Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Power The Courts Hardware Politics

Louisiana Federal Judge Blocks Drilling Moratorium 691

Posted by kdawson
from the spill-baby-spill dept.
eldavojohn writes "In the ongoing BP debacle, the Obama administration imposed a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling and a halt to 33 exploratory wells going into the Gulf of Mexico. Now a federal judge (in New Orleans, no less) is unsatisfied with the reasons for this and stated, 'An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.' The state's governor agrees on the grounds that blocking drilling will cost the state thousands of lucrative jobs." The government quickly vowed to appeal, pointing out that a moratorium on 33 wells is unlikely to have a devastating impact in a region hosting 3,600 active wells. And reader thomst adds this insight on the judge involved in the case: "Yahoo's Newsroom is reporting that the judge who overturned the drilling moratorium holds stock in drilling companies. You can view his financial disclosure forms listing his stock holdings online at Judicial Watch (PDF)."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Louisiana Federal Judge Blocks Drilling Moratorium

Comments Filter:
  • So? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:42PM (#32657972) Journal

    Yahoo's Newsroom is reporting that the judge who overturned the drilling moratorium holds stock in drilling companies.

    No conflict of interest here, no sir...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Knara (9377)

      Have a 401k or any investment vehicle that has DJIA or S&P400 indexes in it? Then you do, as well.

      I have no problem with this ruling, seeing as the agency concerned has no evidence to show that what happened with the problematic rig is likely to happen, with any sort of likelihood, on any other rig.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymusing (1450747) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:48PM (#32658072)

        The idea was to hit the "pause" button on 33 new wells while we figure out why the new-well drilling at Deepwater went so wrong.

        There are still 3300+ wells operating in the Gulf which were unaffected by the moratorium.

        Do you think that six months of wait on 1/100th of the Gulf wells will destroy the economy?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It could be devastating to the small contingent of workers who build and supply parts for new rigs/wells/ships/etc

          • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by the_other_one (178565) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:05PM (#32658286) Homepage
            They should all be compensated by BP.
        • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Talderas (1212466) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:55PM (#32658158)

          Another article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-06-22/u-s-deepwater-oil-drilling-ban-lifted-today-by-new-orleans-federal-judge.html [bloomberg.com] provides a little more insight.

          They also said regulators failed to tell Obama that all active deepwater rigs passed an immediate re-inspection after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, with only two rigs reporting minor violations and the rest getting approval to continue operations.

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sehryan (412731) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:08PM (#32658334)

            Were these the same regulators that were "inspecting" Deepwater Horizon?

          • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:09PM (#32658342)
            They also said regulators failed to tell Obama that all active deepwater rigs passed an immediate re-inspection after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, with only two rigs reporting minor violations and the rest getting approval to continue operations.

            Would those inspections be conducted by the MMS whose head was recently kicked out when it was discovered just how much they were in bed with the industry?
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

          by hierofalcon (1233282) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:55PM (#32658948)

          This concern isn't about producing wells. It is about drilling rigs.

          It was recently reported in various news channels that Anadarko was trying to break a contract with a drilling operator in the gulf because Anadarko couldn't use their contracted drilling equipment due to the moratorium. The owner of the equipment replied they could use it elsewhere. The drilling costs IIRC were on the order of $400,000/day. Other deep water drilling day rates I've seen go up to $800,000/day.

          If the moratorium continues, the drilling rigs will move where they can be utilized, and they'll stay there while there is work. Most won't just sit around and wait the moratorium out and hope it isn't extended. There are limited numbers of deep water drilling rigs, they take time to build, and nobody wants to build replacement rigs to meet a spot shortage because they've all moved to other areas due to this. So there could be a longer term impact even if the moratorium does end in 6 months.

          Likewise, the exploration companies are going to pick places to explore for oil based on the likelihood of being able to produce from them, and the moratorium also puts that at risk. There are many variables in that equation that are continually reviewed, but politics in all its forms factors in heavily.

          Take a nominal production rate from the Deepwater Horizon experience (as it'll be replaced ASAP), multiply it by 365 and then by 33+. That's a lot of barrels of oil and cubic feet of gas produced locally each year that we don't have to depend on less stable countries for. Regardless of your opinions on alternative forms of energy for cars, we're going to be dependent on oil for many years to come. Why shut off a good source?

          Everybody learned something from this disaster, including the major oil companies. Nobody wants to repeat it, although at some point one probably will. If the government doesn't like the consequences, maybe they should open up more shallow water tracts in other areas of the country where problems can be fixed more easily when things go wrong.

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:21PM (#32659206)

            If the moratorium continues, the drilling rigs will move where they can be utilized, and they'll stay there while there is work. Most won't just sit around and wait the moratorium out and hope it isn't extended. There are limited numbers of deep water drilling rigs, they take time to build, and nobody wants to build replacement rigs to meet a spot shortage because they've all moved to other areas due to this. So there could be a longer term impact even if the moratorium does end in 6 months.

            So they are saying "if you don't let me play I'm going to take my toys and go home"?

            Either there's oil (money) to be found in the gulf or there's not. If there is, then there will be companies ready to drill when the moratorium is lifted. Maybe it will take them 6 months to relocate equipment there, but they'll definitely be back.

            Delaying a few dozen exploratory wells for a year while they investigate this accident and have a better idea of the cause *and* have time to enact new rules to prevent the same scenario from recurring doesn't seem like a bad course of action.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by hierofalcon (1233282)

              Not at all. They're saying these toys are costing a bunch of money every day setting on the shelf when they could be drilling producing wells in my field over here, so let's go. Home moves and drilling holes to completion takes a finite amount of time.

              There is money to be made in the gulf, but it isn't the only place to play. There is money to be made all over. I agree they'll definitely return assuming the political climate doesn't disintegrate. At this point that is an open question that nobody knows the

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Barrinmw (1791848) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:39PM (#32659382)
          What I don't understand is, when I worked in the navy in a nuclear power plant, all the fail safes were designed around the worst imaginable thing going wrong and preventing that from causing core damage. Why the hell are any deep sea oil rigs being allowed to continue operating when we now know for a fact that they have no way to reliably stop their worst case scenario? It just seems illogical to me that they would risk what just happened again or even worse?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Chowderbags (847952)
            Money. It costs lots of money to have safety. The Navy doesn't need to make money, so it does things right. The oil companies want to make money, so they cut corners and play with the actuarial tables until the occasional spill just becomes the cost of doing business. Of course, since they've lobbied to have damages from oil spills capped to a pittance and they've controlled the people in charge of inspecting what safety they had, there was very little reason to be extra safe. That seems like the kind of th
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cjb658 (1235986)

          Do you think that six months of wait on 1/100th of the Gulf wells will destroy the economy?

          It shouldn't, but I'm sure they'll use that as an excuse to jack up the price of gas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic (1469267)

        Have a 401k or any investment vehicle that has DJIA or S&P400 indexes in it? Then you do, as well.

        The honorable gyrogeerloose is not actually presiding over those hearings, so it's not hypocrisy to point out that a conflict of interest exists there, if that's your aim.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CraftyJack (1031736) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:59PM (#32658214)

        I have no problem with this ruling, seeing as the agency concerned has no evidence to show that what happened with the problematic rig is likely to happen, with any sort of likelihood, on any other rig.

        This is the opposite of insightful.
        The event on the problematic rig was highly unlikely to happen, but when it did happen there was no way to recover. It's still leaking now - two months later. Claiming that lightning won't strike twice is not an intelligent response.

        • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rm999 (775449) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:17PM (#32658452)

          Deepwater Horizon was a series of mistakes with known causes, not a tail-end probabilistic event. Future deep-water drilling will likely be more carefully regulated.
           

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        I have no problem with this ruling, seeing as the agency concerned has no evidence to show that what happened with the problematic rig is likely to happen, with any sort of likelihood, on any other rig.

        Too right. And what happened on that rig was an accident, if by accident you mean "an easily foreseeable result of poor safety standards and corner-cutting that prioritized saving money over safety," what most people would call an inevitability.

        Honestly, I am completely amazed at the mental gymnastics on display here. Usually you don't get failures this stark and dramatic outside of wars. We'd been assured these wells were safe, that everything was being handled to the highest standards, and then something

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      I'd also be interested in where he lives. Nowhere near the coast or on a part of the coast that is already covered in tar, and he wants others to feel the petroleum love?

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Stradivarius (7490) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:24PM (#32658530)

        Actually it's the folks on the Gulf coast who are most concerned about the moratorium, because they're the folks who make their living supplying the rigs that were put under the moratorium. A moratorium could put them, their friends, and their neighbors out of work.

        All at a time when lots of people (fishermen etc) are already out of work from the spill, and when the unemployment rate before the spill was already high.

        This isn't a case of people who don't care. They do, because it's their homeland getting polluted with oil. But they're worried about supporting their families too.

        • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Javagator (679604) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:59PM (#32659572)
          The local people who work for the oil companies are only a small fraction of the people who work in the tourist industry and fishing industry that are being destroyed by this oil spill. Not to mention the environmental damage and loss in quality of life.
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @07:39PM (#32659924) Homepage

          Actually it's the folks on the Gulf coast who are most concerned about the moratorium, because they're the folks who make their living supplying the rigs that were put under the moratorium.

          Oh, I don't know. I'm from the Gulf Coast originally, and everyone I know there is spitting mad about the spill, and would be perfectly happy to see the rigs gone, lest this get worse, or happen again, and the various malefactors severely punished. I don't know anyone opposed to the moratorium. And if oil rig workers would lose their jobs as a result, why not let them get jobs cleaning up the spill, just like the fishermen are having to do.

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @10:57PM (#32661150)

            would be perfectly happy to see the rigs gone, lest this get worse, or happen again

            Honest question: Why do people seem to accept this argument as valid for oil rigs, but using Chernobyl as a reason against nuclear is (generally, and rightfully) rejected as irrelevant and a piss poor argument?

            • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @02:33AM (#32662106)

              Because after Chernobyl the design of still operating RBMK reactors (and in fact all reactors) was improved to the point that a repeat disaster should be near-impossible.

              But looking at the oil spill, we had the same problems in 1979 off the Gulf of Mexico. Since then the capability to respond to this type of problem hasn't improved. The pre-revised BP document shows they knew this. Same story in Alaska - oil pipelines are not being well maintained. That's a repeat of 1979 too.

              Nuclear industry has learned their lesson and moved on. Oil industry is still crossing their fingers that risk/reward will fall in their favor.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by thegarbz (1787294)
              Let me say that if 24 years from now (or longer) there is another deep sea drilling rig incident in the US Gulf Coast I will invite you out to dinner and formally apologise for being wrong with what I'm about to say.

              would be perfectly happy to see the rigs gone, lest this get worse, or happen again

              Honest question: Why do people seem to accept this argument as valid for oil rigs, but using Chernobyl as a reason against nuclear is (generally, and rightfully) rejected as irrelevant and a piss poor argument?

              How about the simple fact that all of this has happened 24 years ago. The government moratorium now proposed to shake up the industry is only 6 months. That is 6 months is all the regulators think is needed for an industry to get it's act together.

              The statement you're questioning is talking a

            • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @07:27AM (#32663306)

              Honest question: Why do people seem to accept this argument as valid for oil rigs, but using Chernobyl as a reason against nuclear is (generally, and rightfully) rejected as irrelevant and a piss poor argument?

              If western nuclear plants were built the same way Chernobyl was built then I WOULD be up in arms about it, and I'm one of the strongest Nuclear supporters you would find.

              Likewise, if all the other oil rigs had relief wells drilled in advance, then I'd have no problem with them continuing operating.

              The difference between the two situations is that with Chernobyl we have made damn sure all nuclear plants we build have the safety features needed to prevent a similar disaster. With the oil rigs, the same is not true. Many of them still lack safety features (pre-drilled relief wells ) that are considered standard in many parts of the world.

            • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @09:27AM (#32664064) Homepage

              Because many years after Chernobyl, it is clear that it was a uniquely horrible reactor and beyond idiotic test procedure that lead to the accident, and that technology has developed to the point where none of its failings are in any way relevant.

              In contrast, every rig in the gulf is using the same safety technology that failed at Deepwater Horizon, and many were certified by the same corrupt regulators who gave Deepwater Horizon a clean bill of health despite failing and deliberately disabled safety equipment. There is absolutely no reason to believe that this rig is unique or exceptional, other than that it is the one where the chickens came home to roost.

              Chernobyl was an outstanding argument to stop construction of Chernobyl-style reactors (obviously), and to reconsider regulation of reactors (particularly in Russia) to make sure nothing as stupid as the disaster-causing test would be allowed.

              Similarly, if in twenty years it's clear that the Deepwater rig was unique, and technology has moved beyond the current state of the art to a regime of "inherent safety" like nuclear, then Deepwater will no longer be a good argument to stop drilling.

              In short, the difference is context.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      he just wants some time to cash out his stocks. I bet he has done that right about now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darinbob (1142669)
      My guess is that he doesn't have much invested in fishing and tourism.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BlueStrat (756137) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:21PM (#32659204)

      Yahoo's Newsroom is reporting that the judge who overturned the drilling moratorium holds stock in drilling companies.

      No conflict of interest here, no sir...

      Just like there's no conflict of interest in the fact that the US government just loaned the Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras 2 billion dollars for offshore drilling in depths far exceeding the moratorium.

      Funny coincidence also that George Soros, (who, through the Center For American Progress & John Podesta, who also headed Obama's transition team and chose who filled most of the top positions in the administration) invested a huge amount in Petrobras only days before the government's decision to invest. George Soros stands to make a killing from the drilling moratorium.

      Why is the administration crippling US oil companies while investing heavily in a foreign oil company?

      Strat

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Why is the administration crippling US oil companies while investing heavily in a foreign oil company?

        US oil companies like B(ritish) P(etroleum) and (Royal Dutch) Shell, you mean?

  • by Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:45PM (#32658002)

    Now when the same problems cause a second leak we can 100% confirm those problems are the cause!

    How else will we address the third leak?

  • Maybe he should get a nice BP logo tatooed on his lower back, so that his corporate master has something pretty to look at while buggering justice

  • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:51PM (#32658106) Homepage

    pointing out that a moratorium on 33 wells is unlikely to have a devastating impact in a region hosting 3,600 active wells

    The above quote should read "a moratorium on 33 drilling wells". Drilling wells are a rate (ie 33 wells per month), active wells are a stock. The distinction is important. The vast majority of oil and gas jobs are involved in the drilling and completion process. Operating a well after it has been completed requires very little resources. For example, a typical onshore well may cost $2-3 million to drill and complete in a 14-30 day time period, but only cost around $2,000/month to operate after completion.

    Please note that I'm not saying a drilling moratorium should not be passed. Just that the moratorium will likely have significant impact on the Gulf economy, and that the state of Louisiana's concerns are quite valid, and that the Federal government's dismissal of them here is misleading and likely inaccurate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by michael_cain (66650)

      Yes. And "undoing" the moratorium at the end of six months may be substantially more difficult then starting it has been. The rent on a large semi-submersible drilling rig such as the one that burned and sank when the BP well blew out may exceed $500,000 per day just for the rig. The rig owners — generally not the oil companies — will not let these sit idle for 180 days if there are opportunities elsewhere. Once the rigs have been relocated to Brazil or Africa, it may be quite expensive to enti

      • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:11PM (#32659112)

        Not to say that a moratorium is not an appropriate response. Just that there may be long-term consequences of that decision that do not appear to have considered.

        The long term consequences are of the petroleum industry's own fault. BP (and others) should have weighed the risks of something really bad happening against cutting corners during drilling. Consequences include the swift reactive and punitive response of federal and local governments.

        Where's the incentive for industries to regulate themselves (which they should do in addition to the government) if they are quickly relieved of the consequences?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Isaac-1 (233099)

          Keep in mind this is the first major off shore drilling accident in almost 20 years, how many other industries can claim as good of record. This was just a particularly bad one.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Except the Deepwater Horizon is not the only oil well leaking in the Gulf of Mexico. From the Mobile Press Register dated Jun 7:

            The Deepwater Horizon is not the only well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the last month.

            A nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at least April 30, according to a federal document.

            While the leak is decidedly smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill, a 10-mile-long slick emanating from the Ocean Saratoga is visible from space in multiple images

          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @07:53PM (#32660026) Journal

            How many other industries have consequences of the same magnitude when they fuck up?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:03PM (#32659034) Journal

      The proper solution is not to stop drilling, but to require a relief drill to be dug at every site. That way if this happens again, we don't have to wait 4 months. This way we can be safe, collect oil, AND double employment on drilling platforms.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhath (637240)

      The distinction is important.

      Excellent point. And does anyone believe that the Obama administration would be able to complete a study or make meaningful changes (or even suggestions for changes) in six months? They haven't shown any sign that they could. It's been over two months and so far all we've seen is finger pointing.

  • Biased article much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by iceperson (582205) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:51PM (#32658110)
    No mention in the link about the "experts" that the administration consulted coming out and saying they don't support the ban and that the administration misrepresented their position. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/22/judge-halts-obamas-oil-drilling-ban/ [washingtontimes.com]
  • You can sit there and be critical of the judge all you choose - but the question still remains. Does his ruling make sense? If you look at the economic impact of the President's decision - it's just as much of a catastrophe for the region as the Oil! Further - these accidents don't happen every 15 minutes - those arguing against drilling because of possible second episode are just playing an emotional argument, not a logical one.

    Gee - why not pick on the judge because he was a Reagan appointee?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EdIII (1114411)

      No. His ruling does not make sense. The fact he has an apparent conflict of interest does not make is lapse in judgment any better.

      these accidents don't happen every 15 minutes - those arguing against drilling because of possible second episode are just playing an emotional argument, not a logical one.

      I disagree. It's a perfectly logical one. Here is what the President is saying:

      Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama believes that until investigations can determine why the spill happen

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by michael_cain (66650)

        They are only asking for 6 months, not a permanent ban.

        Six months is a very long time if you are the owner of one of the drilling rigs. Especially since there are no guarantees about how soon drilling might reasonably resume, or the pace of drilling when it does. Globally, there are other opportunities to rent out the rig. Once activities in the Gulf are shut down, it may take a few years to recover to the current level.

  • Crooked Judge (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:53PM (#32658124)

    Why in the world would a judge hear a case when the outcome could effect his own wealth? Secondly does the judicial branch even have standing to enter the fray when the president makes a decision in time of great national emergency? I would think that even the Supreme Court may lack the authority in this case.
              I can not exactly quote Bill Maher on the lost jobs issue but I will amend it to say that he said stuff your damn job. You people want to destroy the oceans, destroy the forests and completely destroy the Earth. It's time for you absurd red necks to get an education and work in areas that do not destroy nature. His version was much more insulting. But the man does have a point. Whether it is the coal mine areas of our nation or the oil rig areas or the areas being deforested by sprawl and timber harvesting it is not the Ph.D. people that we see doing those tasks. It is left to people who have very rudimentary educations or no education at all. The more we allow them to continue in ways that they have done in the past the more harm will fall upon all of us.

  • not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:55PM (#32658160)
    I honestly don't think this will be much of an issue. You've seen what happened to BP. If you're a deep water drilling company and you don't have all your ducks in a row after that, you're an idiot. So Obama's reasoning for the moratorium, until the safety measures can be re-evaluated, is redundant because these companies had better be at the forefront of responsibility without further external incentives.

    Kind of like how Ford, GM, and Honda were probably double and triple checking their acceleration systems after Toyota's little stint in the headlines recently.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      If you're a deep water drilling company and you don't have all your ducks in a row after that, you're an idiot. So Obama's reasoning for the moratorium, until the safety measures can be re-evaluated, is redundant because these companies had better be at the forefront of responsibility without further external incentives.

      Incentives being in place failed to prevent this in the first place, why would you assume they'll prevent another case? It was clearly in their interests to do that before. BP going bankrupt because of this is not surprising. Yet that apparently didn't stop BP from cutting corners everywhere they could, gambling with not only the investors' money, but the entire gulf region as well. It's not like the big investors and executives are going to see any negative consequences of BP going under. I see no rea

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hondo77 (324058)

      If you're a deep water drilling company and you don't have all your ducks in a row after that, you're an idiot.

      Are actually assuming that there is a shortage of idiots?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664)

      What happened exactly?
      They lost less than the amount of money they make in a year. I fail to see how anything bad really happened. If anything BP will do this again since the cost of doing it right may well be higher.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rev_sanchez (691443)
      I don't support a moratorium because the other off shore drillers are likely to repeat what is clearly starting to look like shoddy work by BP. I think we need this break to rebuild the Minerals Management Service so they can do a better job regulating these drilling operations. It's starting to look like this disaster is another example of how industry can't regulate itself. The theory was that the financial industry and others wouldn't take on ridiculous risks and cut corners to make a little more mone
    • Re:not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @07:45PM (#32659964) Homepage Journal

      Fallacy. You assume there is just a single point of failure. There was not.

      Something is wrong with the current way of doing business.

      Something is wrong with current drilling methods in US shores.

      Something is wrong with disaster recovery.

      Going about business as usual without identifying what is wrong ion all those process is fool hardy.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:02PM (#32658242) Homepage
    Interestingly enough, I just read an editorial about Obama v. BP [economist.com] in this week's issue of The Economist. The subheading: "America's justifiable fury with BP is degenerating into a broader attack on business." Some choice quotes:

    Mr Obama decided to "inform" BP that it must put adequate funds to meet all compensation claims into an escrow account beyond its control, although he has no authority to do so. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, instructed it not to pay a dividend until all claims tied to the spill are settled. Her fellow Democrats in Congress are trying to raise BP's liability retroactively--the sort of move America's courts rightly frown on. Mr Salazar, on even thinner legal ice, suggested that the government would hold BP accountable not just for the harm directly done by the spill, but also for the jobs lost in the oil business thanks to the freeze on oil drilling in deep water that he himself has imposed.

    The magazine frowns upon all these things and it makes some sense. If, as The Economist suggests, BP's value has already dropped by $89 billion and that's "far in excess of all but the most dire forecasts of the ultimate costs of the spill," what is to be gained by all this backlash against the oil industry but a bunch of political posturing?

    News flash: The United States is still inexorably reliant on its oil industry. If the Obama administration wants to do something about future oil disasters, maybe it should think more seriously about that and what can be done about it. Also, had government done a better job of regulating the oil industry in the first place, BP's shoddy practices might not have gone unchecked and this disaster might never have happened.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:11PM (#32659118) Homepage

      The magazine frowns upon all these things and it makes some sense. If, as The Economist suggests, BP's value has already dropped by $89 billion and that's "far in excess of all but the most dire forecasts of the ultimate costs of the spill," what is to be gained by all this backlash against the oil industry but a bunch of political posturing?

      If a reduction in market capitalization was an actual expense for BP, this would be a moderately reasonable point.

      Since that's absolutely not the case, then the point of the backlash is to ensure that BP actually pays the price for the spill, with the result that they and other companies are actually driven to improve their safety procedures and more importantly follow those procedures that they already should have been.

      All that $89 billion means for BP is that they're a somewhat easier target for a stock buyout. It means that the fraction of their own stock that they own is less valuable, so if they were planning on any acquisitions using stock it's going to be more costly as long as the stock price is low. It means anyone who plans on cashing out their holdings in BP right now will make less money. It's not insignificant from a larger corporate strategy perspective, but it's actual impact to BP is nothing like what an actual $89 billion actually suggests.

      Shame on The Freaking Economist for suggesting otherwise.

      News flash: The United States is still inexorably reliant on its oil industry. If the Obama administration wants to do something about future oil disasters, maybe it should think more seriously about that and what can be done about it.

      Like developing alternative energy sources from solar to nuclear, and encouraging the development and adoption of fuel efficient and preferably electric vehicles? Yeah, that's being done. I'm sure more can be done. I'm all for it. I hope you are too.

      Also, had government done a better job of regulating the oil industry in the first place, BP's shoddy practices might not have gone unchecked and this disaster might never have happened.

      Yes, that's very true. Who would have thought that doing everything possible to deregulate, and the underlying philosophy that regulation is unnecessary, would result in insufficient regulatory action?

      Unfortunately firing the new MMS head for not cleaning up the cesspool of corruption and deliberate inefficacy that she inherited was only just the beginning of a long, long road to fixing this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kohath (38547)

        All that $89 billion means for BP is that they're a somewhat easier target for a stock buyout.

        Tell that to the shareholders who lost $89 Billion. Just because you don't understand this loss doesn't make it any less real to the people who used to own something valuable and now they no longer do.

        Like developing alternative energy sources from solar to nuclear, and encouraging the development and adoption of fuel efficient and preferably electric vehicles?

        The President develops energy sources now? How does he find time to do all that scientific work and still fit in so many parties and rounds of golf?

        Also, alternative energy sources are still so economically inferior to petroleum that we could have a spill like this every summer, make oil companies pay doubl

  • by Alaska Jack (679307) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:07PM (#32658310) Journal

    From page 20:

    The Court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the agency, but the agency must "cogently explain why it has exercised its discretion in a given manner" (State Farm, 463 U.S. at 48). It has not done so.

        - AJ

  • My answer - nuke em (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:21PM (#32658498)

    Having worked in nuclear power for 25+ years I know something about how accidents happen and how to prevent them. This event was a total institutional failure. BP failed, the MMS failed, the other oil companies and supporting companies failed. This is epic failure like we haven't seen since Chernobyl, worse in my view because the reactor (in this case, the well) is still critical, still on fire, and a mile under water. The blow out preventers have been shown to not work, the emergency plan has been shown to be a fraud (walruses anyone - dead people phone numbers anyone, buhler?) the technology to respond to blowouts and 10-100,000 barrel a day leaks simply does not exist, and the regulator might have well been saboteurs for all the good they did. A 6 month moratorium is not even close to enough time to fix these problems. But I would put the ball back in the industry's court, my solution would be to make 10CFR50 App B (nuclear power regulation for quality) apply to deep well drilling and tell the industry they can start drilling as soon as their CEO states under oath or affirmation (i.e. lie and its a crime) that their rigs comply. Safely handling high hazards ain't new, many industries do a fine job - BP has proven it can't and by the above revelations we have no assurance that Exxon, Shell, Halliburton or anyone else can either. Shutting down a few wells will hurt the economy of Louisiana and I say tough shit until you fix your problem. But on the other hand I never saw so many people working at a nuke like the ones that have been shut down for safety problems. Once the oil companies see what they have to do to get their practices fixed there will be many many many jobs for the people that will be doing the fixing.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:23PM (#32658526)

    Oil industry apologists are saying we're all being whining, ungrateful children because we reap the benefits of cheap energy but bash the poor, hard-working people who put the gas in our cars. But what they don't mention is the fantastic amount of money spent buying this oil-dependent reality in the first place. From buying politicians to clouding the issues in the public forum to preventing research in clean alternatives. It's a sick, terrible system. And it's impossible to use the tools of democracy to fix it because even when we try to vote for change it's bait and switch.

    The thing that gets me is how the writing can be plain on the wall and people who don't know better take their cue from people who do know better but whose financial best interests depend on pretending they don't. "Global warming is just a theory! It's still debatable!" Yeah, about as debatable as the theory that tobacco is a carcinogen. Hell, we can even get Republican presidents to mouth the words "oil addiction" and "we need to kick the habit." We just can't get anyone -- reps or dems -- to do a fucking thing about it. They're both beholden to the special interests.

    I can't even begin to fathom that latest talking point, Obama's being mean to BP. Chicago-style takedown! What the fuck?! And I bet you're still upset about those fucking Eskimos beating up on poor ol' Exxon for all those decades trying to get the money they've been promised. $20 billion is going to be a drop in the bucket for all the damages wracked up and there will never be a full accounting. Most victims will never be made whole.

    From the bleating on the right, you'd think that Obama had nationalized BP, crucified their board of directors on a line of crosses on a tarred beach, and signed an executive order to go to 100% renewables before 2012. If only! I'm actually pissed at how anemic his response has been. No, he can't snap his fingers and make the well go shut, he can't stand on the heads of the engineers and make them work faster but he could at least help unsnarl the clusterfuck that is the disaster response. He could take BP's management out of the loop on disaster mitigation. He could put the environmental experts in the control room so they can get the unfiltered information from the well head minus the BP spin. At the very least he could prevent the BP contractors from burning the sea turtles.

    Yeah, yeah, mod me down. Go and confirm exactly what I'm saying.

    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @07:57PM (#32660066)

      Oil industry apologists are saying we're all being whining, ungrateful children because we reap the benefits of cheap energy but bash the poor, hard-working people who put the gas in our cars. But what they don't mention is the fantastic amount of money spent buying this oil-dependent reality in the first place.

      You know, its common for people to say how corporations, and especially oil companies, throw around lots of money to protect their interests and enact legislation and all that...

      ...but I just dont see it being true in the case of the oil industry. I see an industry that was forced to drill many miles off the coast in 5000 feet of water when they could have (and very much would have) drilled closer to shore in shallower water, where it was easier, cheaper, and knowledge was greater.

      Apparently you would have us believe that the awesome power of oil money was used for everything but cutting costs.

      Every few years Congress goes up-in-arms over the oil industry even when no disaster happens, such as the recent cry for a 'windfall tax' on them, even though their profit per revenue was significantly less than the governments share of the pie, and also significantly less than most other industries.

      The oil industry has been the bitch of the government for decades. If you have evidence that this is not the case, please present it. I am thinking that, no, you don't... you are just blowing wind.

  • by cfulmer (3166) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:34PM (#32658668) Homepage Journal

    We can argue day and night about whether more drilling is a good idea. But that's not the question -- the real question is:

    Does the law give the President the power to impose a moratorium in this situation?

    If not, then it doesn't matter whether it was a good idea or not. The President is not a King or an Emperor. He does not have the authority to decree how things should be, no matter how mad he is or how great of an idea his decree is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TopSpin (753)

      Does the law give the President the power to impose a moratorium in this situation?

      The president is the head of the Interior Department, the institution responsible for the leases that permit drilling, and the Interior Department is a creation of Congress, which has the power to establish the cabinet. Those leases come with strings attached; the Interior Department reserves the right to suspend the leases for various reasons. Seems pretty clear to me that Obama does have the authority.

      Judicial activism is judicial activism whether it's pro- or anti- oil, gays, guns or whatever. We ha

      • by vcgodinich (1172985) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @08:59PM (#32660468)
        The Interior Department didn't impose the moratorium, the president did it "for" them, with no justification or action since.

        Have there been stricter demands made on offshore drilling? no. Has there been a mandatory safety review/inspection legislated? no. The problem is that nothing is happening. If Obama had put some requirment in place that the oil companies could start to comply with, that would be one thing, but as it is, no one is doing anything. The oil companies and a significant part of the jobs on the gulf are sitting idle by presidential decree, and the president is sitting idle by choice, as it pertains to the ban.

  • by mmalove (919245) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:49PM (#32658878)

    First, a disclaimer.

    I happen to live on planet Earth. I am, therefore, somewhat biased to protect it. This bias may affect my perception of decisions, such as drilling oil wells that could have "immeasurable effects" on the ecology of the drilling site if done wrong.

    Now, this article summary, and the statement from the judge, shows clearly in my opinion why we should never use the word immeasurable as a way to justify one action or another. It seems the opposition quite quickly was able to measure the impact, and the impact is about 1%. The first oil company willing to pledge enough cash to completely recover from a second disaster like the BP one, I'd say happy drilling. Until then, we need to suspend drilling holes at depths where we aren't technologically far enough along to fix things if they go wrong.

    It does surprise me, that we've found the technology to destroy this planet hundreds of times over with nuclear energy, but we can't plug a hole a mile underwater. Kinda leads you to which way this planet's headed.

Saliva causes cancer, but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time. -- George Carlin

Working...