etc......all older world thinking that continues to spill into today's laws and stuff. Not a solution, but surely a way to greater efficiency, at least to help us get further along the path to newer technologies. So, if we should have a carbon tax to encourage us to use less, we also need greater efficiencies and transportation option to support that so folks are not punished more than is fair. (Gary, your brother may have way too many and inefficient toys, but most of those could be made even more practical....but there is no regulation or incentive for anybody to move in that direction...yet there is a lot of the "don't tread on my choices" bull puckey. Most of our resources are finite, but we have long enjoyed their abundance with little regard to their true costs and risks.
Let's hope lots of folks hear the "wake-up" call from all of this.
First quarter profits for BP: $6.65 Billion. Profits after expenses.
Spend baby spend.
There is no doubt that BP can afford to spend $$$ on safety and environmental compliance etc. At $80 bbl....they've got the money. I just wonder if the technology and operational process/procedures are up to the task of 100% error free operations in places like the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I don't know if any amount of money spent can guarantee that an explosion and oil spill like this will never happen again.
Last edited by bensonga; 1st May 2010 at 13:00.
The sooner we wake up and realize our lifestyle is screwing the planet, the better.
I owned a 2002 VW Jetta turbo diesel sedan for about 4 years and really appreciated the 40+ mpg and the abundance of torque. Unfortunately, I had so many electrical problems with that car I finally gave up and went back to a Honda. The newest clean diesel cars are much quieter than the 2002 model I owned and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one, if I could count on the rest of the car being as reliable as the engine......and some of the new super efficient clean diesel engines can produce an added 20-40% greater efficiency, more torque, lower maintenance, etc., than gasoline engines right now, but our collective "headset" about diesel is that it is for trucks, it is dirty, etc......all older world thinking that continues to spill into today's laws and stuff.
Agreed, a real wake-up call...both for the oil companies who have thought their advanced technologies and operational practices precluded accidents like this from happening again, the citizens and governments who need to support and require more oversight and regulations and every one of us as energy consumers who need to use less carbon based forms of energy (whether produced here in America or overseas) so we don't continue degrading the environment and atmosphere.Let's hope lots of folks hear the "wake-up" call from all of this.
A transition to a more sustainable form of energy isn't going to be quick, easy or cheap but we've got to do it. Is there the political will in this country or will we continue taking the easy road until it's too late? I wish I was more optimistic about that.....but the politics don't look good. Maybe this event will help change that outlook.
In the meantime, I think this article paints a pretty good picture of the reality of our current situation. We have got to find ways to reduce the demand for oil.
Last edited by bensonga; 1st May 2010 at 22:28.
Last edited by bensonga; 2nd May 2010 at 09:55.
Within BP, "Beyond Petroleum" was all about the company's commitment to new investments in solar, wind and bio-fuels and to being the first major oil company that acknowledged global warming is caused by CO2 emissions from burning carbon fuels (unlike ExxonMobil). BP was also one of the first oil companies to support cap and trade regulations.
I had never thought of BP's re-branding as "Beyond Petroleum" in the way Lisa describes it here....but knowing the psyche of the American consumer, this makes perfect sense in hindsight (which I'm sure the marketing folks had already figured out). We want to keep on keeping on, without the guilt, let alone actually making any changes or sacrifices in our lifestyle.
Clearly....that is not enough. As Lisa says, the real problem with oil spills is the oil (and by implication, our insatiable demand for it).
Last edited by bensonga; 2nd May 2010 at 11:35.
It's long past time for the government to get serious about regulating industry practices again.
Whether it's the oil industry, the financial industry or whomever, I think they've proven themselves incapable of protecting the interests of general public, when big profits are at stake.
Not looking to make this any more political that it is already, but I agree with your comments on a lot of fronts. The entire concept of deregulation was assuming that the markets would correct things naturally. Ain't gonna happen. Then the argument about how costly it is for government agencies to staff up enough to do the proper job, so let the industries, who supposedly know more plus all the ins and outs, do it with just government oversight. Well, that is not working either. Then there is the false belief that industries have the interest of the general public in mind. Nonsense. They answer only to shareholders, and when they fail to show sufficient profits, shareholders will move on to something/somebody else. It should be in the interest of companies within an industry to be stewards to both the shareholders AND the rest of the environment in which they are being permitted to operate. However, reality is company and profits first, end of story. Not even a second place thing without being forced by regulations, and held accountable by serious oversight. We do not need a total government control, as one side of the extreme argument goes, but where the resources, livelihoods, health and other critical things of millions are concerned, and environmental impact can be devastating (this applies to energy and financial stuff alike), we do need a stronger hand regulating things, and not just paying lip service, being bought off, or litigated to diminishing returns.
Most folks do not really want more government intervention on some things like this until it really messes with their lives and such. Well, we are at that point once again. We cannot trust any industry to practice self-regulation and policing. It just does not work without there being some independent oversight that also has some "teeth" with respect to penalties for breeching regs. BP may not have really done anything "wrong" with respect to the economics and plans it built for approval of the project. At issue is just how lax those plans may be to close scrutiny before approval. I am not against harvesting the resources we may need, but we must do it, and a lot of other things much more safely, environmentally securely, and if it costs more, so be it, or find those other energy sources that will cause less damage.
Just my thoughts....
100% agreement from me LJ. I don't want to see a government takeover of private industry either.....I just want them regulated so that the public interests are protected.
Depending on how bad the environmental and economic consequences of this spill ultimately become, there is simply no amount of money that BP could pay to truly make people and the environment whole again....so it's better to do everything possible on the front end to avoid these problems before they happen. And sometimes, the only "adult in the house" is the government (when it is truly functioning to protect the public interest).
Methane hydrates.....there's been alot of talk here about their possible role in what caused the intial explosion. Another, perhaps underappreciated danger/risk of drilling in these environments.
Last edited by bensonga; 7th May 2010 at 18:16.
We've got to give these rig workers alot of credit for doing a very dangerous job....as with the coal miners etc.
Hard to appreciate that when we just pull up to the local pump for gas or flip the swith for electricity from a coal fired power plant.....it's all so far removed from most of our lives.
With regards to govt. oversight, I don't have faith in it, especially when they do things like this:
The government helped enable the Katrina disaster by not spending money allocated to beefing up levies. And look how they are bungling things with regards to terror...it appears luck does a better job.
To put things in perspective:
The 1979 blow out remains the largest ever. Why isn't anyone talking about it since there must have been measurable impact of what had happened? This isn't new at all.
As to Robert's side addendum- untrue. This is the first time in the post WW II era, the US actually are pursuing a foreign policy that is consistent with they say (still excludes the oil rich Arab countries). The long running Arab-Israeli conflict has little to do with the US interests than what happens in the Af-Pak region.
Vivek, my comment was referring to government incompetence preventing terror attacks. Alllowing someone on the terror watch list to board a plane and relying on luck and civilians to prevent an explosion; ignoring all the obvious warning signs regarding the Ft Hood terrorist; and were it not for the luck of miswiring, the Times Square bomb attempt. The govt has given me no reason to have confidence in their abilities; more regulations with regards to oil would not do so, either. The free pass thru regulations in the Gulf? Amazing. That's the nature of bureaucracy. I have more confidence in private industry, even BP. There is no way to regulate human error.
one might say that since the gov pays so poorly, the more talented will move to industry. industry however is not motivated to self regulate, in fact the opposite as industry will spend huge amounts to lobby against regs and with more money and more talent...how we get what we have now.
the role of gov should be to define and enforce the regs; who else? i don't think it is a question of human error, more of acceptable risk and proper safeguards.
with respect to government incompetence preventing terror attacks, what do you suggest, Halliburton?
i'm no fan of government, but ultimately there can be no other agency to do it. the problem is really the first line of my post.
Have you seen how much federal employees are paid compared to private industry? Poorly paid govt employees are a myth: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...eral-pay_N.htm Look at the benefit differential, too.
Why would BP or any other oil company not be self-motivated to prevent such an event?
The government has proven it isn't enforcing existing regulations. Not sure what more regulations are going to do...
Acceptable risk and proper safeguards. It appears everyone from the government to BP thought that standard was met.
With respect to the govt and terror, first, we need a govt that actually calls terror terror, and stops bending to political correctness. Second, stop taking credit that the 'system worked' when it's clear it did not...but that is a whole 'nother discussion.
"Why would BP or any other oil company not be self-motivated to prevent such an event?"
BP certainly was motivated to prevent such an event. The questions is the lengths and expense they were willing to go to do so. I imagine they'd calculated the cost of prevention, and the cost and likelihood of accidents; and opted for what seemed to be lower (and more cost effective for BP.)
When Ford was designing the Pinto, they calculated that it was better (for Ford) to save the ten dollars a car it would have cost to make a gas tank fire less likely to kill the car's occupants (to keep the car's price below $2000) than it would be to pay damages when people in the cars were burned. Later, after people died, memos on the decision leaked, and Ford paid millions in damages.
BP may well pay out more in damages than it would have cost to be safer, but, as in the Pinto case, the damages won't make the people injured by the accident whole.
Whether cost cutting occurred in exchange for greater risk is speculation.
More Government regulation at greater expense would not guarantee 100% safety either, unfortunately. Even existing regulations were waived...
My sympathies to the families of those BP employees that perished.
Why were regulations waived? Are you suggesting that BP wanted more safety but the regulators didn't? I don't think the "lobbyists" and government officials involved in deciding the right level of safety for the people of the Gulf are likely to tell us exactly what was involved in their decision making; in pressed, they'd likely invoke their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
If there are rules and regulations and enforcement of them to the letter then the lobbyists churn out media propaganda like "anti business". The FDA is toothless. The EPA was obliterated several years ago. The list is endless.
Sadly, it will take more disasters and time to overcome all this.
Lax enforcement of existing regulations by government agencies or refusal to pass laws and regulations in the first place (by congress and/or an administration) does not mean government can't do the job.....it indicates a government that is unwilling to do the job of protecting the public interest. The solution to bad government isn't less government or no government, it's good government.
No food safety regulations or enforcement of regulations? No thanks.
No airline safety regulations or enforcement of regulations? No thanks.
The list goes on and on......things we take for granted until something like this happens. I don't think the risks of accidents like this can be completely eliminated....but they should be reduced to the minimum, especially when concerns were raised for the past 10 years by technical experts in the MMS about a failure of this very type.
The fact that decision makers in the MMS (often political appointees) refused to enforce the regulations, issued waviers, succumbed to lobbying pressure or came into the job thinking government should leave it to industry to regulate itself (as was often the case with Bush appointees) is not evidence that government can't regulate to protect the public interest.
It is evidence of decision makers in a government agency putting the oil industry's interests ahead of the public interest.
Last edited by bensonga; 8th May 2010 at 09:00.
One suggestion as to why the government had become lax is here: http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/20...g_galston.aspx
Of course, it's impossible to say what really happened, given the tendency of government to cover up what it's doing in real time, let alone what it did in the past that appears to have been a mistake. Whoever decides our offshore drilling policies, you can be sure it isn't a Louisiana oysterman or crabber.
As I said, I have no faith in government regulators, or government enforcing existing laws. Just look at the immigration mess. There is evidence of corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement at all levels. Heaven help us when they finish the health care takeover...
Monza, take a quick sip of that "tea" and tell us how you really feel.
Your right-wing nonsense is tiresome, trite, and old. Please, take a dose of reality, okay?
Last edited by Rick Waldroup; 8th May 2010 at 15:22.
Thanks Rick for your friendly post. My posts above are apolitical; they simply state (giving a few examples, even one directly related to the Gulf) how govt has a pretty poor track record. This has nothing to do with politics, as govt incompetence is neither left nor right-- it just is. I could give many more examples...but as there are plenty that are well-known, there is no need. It is pretty simple -- based on that poor record, I don't have confidence that more regulation would have prevented this event.
That said, this is an open topic forum and anyone can post their opinion.
I understand what you are saying Robert and in some respects, I agree. There are far too many recent cases in which "government" (a term which covers alot of territory) has performed poorly. Where I differ from your view is that instead of losing "faith" that government can ever do anything right, I try to understand what has caused the failure and seek ways to improve it's performance and responsiveness (for example, by reducing the influence of money in our political system). Unlike you, I don't think government is inherently incapable of doing performing well, just as I don't think private industry is incapable of performing it's functions in a responsible way.
I did lose confidence in our government under the Bush/Cheney administration and Republican congress because in my view, they weren't making any effort to do some of the things that I think our government should be doing (such as curbing the worst excesses of private industry and holding them to standards of performance which protect the environment and other public interests).
Bottom line.....if there was NO government regulation of any business activity, I think we would be much, much worse off than we currently are with an imperfect government regulating business activity. I get the sense that you think we'd be just fine. If that's correct, then we have a fundamental difference of world view that no amount of factual evidence either way can resolve. Whereas you have no "faith" in government, for me, faith isn't even part of the equation (I leave that to religious discussions)....it's a question of how to improve the government we have, in conjunction with private industry.
Last edited by bensonga; 8th May 2010 at 19:17.
As a BP employee, it's very hard to read a story like this, especially since I do think the company has been making efforts in recent years to improve the safety of it's operations and change the corporate culture....at least, on the surface.
For much of the 1990s the corporate focus was on cutting costs in an effort to improve profitability and ROI, in competition with Exxon and Shell.
If the finger has to be pointed at a "culprit" then we all should consider pointing it at ourselves first.
What government exists, exists because we put them there. Perhaps it all has become so complex and huge, that we can't grasp it anymore. Yes, if we don't like it we can throw the dump switch every so many years ... but is that enough anymore? Perhaps if more people exerted more pressure in the interim, government would be more responsive. But people don't ... they leave it to the next guy ... or bitch about it on the internet to a bunch of other people that also do nothing. The biggest "Political Parties" in the USA are the "Don't Have A Clue Party" ... followed closely by the "Indifferent Party" ... followed by the "Complacent Party". If we act and think like Lemmings, then don't be surprised when we all go over the edge of the cliff as a group ... and that "left wing" or "right wing" won't help you fly either.
Corporations like BP are in it for the money. If they could drill all over Yosemite, and no one cared except a few hippy tree huggers, they would. We are the ones who are gluttons for fossil fuels ... in our cars, and all the plastics we consume, etc.. We want everything to be hunkie-dorie, but won't give up our freedom to consume willy-nilly ... once again, "leave it to the next guy" is the watch word. All most people do in the US is whine about what's happening, and then fire up their Escalade to drive across the street.
your comments are spot on and stated with admirable reserve you would have my vote.
I agree with your post for the most part, Gary, although there are so many examples of underperformance with regards to government (at levels from local to federal, regardless of which party is in power) that it is very difficult not to be cynical and jaded. Maybe if there were a better track record of performance I would have a different opinion. There simply is not one single answer called 'government regulation' to every problem.
We spend huge amounts of money on counter terrorism managing 'watch lists' and then simply 'watch' people on those lists board planes...this happened with both the Christmas Day bomber, and the Times Square bomber. It's maddening.
In private enterprise, when management fails, they get fired. In government, it's the same old, same old: claim the 'system worked' in Orwellian fashion.
That said, note that I didn't say that government is 'inherently incapable' what I said was that I doubt that any further regulation would have prevented this accident.
Do we need government regulations? Of course. But let's be realistic, does anyone really think that a government bureaucrat regulator has any technical knowledge of deep Gulf drilling?
And for even more heartache, how about this?
WASHINGTON — Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, 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.
It all comes down to this: how does one go about improving the performance of government bureaucrats? It's appears to be hard enough just to get them to enforce regulations that are already in place. The solution, if there is one, doesn't appear to be related to the ballot box.
First off, I'd like to say that while many of us have strong opinions either way on these topics, I think most of us have done a pretty good job of keeping the discussion on this thread civil and avoided making personal attacks. I'm thankful for that and always try (not always successfully) to understand other people's points of view. I really do think it's important for us as citizens to have informed discussions with each other about the role of government etc.....we've all got a huge stake in what happens either way. I'm also happy that there is a place on this forum where we can have discussions like this with people we've gotten to know thru our shared interest in photography.
The reason the bomber was caught before the plane departed is that each airline is required to transmit it's final boarding manifest to the TSA before the plane departs. The airline did that and an observant TSA government employee doing his/her job well, spotted the guy's name on the manifest and told the airline to hold the plane. That must have happened very quickly, because I wouldn't think the final boarding manifest is complete until just before an airplane leaves the gate.
While not everything went perfectly in this case (ie the FBI lost track of him for 3 hours when he learned thru media reports that they were on his trail).....does it ever? Even in Jack Bauer's world, sometimes things go wrong. From my perspective, it's pretty amazing that within 52 hours our government had figured out who he was and arrested him. I think both the NYPD, the FBI and all of the people working on this case deserve alot of credit for doing a good job.....not to mention the NYC street vendor who spotted the smoking vehicle and alerted the police in the first place.
Last edited by bensonga; 9th May 2010 at 11:27.
Yes, the after-the-fact work was done well. It's the before-the-fact that is of concern.
"Sources tell CBS News that would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad appeared on a Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list – Traveler Enforcement Compliance System (TECS) – between 1999 and 2008 because he brought approximately $80,000 cash or cash instruments into the United States."
It's reported he made at least a dozen return trips to Pakistan since 99.
And yet, he was given US citizenship...last year!
Doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does it?
Meanwhile millions of Americans waste hours every day at airports...supposedly for safety reasons...
It's just a matter of time before the good luck becomes bad.